Outskirts of Red Sox Nation

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'm No Role Model

Despite the demonstrated force of bloggers seen in the rise of Howard Dean and the brief rise of Ned Lamont, as well as the continued presence of Matt Drudge and Kos, I thought that we had a pretty clear understanding here. Bloggers exist largely to circulate wildly inappropriate and potentially libelous rumors. Print journalists exist largely to print boring, verifiable fact. Bloggers who work too hard on fact and cold, detached reporting have the wrong hobby, and journalists who engage in too much overt rumor-mongering look unprofessional. Being wacky, impertinent and off-the-cuff is MY job, damn it, not yours!

The most egregious example of this blurring of media lines comes from Murray Chass of the New York Times. The New York Times! In a recent column in which he noted the fact that despite reaching tentative agreements, neither J.D. Drew nor Barry Bonds are officially signed by the Red Sox and Giants, respectively. He goes on to say, "the thought arises..." that wouldn't it be interesting if the Sox decided to drop their offer to Drew and sign Barry Bonds instead. This way, he could play left field and Manny Ramirez could go back to his original position in right field.

This is a stupid thing to write- I'll deal with the merits in a second- but it's just incredible that Chass was this glib. Because it was in the Times and mentioned Red Sox players, it automatically showed up on dozens of web sites that scour the internet for Sox articles from legitimate publications and legitimate journalists. This article was a poor example of either of those. Chass should know the power of his position and the influence of the Times over the news world. The Times should know this as well, and try to stop their writers from being so stupid.

Even if it came from Joe Blogger at RedSoxRuleTheUniverse.com, it's a stupid thing to write. First of all, anyone who has any familiarity with both Manny Ramirez' defensive ability and Fenway Park's right field dimensions would be unable to recommend moving Manny over there as a sensible defensive shift. Secondly, the idea that the Sox would sign Bonds is, if not entirely laughable, quite nearly so. Bonds is nearly universally vilified in the baseball world; in fact, it's possible that San Francisco is the only place he is still applauded. Dumping him into one of the roughest media/fan markets in the nation is not a terribly winning strategy. The Sox ownership is nothing if not market-savvy. Bringing Bonds here is not likely to be high on Larry Lucchino or Theo Epstein's "to-do" list, especially with the latest revelations about amphetamine use. Third and most significantly, Barry Bonds hates Boston. He said so repeatedly. This opinion is mostly formulated based on his father's impressions of Boston, which he believed to be quite racist, but nevertheless, that opinion has passed down to Barry. He's said he'd never play here- though I'm sure that Murray Chass was unaware of that fact. He is only, after all, a baseball writer for the New York Times. Fourth, there's no indication from either side that the Drew contract won't be signed, and both sides are saying it's just about some specific legal language. Though this is probably slightly euphemistic, I've got no reason to believe the deal won't be finalized prior to Spring Training.

Ok. That's enough useless anger spent on Mr. Chass. Maybe he thought he was being wacky or clever, or stirring the pot. I just don't think it's funny. Or wacky. Or clever. It's just stupid. If Rush Limbaugh calls feminists "feminazis," it's one thing. If Dick Cheney starts saying the same thing, it's an entirely different matter. Wacky speculation and irresponsible journalism have their place. The New York Times just isn't that place.


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