LA Times Thinks Dodger Fans Are Stupid

Writer and Article Title:

Bill Shaikin, LA Times, May 26, 2010, Dodgers inquire about Clliff Lee and Roy Oswalt

What’s My Point?

There is nothing but speculation in this entire article.

Why Does it Matter?

Fans believe what is written even if there is no proof.

Dodgers inquire about Lee and Oswalt?

When I saw this title on the Internet I was shocked so I clicked it.  I was surprised that the Dodgers would comment on whom they were trying to acquire.  As I read, I simply made sure that the claims were backed up with facts or quotes.

The following is a breakdown of the article.  We will go through each paragraph, read the claim, and then find the corresponding proof.  I will give a “thumbs up” if Shaikin proves his point with fact or quote or a “thumbs down” if he doesn’t.

The title says that the “Dodgers inquired” about these 2 pitchers so we will try and find proof that the statements is valid.

First Paragraph

The Dodgers have asked the Seattle Mariners about Cliff Lee and the Houston Astros about Roy Oswalt. The response from the Mariners and the Astros has been the same: We’re not about to trade our guy just yet, but we’ll get back to you if and when we do.

So far we are told that the Dodgers have inquired about both pitchers.  Although it doesn’t quote Ned Colletti or any other Dodgers official, we will be on the lookout for the quote that confirms this statement.  Shaikin also claims the Mariners and Astros are “not about to trade our guy just yet, but we’ll get back to you if and when they do.” So we will look for proof of that as well.

Second Paragraph

Even if the Dodgers were to agree to take on salary, the chances of a trade could depend on how deeply the Mariners and Astros wish to rebuild. The Dodgers’ top prospects are at the lower levels of the minor leagues, so the team would be an unlikely trade partner should the Mariners or Astros want a trade package to feature talent ready for the major leagues.

Thumbs down so far.  We don’t have any quote, but we still have time.  This paragraph gives us some background on the Dodgers system.

Third Paragraph

The Mariners might demand a more attractive prospect package because a half-season of Lee would come at $4.5 million. That would be one-fifth the cost of Oswalt, who is signed through 2011 — or one-ninth, if Oswalt asked the Dodgers to pick up a 2012 option in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause, for a total financial commitment of $39.5 million.

Thumbs down but again, we are only in the third paragraph.  This portion tells the reader that the Mariners “might” ask for better prospects because Lee’s salary is “one-fifth” the cost of Oswalt’s or “one-ninth” of the total if Oswalt asks them to pick up his 2012 in order to wave his no trade clause.

Paragraphs 4, 5, and 6

These 3 paragraphs tell the reader what the Dodgers rotation looks like.  Shaikin then says that Dodgers manager, Joe Torre,

“hopes the Dodgers can acquire a top veteran pitcher”

based on a suggestion.

“suggested the team would be better off if Kershaw at the top of the rotation were a luxury and not a necessity“

Shaiken then uses this next statement as though it proves his point.

“This is what, his second full year?” Torre said Wednesday. “It’s really unfair to say, ‘He’s pitching for us and we’ll be fine.’ “

So we are still thumbs down on the original statement that the Dodgers have inquired.

Paragraphs 7 and 8

General Manager Ned Colletti met with owner Frank McCourt in the Dodgers’ dugout before Tuesday’s game. Colletti would not discuss what players the Dodgers might be targeting but said he believes McCourt would consider adding salary on a case-by-case basis.

“I think it really depends on the deal,” Colletti said.

Thumbs down.  Neither Ned Colletti nor Frank McCourt were quoted saying they “inquired” about Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt.

So Let Me Get This Straight

The title of the article says the Dodgers inquired about these 2 pitchers, but Shaikin writes,

“Colletti would not discuss what players the Dodgers might be targeting but said he believes McCourt would consider adding salary on a case-by-case basis.”

I don’t get it?  Where did Shaikin get this information without any statements that support his claim?

The fact of the matter is that the statements don’t exist.  And while we are at it, why don’t we figure out where Torre said he would like a veteran pitcher.  I can’t find any support for that either.  If there were support, it would have been linked to the article or stated so that the reader could reference the information.  My favorite point is the response from the Mariners and the Astros, which said they weren’t ready to make a move at this point.  No proof there either.

Shaikin Doesn’t Backup a Single Statement

Shaikin’s title says the Dodgers inquired about Lee and Oswalt and there was ZERO proof.

Shaikin says that the Mariners and Astros responded by saying they aren’t going to trade just yet, but they’ll get back to you if they do.  There is ZERO proof to that as well.

Shaikin says that Joe Torre hopes to acquire a top veteran pitcher and there is ZERO proof of that.

So here is what the article looks like based on facts.

“The Dodgers GM, Ned Colletti, will not comment on trades.  But he did say that he believes that owner, Frank McCourt, would consider adding salary on a case-by-case basis.”

Here is what the reader is lead to believe

The Dodgers have called the Mariners and Astros to inquire about Lee and Oswalt.  But the Mariners and Astros said that they are not going to make any move right now.  Then the reader hears that Torre would like to have a veteran pitcher.

Reality

The LA Times knows the reader will believe anything as long as they “infer” that it is true.  They have reached a point where they don’t even need to support their statements in the article.  The title isn’t proven for goodness sake!

And don’t give me the Colletti and McCourt are sitting on the bench together bit.  Sure they were.  Heck, they might have flat out said these statements.  But it wasn’t quoted, referenced, or proven and because of that, this article has purposely misled the reader.

Do you care?


66 Comments on “LA Times Thinks Dodger Fans Are Stupid”

  1. Josh Fisher says:

    Morgan–

    I am the creator and writer of http://www.dodgerdivorce.com — a website that, by its nature, has been extraordinarily negative towards Dodgers ownership and the McCourts in particular. In this case, I don’t believe Bill Shaikin would make this sort of thing up out of whole cloth. I think you’re smelling smoke from several other fires and attributing it to this non-fire.

    I’m happy to talk this over further: dodgerdivorce@gmail.com . I’m as distrustful of the organization as anyone should be, and I don’t believe it would play Shaikin like this. And I certainly don’t believe Shaikin would fabricate this.

    Josh

  2. Muse Seymour says:

    This is terrible journalism. A large reason why I do freelance sports writing; because I want to give the reader the accurate perspective something that’s not happening often enough. I cannot believe garbage like this gets by an editor. I thought fact checking was required, especially at the level required to report for paper the size of the LA Times. It really makes me wonder why top notch sports/beat writers cannot maintain steady work.

  3. Muse Seymour says:

    Josh, maybe what Shaikin says is true and if that is the case he needs to write his articles better. I have not read a lot of his previous work to say anything against him as a reporter, but this article is poorly written and Morgan has done a great job pointing that out.

    Muse

  4. Josh Fisher says:

    Morgan–

    There is implicit proof. Guys as established as Shaikin cannot get where they’re at by making things up or running with stories without adequate confirmation.

    I get why you’re looking for a quote, but the absence of one speaks to the media’s role: Shaikin has likely talked to some people whose needs aren’t suited by being named.

    The reality is this: the Dodgers probably don’t have the cash to take on significant salaries. Still, Ned Colletti is doing his job. It’s unfortunate that the Dodgers–playing in one of baseball’s best markets–cannot act like a big-time player. But it doesn’t mean that those following the team are fabricating stories.

    Josh Fisher
    DodgerDivorce.com
    DodgerDicorce@gmail.com

    • Josh… I think the article is true. But my point is about supporting your statements if you work for a paper. If you want to write a piece that speculates, then don’t say the Dodgers contacted….then the teams responded…then say at the end that Colletti won’t comment on trade moves. Do you really think this is ok?

      Morgan

      • thehemogoblin says:

        But chances are, the Dodgers did contact the M’s and Astros. And I’m positive that Ned Colletti won’t comment publicly on trades. There’s another front office source for Bill Shaikin who would probably get in trouble if his name were to be leaked by the press. I’m also guessing that adding “said an unnamed person in XXX department” would probably be obvious enough to incriminate the source to the Dodgers’ front office. Hence, the attribution-free commentary.

        The speculation is in the trades, not the phone calls. The reporter is saying the calls happened and the trades might later. There’s nothing inherently wrong in this reporting.

        • You have been tricked… not only did his source comment on the Dodgers, but he also revealed what the Mariners and Astros response was. I am not questioning if this is true or not…I am saying this is so out of line to write like this with zero accountability.

          Morgan

  5. Alan says:

    Morgan,
    Do I still care? While not having the stats or sabermetrics to support this statement, I will say that in journalism, baseball writers have some of the highest integrity. Doesn’t say much for the media does it?
    Fans are constantantly reading baseball print.(look @ the success you have had here!) Frequently one must just take it at face value. ENTERTAINMENT.
    Baseball allows us to escape, and qualifies as an expensive addiction. Hearing/Reading crap like you demonstrated here with the LA article, is like a normal conversation with everyone we come in contact with, on every subject, everyday. Wade through it. Some times chuckle. Sometime belly-laugh. Sometimes never finish the thing.
    The greatest joy of the insight of your writing is that we find it thought provoking. Don’t Stop!
    Being a Royals fan for soooo many years has had a range of emotions. A few years ago a local writer, Sam Mellinger, asked his readers to respond to-“Why Do You Still Care?” Answers had an array of reasons, some would bring tears to your eyes. I can only sumarise with the idea that occasionally you come accross a real gem. For example, Buck O’Neil once was asked why he continued to return to the ballpark, and he replied along the lines of —He was waiting for that special sound that only comes when specific people hit the ball. His memories were of the Babe, Josh Gibson and Bo. More than the sound is the familiarity of the “feel” of that sound when you really connect with one. Hammered.
    Some people just don’t get it.
    Don’t Jinx the Dirt

    • Alan I care because ball players are the ones that have to deal with speculation. I am not alright with this type of writing at all. This is not opinion. This is written as though it is supported with concrete fact. If he wants to write this then he should either say this is opinion and not say the Dodgers have definitively contacted those teams or say that his sources have confirmed his suspicions.

      Morgan

  6. Ashitaka says:

    Why are we surprised by this kind of thing anymore? People believe whatever the media tells them (thus Obama is the president of the USA), and not just the media; all it takes is for someone to have a degree from a college to teach High School biology, and they’re an expert who cannot be questioned. All it takes is some guy in a white lab coat to stand up and say “I’m a scientist, and this is true!” and people buy it without a moment’s hesitation, never doing their own research or thinking, and then actually have the gall to ridicule people who DO do their own research and thinking and come up with a different opinion. This article is just one more example of how the people of this country are like stupid sheep, all to willing to be blindly led to the slaughter.

    • Jason says:

      WOW… This is what we call using a topic for an unintended purpose, children.

      This is a baseball blog, not one about science or politics or anything like that…

      • Ashitaka says:

        This particular blog was about the way journalism has declined and how people believe anything they read. The subject of the article being discussed was baseball, but the discussion itself had little to do with baseball. Morgan was dissecting the article for the purpose of pointing out the flaws in the journalistic style and how it was put together, not to discuss the actual baseball-related topics present in the article. My reply was completely appropriate and related. This is what we call reading comprehension, children.

    • People do tend to agree with anything in print for sure Ash.

      Morgan

  7. Jason says:

    That’s an article that would fail Journalism 101…

    And journalism like this is one of the subjects of the Ombudsman article on ESPN right now, too…

    Morgan is right, if they said it, attribute it. But he’s not even giving the readers a blind quote or an un-named source.

    It is SERIOUSLY poor work…

  8. Nick says:

    Have to agree with the Dodger Divorce guy here (keep plugging that site).

    With more established members of the baseball journo-frat, readers are implicitly relying on the writers connections to provide off the record information not available through regular channels, like press conferences and direct quotes.

    This reliance is easily abused, which is why articles like this need to be taken with a grain of salt, and measured against the readers trust in the journalist. On a broader scale, readers should assume that everything in the sports section that’s not a game recap or a box score is part editorial. The sports section shares more with arts and leisure than it does with local news.

  9. John Parent says:

    I agree that Shaikin should have, at bare minimum, included a “sources inside the Dodger organization confirmed” type line. Without it, you’re right, it is pure speculation presented as fact. I understand that the identity of said sources in frequently not disclosed, but you should at least mention where you get your information.

  10. kaufmak says:

    Hey kaufmak here from kaufmak’s lazy blog (kaufmak.wordpress.com if the Dodger guy can plug so can I) and I think your final statement hits it on the head. Do I care? Not really. It is also why I have a low opinion of sports writers (I am loathe to call them reporters or journalists) Writing about the fact that a GM is inquiring about players is possibly the biggest non-story out there. If the GM of your team is worth any salt, OF COURSE he’s inquiring about players, working the phones, actually doing his job. Does it mean every inquiry is going to result in a move? well, no that is just silly. With no reporting what so ever I could say Kenny Williams is looking to move Bobby Jenks. Is it true? probably. Would KW confirm it? no. I’ll grant you that the writer from the LA Times has more contact with the Dodgers than I do with the White Sox, but ultimately it’s all speculation masquerading as journalism. I don’t completely blame the writer from the Times either. We are in the world of the 24 hour news cycle, as Lebatard recently said, “we have to constantly feed the beast.” And that is what he’s doing. It’s best just to ignore it, watch the games and read Morgan’s blog for the truth🙂

    • I agree with everything you say here kaugmak…except the part about “giving in” to the status quo. No way bud. It may not be as flashy, but accountability will gain you a greater following.

      Morgan

  11. pat says:

    The 24/7 accessibility to news has given rise to less reporters and more columnists. Less substantiated who, what, where and when based in fact and more because I said so and here’s what I think based on herasay and speculation.

    The tabloid mentality of unnamed sources and people close to the situation are being given the same credibility that a named source would but the credibility and motive of unnamed sources can’t be fairly evaluated.

  12. Tony says:

    Morgan, I could point you to a similar example recently here in Scotland.

    We have two main newspapers; one printed a ridiculous story about a player moving from one of the big football clubs (Rangers) to the other (Celtic) – something that has hardly ever happened in over 120 years.

    Celtic released a statement outright denying the story and mocking it.

    The paper ran a raft a stories the following day quoting “unnamed sources” and interviews with former players and staff about the proposed “Deal of the century”.

    Terrible journalism is worldwide.

  13. John Stukes says:

    It’s not just the sportswriters doing this. If you applied the same scrutiny to any NY Times article you’d get the same result. Sometimes the story and the headline say exactly opposite things!

    I don’t think sports fans “believe” this stuff so much as we are numb to it. We know opinion-masked-as-news when we see it.

  14. pat says:

    Just saw your retweet from Molly Knight and 140 characters don’t suffice.

    Please tell Molly that unnamed or anonymous sources should be reserved for matters of national security or public protection and have little place in a piece for ESPN unless either of those things are being compromised.

    To me, it comes down to accountability. Fans expect it from our athletes and the media often writes about it when it is absent in them but too often lacks it in themselves or embraces it when it serves their end game.

    I was raised that if you say it, own it. If personal loss is too big a price to pay by saying something maybe it is better left unsaid.

  15. Brian McMahon says:

    Morgan, the problem is that a lot of the time (in both government and in baseball) somebody within an organization wants the public to know something but doesn’t want to be on record talking about it. So that person will talk to a reporter on “background,” which means you can’t quote him on it, but you can print what happened.

    It would not shock me in the least if Colletti himself told Shaikin that he had made these inquiries and that the teams weren’t ready to deal yet. Then Colletti could say, “Now here’s what you can quote me on: ‘I can’t comment on any deals.'”

    This happens all the time. If the editor is doing his/her job, then they know where Shaikin got the info, and they determine if it’s ok to use.

    The easy response to this is to say, “Well, if Colletti (or whoever) won’t be quoted, then Shaikin should refuse to use the information.” Which is fine, except then Colletti would just go find another reporter who would be willing to print it without attribution, and soon Shaikin would be out of a job because he wouldn’t get any good stories.

  16. SJHaack says:

    On one hand, I agree with you that the article as-written does not support its title.

    On the other hand, if I was a Dodger fan I would be pretty upset if they were NOT inquiring about Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. The Dodgers are in a position to win and those are excellent pitchers potentially for sale. You could probably rename the article to “Dodgers Front Office Is Doing Its Job (We Hope)”.

    • Or you could write an article with sources. And I know it is illegal to comment on players who are on other teams. But there are correct was to hold the statements accountable and if you can’t do that, you should put it out there.

      Morgan

    • SJH- my point is about accountability. I like your thinking from the baseball side though and I think you are right.

      Morgan

  17. Rick says:

    Do I care that claims of fact are supported by evidence? Sure. But what choice do I have? As a consumer, the only way for me to affect the quality of the reporting is with my wallet. As any newspaper and you’ll find that many people have done just that.

    Most news outlets simply don’t seem to want to recognize that the news market has irreparably bifuracted, or actually trifuracted (if that’s a word). I see three basic buckets of “news”
    – Invesitgative journalism: Articles built around factual information that cannot be easily obtained. Because of the difficulty of obtaining this information, this type of work is the hardest to do and needs to be paid for.
    – News: Stuff that happened. Information/events offered up by the public for free. The only value here is a bit of context setting and organization. This is basically commodotized and can be done very cheaply. Just look at Yahoo’s recent move to hire people for peanuts to churn out pieces which are window dressing on top of aggregators.
    – Speculation/Opinion: Conjecture and speculation by a (hopefully) intelligent person who can provide some value by connecting known information in novel ways.

    Historically, major media outlets have provided all three services and were able to make money by both selling information directly to consumers and sellign the value of access to those consumers to advertisers. With the internet explosion, access to news and opinion has been completely commoditized. Because people offer this infomration up freely and it can dissiminated at little to no cost, the only made to be made here is in the ads. (The exception here is if you have individuals whose opinions are extremely well respected and who add value to the product) No longer will people pay for access to news. There is no longer a need for a gatekeeper. I don’t need a game story. If I care enough about the details to read the game story, I probably watched it or can at least read a box score.

    People will still pay for good investigative journalism, but that’s what magazines are for. It’s costly to do and cannot be support by advertising alone. To be successful, you have to be the best in your niche.

    The simple reality is that newspapers are no longer necessary. They try to do everything and end up doing it worse than their competitors in each area. Their cost structure was only justified when they could charge consumers for news and opinion. Since they can no longer do that, the only revenue stream is advertising. And because there are so many other better aggregators of news that can be tailored to each persons wants and because opinion is given freely by bloggers who need no expertise, the eyeballs are fleeing.

    In response, newspapers are flailing. They can’t support the loss-leader of true investigative journalism, so that’s gone. Basic news just isn’t that exciting and won’t attract enough eyeballs, so in a desperate attempt for those eyeballs, they try to spice it up and pretend like they have something different, some real insider info (which they don’t have since they don’t have enough reporters left to gather it) combined it with expert opinion (from journalists instead of actual subject matter experts). The result is confused, shined up junk like that article.

    They refuse to give up their broad based approach and we’re seeing the results. They try to serve all masters and end up doing it all poorly. Charging consumers for a high quality product that cannot be obtained freely is a niche market based on subject matter, not geography. This doesn’t fit the newspaper model. Charging advertisers for access to eyeballs is a technology driven fight based on aggregating and prioritizing commodotized information.

    So it’s now down to individual journalists, such as C Trent Rosencrans at cnati.com to do the high quality work and ask people to pay for it directly. Newspapers no longer have anything to offer that I can’t get a better version of elsewhere. The newspaper model is simply no longer needed; they just aren’t willing to move on. And unfortunately for baseball fans, MLB has been very slow to recognize and adapt to this new world.

    • Rick that was a lot of good stuff. I actually read it all. My response to that is to teach the writers how to ask the correct questions. If a baseball player were to sit with a computer and watch a game. Then go in to he locker room and ask questions, it would blow your mind. The story the baseball player would write would be factual and we would provide you with game theory that isn’t known to journalists. So I do agree that most reporters are asking the wrong questions and that is making the paper obsolete. However, if I were to sit down with them, I believe I could teach them how to write about baseball.

      Heck, that sounds like and idea. Who knows editors for newspapers?

      Morgan

  18. Brendan says:

    Morgan,

    I love that you brought this up. Accountability is the problem. Journalism was given a shield to protect from giving up their sources for a reason, and this article does not demonstrate anything of that nature. In fact, for all we know, the source for the article could have been Shaikin’s uncle Ted who watches a lot of sports and thought this is what happened. We don’t know because he never bothers to make a distinction.

    Another troublesome thing I see is some of the comments referring to “implicit proof” and assuming Shaikin would not make it up. Who decides when you have earned the benefit of the doubt? Should the decider of truth be the editor who needs to sell papers or be fired? Facts equal truth, and if you can’t back up your writing with facts, then stop writing.

  19. walkoff59 says:

    I bet the other 90 % of the teams “inquired” about them as well – in one form or another.

    in·quire (n-kwr) also en·quire (n-)
    v. in·quired also en·quired, in·quir·ing also en·quir·ing, in·quires also en·quires
    v.intr.
    1. To seek information by asking a question: inquired about prices.
    2. To make an inquiry or investigation: inquire into the extent of the corruption.
    v.tr.
    1. To ask about.
    2. To ask: “I am free to inquire what a work of art means to me” (Bernard Berenson). See Synonyms at ask.
    Phrasal Verb:
    inquire after
    To ask about the health or condition of.

  20. Karen says:

    To answer your main question–yes, I care. As an historian, I expect evidence to support an argument or statement. If there is no evidence, then I just dismiss it as hearsay–which is what I would do with this article. I have seen enough stories to suspect that Roy Oswalt, for instance, would be amenable to a trade to a contender, especially given the poor run support he has received this year. That doesn’t mean, though, we can automatically presume that he will end up in a Dodgers uniform, or Phillies, or Yankees, or Red Sox…you get my point. Before the Astros trade Oswalt, they would need to make sure that they are getting at least equal value (or, hopefully, greater value) through prospects and close-to-major league ready talent (which would pretty much eliminate the Phillies, for instance, because they traded away a boatload of talent to get Roy Halladay last fall). Oswalt is still under contract through 2011, so he does have value beyond this year. Cliff Lee will be a free agent after this season, so the Mariners probably would have lower demands–just get back the equivalent of what they gave up to acquire him from the Phillies last winter, because they probably won’t be able to resign him (not necessarily because they don’t have the money, but because after experiencing the World Series last fall he would want to go to a contender). It certainly is easy enough for someone to verify quotes made by general managers, managers, owners, players, etc., so the idea that people would read an article like this one and believe it without questioning its veracity is mind-boggling. What particularly is astounding is the idea that McCourt would be willing to add salary, when the Dodgers really weren’t major players in free agency last year because of the financial ramifications of the McCourts’ divorce. I guess Shaikin wasn’t expecting anyone to question his sources, since he didn’t provide us with any to verify.

    • Good points Karen. I still don’t understand why the divorce is an issue. John Moores just went through it and they got Moorad. There are many people who will step in to d buy some ownership.

      Morgan

  21. LAT says:

    I am a Dodger season ticket holder and I am surprised that Josh is giving the Dodgers and the Times a pass on this. I must disclose my complete lack of objectivity but this is Josh’s fault. His painstaking review of legal documents has shed light on the McCourt’s true finances, debts with potential ownership implications which were not only previously undisclosed but actually misrepresented, failure to pay state or federal income taxes since 2004, a lifestyle that cost $2.3 million A MONTH, and shell business entities designed to divert money away from the team in violation of various loan covenants. How could you not hate these people?

    In any event, given the symbiotic relationship between a beat writer and the team he is covering, I believe there is no source because the story is not true. The McCourt’s and Ned are under a lot of pressure out here. It was inexcusable they didn’t pick up Cliff Lee, Roy Haliday or another pitcher not named Ortiz or Padilla before the season but there was no money. There still is no money. In fact, the divorce filings indicate there is less money. So Ned tells Shankin that he has looked into Oswalt and Lee simply to placate the frustrated fans. Morgan is correct, the fans will believe anything in print so why not relieve some of the building criticism by getting your beat writer to print an article that you were willing to trade for theses aces but they weren’t available. It’s not the Dodgers fault they weren’t available. As for Shankin being used as a shill, don’t worry about him, the Dodgers will give him the exclusive when they bring Gagne out of retirement. There is no proof because the story isn’t true. If the proof existed it would be in the article. Plain and simple.

    • LAT I don’t hate the McCourts at all. So far, the Dodgers are doing great. No matter what you think of them, they have Ned Colletti and home grown players. Why is everyone talking about the divorce anyway? If the McCourts can’t keep the team, they sell. Seems straight forward to me.

      Morgan

  22. teamlittleguy says:

    The problem is, there is a real demand by fans for this “information” and all sides of the baseball equation “play the game” … a team official might drop a rumor to trick their own fan base and generate a little PR buzz (a distinct possibility here) … or create a (better) market for a player the team wishes to trade. Player agents do this in an effort to get teams to bid up their player’s contracts. Reporters get clicks and sell papers.

    If you’re an LA fan, best to wait on buying Cliffie & Roy a “you look awesome in Dodger blue” card.😉

    • TLG- The problem is that you don’t trust newspapers. I don’t give one lick about what fans demand. Sure you get a little “rise” at first, but you eventually become numb to honesty and integrity. The reason newspapers are struggling is because they are going for a short fix by providing TMZ type material. The papers are not as nimble as TMZ so it is a waste of resources. They forgot why we read newspapers in the first place.

      Morgan

      • teamlittleguy says:

        Morgan: I hear what you are saying and I agree that newspapers and other forms of media have signed away their credibility on issues such as this (and many others). I just find it interesting that all the stakeholders here play the game.

        On a totally separate note, I got my DVD copy of Spinal Tap this week and will try to find a couple of hours to check it out this weekend if possible.

        I’ll let you know if it’s an “11” on my rating scale.🙂

  23. Drew says:

    Assuming that the facts are true just not thoroughly supported (my journalism professor would be disappointed), as an Astros fan I would have no problem with the Dodgers trading away non major league ready prospects at the lower tiers of their farm system. Do I think it will happen? No. The Astros front office would want at least 1 or 2 major league ready or cheap young players (Kershaw and Billingsly are still cheap I believe, but LA wouldnt part with them) and the other problem is the Dodgers are in a mess of ownership and its laughable that they wouldnt offer arbitrtation to Randy Wolf & Orlando Hudson for the insane reason of not wanting to pay the draft picks for 2011’s draft. What? Really? Then the fact that LA is still paying backloaded salaries to Randy Wolf and Manny Ramirez and gosh, who knows who else.

    Anyway, good catch Morgan.

  24. Jake says:

    Morgan, since we don’t know for sure, let’s suppose Shaikin did speak to Colletti who told him about the calls but also he said he can’t comment on the record. How should Shaikin proceed? Should he not write the story? Should he write the story and attribute the statements to Colletti, knowing Colletti will never speak to him off the record ever again?

    I don’t disagree there are some writers who just throw statements out there that have no basis in fact. I also don’t disagree many people just assume what they see, hear or read is fact, regardless. I’m just not sure how we solve the problem, so would love to hear what you think is a solution.

    Jake Stevens
    Host, “There It Is!”
    ESPN1230
    Bakersfield, CA

    • Great question. I would have written something similar to this… It is a virtual certainty that the Dodgers will inquire about Lee and Oswalt. When Colletti was asked, “He wasn’t able to comment, however, Colletti does feel like the Dodgers will be aggressive in picking up strong proven starters.” Lee and Oswalt fit that bill.

      I am just throwing that out there…the point is that accountability is “King” and it is vital to play by the rules of honesty. If we allow writers to speculate as though they are presenting fact, eventually, a writer could fabricate stories.

      Jake I want you to know that I completely believe that this conversation took place. The fact that it is true is not my point. MLB says that GM’s are not allowed to comment on other teams players when talking about trades. That being the case, it is vital for the readers to understand that. In essence, to write this truth is to bend the rules in other truths that the fans don’t know.

      The reality is that Shaikin knows it is true, but he has to keep his integrity. The part that everyone is missing is that Shaikin also writes the responses from the Mariners and Astros. That is past the line. If writers do that, then teams can manipulate the market by using the paper.

      Finally, “off the record” should only be used to gain a “sense or understanding” of a situation. For example, suppose the Dodgers know that Lee or Oswalt has a recurring injury that the Mariners or Astros don’t know about because one of the Dodgers players worked out with them in the off-season. The Dodgers don’t want fans to think they are not trying to let good talent go. But, the Dodgers know something that the fans and media don’t. So a GM would say,

      “Listen, off the record, we have to think about health. This guy seems like he gets hurt a lot and we can’t spend that type of money if he is prone to injury. But if I tell you that, that goes against the rules. So I want you to understand that we want to pursue opportunities, but this particular one could be misinterpreted. Now back on the record, teams with proven big league starters are always valuable and we would love to acquire every great pitcher in the game. It all comes down to the deal.”

      That might be confusing, but I believe that Shaikin has to be better when writing facts that cannot be checked. Does that make sense?

      Morgan

  25. Jacob says:

    …and the Chron seconds the Times’ assumption about the fans –http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/7026088.html

  26. Jake says:

    Morgan,

    Thanks for the answer, it does make sense. Of course, rumor and speculation will always exist, frankly it’s part of the game that a lot of fans enjoy, but I understand your point that there are ways to present information to clarify whether it is “fact” or not.

    Jake Stevens
    Host, “There It Is!”
    ESPN1230
    Bakersfield, CA

  27. Matt says:

    Mo-

    It’s sad, really. In our current “Information Age,” sports journalism like all journalism straddles the slippery slope of using proven fact and conjecture.

    Here’s an example:
    Unscrupulous paparazzi snap photos of public figures, often illegally or by bending the rules of decency. TMZ pays for the photos and posts them online. Mainstream media run the photos with absolutely no regard for truth , fact-checking or CONTEXT by simply stating, “TMZ is reporting that…”.

    In this way, it is presented as fact.

    Cronkite used to say he wouldn’t run a news item unless it could be verified by three different sources. Today, if some dirtball photg incites a celebrity to smack the camera out of his face, that makes the news.

    With thousands of outlets for news and information, it’s even harder today to know what is TRUTH.

    How’s that for irony?

  28. Couch Tater says:

    Credible sports journalists understand the problem associated with anonymous sources. To lump all writers or newspapers in the same category is wrong.

    It is ultimately the readers responsibility to be discerning. The writer will be will be held accountable by market demand.

    Don Ohlmeyer wrote a very good article about journalistic integrity here…
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=ohlmeyer_don&id=5220492

  29. Razzlegator says:

    Here is an example of what you’re talking about 14. There is no direct quote from Maddon that he condoned this play, although he has said as much in the past. That doesn’t necessarily mean he condoned it this time, but the inference was made, and the fans went with it.

    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/article1098883.ece

    • Razzlegator this is great work. I didn’t see the play so I will tread with caution as I write. Maddon has provided clear rules for decisions with base running. Pena’s belief that he should go could be different than Maddon’s.

      The real point is that you found a perfect example Razz. Nice work.

      Morgan

      • Razzlegator says:

        I think Maddon would have provided a quote quite similar to the implied one, as Joe is not one for throwing his players under the bus in public. A fact I’m sure you are familiar with.

        • I do know that the Rays run like that. Again I didn’t see the play, but you are right that Maddon protects players. He is a great manger because he cares about people.

          Morgan

  30. Eric Jahnke says:

    One thing to keep in mind when reading anything in the newspaper is that the article is written by one person, and the headline written by another person.

    It is VERY frustrating to a writer to have someone on the copy desk write a terrible headline for their hard work. That is often the case … but it is even worse when an editor steps in and slaps a terrible or even misleading (as in this case) headline on it.

    Headline writing is considered an “art” by some folks in the media establishment, and a “pain in the butt,” by others. It is not easy to grab the attention of a reader, and have them read a certain article. It is even harder to grab the attention of someone passing by the newsstand and have them pick up and purchase the paper.

    It is also hard to fit a headline into such small space and have it make sense, but that doesn’t have much to do with this topic. This also applies to online writing, but of course that is not as restrictive, space-wise, as an actual, physical newspaper is. (Magazines are a different thing altogether, as they can be much more creative than a newspaper can, mostly due to the amount of time they have before their publishing deadline.)

    Headlines are one of the keys to selling a paper, so the folks writing them feel a tremendous amount of pressure to write “good ones.” Their definition of “good” is “making sales,” whereas a reader will have a completely different definition if they ever actually take the time to think about it.

    The “good” thing for the newspaper crowd is that most people don’t question what they read.

    I am glad to see that you do, Morgan, and that will keep me coming back to read your blog.

    Oh, that and I am a huge Astros fan …

    • Great information Eric. I can definitely understand that writers do not get to write the titles of articles and it is a shame. It is ironic to me that newspapers feel like their only chance to compete is by letting go of integrity. The wonder why they don’t sell anymore.

      Morgan

  31. Razzlegator says:

    Morgan,
    This is from a blog that I read. This is where I found out about your blog. This obviously caused a stir, but some of the comments relate to what you’ve been saying. Nice to have a new perspective.

    http://www.raysindex.com/2010/06/joe-maddon-finds-your-criticisms-humorous.html


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