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Friday, September 11, 2009
Neyer wrote a post today about the now infamous Mark Whicker-Jaycee Dugard piece. But don't bother going to ESPN to read it because it's not there. As Rogers Cadenhead at Watching the Watchers reports, ESPN spiked it. Rogers has a cached version of it here. At least a partial one.
I think we're all pretty tired of Whicker. He and his column is now played as far as I'm concerned. What isn't played, however, are the larger questions his piece raised with respect to the role of editors and writer responsibility. Whicker's piece showed what happens when editors are either asleep at the switch or, more likely in my view, not empowered to challenge name talent when they write garbage. People, especially junior people stuck working over a holiday weekend, can get fired for telling a guy with a column who has been around for two decades that they won't run his piece. This happens an awful lot at newspapers, and I can't decide if it's (a) a sad thing to see time-tested journalistic conventions break down like that; or (b) a hilarious thing given how much crap the journalists have given the bloggers for our alleged irresponsibility. What good are the credentials and that editorial layer the Buzz Bissingers of the world go on and on about if they're incapable of stopping an abortion of a column like Whicker's?
But it can swing too far the other way too, as I think it has in the case of Neyer and his editors. If there is anyone -- anyone -- in the blogosphere who has earned the benefit of the doubt, it's Rob Neyer. He has been doing his thing for well over a decade, and hasn't even thought about throwing a bomb, let alone thrown one. To the extent he's controversial it's because he has dared to upset some dumb baseball conventional wisdom, not because he has gone after people or has taken ridiculous stances or has otherwise done anything that reflects poorly on ESPN. Indeed, even the most ardent ESPN bashers add the now de rigeur "except for Rob Neyer" when denouncing all that is ESPNy.
Yet for some reason, his editors felt it necessary to pull his Whicker piece. I see nothing in it that is objectionable. In quoting his friend Keith Scherer's opinion, he even gives equal time -- or at least some benefit of the doubt -- to Whicker before launching into his own criticism. And what about that criticism? It's certainly nothing crazy or even particularly sharp. Rob simply says he dislikes the Whicker piece because it reflects poorly on sportswriting at large. Which it does, and by doing so, makes it that much harder for guys like Rob Neyer to be taken seriously, which is bad. Given that ESPN is an outfit that employs a bunch of sportswriters you'd think they would tend to agree with Rob on this one.
Yet they didn't want Rob to write it and don't want you to read it. How does that make sense? Is Whicker slated to appear on "Around the Horn" sometime soon? Is Bill Simmons the last ESPN writer permitted to have an opinion about anything outside of his usual bailiwick? I simply don't understand why this piece was pulled.
All I do know is that if ESPN's editors were to donate half of their vigilance to the editors of the OC Register, both institutions would benefit from it greatly.
UPDATE: Rob explained the removal in an email to Rogers Cadenhead this morning: "At ESPN.com, we have a policy prohibiting media criticism, and I ran afoul of that policy, however unintentional," he said. "Thus, an editor pulled the post from the site. Considering our policy, I could hardly complain."
Fair enough. If there's a policy there and it's violated, I suppose I understand. Now, about the wisdom or purpose of that policy . . .
I don't care about the Francouer precedent. I don't care about Jordan Schafer. Put this guy down as the starting RF for 2010 and let 'er rip, baby:
Mississippi manager Phillip Wellman said Heyward is neither especially vocal nor timid. In a word, steady.
When does spring training start?
Things I wrote while wondering why on Earth I agreed to review a Buzz Bissinger book . . .
And it's not even really a Bissinger book. It's a book written by LeBron James with Buzz Bissinger. So far it's actually pretty interesting (I don't know much about James, really, so it's neat to hear about where he came from). Buzz needs to work on his ghost writing skills a bit, though, as there are passages that were very obviously written by a 55 year-old writer as opposed to a 24 year-old basketball god. For example, no matter how well the narrative flows, I can't really feature James writing the phrase "we lived in a tidy old colonial" on whatever street. Anyone younger than 50 who isn't in the real estate business says "house," don't they? I'm waiting for the references to "davenports" and "ice boxes."
Rockies 5, Reds 1: Jose Contreras had to leave the game in the third inning with angina or dropsy or consumption or whatever the hell it is that 86 year-old people get all the time. Didn't matter though, because at this point the Rockies could probably put the 1985 Hackensack Bulls in the lineup -- including both Richard Pryor and John Candy in their current conditions -- and still keep winning. Case in point: Jason Giambi, your starting first baseman yesterday. He hasn't played much since coming to Colorado, but against all odds he's done well when given the chance (1-3, 2B 2 RBI yesterday). When Giambi started hitting home runs with those mid-90s A's teams I used to get him confused with Matt Stairs. Now that his career is winding down and he's providing some fat guy pop off the bench, I'm starting to get him confused with Matt Stairs again.
Nationals 8, Phillies 7: The Phillies almost came back in the ninth inning, scoring five runs but falling just short. How much you wanna bet that Charlie Manuel is secretly happy that they didn't score seven that inning, thereby forcing him to figure out what to do with a one-run lead in the ninth?
Royals 7, Tigers 4: Four straight wins for the Royals. Four straight games in which Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably, but that doesn't make either of those things any less amazing.
Marlins 13, Mets 4: Yesterday Bud Selig, in response to a question about competitive balance, said "By the way, there have been teams with high payrolls and have drawn a lot of people who have been stunning disappointments." I wonder who he was talking about? The game story described the Mets as "listless." That's fine, but how are they fixed for hap?
Blue Jays 3, Twins 2: Another painfully small crowd in Toronto last night. No hockey to report. Hmmm, why might they not have drawn well . . . I'm going with Cirque du Soleil's Ovo, which was playing at the Grand Chapiteau at Port Lands. It is, after all, a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement, and that sounds way better than a late season Jays' game, doesn't it?
Braves 9, Astros 7: ESPN's little teaser feature had this game on the sidebar yesterday, saying "another solid pitching duel tonight, with Derek Lowe towing the mound for ATL." How the hell does one "tow a mound?" Toe a rubber maybe? And screw it, they were wrong about the pitching duel anyway: Roy Oswalt got bombarded for six runs on ten hits in two innings. Derek Lowe's tow truck must have broken down too, because he wasn't a ton better (5.2 IP, 9 H. 5 ER).
Angels 3, Mariners 0: John Lackey pitched a five hit shutout, striking out seven -- he got Ichiro twice, which is kind of amazing -- and walking one. Branch Rickey Award winner Torii Hunter hit a two run homer. Probably worth noting that this west coast game ended before the eastern time Steelers-Titans game did. Even better, it didn't end with the losing team not having a chance to play offense. I'd list all the other reasons why it was superior to football, but I'm going on a trip next week and therefore won't have the time to get to them all.