Geoff Baker Redux

Note: I’m giving this post from yesterday a bump for two reasons: First, it was posted kind of late, and a lot of people don’t scroll back past ATH on a given day, so it’s “new” to a lot of readers; Second, because Geoff Baker his ownself waded into the comments thread last night. I think that’s kind of cool and think that maybe some folks would like to read that too.

Geoff Baker got mad last week when a blogger waded into waters he feels that only professionals like Geoff Baker should be wading. Today he wades into my waters:

Here’s a primer on U.S. libel law and how it relates to blogging, in case you’re interested. It should be required reading for any blogger in this country.

If you get sued for libel, your defense can be “the truth — that what you wrote is true — or that, even if what you wrote was false, you did not act with malice. In Canada, where I began my career, the law is much tougher and states that your stuff had better be true, or you’re in hot water. It’s a bit more lax here in the U.S. with the whole “malice thing.

The U.S. Supreme Court has defined malice as publishing something with “either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.”

I was going to write about 1000 words aping his piece from last week, substituting the dangers of amateurs engaging in the business of lawyering for his take on amateurs engaging in the business of professional journalism, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. I’m actually fine with Baker writing about this stuff because (a) it’s not rocket science; and (b) he’s right. Like I said last week, you’ve got to get your facts right if you’re going to get into the accusation business. That goes for bloggers too, and like Baker, I am similarly not impressed with the argument that a blogger can be looser with things if he’s only writing for a small, friendly audience (not that Jerrod Morris was being “loose” in my estimation).

But beyond that, Baker remains off his nut. Last week I (and many others) noted that Baker himself seemed to be doing far worse than Jerod Morris was doing when he suggested that the entire 2003 Seattle Mariners team had been on steroids. Today he defends himself:

Now, this may seem like the same thing to a lot of you, but there are important differences. The most obvious is that no individual was singled out. Believe me, this was intentional. There are ways to approach topics like this, to hint at stuff that may or may not have been going on, but it requires subtlety, not a sledgehammer.

What I wrote still gives every player on that 2004 team an “out” in which they can say: “It wasn’t me he was talking about.”

I suppose that’s fine if all you care about is avoiding legal liability for defamation — and even then I’m not sure that the Mariners as a team wouldn’t have an action for some sort for business disparagement or something — but certainly that’s not the operative ethical standard, is it? Anything is fair game as long as there’s an “out?” That’s not what Baker seemed to be all worked up about in his original piece. It was all about being tough and accountable and writing with integrity and credibility and all of that. Something greater than mere lawsuit avoidance, at any rate. If anything, Baker’s pained rationalization of his February piece directly contradicts his stated belief that looking one’s target in the eye matters. His accusation of non-specific Mariners with an “out” built-in is exactly the opposite of looking someone in the eye. It’s cowardly ass-covering.

Baker’s next point is the freakin’ cake topper:

Some of you have asked why I — and my colleagues — failed to denounce Rick Reilly for publishing similar things about ballplayers that Morris did. Well, the first answer is, many of my colleagues did denounce Reilly several years back when he challenged Sammy Sosa to take a drug test. Many thought he was unfairly singling Sosa out.

My second answer would be: Jerod Morris is not Rick Reilly.

Sorry, I don’t cotton to any system with exceptions that so thoroughly swallow the rules as the one Baker sketches out, and that’s even when the rules are weak moving targets like those he’s proposing. If we are to take Baker seriously, there’s a bogey that all of us writing about baseball need to hit — about thirty years of puff pieces, if I reckon correctly — and once we hit it, anything is fair game. If I’m wrong about this — if, for example, I get my license to be irresponsible at, say, 25 years — I hope that Baker lets me know, because I have a lot of garbage I want to fling at people.

Finally, Baker responds to criticism of his “White Jays” piece from a couple of years ago:

I’ve had people write in to ask me about my so-called “White Jays” series of three stories written for the Toronto Star six years ago. What those stories were supposed to be about was how the Blue Jays, after years of pipelining talent from Latin America, had suddenly become a team with the fewest amount of minority players in baseball. At a time when the number of Latin Americans in the game was exploding.

But the reasons behind that story were lost because of a terrible “White Jays” headline, substituted at the last minute as a front page teaser to the stories, without my consent, or input, or that of the editors working closest with the story.

I’m somewhat sympathetic here, because his “White Jays” story, while not his finest hour, wasn’t as bad as a lot of people made it out to be. But his explanation of this is instructive: other chefs in the kitchen screwed it up, not Geoff Baker. Kind of undercuts that whole notion he’s pushing about the importance and value of all of those editorial layers that separate the pros from the amateurs, doesn’t it?

Baker goes on and on and so could I, but we’d never come to agreement on everything. I do hope, however, that we can agree on this: people who write non-fiction for a living need to be accurate and take responsibility for their words no matter who they are and where they write.

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  1. The Common Man said...

    Bill, Jack’s main issue is less to do with rights, I think, and more to do with what he believes is ethically right.  I think there are legitimate questions as to whether Jack’s perfect world ethics are reasonable expectations of individuals.  If Jack has never done anything ethically questionable, he’s the first since Jesus Christ, who I believe has returned to Earth and is catching for the Minnesota Twins.

    Jack, again I think it’s important to point out that Morris didn’t finger anybody.  He raised the point that steroid use has to be an acknowledged possibility, though not necessarily a likelihood, in any instance where a slugger suddenly jumps in performance in his late 30s.  As I wrote earlier in this discussion, there are clear analogies to this, “if you saw a fund manager’s performance was far outstripping the market, even in a down period, and it was not immediately clear how that manager was doing it, wouldn’t that raise suspicions as well, in this post-Madoff environment?  Don’t we have to take the earnings statements of banks with a healthy grain of salt, given their recent history? ”

  2. Jack Marshall said...

    If you don’t need the lecture, then please stop using “circumstantial evidence” as a synonym for “weak evidence” or “invalid evidence.”

    Who said Morris didn’t have a “right” to publish his crappy article? Not me. He has a right to publish whatever irresponsible, hurtful, dishonest drivel he wants short of libel, which this wasn’t. Just because he has a right to do it doesn’t make it right to do it. (I’ll spare you the lecture on that.)

    Yes, a B student who suddenly aces a test should have the benefit of the doubt if there is nothing more than the unusual performance, and unusually good performance is not circumstantial evidence of wrong-doing absent more, such as previous evidence of character deficiency. If a teacher suggested in his blog that my son was cheating (while “defending” him by suggesting all the other ways he might have excelled), based only on one test, I’d have his head.

    You act as if speculation is its own justification. It isn’t. Speculation about McGwire and drugs based only on his performance was unfair. The fact that it turned out to be right is irrelevant. I always had a gut feeling that John Edwards was a lying, phony sleazebag based on little but instinct and the fact that he was a trial lawyer and cared way too much about his hair. It would have been irresponsible for me to write an article saying, “there have been whispers that John Edwards can’t be trusted and is probably the kind of guy who would cheat on his dying wife, but here are some reasons why that might not be true.” As it happens, I was right. It doesn’t change the fact that the article
    would have been unfair before I had more legitimate evidence.

  3. Bill @ the daily something said...

    I get the sense that you’re not really sure what you’re arguing. Or that you’re arguing just to argue.

    But, fine. If you want to call it “unfair,” then whatever. I might even agree with you. That’s way, way short of what Mr. Baker and others are saying about it. And whatever it is, it’s no more or less fair than the kind of speculation the MSM engages in all the time.

  4. Jack Marshall said...

    And when the MSM is that unfair, it is wrong, unprofessional, and it should be called on it. Just like Morris. That’s all.

  5. Geoff Baker said...

    For Common Man,

    Most of the Morris piece was harmless and he did attempt a well thought-out essay on stats. Which is why it made no sense to take the steroids angle and throw it into the headline of a blog that otherwise had nothing to do with it.

    Unless, that was his true intention all along. To raise the steroids angle under the guise of a well thought-out stats piece. Morris has since written and told me he truly had no ulterior motive and I accept that on its face. But giving equal prominence to “whisperers’’ about steroids in a piece that was 90 percent about something else makes it appear he was taking a back door route towards suggesting Ibanez might be a user.

    And that’s where my “go all in’’ statement comes from. Either you’ve got the goods to put it in a headline, or you don’t. And if you don’t, then don’t try to sneak it in there. In both the headline and his phrasing further down. Both were too strong for what little Morris had to go on. I used the example of what Larry Stone did vis-a-vis Ken Griffey Jr. That’s about the extent Morris should have gone in order to be fair and not make it look like he was strongly hinting at something else about Ibanez with an otherwise routine blog post.

    There are lots of people having huge years that are outliers. Ichiro Suzuki is 35 and having his best season since 2004. He had his worst season last year. Going to mention “steroid whispers” in a headline and story about him?

    For Sara K., if you don’t like my CEO and embezzlers line, just substitute it for “top bankers” and “fraudulent mortgage underwriting”.

  6. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “Ichiro Suzuki is 35 and having his best season since 2004. He had his worst season last year. Going to mention “steroid whispers” in a headline and story about him?”

    Don’t tempt me, Geoff . . .it’s a slow news day . . .

  7. J.W. said...

    On June 2nd, Craig posted a link to, and brief discussion of, Bill Simmons’s article postulating that David Ortiz’s sharp decline was due to the fact that he was older than he claimed to be. The evidence in favor of this charge was Ortiz’s sudden fall off a cliff (though now he seems to be clamboring back up that cliff) and the fact that he is Dominican and kinda sorta friends with Miguel Tejada who did, in fact, lie about his age. The evidence against was Ortiz’s physique and the fact that other players with similar physique and stats have fallen off the face of the earth at the same age as Mr. Ortiz. I argued at the time that Mr. Simmons’ suggesting that Mr. Ortiz is a liar and a cheat based solely on his country of birth and the people he might associate with was irresponsible and perhaps even racist (though certainly not maliciously so, it just strikes me as dangerous to make an argument about someone that uses his or her nationality/ethinicity as the prime piece of evidence.) I was mostly shouted down and one commenter was kind enough to introduce me to reality. I would posit, now, that Simmons and Morris engaged in exactly the same kind of journalism. Both condemned (or more accurately, cast damning accusations at) players based solely on association. Simmons sought to explain a player’s decline by suggesting he might be a liar and cheat based only on a guess and the fact that others in similar situations were guilty of being liars and cheats. Morris sought to explain a player’s rise by suggesting he might be a liar and a cheat based on only a guess and the fact that others in similar situations were guilty of being liars and cheats.

    I have two questions then. Question one: Mr. Baker, Craig, fellow commenters, am I right in equating these two pieces of journalism? Question two: Mr. Baker, if you choose to take the time to respond, could you tell me if there’s a reason you would criticize Mr. Morris and not Mr. Simmons?

  8. Jack Marshall said...

    JW: They are virtually the same, and you shouldn’t have been shouted down. I’d argue that lying about one’s age (fraud) is not as serious as PED use, but that’s a close call. Sammons’ article was unfair and irresponsible too.

  9. J.W. said...

    Jack Marshall—

    Thanks for the answer; I’m genuinely curious about what other people think. It’s funny though, when I was writing the above comment, I originally had writtena: “I was shouted down and disagreed with by most commenters on that post other than Jack Marshall” but then I decided it would be inappropriate to drag your name into a comment that you had no input on, ya know, since it would be tantamount to saying you agree with my P.O.V. without asking you first.

  10. Jason said...

    “And when the MSM is that unfair, it is wrong, unprofessional, and it should be called on it. Just like Morris. That’s all.”

    Agreed.  Which makes Baker’s response, “Jerod Morris is not Rick Reilly,” ridiculous.

  11. The Common Man said...

    Thanks, Geoff.  That’s a well-reasoned explanation and I appreciate your help understanding your thought process.  Headline and phrasing aside, I still think the debate within the vast majority MSM has had more to do with a punk blogger raising the possibility of PEDs, rather than one of their own.  It’s been (in my opinion) largely a reaction to the medium in which the possibility was delivered and the lack of “credentials” that the writer could point to.

    And while I appreciate that your article regarding the 2003-4 Mariners does not single out any specific names as potential users, giving individual players an “out,” as you say, I’d argue that by using that broad a stroke, you’re bound to get a little paint on everyone.  And personally, I don’t see a discernible difference between speculating about 13-14 guys (you were talking about hitters only in the article), and 1.  Both articles still cast suspicion on individuals (and Morris’ article, like yours, leaves a significant out if you don’t believe player(s) in question is a doper). 

    Again, thanks.  Not enough of your colleagues are willing to engage fans of the game like this and to have these kinds of discussions.  Your enthusiasm for dialogue is refreshing.

  12. Tom M. Tango said...

    The original up-in-arms problem that MSM had with Morris is that they treated him as a wannabe journalist, and that he failed to uphold their standards.  But, that was not the standard that Morris was trying to uphold.  Rather, he was writing to his own standards.  And, as far as I can tell, his standards are being sincere, inquisitive, and resourceful.


    Geoff’s position on Morris seems to have evolved (which is good) to the point that the issue is that Morris introduced “steroids” into an otherwise decent article.  That by doing so, he forces readers to infer more than Morris meant. I think we can all get behind that.

    If this is the true problem with the Morris article (that he went all Bill O’Reilly on us by calling out “Pinhead” because it’s an attention grabber), then in no way is there a controversy here.  The worst you can call Morris is showing bad taste, and having an unclear thesis.  MSM should focus on O’Reilly, Hannity, Rush and the rest of the gasbags.  Those guys make MSM look bad.

    So, the Morris article, that he went O’Reilly on us, is what made Ken Rosenthal be on the air for 9 minutes, shaking his head, and spouting ridiculous things like “Do you want this stuff being written about you?” ? (I find it hard to believe that any reporter would say this.)  I have no doubt that Ken Rosenthal did not even read Morris’ blog entry. 

    And MSM’s initial reaction was to an event where a blogger exercised his rights to speak out, as he would with his friends or in a bar, without crossing the libel line (which Morris did not approach). MSM, instead of reporting the news, made the news, by asking Ibanez about something that he did not read but asked him to react to a one-line summary by the guy asking the question.  And the rest of MSM reported on the initial MSM report.

    I fully support what Morris did and how he did it.  And Baker’s absolutely pithy response article (of Ichiro/chemistry… Craig did you link to it?) is the perfect rebuttal to Morris, about how you can basically ask a question about anything, and find some reasonable cause if you look hard enough.  That Baker response shows that Morris was sloppy in saying “steroids”.

    Being sloppy is not a reason to turn his niche blog into something widespread.  However, I am sure Morris appreciates the publicity.


    My blog had its own thread on the matter:

  13. Jack Marshall said...

    Jason: Also agreed. I think Baker probably agrees too, based on his clarification here. As I know by sad experience, it’s dangerous being flip.

  14. Drew said...

    Morris’ headline makes a lot more sense when you take it in the context of how he explained the genesis of his article.  A friend in a fantasy league was jealous that Morris had Ibanez on his team and Ibanez was having a huge season, so his friend claimed that Ibanez’ performance was the result of PEDs.  Morris set out to write an article disproving the “Suspicion of Steroids”, and took into account a few simple statistical measures which he assumed would put the issue to rest.  Of course, what he found was that this quick study didn’t do much to explain Raul’s outstanding season, and therefore he had to consider that there were other possible reasons for the increase in performance, including, yes, steroids.

    Now, given that this is why he wrote the article, and what he was trying to address, it makes perfect sense for his headline to be what it is.  If Morris is guilty of something, it’s not considering the way the headline would be interpreted by anyone not privy to his fantasy league discussions, which, it turns out, is pretty much everyone in the entire world. 

    I didn’t get the impression that the headline was designed to raise controversy or point the finger at a guy or grab attention, but rather that it just made sense given the reason for the article and the way it was written.

  15. Sean said...

    Mr. Tango,
    I’ve come in very late to all this, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with the standards of mainstream media. They held him up to their standard because that’s the journalistic standard, and if people want to gripe about how poorly modern journalists adhere to these, then there’s no reason for a blogger to except something different. Objectivity and accuracy aren’t difficult things to understand, but they can be difficult ones to implement.
    BTF spends a good portion of their time taking writers to the woodshed for failing to live up to what is widely accepted as this “standard,” so why shouldn’t Morris?
    And nobody takes Hannity or O’Reilly seriously. They talk all the time about how the “MSM” (although they throw liberal somewhere into the acronym). A journalist spending time trying to critique FOX News is like a Bounty paper towel trying to soak up the ocean.

  16. Tom M. Tango said...

    “They held him up to their standard because that’s the journalistic standard”

    Sean, that’s my point.  The standard to hold him to is his personal standards, not the journalistic standards.  What Morris did in his blog is identical to what he’d do in a newsletter or in a bar (as long as it doesn’t break any laws).  In no way is what I write here in a comment section or in my blog or in a book or anywhere else for that matter required to meet any standard other than those I can live with (and within the bounds of law). 

    If I have an editor or publisher, then he can further control it.

  17. Geoff Baker said...

    For J.W., the simple answer is: two wrongs don’t make a right. And regardless of whether Simmons, Rick Reilly, Murray Chass and a handful of others went about what they did the wrong way, Jerod Morris is still wrong.

    And Morris is the only one who had a player go ballistic on him. When Reilly got an angry response from Sammy Sosa years ago after challenging him to take a drug test, many in the MSM called him out. I don’t see and read every single one of the millions of baseball stories written every year. But when asked about specific controversies, I have responded. I don’t see any of my responses on this page, but maybe that’s because the full context would not make for good comedic fodder. Can’t answer that one.

    When my readers asked me about how I could use that Rick Reilly-Jerod Morris line, I responded in timely fashion with the following:

    “There were also degrees to how the story was played by Reilly (he didn’t publish a huge headline about Beltre).

    But do do you know what? You’re right. Reilly is putting himself out there with that statement. If Beltre turned around and decided to sue, Reilly had better have his ducks lined up. So far, Beltre is keeping mum on the issue, as he has for years.

    Ibanez isn’t. He’s vigrorously defending himself and trying to change the public account before it gets too widespread.

    Would I write, or imply, that somebody might be using if I didn’t have proof? From an ethical perspective, no, I would not. I can’t read minds. And if Reilly gets sued and doesn’t have anything to fall back on from all of his conversations/reporting/digging/inside info over the years, he’ll be just as “out there’’ and exposed legally as Morris.”

    So, yes, I would give Reilly the benefit of the doubt over Morris initially, because I know he could have some insider knowledge on what’s going on. With Morris, he has zero insider knowledge and was reckless at best, or trying to go at something a backhanded way at worst. If neither guy has insider info, they are both wrong. But again, it’s easier to keep taking my initial statement in a vaccuum and pretend it was never explained.

    And again, the reason I went after Morris is because of the storm his blog generated as opposed to those other writers, none of whom was threatened with a lawsuit by any player. None of whom popped on my radar. I’m pretty busy covering the Mariners, folks. Did the blogging world go after Simmons initially? No. Probably because they never read what he wrote or it never really registered because of the lack of reaction generated. I went after Morris because his story popped on my radar, on national TV and around the country on wire services. We can blame the Philly paper for that, or ESPN, or Ibanez, or MLB, or me, or the MSM as an entity. Or, we can just put the blame on the guy who recklessly wrote what he did in a headline and the body text.

    And again, if you and others still don’t agree with me, then go write the same post with Ichiro Suzuki’s name in the headline. Craig, I know you were being funny, but I am trying to tempt you now. Go do it, if you so strongly believe in the right of Morris to do what he did. If he’s really changed the rules of the game and established that bloggers have leeway that supercede the traditional media, then publish an Ichiro post with the identical wording and headline. Shouldn’t be that difficult. Or don’t. We both know you can’t. This isn’t about threatening the existence of bloggers. It’s about making sure everyone with a computer doesn’t start taking liberties with people. Anyhow, this has been a refreshing exchange.

  18. Jack Marshall said...

    Well, Tom, that was one of the best examples of ethical relativism advocacy I’ve encountered in quite a while, but like all ethical relativism,it’s pure junk.

    Neither you nor Morris should be gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard, however crummy, that “you can live with.” That’s a swell standard if you live alone in a cave and don’t communicate with the outside world, but when your conduct affects others, damn right you have an obligation to come up to a higher standard. Standards of conduct evolve as cultures (which includes cultures of professionals and those in the same enterprise, like blogging) decide what is in everyone’s best interest, that is, right. Nobody can be part of a culture and still declare, “the only standards that matter are my own,” unless those standards are higher…not LOWER. (I have a hard time even believing that you meant what you wrote, since your commentary is generally well-reasoned and astute.) Does one have a “right” to publish unfair, careless, mean-spirited bile? Sure thing, but maintaining that it’s fine and dandy to do so as long as one has sufficiently abyssmal “personal standards” is just bizarre.

  19. Sara K said...

    “Neither you nor Morris should be gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard”

    Are you saying you felt like the Morris article did these things?

  20. Bill @ the daily something said...

    First of all, I find it amazing and admirable the way both sides have trended toward a middle ground during the course of this conversation. When does THAT ever happen on the internet?

    But, Geoff, a relatively minor point: Ichiro! is a really bad example. You can debate whether he’s really having his best season since 2004; I’ll take his 2007, by a hair, because of the better OBP. He’s hitting for essentially the same batting average now that he did then, and he’s managed to send maybe two to three extra fly balls over the fence from what we’d expect him to. Yeah, obviously it’s a huge improvement over 2008, but Ichiro!, God bless him, has had exactly those types of fluctuations before. ‘01, ‘04, ‘06-‘07, and ‘09 Ichiro! is a Hall of Fame player, while ‘02-‘03, ‘05, and ‘08 Ichiro is more or less an average hitter who runs well and plays good D. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, except that you never quite know which of those two players you’re going to get.

    So to suggest something insiduous is going on with Ichiro based on that, whether or not it would be fair or ethical, would just be dumb and logically unsupportable. Meanwhile, Ibanez is (or was) having a season that is completely out of step with anything he’s ever done, especially in the power department. That’s exactly the kind of performance that *always*, unfortunately, leads to steroid speculation. So I don’t see the comparison. And I don’t think that sort of change has really happened to anyone else in the league this year (or in any of the last several years).

  21. Jack Marshall said...

    Sara: Yup, I sure am.

    This kind of “When did you stop beating your wife” passive-aggressive stuff is pure innuendo, dirty pool, unfair, and for any player who has played by the rules and tried to show integrity and professionalism, hurtful and infuriating. A simple application of The Golden Rule would tell Morris that it was wrong. I don’t think he was considering Ibanez at all…which, given the fact that he was the target, is no excuse.

    “And maybe that training included…
    Well, you know where that one was going, but I’d prefer to leave it as unstated speculation.[UNSTATED???] However, if Ibanez ends up hitting 45-50 homers this year, you can bet that I won’t be the only one raising the question.[SO ARE YOU RAISING “IT” NOW OR NOT?] And judging by my buddy’s message board post this morning, and questions like this in public forums, people already are. {LIKE YOU!] For the record, Ibanez has denied ever using steroids. Back in 2007 when former Mariners OF Shane Monahan said that the clubhouse culture in Seattle led him to use steroids, Ibanez and Jamie Moyer came out and publicly lambasted Monahan while denying that steroids had ever been a presence in the Mariners clubhouse. Of course, as well all know, explicit denials of steroid use don’t really mean a whole hell of a lot these days….” [CUTE—SO YOU”RE DOUBTING THIS MAN’S HONESTY BASED ON THE FACT THAT OTHERS HAVE LIED. BASIS? FAIRNESS?]

    The more I read the piece, the more incredible I find it that people really think he was not intentionally suggesting that Ibanez doped….just because he did it in such an indirect and annoying way.

  22. Jason said...

    “exposed legally as Morris”

    Aren’t there something like eight lawyers commenting on this blog? Hasn’t it been established that what Morris wrote didn’t put him in any sort of legal danger?

  23. Bill @ the daily something said...

    “Aren’t there something like eight lawyers commenting on this blog? Hasn’t it been established that what Morris wrote didn’t put him in any sort of legal danger?”

    Yes and YES.

    @Jack Marshall: I agree that all the things you point out are annoying and kind of silly. But I don’t see how any of it rises to the level of “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair just because it’s the standard.” He’s especially not “publicizing falsities,” since he’s not actually putting anything forth as fact (or rather, the facts he does put out, the Mariner clubhouse business, are true and pro-Ibanez). All he’s really doing is pointing out the obvious—if you have a huge and unexpected year like that, at his age, people (him included, apparently) are going to start wondering. At least he didn’t actually draw the concrete conclusion, as Reilly did re. Beltre.

  24. Michael said...

    “You may be upset that a fellow blogger got told he was wrong in public, but your argument doesn’t become any stronger when you make stuff up. So please, stop.”

    Putting words in peoples’ mouths – mine, Craig’s and Morris’ in specific – would certainly be considered “making stuff up” by many people – and certainly as close to it as you accuse me of. So I urge you to take your own advice.

    In fact this perpetuates what a cynic would see as the kernel of the whole argument: is the mainstream sports media a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites? You defend yourself with the weakest of evidence (you got one Griffey quote – that doesn’t even compare to LaRue’s article, which he barely had to write his own text for because the quotes were the story) and then bash me because it proves I’m “making stuff up.”

    And your attitude toward the Internet seems to be really misinformed, in that you’re dragging out one scrap off the bottom of the pile and turning it into a Big Deal – a trap that someone named Pierre Salinger ran into back in the day, to the detriment of his career. When even baseball “insiders” on this thread are taking you to task, maybe you should sit for a minute and rethink before flying off the handle.

    While we’re all flattered that you’re taking it seriously, the fact is that you’ve spent so many column inches giving publicity to one part of a much larger blog post on a marginal, low-readership blog – there are a large number of good, well-read blogs with unique views that are much more deserving (and thanks for finding this one, by the way – I have no connection, like most here I just think Craig is an awesome writer).

    I actually used to write about baseball (blogging wasn’t invented yet), on a site that was relatively popular in the early days of the internet. Want to know why I stopped? Because I found that with the growth of ESPN and sports-talk radio, the media was getting in the way of the sport. They had become the story. So the answer for me was to get out of the position of having to watch, hear or read so much bad reportage and just GO to games.

    My question to you: now that you’re so Internet-aware, are you going to begin writing about the GOOD stuff coming from there?

    And a final observation: Geoff, look at the Alexa traffic for

    (click Traffic Rank and choose Trailing 1 month fom the menu below the chart) First note that THT spanks the hell out of it – like the vast majority of blogs, MSF is a flatline as the number 141,472nd most poular site on the Web (and it covers ALL sports, not just MLB like THT does).

    Then note the date that traffic surged. It wasn’t June 8, the day the Ibanez piece ran, or the next day – no, it was pretty much ignored by the world, like most blog posts.

    Traffic to MSF spiked after June 10, the day the MSM, Rosenthal and yourself included, Pierre Salinger’ed the Morris post.

    So don’t blame all this on a blogger – a blogger is just one dude talking, until someone makes him a Big Deal. You made him a Big Deal.

  25. TC said...

    Jack-I cannot help but feel like your reaction to Tom implies that Morris’ personal standard exist in a vacuum, that they themselves were not influenced by whatever variety of cultures he intersects. 

    That said “higher” and “lower” standards, to me, seem to be in the eye of the beholder.  I see writing that I might interpret as careless or deliberate, as light-hearted or serious, harmful to others or benign or helpful, but it’s unclear to me what makes a standard “high” or “low”, objectively speaking.

  26. Preston said...

    Bill, as Joe Posnanski pointed out several days ago, this season is not really out of step with anything Raul Ibanez has ever done – in fact, he’s had several 50 game stretches in his career (and that’s all this is, as of now) in which he has put up similar numbers.  You can read it at

    Now, while that’s not the easiest thing in the world to notice, necessarily, it probably is something that Morris should have thought about before writing the article the way he did.  After all, we tend to see hot streaks like this to start just about every season; I’m sure you could jump back 50 years and find a comparable situation without too much of a problem.

  27. Jack Marshall said...

    TC…you really don’t see a clear distinction between doing good and harm, being fair or unfair, honest or dishonest, respectful or disrespectful? That standards embodying basic virtues like truth and avoiding gratuitous harm for to others are “higher” than standards embracing lies and cruelty? I find that difficult to believe. Anyone is free to posit a new standard, but as long as the rest of us have to experience and watch its results, we can reject it. That’s how societal standards have always been set, and it works well.

    Tom is the one who suggested valid “personal” standards, which suggests to me no specific influences. Perhaps I misunderstood.

  28. Bill @ the daily something said...

    I did read the Poz piece. Yet again, I’m not trying to defend steroid speculation as a thing. The whole topic bores me, and I can’t stand pieces like Morris’. But in context, I think it’s pretty clear that I was assuming Ibanez’ (and Ichiro’s) seasons *end* the way they’ve started. One is exactly the kind of thing that always starts speculization, and one is very clearly not.

    Anyway, Poz pretty much makes the same point I’m trying to (though much better, of course):
    “I don’t know Jerod at all but feel like in many ways he’s getting a bad rap here”
    “What followed, I think, was inevitable. A 37-year-old guy putting up those numbers? A guy few people had noticed the last five years? Yeah, inevitable.”
    “Someone, at some point, was going to make an insinuation about Raul Ibanez.”
    And so on. But thanks for bringing that piece up.

  29. Michael said...

    Re: Joe Posnanski – funny that it’s taken this long for ANY MSM folk to actually come up with a FACTUAL rebuttal instead of just a sanctimonious “moral” rebuttal.

    Hopefully THAT gets picked up and this whole fake controversy is finally put to rest.

  30. Sara K said...

    I see the amazing power of context in the examples you extracted, Jack.  Those lines, separated from the thesis and spirit of the article, certainly do sound vicious.

    I am baffled about an apparent discrepancy in perceptions re: the Mariners organization.  Ibanez, as noted by Morris and rehashed by Jack, denied that steroids “had ever been” a part of the Seattle clubhouse. Baker seems to believe that they were indeed part of the 2003 clubhouse (at least, he believed it enough to suggest that the 2004 plummet was due the the fact that “they” were now clean). Unless we’re accepting the possibility that the Mariners (we don’t need to bother naming names) only used in 2003, or only from 2001-2003, then either Ibanez or Baker is woefully misinformed. Or blind. Or lying.

    FTR, I have the sense that Baker is an intelligent, well-intentioned person, and I have no reason to believe otherwise of Ibanez.  All the same, can we get our story straight on this?

  31. Jack Marshall said...

    Yeah, Michael, how I enjoy the snarls of those who regard any effort to identify and encourage decent and fair conduct as “sanctimonious.” That’s why “Big Lie’ tactics still remain so effective today…because you and yours only care about the factual rebuttal to the irresponsible accusation, and not whether it should have ever been made in the first place. Just throw it out there, and see what it stirs up, eh? Maybe we’ll get lucky and actually catch a rat! But someone who has done nothing to justify an accusation should not HAVE to rebut one, and neither should Joe Posnanski. Apparently that point eludes you. Too bad.

  32. Michael said...

    Sorry, Jack, I don’t respond to anyone who uses stuff like “you and yours” in the midst of personal attacks.

    But thanks for defining “sanctimonious” for us. Thumbs up for that.

  33. Jack Marshall said...

    No apologies necessary, Mikey. I don’t expect responses from those who dismiss genuine efforts to define what’s appropriate conduct as “sanctimonious” and then complain of “personal attacks” when they are called on it. If they had any valid arguments, they wouldn’t resort to name-calling.

  34. The Common Man said...

    Jack, through it all, you still have not proven your underlying assumption, that what Morris did was “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair.”  Your interpretation is that he was deliberately evasive to throw a bomb and run away before it went off.  I, and apparently many others, see it as an acknowledgement of the times we live in, where a 35+ year old guy apparently having a career year raises eyebrows.  I think the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate a) that Morris published a falsity (I see none), b) was mean or unfair (I see no evidence of that), and/or c) actually harmed Raul Ibanez (Ibanez is high in the All Star voting, was sure to go to the game before his injury, is generally well-respected and popular within the game, and has lost $0 because of this).

  35. Tom M. Tango said...

    Geoff says:

    “Guarantee you he’s read it since. Again, as any normal person would after this much fuss. Has he come out and apologized, or asked to clarify his remarks? Nope. All we have to go on is that, when told of it, he exploded. The fact that the Philly paper asked him about it is irrelevant. Do you think Ibanez has time to sit around Googling himself at any given moment to see everything written about him?”

    I respond:

    We don’t know what he was asked specifically.  It may as well have been “This blogger speculated you may be on steroids, and he tried to prove it.  What do you think?”

    That Ibanez has subsequently read it, and has not cleared up the issue by saying “The reporter asked me something that really was not what the blogger was trying to say” is not something that we need to infer; that because Ibanez didn’t say it, then we must conclude that he must have been given the proper summary of the article.  Ibanez might simply not want to bother with it.

    Geoff says:

    “But the law makes no distinction between newspapers and bloggers for libel purposes. “

    I respond:

    I continually qualify my statements by adding “within the bounds of the law”.  But, this is not the reason that MSM is outraged here, that Morris is a potential libel case.


    Geoff says:
    “So, proving that Morris implied something might not be as big a stretch as you suggest. “

    And his linked article responds:

    “Since Sullivan, a public official or other person who has voluntarily assumed a position in the public eye must prove that a libelous statement “was made with ‘actual malice’—that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard to whether it was false or not” (Sullivan).”

    I respond:

    I see no actual malice here.  Furthermore, as the continued existence of,, and the Antonella Barba false images have shown, to get to actual malice seems to be quite a bridge to cross.


    Geoff says:

    “why should he, you and other bloggers abide by a less-restrictive moral compass than the MSM? Why should it be morally OK for bloggers to harm innocent people by throwing their names next to unfounded gossip about criminal activity?”

    MSM acts as it does because it is in its business and self-interests to do so.  In order for MSM to position themselves as “better” than your run-of-the-mill tabloids, they rely on their code of ethics to show that they are indeed better.  It is for that reason that MSM has a better moral compass.  It is why Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair are extremely detrimental to MSM, but if those guys were working in the National Enquirer it wouldn’t be as big a deal.

    In order for tabloids and bloggers to compete, they take a different approach to presenting and analyzing the news.  They rely on the First Amendment to get by, and bask in the notion that editorial control is minimal to non-existant.

    Sometimes, they screw up, as court cases show.  And most of the times, they don’t.  The Morris case is not one to be outraged over, for libel purposes.

  36. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Just dropping in to say two things:

    1. I’ve done my fair share of defamation law (even represented some newspapers!) and I can say with great confidence that there is an absolutely zero possibility that anything in Morris’ article could even arguably be construed as “actual malice.”  To suggest that Morris is a libel case is ridiculous, and I submit that the subject was injected into the debate as a means to provide some false moral high ground to those attacking him and bloggers in general.  We can argue whether he was “right” to write what he did, but the legal aspect to this is a red herring.

    2. I personally don’t subscribe to the notion that someone’s moral compass is dictated or even suggested by the outlet for which they write. Any writer is only as good as his body of work, and no one is entitled to any greater deference or any greater scorn based on whether they’re a blogger or a paid reporter for a major daily or major media company.  I welcome the same scrutiny of my work that any MSM journalist normally receives, and in fact, I’d be insulted if someone told me that I’m subject to a lower standard as a blogger.  Sure, maybe that helps me if go astray, but credibility and integrity is a two way street.  Give me full credit when I do something good, give me full scorn when I #### up.

    Any other approach is madness in my mind.

  37. Sara K said...

    I was typing the last sentence of a lovely three-paragraph comment when my darling 1-yr-old daughter wiped it out with an amazingly well-placed swipe of her chubby little hand.  *sigh*  I’ll be back later to attempt a reconstruction…

  38. Bill @ the daily something said...


    Again, you’re just WAY off-base in your understanding of libel and slander law. Just keep reading the link you just posted—the whole thing is about the “public figure doctrine,” which is the very thing that makes you terribly wrong about this. (You did mention “malice” in your blog post, but gave no hint at all of what a huge, almost insurmountable hurdle the “actual malice” standard actually is for public figures.)

    For better or worse (I’d think most people in your line of work would be pretty well convinced it’s “better”), the Supreme Court has read our Constitution to make it almost impossible to defame a public figure (which Ibanez is, at least for these purposes) unless you’re really, really trying to. No amount of pure speculation will ever suffice. If he had said “Raul Ibanez is on steroids” in a way that suggested he knew it to be true, or if the article had been written about my cousin Jim Bob the obscure middle manager, then that would be an issue. Public figures often do sue for defamation, but they almost literally never have a leg to stand on.

    I wrote a much longer explanation of it on my own blog (, but the tone of it is the much more antagonistic tone of two days ago, so I don’t even want to link to it directly. If you do read it, I’ve softened on this a great deal since then (as it seems like most of us have on both sides), and I apologize. smile 

    To get back to your response to me about Ichiro: I agree with you that it’s dumb to speculate about either Ichiro *or* Ibanez. But that misses the point. Ibanez is having exactly the kind of season, assuming it continues the way it’s started, that always leads to steroid speculation among large sectors of both your colleagues and mine (to the extent that bloggers are “colleagues,” which sounds a little haughty for our meagre set). Ichiro’s is just nowhere close. Yeah, he’s hit a couple more HR, but it’s all well within the bounds of what you might expect from him based on 2005-2008. I guess both Ichiro and Raul have hit twice as many HR as you’d expect, but there’s no reason to pretend that doubling up on 2 is anything at all like doubling up on 11. So both the bloggers and MSM (or some portions of both) engage in just the kind of speculation Morris engaged in; Craig writing a completely out-of-left(or right?)-field piece trashing Ichiro would be a totally different matter, so I don’t see how that gets us anywhere.

  39. Tom M. Tango said...

    Craig said:

    “I welcome the same scrutiny of my work that any MSM journalist normally receives, and in fact, I’d be insulted if someone told me that I’m subject to a lower standard as a blogger. “

    I respond:

    Craig, do you actually do this yourself?  Do you hold the WSJ to the same standard that you hold Hannity or Olbermann?  Or do you do as I suggest, and evaluate people based on their own standards?  You, as a lawyer, where ethics and morality plays a prime role, need in your self-interests to be evaluated to a higher standard. 

    For me, as a researcher, for my self-interests, I need for my work to be considered well thought out and unbiased. If I wanted to speculate about Roger Clemens, prior to the Mitchell report, I’m fine with that, if it means I have to be held to a lower moral standard for my work to be published.

    Again, all within the bounds of law.

  40. Sara K said...

    LCee, I think that while Tom maybe opposed to thier politics, the reason he notes them is that their rhetorical standards would seem to fall below what we are apparently supposed to expect from ‘legitimate’ journalists.  The fact that they are all conservatives does distract from the point, but the point is worth pursuing – if there is some standard all who write for the public should adhere to, whose standard is it? Where is it described?  Who are its models?

    That is to say, whose standard are we supposed to measure Morris against?

  41. Geoff Baker said...

    For Bill,

    Actually, though, Ichiro’s OBP was only marginally better in 2007 than it is now. The only reason he’s not blowing that away is because his walk rate is way down. Why should he walk when he’s crushing the ball? And since when does steroids talk and speculation center around OBP?

    Fact is, Ichiro is on-pace for his best OPS and slugging percentage since 2004, his most home runs and isolated power since 2005 and his most doubles since 2001. His OPS and slugging is the best of his career because of the home runs and doubles. That’s the stuff that’s being used to fuel steroids speculation in Ibanez’s case, so why not here in Ichiro’s case?

    And remember, in 2004, Ichiro was 30. In 2005, he was 31.

    Today, he is 35 and will be 36 in November, exactly the type of “late bloomer’’ status that is being used to excuse the Ibanez speculation. So, why not have some Ichiro speculation? He is coming close to career highs or second-best highs in several power categories. Sounds like fair game to me, if we apply the “logic’’ used to justify the targetting of Ibanez.

    I just think it stinks in both cases.

    And how about this idea? A player could also have theoretically used steroids to maintain a consistent level of production from 2001-2009. So, if Ichiro was indeed consistent all those years—which he wasn’t, because of the power spike I just showed you—could steroids not be the reason he is just as consistent at 35 as he was at age 28? Of course it could be. Which is why this type of speculation about Ibanez is bunk. You could speculate about anybody, given what we know about PEDs.

    Morris had zero grounds to do so, other than the whispers of the uninformed, chattering classes, who he gave a voice to for whatever resaon.

  42. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “Do you hold the WSJ to the same standard that you hold Hannity or Olbermann?  Or do you do as I suggest, and evaluate people based on their own standards?”

    With the caveat that I no longer watch cable news of any type, I’ll offer that I don’t consider Hannity and Olbermann on the one hand, and the WSJ on the other, to be in the same business.  The talking heads are entertainers, and within their little world, yes, I hold them all to the same standard, and that standard is hardly ever met (thus my abandonment of them).

    And that kind of distinction probably goes for me and you too.  I dabble (very inartfully) in some rough analysis. You don’t comment on breaking news and stuff and big circus issues as much as I do.  For the most part, we’re doing differnt things, even if we both do it in the context of our blogs.  My view is that any speculation you do about Roger Clemens in the service of your analysis of Roger Clemens’ performance is a different thing than my analysis of Roger Clemens as a person or personality or his Hall of Fame case or whatever. You have to speculate to make sense of numbers. If I speculate, it probably has to be couched differently.

    Or maybe not. I’m not sure, to be honest. If it helps, though, I’ll state again that Morris’ stuff didn’t violate any standard in my mind.

  43. michael standish said...

    Better Late Than Never Department:

    Someone should have the decency to inform Capper that some lunatic is sending deeply weird messages to the Shyster under his (Capper’s, that is) name.

  44. Craig Calcaterra said...

    The point—I’ll add—is that if there is a distinction in standards to be made (and I’ll grant that there may be) it’s not to be based on whether one is a blogger or online or reporter for a print enterprise.

  45. Tom M. Tango said...

    Craig said:

    “The point—I’ll add—is that if there is a distinction in standards to be made (and I’ll grant that there may be) it’s not to be based on whether one is a blogger or online or reporter for a print enterprise.”

    Right, as my examples of Lehrer v O’Reilly would suggest.  They are both delivering topical pieces on TV, but I will hold them to the standards that they themselves (implicitly) suggest.

    I will hold WSJ to a different standard than the NY Daily news, even though they get their newsprint from the same forest.

    I will hold and to a different standard, even though they have the same distribution system.

    It is not the act of blogging that sets the standard.  It is the specific individual doing whatever expression of First Amendment they are doing.  I consider Poz and DK Wilson to be the best bloggers around, and I’ll hold them to that standard.  I do that because their talents and their content require me to hold them to that standard, in order for them to be as effective as they are.

    For Morris, I’ll treat him like a run-of-the-mill blogger, maybe a bit better.

  46. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “I will hold WSJ to a different standard than the NY Daily news”

    If they’re both reporting that X happened in Y location yesterday, why would you hold them to a different standard? If Morris and Posnanski are both handicapping the pennant races, why would you hold them to a different standard?

    You can certainly take reputations into account when it comes to whether to read someone and, depending on what someone is saying, whether you trust them, but for very basic things like is someone reporting accurate news or is someone offering a compelling argument, I don’t see how it’s relevant. 

    Look, I’m not going to the mat on this here, because credibility and all of that can be a particularly individualized concept. I’m just saying that if I report that Hanley Ramirez is about to be traded to the Blue Jays, and I’m wrong, I don’t want anyone saying “well, he is just a blogger, so let’s at least congratulate him for trying to get a story out there.”  At the same time, if a columnist for ESPN the Magazine mangles a piece about the legal implications of the Mitchell Report, I don’t want to hear someone say “well he’s Mr. Big Columnist, and he’s usually right about these things, so let’s cut him a break.”

  47. Sara K said...

    Or a desire to take a closer look at the speculation, offer various ways of interpreting the information at hand, make the point that although we are at a point where we speculate reflexively, no case is ever so cut-and-dried…

    Yes, I understand why you aren’t comfortable that he used a named case study for his examination, but we have different interpretations of the purpose and effect of the article.

  48. Jack Marshall said...

    Re: Standards.

    The way we set standards was perfectly articulated by Craig above: “Give me full credit whenI do something good, give me full scorn when I #### up.”


    This discussion is the way standards get set. Rational performers in the culture adapt their conduct to the consensus. Those who don’t ultimately lose respect, credibility and influence. Censors are unnecessary. But neither can one individual set a personal standard and ignore the professional consensus.

    Dan Rather and CBS were positing new journalistic standards on “60 Minutes” when they attempted to use a forged letter to “prove” what was probably true. It was rejected. The New York Times tried a new journalistic standard when it published as front page news speculation by aides that Sen. McCain was having an “inappropriate relationship” with a female lobbyist . (I think this smear job was fairly similar to what Morris did.) The Times caught hell, and won’t try that again soon.

    The libel issue (no way Morris’s piece is actionable) just muddles the discussion. Absolutely, Morris is FREE to do what he did. Absolutely, he has the legal RIGHT.  The question is whether anyone who publishes on the web has an obligation to strive for higher ethical standards of competence, fairness,and responsibility than someone writing in their own diary…indeed,whether they should perhaps even strive for the same ethical standards journalists should (but mostly don’t) adhere to.

    I just checked the Wikipedia entry for Ibanez, which now includes THIS:

    “Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4] which raised concerns that he was using performance-enhancing drugs.”

    And I just ask: is this fair? Is it right? Is it right that a player who, outside of having the audacity to have a hot two months at the plate, has never done one thing to make anyone legitimately doubt his honesty and integrity, should now have this innuendo follow him on the web…theoretically for all time?

  49. Tom M. Tango said...

    Craig said:

    “If they’re both reporting that X happened in Y location yesterday, why would you hold them to a different standard?”

    If Reuters is reporting something that is happening in Iran today, I will trust them more than if NY Daily News is reporting on the events there.  Reuters NEEDS to be as accurate as possible.  NY Daily News just needs to be “close enough”.

    As for your ESPN example of analyzing the Mitchell report, I will hold them to a pretty low standard, and I will look to you, and other legal bloggers for the best way to interpret that report.  In this case, bloggers are held to a higher standard, but that is only a particular group of bloggers.

  50. Sara K said...

    I think the distinction has something – if not everything – to do with audience.  As I teach my ENGL 101 kids, subject matter, level of diction, amount and kind of information presented, and types of reasoning all depend heavily on the experience, knowledge, and expectations of the audience.  When writing for the general public, as Geoff does, I suppose the content really needs to be “safe” and the reasoning not too far from obvious.  For a smaller audience whose philosophical orientation and expectations are understood and serve to provide a context for subject matter, a writer might offer content and treatment of that content that the general public might not appreciate or understand.  I feel like this is what we are dealing with here, a case where the intended audience understood the article to mean something that the broader audience doesn’t see. 

    I hope this isn’t spun as “oh, that audience has shady ethics.”  An effort at smearing Ibanez would be unethical wherever it happened. I think Morris and his intended audience interpreted the discussion as one about fans’ cognition and psychology (with Ibanez serving as the most relevant current case study, a move I don’t see as being unethical). I suppose Morris could have put stats together representing a hypothetical player whose line runs parallel to Ibanez.  Still, if we all know exactly who we’re talking about, why is the name such a sticking point? Why shouldn’t we talk about the speculation, get it out in the open, and analyze it?

  51. Tom M. Tango said...

    Jack, I would edit that Wiki entry as follows:

    “Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4].  The post attempted to look at his performance to determine if there was anything unusual, which could then be potentially linked to using performance-enhancing drugs (PED).  A local Philadelphia paper then used this blog post to get Ibanez to comment on the possibility of his PED use.  In response, Ibanez attacked the credibility of the blogger and whatever conclusions Ibanez believed were made.  It is unclear if Ibanez read the blog post when he made his comment.  The blog post received national attention when it was highlighted in an ESPN TV debate involving Morris, the Philly writer, and Rosenthal.”

  52. Sara K said...

    Jack, unfortunately, that Wikipedia note is poorly worded.  It should read ” ‘Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4] which discussed fans’ perceptions of his stand-out 2009 season in terms of the post-Mitchell era.’ ”  The entry you quote is unfair to Morris as much as to Ibanez, since it misrepresents what he wrote about.

  53. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “If Reuters is reporting something that is happening in Iran today, I will trust them more than if NY Daily News is reporting on the events there.  Reuters NEEDS to be as accurate as possible.  NY Daily News just needs to be “close enough”.

    I don’t think we disagree on that. What I thought we were discussing, though, wasn’t whether one of those sources is more likely to be right about something before things are definitively known. It’s whether, after the reports come out, and one is proven to right and one wrong (or both right or both wrong) one gets scorn and the other gets a mulligan based on what they’ve done before.  That subject was raised by Geoff’s comment about Rick Reilly in his post, anyway, and informs the subject of whether or not a blogger should get slack depending on who he thought he was talking to or whatever (which is not to say I disagree with Sara’s point, which I am still digesting). 

    I’m obviously going to your blog for statistical analysis before I go to Joe Blow’s House of Sabe-Ur-Metrics, but in the unlikely event that Joe Blow gets something right that you get wrong, it’s fair to give Joe Blow credit and to criticize you for it.

  54. Tom M. Tango said...

    I like Sara K’s wiki correction better.


    Ok, if Reuters says that re-elections will happen, and if NY Daily News says that recounts will happen, and then:
    a. re-elections actually happen, then we give high praise to Reuters, and a bit of scorn to NYDN
    b. re-counts actually happen, then we are tickled pink with NYDN, and Reuters takes a big hit

    Is this “fair”?  Irrelevant.  This IS what would happen.

    Basically, if you had a stock market for “reporting news”, Reuters would start at 100$ and NYDN would start at 50$.  The stock prices would move as follows in the two scenarios:
    a. Reuters goes to 102$, and NYDN goes to 49$
    b. Reuters goes to 95$, and NYDN goes to 60$

  55. Sara K said...

    Craig, I see your point, though I would add that if a news source makes an overt effort to advertise their stellar reputation for accuracy and uses it to secure ad revenue, research privileges and readership, I would be more likely to scorn that news source for shoddy work.  It’s not necessarily a matter of judging based on reputation but judging based on self-representation.  A minor point, admittedly, and not an excuse for acting in bad faith regardless.  Just sayin’.

  56. Jack Marshall said...

    Tom: I like yours a lot better, for sure. You should try to enter it. I mean it.

    Sara, you’re right, but I also think the Wiki blurb was a wholly predictable distillation of the whole mess, ending up with Ibanez the victim (note that Morris doesn’t have his name mentioned). Look, I’ve made Morris’s mistake myself. On my ethics site that nobody reads, I wrote about a local school flap in another state (based on the accounts of local papers) where a teacher got fired for having her class write a paper about what the school had been like since a new principal took over. The majority of the kids wrote that the school had gone to hell, and she took the papers to the school board to get the principal canned. Well, the news reports indicated that she had been clashing with the principal, and to me this was a clear-cut example of a teacher using her students as weapons in a personal fight. I made her an “Ethics Dunce”, and wrote an analytical piece what was wrong with what she had done.

    Then I heard from her husband. Not reported in the papers or other news accounts was that the PRINCIPAL had told her to assign that theme. And now, when you googled her name, the first thing that popped up was “Ethics Dunce.”

    Now, my essay about what I thought she had done was still valid in theory, but its effect on her was totally unfair. I killed the post. I apologized over the phone and in print. I wrote a retraction.. And I’m a lot more careful now, as I had an obligation to be then. (Though I still screw up.) You put stuff out into the web, and you have to know it can hurt people, perhaps for a long time. If you write there, you have to consider that.

  57. The Common Man said...

    C’mon, Jack, be honest, you added that bit to Ibanez’s page yourself. wink

    Again, though, that through all your finger-wagging and outrage at Morris, you never proved your underlying assumption, that what Morris did was “gratuitously and irresponsibly harming others, or publicizing falsities, or being gratuitously mean or unfair.”  Unless you can demonstrate that to a reasonable degree, your argument doesn’t hold water.  Never has.

    From before:  “Your interpretation is that he was deliberately evasive to throw a bomb and run away before it went off.  I, and apparently many others, see it as an acknowledgement of the times we live in, where a 35+ year old guy apparently having a career year raises eyebrows.  I think the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate a) that Morris published a falsity (I see none), b) was mean or unfair (I see no evidence of that), and/or c) actually harmed Raul Ibanez (Ibanez is high in the All Star voting, was sure to go to the game before his injury, is generally well-respected and popular within the game, and has lost $0 because of this).”

    The only thing that’s changed at this point is Ibanez’s wikipedia entry, and I’d argue it’s very unclear how that hurts him.  Please explain.

  58. The Rabbit said...

    @Jack, I happen to agree with you completely that societal ethical standards and, clearly, the ethical standards of those who are deemed by the reader responsible for disseminating “fact” should surpass legal definitions for defamation, libel, or slander (depending on the medium). 

    No one should have to defend themselves against innuendo, nor, to use a phrase from “The Common Man” have a burden of proof of innocence against media rantings, suppositions, and, quite often, imagination; therefore, “Should the accusation be made?” is highly relevant. 

    @Tom, if I understand your post, because left side of that bell-shaped curve called “ethical reporting” is so low, prohibiting other writers who consciously or inadvertently stoop to that level would essentially be engaging in censorship.  The media has already proved that it is corrupt and it’s hypocritical for it to bash others when they engage in the same journalistic style.  Hard for me to disagree with that, either.

    Given that there is a worst kind of journalism that is promoted by some mainstream media sources and apparently acceptable and believable by a segment of the population, I have questions for Jack, Tom, and anyone else who’d like to comment.

    Who should provide the moral and ethical leadership to solve this without engaging in censorship?
    Asking an individual journalist with no moral/ethical compass to self-censor is akin to asking Madoff to run the NASD.
    Should “reporting” come with rating system: “fact”, “some facts mixed with opinion”, “opinion”,“wild-ass guess”, etc.  so that the casual or lowest common denominator of reader doesn’t mistake one for the other?
    Should it apply to any outlets where it is available for public consumption? 

    @LCee- I dislike the falsification of information or deliberate misrepresentation of fact to support a political agenda, be it liberal or conservative.  After days of researching original source data (not media commentary from either side), Tom has merely pointed out the most consistently flagrant examples of those who engage in that type of “journalism/commentary”.

  59. Jason said...

    Jack Marshall: “I just checked the Wikipedia entry for Ibanez, which now includes THIS:

    ‘Ibáñez was the focus of a post in the blog “Midwest Sports Fans”[4] which raised concerns that he was using performance-enhancing drugs.’”

    “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” – Michael Scott

  60. Sara K said...

    Jack, you didn’t “make Morris’s mistake.”  You didn’t write something with a specific thesis in mind that was then misinterpreted in a larger forum.  You wrote something based on ultimately misleading information published by a news source. Once you found out that the information was false, you put out a correction.  You did nothing wrong, unless you feel your mistake was publishing something based on local news reports.  Is that the mistake you think you made?

  61. Jack Marshall said...

    Common Man( loved you in “A Man for All Seasons”, by the way!):

    Harm, you ask?

    “A lost good name is ne’er retriev’d.” (John Gay)

    “O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!  (William Shakespeare)

    “A good reputation is more valuable than money.”  (Publilius Syrus)

    “Better to die than to live on with a bad reputation.” (Vietnamese Proverb)

    “Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked, and never mended well.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

    “A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.” (Francis Jeffery)

  62. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “Ok, if Reuters says that re-elections will happen, and if NY Daily News says that recounts will happen, and then:

    “a. re-elections actually happen, then we give high praise to Reuters, and a bit of scorn to NYDN
    b. re-counts actually happen, then we are tickled pink with NYDN, and Reuters takes a big hit

    “Is this “fair”?  Irrelevant.  This IS what would happen.”

    I don’t doubt that. I’m not suggesting that the scorn or praise will impact the balance of everyone’s credibility account in the same fashion, or that it even should.  Dovetailing it in with Sara’s point, yes, the reputation going in and the way in which people portray themselves going is going to have a practical impact on the reputation hit or bumps they take.

    But I’m not too worried about the disproportionate hit to that stock price you mention.  Reuters will rebound with its next 10 stories it gets right and the Daily News will find its level again in good time (or, if it really just steps its game up, it will continue to rise).  The upshot: We all have varying reputations, and in the aggregate we can largely control what they look like.

    I’m only concerning myself here with the nature of the criticism for the individual mistake or accomplishment in question. To use Geoff’s example, I will (grudgingly) grant that Rick Reilly has a reputation in his field that another person writing about sports does not have.  When he screws something up, he should be called on it and, in an ideal world, yes, his reputation should take a hit for it.  What should not happen, however, is that he not be called on it at all because of that reputation.

    Another good example of this was the Selena Roberts stuff, about which I may have written a word or two.  I think people on both sides of that had issues with their take on her. Some folks wanted to give her deference because she “broke” the A-Rod PED story a few months before. Some folks didn’t want to believe a thing she said because of her previous work on Duke Lacrosse and A-Rod in the NYT.

    I think the proper approach there—which I tried to take and hope I actually did—was to be skeptical based on her reputation, but to judge the book on its own terms (which it failed spectacularly, I might add, but that’s neither here nor there).

  63. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Jack—really.  Are we talking about actual harm here, or merely remote potential of reputational harm? From everything I’ve seen, Ibanez has actually come out of this looking far better than he did before. He’s passionate!  He’s the victim of some evil blogger!

    Reputational harm is important, but nothing in this episode did anything to remotely hurt Ibanez. If anything, Morris has a way better claim to having had his reputation sullied than does Ibanez.

  64. The Common Man said...

    And those are nice quotes, Jack.  I have one too,

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  – Second Grade

    But none of them are specific to this situation.  Again, demonstrate the harm you say Ibanez is suffering from, especially in light of Craig’s assessment (which seems spot-on to me).

  65. Jack Marshall said...

    Dear Sara…Here’s what I did wrong, I think: I didn’t think enough about about the possible or even likely consequences to the human being on the other end of my critique, and relying on sketchy accounts from rinky-dink papers was not sufficient due diligence.

  66. Tom M. Tango said...

    Geoff said:

    Which is why this type of speculation about Ibanez is bunk. You could speculate about anybody, given what we know about PEDs.

    Morris had zero grounds to do so, other than the whispers of the uninformed, chattering classes, who he gave a voice to for whatever resaon.

    I respond:

    Yes, Geoff’s POV is entirely justifiable.  If he wants to conclude that Morris’s article had a crappy thesis, and poor execution, that’s fine.  His article however is not a reason for MSM outrage.

    First, MSM turned this into a story by feeding it to Ibanez to get the completely expected reaction.

    Second, MSM points out that such an article would never have been approved by their editors.  Projecting the standards of their profession onto a blogger is irrelevant.

  67. Jack Marshall said...

    TCM: That’s called “The David Letterman Defense.” But we know that words CAN hurt you, in tangible ways.

    Craig: Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed, and the All-Star vote isn’t probative. Rod Blagojevich is getting talk show gigs and other fun stuff, and maybe he’s doing just fine, but his reputation is shot. Jessica Hahn, once a church secretary, parlayed public humiliation into breast implants, a career doing TV sleaze and Playboy features..that doesn’t prove she wasn’t harmed.

    I don’t think, in short, that you have to show actual harm to Ibanez for the post to be regarded as reckless. Unlike in law, the ethical rightness or wrongness of an act is usually not changed by the consequences. You and I can disagree over whether there was actual harm—-it doesn’t matter.
    Nor does the fact that Morris’s rep may have been harmed worse have any bearing on what he did to Ibanez, though I would ask, perhaps callously; “What reputation?” And if his reputation as a fair and competent blogger has taken a hit, it’s not undeserved.

  68. The Rabbit said...

    To the Common Man,
    Maybe I’m overly sensitive to this issue due to the content of a newspaper article that happened during my “15 minutes” which lasted about a year; however, just as “Is it appropriate to publish?” is being debated, the question “Is it mean or unfair?” can only truly be understood by the subject of the article. 
    If someone wanted to blast me for something I did and I actually did it, I had no problem. It’s the innuendo and fabrication that caused sleepless nights.
    Given the amount of venom that has been spewed by fans at players who have been outed or suspected of “cheating”, there is and will be fallout from this kind of unsubstantiated speculation.

  69. Jason said...

    “Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed”

    So if we can’t determine whether or not Ibanez was harmed, how can we condemn Morris’ blog post?

  70. chattanooga said...


    your substitution of Ichiro as a subject of PED speculation is a false analogy.  Ichiro has at one time, as you point out, produced at the level that he is currently at.  So our reasoning can accept that perhaps all of his peaks have come together in the same season.  Toss in the colloquial BP stories of Ichiro’s homerun power, and the whole season’s production is palatable. 

    However, Ibanez is paced for numbers he has NEVER produced in his career (he does not “own” this production ability), and is generating the increased output at an age when a vast majority of hitters have already begun their decline. 

    also consider that Ibanez is on pace for 57 HRs ( player page).  His career high is 33.  Do you know how many players have hit 50+ HRs in a single season after turning 35?  Just two—Barry bonds (age 36 when he hit 73) and Mark McGwire (age 35 in 1999, hitting 65).

    I am not saying that Ibanez is juicing.  I think the hot-start scenario (previously mentioned) is much more plausible, but I can’t ignore the possibility he could totally be Palmeiro-ing the situation, either. 

    regarding another post, about the “B” student… no, you wouldn’t normally suspect a the kid of cheating in those circumstances.  But what if it came to light that 5 of the kids in the class had been caught hacking in to the teacher’s computer and getting the answer keys to the tests? Obviously, those were the “A” students (since they had all the answers) who were violating the class code of ethics.  A sudden increase in performance by another student would de facto call into question whether or not they had been involved in the cheating scam.

  71. Tom M. Tango said...

    Selena Roberts is perfect.  In the view of some, her “news reporter” stock price is now at $10, right around In Touch magazine.  In the view of others, she’s still at $50, right where the tabloids are.

    “What should not happen, however, is that he not be called on it at all because of that reputation.”

    Right!  The level of “calling-outedness” is directly (not inversely) proportional to your reputation.  Reilly talks smack, he should be prepared to get smacked.


    As for the fallout, I agree with Craig’s assessment of Ibanez: he looks good here, real good.

    Geoff Baker takes one or two steps forward, and maybe one step back (he comes out a bit ahead).  His step back is in his summary of how the Rosenthal v Morris scorecard went:

    “That much was clear when he was eviscerated on national television by Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal, a longtime baseball writer for the Baltimore Sun. I’ve seen some commenters to various fan blogs the past 24 hours try to say the blogger “held his own’’ but let’s get real. It was ugly.”

    Sarah Palin got 87% on the Fox viewers poll when the viewers were asked who did better on the Palin/Biden debate, contrary to the 30%-ish who though she won in various other polls on the debate.  Baker, in calling the fight such a lopsided win for Rosenthal puts into question (for me anyway) if I can trust him to report on similar matters that involves his peers.

    His one, even two, steps forward is how he has responded, both on his blog multiple times, in emails, and in this forum.  I think he’s taken a more reasonable position now.  So, Baker leaves me very conflicted.  Not to mention of the Mariners ties, as well as both being from Montreal.

    Rosenthal looks horrible, because he did not do his due diligence when he showed up, nor did he really understand what the debate was about.  He was trying to be Buzz-lite.  I had some good deal of admiration for him prior to all this, and now I do not.  Rosenthal joins Buzz and Harold Reynolds in responding incoherently to topics they think they know alot about, when they should be doing more of the listening and less of the talking.

    The Philly reporter takes a step back, for not providing the best context he could for the story.  He sensationalized a story that didn’t have to be like that.

    MSM keeps losing it for me, because their bread-and-butter, their moral compass, their integrity, their reputation, is disappearing right before my eyes.  Their need to attack blogs as if they are some sort of threat to their integrity will be their undoing.  They are a threat to their livelihood, though.  They can take the moral high ground without needing to tell us that they have the higher moral ground.

  72. Craig Calcaterra said...

    “I don’t think, in short, that you have to show actual harm to Ibanez for the post to be regarded as reckless.”

    No, but we do have to show harm for it to be regarded as harmful, which is how it has been characterized.

    And no, it’s not necessarily up to Ibanez to determine whether it was harmful to his reputation. It may have hurt his feelings, but certainly that’s not what we’re interested in protecting here (if it is, I hereby resign from the blog).  No, we’re talking about reputation, which is a measure of how others see you, not how you feel about yourself.

    As the Drive-By Truckers sang “Daddy used to tell me, everything comes down to what they say about you when you’re not around.”  Who is saying anything bad about Ibanez as a result of what Morris wrote?

    As for Morris, there are numbers lower than zero. If you have no reputation, and then your words are plucked from obscurity, mischaractetized to have been malicious towards a popular athlete, and then publicized far and wide, I’d say you’ve had a reputational hit.

  73. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Tom—I think we need to immediately create a reputational stock market blog, because I’m really taken by the concept.

    Nice work!

  74. Jack Marshall said...

    Craig: I thought the Wiki content answered the question about Ibanez. I think that’s “bad,” don’t you? (So hurry up and change it, Tom!)

    Tom: I also endorse the reputational stock market blog idea. Brilliant.

  75. Sara K said...

    Jack, good on ya for having done the right thing in correcting your post.  It really seems like we should be able to trust news sources to tell the whole truth, not just churn out the angle their readers most want to hear. 

    Speaking of which, this whole conversation about Morris’s article relies on the assumption that the MSM sources that picked it up and made it news were themselves acting in good faith.  Warning – I am about to engage in a bit of speculation that may be considered unfair: FOXSports, ESPN, MLB Network, (etc. etc.) are business entities. They benefit directly from sensational stories.  I don’t think it out of line to voice the possiblity that they deliberately chose the most inflammatory interpretation possible to present to the public, not because they felt it was the most obvious or most reasonable interpretation, but the one that would do them the most good.

  76. Geoff Baker said...

    For Tom,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Ibanez gave the “completely expected reaction’’ to something that seemed to backhandedly imply he was using steroids.

    You don’t think it did. I do. And more importantly, so does the guy it was written about.

    Of course he reacted that way. I’ll contend yet again that any normal person would have reacted that way to something written so carelessly about them.

    And Ibanez did react that way. You can try to accuse him of not reading the thing, as some have, or of not understanding it, but maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt. He is a well-read guy. Pretty intelligent. Guarantee you he’s read it since. Again, as any normal person would after this much fuss. Has he come out and apologized, or asked to clarify his remarks? Nope. All we have to go on is that, when told of it, he exploded.

    The fact that the Philly paper asked him about it is irrelevant. Do you think Ibanez has time to sit around Googling himself at any given moment to see everything written about him?

    The only reason I saw this Shysterball site and what it had written about me is because a sympathetic reader emailed it to me. The only reason I went to your site, Tom, to read the discussion there was because you contacted me.

    I can’t understand how you think the method used to alert Ibanez to the story in any way matters. He doesn’t have to see it. The harm is caused by others who do, be they 2 million people, 2,000 people or two people. You can’t just write anything you want about people and put it in a public forum—be they public figures or not. The law is very clear on that point. You can criticize public figures with biting opinion, but you cannot imply, hint at, or give the old “wink wink” that they did something illegal without risking hot water.

    And whether or not Morris now says that’s not what he was doing, I’ve read plenty of people who feel that’s exactly what he did.

    And here’s what the law says about that when it comes to determining libel.

    “It is necessary to show not that all who heard or read the statement understood it to be defamatory, but only that one person other than the plaintiff did so.”

    So, proving that Morris implied something might not be as big a stretch as you suggest.

    As for the malice part, pertianing to public figures, what steps did Morris take to ascertain whether or not what he threw out there was true? How about none? Is that “disregard for the truth”? Perhaps. Or, maybe that can’t be proven, as you say. You never know until you get to court.

    But the law makes no distinction between newspapers and bloggers for libel purposes. That’s a fact that cannot be argued. So, even if Morris can get around not being sued for libel, as you and some others keep insisting, why should he, you and other bloggers abide by a less-restrictive moral compass than the MSM?

    Why should it be morally OK for bloggers to harm innocent people by throwing their names next to unfounded gossip about criminal activity?

    Sara K. suggests what Morris did is a way to “offer various ways of interpreting the information at hand.’‘

    How? She has no idea whether or not Ibanez took PEDs. Nobody who might be in a position to know has accused Ibanez of anything. So, what is being interpreted? That because some past home run hitters who’ve spiked in their mid-30s have been linked to steroids, he might be doing them? Again, should I backhandedly imply that Ichiro uses PEDs because he’s putting up the highest OPS and slugging percentage of his career at age 35? Or, is it just the home run total at age 37 that determines the parameters for this blind guesswork? Who decides? The people on the sidelines, often in the position to know the least? 

    There’s a difference between being “agents of change” and acting like a bunch of cyber vigilantes running around half-cocked. I guess those running blogs will have to decide which they prefer to be. And cross their fingers and hope it isn’t them who gets tarnished next.

  77. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Sara—I figured that went without saying.  It’s my assumption that the Philly reporter read that and thought that it would make a great story to get Ibanez’s reaction to a blogger accusing him of juicing, even if that’s not what he was really doing.

    My even more cynical side has me thinking that the Philly reporter himself harbored suspicions that Ibanez was juicing and needed some pretext to do so in order not to be seen as an ass.  enter blogger, enbaling the classic, passive-agressive “what do you say to the reports . . .” line of questioning.

  78. Jack Marshall said...

    Craig, Sara…you can’t be too cynical for me regarding the current state of journalistic ethics. This is a straight-through-the-floor curve, as far as I can see…whatever standards the Columbia School articulates, it’s clear that when everybody’s hitting the lifeboats, they don’t matter. And sports journalists were always on the dicey side, even before the whole profession started to rot. Sadly, your theories are quite plausible and reasonable.

  79. Tom M. Tango said...

    If you change “My even more cynical side” to “My natural inclination”, I ditto Craig’s paragraph.

  80. Sara K said...

    Indeed.  It seems that this is a lot less about what Morris said than what other people said he said. If he made a mistake in guaging his audience, it was that he didn’t anticipate that his article would give opportunistic reporters an opening to fling their own accusations.  I feel like we’re at the same philosophical point with regard to the media that Morris’s article was regard to the sport – it’s a damn shame that everything has to be reduced to the lowest common denominator because it sure kills our enjoyment of the higher end of the spectrum.

  81. Tom M. Tango said...

    Sara, fantastic! 

    Fox “News” = PED.  The rest of the media has to take a hit because its brother-in-arms is so flagrant in its biased coverage.  And all baseball players will take a hit for keeping their heads in the sand while the world was burning.  And now, all the innocents are finally coming out as the rubble is settling.

    Love it.

  82. Jack Marshall said...

    I SWEAR I tried to wrestle my metaphorical tongue to the ground, but I just have to say to Tom: Oh, PLEASE! When a CNN reporter confronts a protester with Democratic talking points and then says that protesting US economic policies is an attack on CNN—-and keeps her JOB!—-, when the editor of Newsweek says that the President is “like God,” when Time Magazine puts a Democratic candidate on its cover three times as often as the other party, and when ABC runs an infomercial from inside the White House and calls it a “news broadcast,” you think FOX is the only media outlet that’s biased? Have you ever watched Keith Olberman? That’s fair and objective in your view?

    Incredible and fascinating. Wow. [My last word on this, which is really off thread…I promise.]

  83. Tom M. Tango said...

    Actually, I don’t think I ever said that Fox “News” was the only one that was biased, did I?  Most of American media sucks.  Fox is just so flagrant.

    My best example was when Palin was voted by 87% of Fox viewers to have won the Palin/Biden debate.  When CNN ran their poll, it was something like a 65% or something win for Biden.

    While all the networks are biased to some degree or other, Fox “News” ATTRACTS an extremely skewed kind of viewer. 

    You can tell alot about a person by the company he keeps.  And Fox “News” is sleeping with a specific demographic.

    As for Keith Olbermann, he is indeed wasting his intelligence.  He’s smart enough to figure out what to spoof, but he’s not smart or funny enough to figure out HOW to spoof.  Stewart/Colbert are what Olbermann needs to be.  Otherwise, he just keeps looking like a fool.

  84. Tom M. Tango said...

    Btw, I’m Canadian, where these “liberal” politicians would be considered “conservative” in Canada.  America has no idea what “liberal” really is.  Maybe when women are allowed to bare their breasts in public without it causing commotion, then America might get it. 

    If someone can find Alanis Morrissette hosting a music awards show, and coming out with a nude-suit showing her pubic hair at 8pm, and we think it’s funny and not disgusting, that might clear it up a bit.

  85. Jack Marshall said...

    Tom: I agree with every bit of that. Thanks for the clarification. Especially Olberman. What a waste. I can’t even look at him any more—-he has egomania dipping out of every pore. He’s like the anti-matter Bill O’Reilly.

  86. Sara K said...

    “America has no idea what “liberal” really is.”…
    reminds me of a bit from “Beyond the Fringe” where Dudley Moore is soon to leave for America and his pals are telling him what it’s like: “In America, there are the Republicans, who are the equivalent of our Conservative party, and the Democrats, who are the equivalent of our Conservative party.”

  87. lar said...

    Or, from the greatest animated show ever, Futurama:

    (presidential debate between John Jackson and his clone, Jack Johnson)
    John Jackson: “It’s time someone had the courage to stand up and say: I’m against those things that everybody hates.”
    Jack Johnson: “Now, I respect my opponent. I think he’s a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said.”
    John Jackson: “I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far.”
    Jack Johnson: “And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn’t go too far enough.”

  88. Michael said...

    Jack, even biting your metaphorical tongue, your political colors have been blatant – the rigidity of your opinions gave them away. smile

    Here’s my final thought:

    FOX must strongly portray one view (while claiming “fairness” and “balance”), because it’s how they make their money. No other reason. Hannity loves his paycheck and understands where it comes from. So does O’Reilly. It comes into focus when you glimpse their personal lives from time to time – and surprise, surprise, they live like liberals!

    MSNBC has discovered money by going in the other direction (and for balance’s sake, it’s about time). No other reason.

    Let’s get this back to the subject at hand: Newspaper baseball columnists love their paychecks. And in droves, their colleagues are losing theirs. And the Internet is the reason why.

    So, these writers see it as in their best interest to demonstrate how bloggers – the johnny-come-lately, everyone-can-write hoi polloi – don’t come close to the job that a skilled, industry-supported newspaperman can do.

    In the example of Jerrod Morris, here’s a guy who wrote a column for a site that practically nobody was reading. In terms of making waves in MLB, it was the equivalent of bringing it up over beers with your friends.

    But someone brought it to the attention of a newspaperman, who thought it would be an excellent opportunity to get a rise out of Raul Ibanez. The ensuing reaction would have two positive results for the newspaperman:

    1) Generate more sales and clicks because of Ibanez’s reaction;

    2) Bury bloggers as a group.

    Has anyone else noticed that Geoff Baker has steadfastly refused to address the fact that we wouldn’t even be talking about Jarrod Morris if he and his colleagues hadn’t decided to make an example of him?

    Why is that?


  89. Michael said...

    Another thought to chew on:

    Working yourself up over the “ethics” of every single blogger in the country is as much a losing game as working yourself up over the ethics of every car driver that you see on the street. You can grouse all you want to, but it’s not going to stop the next dude from cutting you off.

  90. TC said...

    Re: who makes the standards?

    This quote is from The Economist’s Lexington columnist:

    “I think blogging is a way to test out an argument, explore a corner of an idea, expand on a thought, update a story, or otherwise look at a loose thread.”

    If Lexington/The Economist is qualified to set the standard for blogging, set a standard, maybe this is it, and if so, it seems to me that Jerrod Morris falls within it. 

    I wasn’t looking for the quote, but happened across it moments ago, and just thought I’d share: reasonable DO seem to disagree.

  91. Robert said...

    Well, I don’t have the energy to read each page of comments, so what I’m writing may have previously been implied in another comment.

    Geoff, I don’t see how collectively speculating about 25 players is somehow more appropriate than speculation regarding one specific player.  You could defame a group of people, or a specific person.  Either way, it’s defamation.

    Also, I don’t think I’m clear on your defense of the Reilly accusation.  You say “Morris is not Rick Reilly.”  Are you seriously suggesting that Reilly has a different set of ethics he can choose to publish by?

    My final thought is this:  I am disappointed in the amount of criticism Morris has received.  His article acknowledges its own speculative nature.  In today’s version of professional baseball, when you witness a developmental anomaly like we have with Ibanez, how can it NOT cross your mind?  It is an issue that we have to deal with in today’s game.  We all know it.  Putting that into writing is not only acceptable, but it is the essence of journalism. 

    I suppose the alternative is to collectively bury our heads in the sand and avoid the issue.

  92. Jack Marshall said...

    Ah, Michael,you scamp, I knew you’d respond sooner or later!

    Your analysis of my political views is just as flawed as your other analytical efforts, at least as reflected here. Yes, I have core principles that I believe in and try to apply consistently as much as possible. You can call that “rigidity” if you like, but integrity has no idiological bias.

  93. TC said...

    Part of me feels bad for addressing my comment at Jack: he seems to be juggling a lot of torches in this comment thread.  He is also saying, often, the most interesting counter-points, so what can I do?

    Anyway, Jack, you said:

    “Craig: Only Ibanez can say, ultimately, how he has been harmed, and the All-Star vote isn’t probative. Rod Blagojevich is getting talk show gigs and other fun stuff, and maybe he’s doing just fine, but his reputation is shot. Jessica Hahn, once a church secretary, parlayed public humiliation into breast implants, a career doing TV sleaze and Playboy features..that doesn’t prove she wasn’t harmed.”

    To work backwards here:

    1.  Hahn’s harm is clear: she was raped, and the shape of public perception has only ever had to do with sex and abuse.  She was working for a church at the time, and that career path was probably made difficult after being raped by an evangelist.

    2.  Blogojevich was indicted, lost his job, may see serious jailtime.  The way in which he has been harmed is even more concrete than for Hahn.

    3.  Blagojevich, of course, harmed himself by being corrupt in a position of power.  Hahn, perhaps, hurt herself, too, by changing public view from pity to disgust as she became a Playmate.  Ibanez, I think, probably did not bring on himself whatever harm anyone is attributing to him.  Obviously, the suggestion has been that Morris harmed Ibanez. 

    4.  It seems odd to me that standards for conduct are created by the group/culture, but the standards for what happens when some violates that conduct are determined individual.  That is, the group on the whole sets the levels for behavior.  The group cannot determine the effect of failure. 

    I don’t think there is anything specifically wrong with that (that is, at first glance, it seemed hypocritical, but it is not), but I do think it’s systematically unreasonable.  If we expect the same standards and values from everyone, without regard to their personal goals or intent, should we not expect them to adhere to comparable reactions to failure?

  94. Jack Marshall said...

    TC: That’s a fascinating point, and I have to think about it. (one of those torches fell on my head, and I’m slow right now.)  We do have lots of things like that; one of the most bizarre is sexual harassment, where two guys are breaking behavioral norms by obnoxiously hectoring a woman for a date, but the only one who will be found liable for harassment is the one who annoys her. She can sue one and marry the other, even though their conduct was identical!

  95. Tom M. Tango said...

    Jack said:

    Does one have a “right” to publish unfair, careless, mean-spirited bile? Sure thing, but maintaining that it’s fine and dandy to do so as long as one has sufficiently abyssmal “personal standards” is just bizarre.

    I respond:

    I basically look at the continuum where you have Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly on one side, and whoever is the standard bearer these days (Lehrer?  Gibson?  whoever you want to name) on the other side.  Morris is clearly somewhere in between, and in no way is he worse than the three musketeers.

    We all agree that everyone is allowed to say whatever they want, that they have the right to do so, within the bounds of the law.  This is agreed to.

    The question is how do we EVALUATE what everyone says?  My response is that we judge people not to our standards, not to “society’s” standards (as if there is one human society on the planet), but to the standards of the speaker/writer.  Hannity is about the worst purveyor of facts and least cogent one around.  But, I judge him by the low scummy standards that he himself has set forth for himself.  And, it seems, everyone other than Stephen Colbert does the same thing, as Hannity NEVER makes the news.  Colbert of course satirizes Hannity.  Even Rush gets in trouble because he somehow manages to go below the “even low, for you” line.  Otherwise, we never hear about Rush.

    Morris has his personal standards to which we evaluate him against.  Morris could be a scummy guy like most pro reporters on Fox “News”, and it IS fine and dandy that they do what they do, since they are consistent with their standards.  This is why Letterman got a bad rap, but some other yahoos wouldn’t have.

    Otherwise, you will have to explain to me why is what Morris said somehow more offensive than what the three musketeers say on a daily basis.


  96. Tom M. Tango said...

    And when I say this:

    “and it IS fine and dandy that they do what they do, since they are consistent with their standards”

    I mean as well that it’s because I will let society (TV viewers) decide for themselves whether to listen to them or not.  I am not in favor of having some ethical or moral compass be set so that everyone has to revolve around that.  Let people do whatever they need to do (within the bounds of the law), and the “Wisdom of the Crowd” will tune them out as they see fit.

  97. Michael said...

    Tom: I’m surprised we’re giving Jack so much benefit of doubt that he’s making a reasoned argument.

    From where I’m standing it smacks of the resolute I’m-right-you’re-wrong sports-talk/hot-talk discourse, and I’m not interested in fighting holy wars, or reasoning with the unreasonable. Jack can feel free to surprise me with a constructive grasp of the issue, but I’m not holding my breath.

  98. J.W. said...

    First off, quickly, thank you Mr. Baker for taking the time to respond. I agree 2 wrongs do not make a right, I obviously would not expect you to read every article written about baseball, and I appreciate and agree with the underlying rationale of your response.

    I think what this discussion has shown is that taking things in voids and vacuums are bad and civil discussion is good. (Um, duh.) But seriously, I, for one, now understand and appreciate Mr. Baker’s initial arguments much better. I also understand the counterarguments much better. But more importantly, I think we also see that there is nuance and context and complication and history that need to be chewed over before jumping to heated, combative conclusions. This is all obvious and no one here needs to be reminded of it, but I think sometimes we tend to get lost inside of an us-versus-them mentality and then occasionally some parts of our brains shut off. Sometimes we also go a little too far in the name of wit or humor. And sometimes we forget that the other people involved are, well, people. All you see is text, and it’s much easier to put text in a little box and not consider the varied, multi-dimensional mind that is behind the text. Anyway my point is, there’s a lot of journalists who wouldn’t have the decency and patience to jump into this conversation, there’s a lot of bloggers who would have tried to capitalize on this or would have tried to score points by being clever ahead of being open to discussion, and there’s A LOT of people trolling the internet who would have sough to destroy or severely lower the tone of this conversation for their own amusement. So it’s pretty darn cool that instead of point-counterpoint, followed by angry-point-angry-counterpoint, followed by name calling and shouting, we’ve been able to have a conversation. Personally, I think I’ve learned the lesson mooseinohio mentioned a little while back, it’s more important to be civil (and open-minded) than it is to prove to the world that you and only you are right.

  99. LCee said...

    OK, Tom, we get it: you like neither the Fox News Channel nor conservative talk show hosts. Thanks for repeatedly sharing that information.

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