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When Losers Write History: Why...media reporters get their own industry so wrong

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by lcjjdnh, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member


    Of note to people on this board, the last half focuses heavily on the proliferation of baseball analysis on the Internet.
  2. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    Killer graf here:

    "Now let’s fast forward to 2012. Instead of cable and radio, I watch games live on my computer by subscribing to MLB.tv. I choose Yahoo.com from a crowded field for live box scores and AP game recaps. An extraordinary website called Baseball-Reference.com—again, launched by a motivated outsider—gives me and millions of others the best baseball encyclopedia ever created, for free, updated with fresh information every morning. For links to and smart discussion about sabermetric-related material, I check out Baseball Think Factory; for similar original writing I’ll also consult The Hardball Times and The Baseball Analysts (each of these, too, started by “amateurs”; I've contributed to both). The team’s hometown Orange County Register, despite suffering through rounds of layoffs and bankruptcy, has the last few years drastically ramped up the quality of its round-the-clock online coverage. I follow the Twitter feeds of various Angels-related people (ranging from stars to broadcasters to minor league wives); look at the team’s own news-filled website, and most enjoyably of all, spend a lot of time on a community website called Halos Heaven, where fans argue with one another about personnel, link to relevant commentary from all over the globe, commiserate in game threads, and contribute a damn impressive amount of actual journalism—from insightful interviews with the team’s scouting director (the kind of thing you would never see in the newspaper), to heavily sophisticated scouting analyses of minor leaguers, to trashy testimonials of running into players drunk at a bar. The L.A. Times, even before its introducing a reader-repelling paywall, had become an afterthought in a competition it once dominated."
  3. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there's a good degree of puffery in the above passage. For example: "from insightful interviews with the team’s scouting director (the kind of thing you would never see in the newspaper)." Why couldn't you see that in a newspaper? And how does he define insightful?

    And I'm guessing "heavily sophisticated scouting analyses of minor leaguers" equals taking stats and sabering them 10 miles from Sunday. And yes, you can chat with Angels fans around the world, but that's added value of the Internet, not something newspapers ever had to lose.
  4. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Anyone who looks to a MLB.com website for news automatically loses any credibility.
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Guessing this guy needs Google to find out what a bar is.
  6. geddymurphy

    geddymurphy Member

    Why? It's one of several sources he checks.
  7. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Logic running like Sambo in a dizzying circle.
  8. OpenHeart

    OpenHeart New Member

    That's so funny -- I wanted to read a Mets gamer today because I didn't see yesterday's game, and for a brief moment I considered going to mets.com, and then I came to my senses and went for one of the NY tabs.
  9. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Cardinals would be much more enjoyable to follow...even though the Mets have a better mark at the moment.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    The article is a bunch of assertions rather than an exercise in fact-finding, and that's never going to appeal to me. His approach seems an odd choice for someone who apparently enjoys reading stats-centric baseball websites. Not exactly a sabermetrics-style approach to analyzing media.

    It did amuse me that, of all things, he chose A&P supermarkets to make an analogy because that's where I shop, although I have a multitude of choices (including Wal-Mart and Whole Foods) within a reasonable drive. I am well aware of the company's problems as a whole, but the big picture on supermarkets is irrelevant to me as long as this particular A&P remains open. It should be noted, too, that a much larger, more attractive grocery store a couple miles away just closed after only a few years. I have no idea why, don't really care why, shopped there maybe four or five times. I'm just saying it's no given that the A&P loses every battle, just as it's no given that old media lose every battle.

    Why I choose the A&P ... The place best meets my standards of cleanliness. It doesn't do the best job on everything, but it does the best job on what matters most to me -- red meat (unless I have time to go to the indy butcher shop). The employees best meet my standards of basic decency, and for some reason my fellow customers seem better-behaved than those at the nearby grocery stores, although geography would indicate they are all drawing from the same pool of people.

    These are not at all unlike the reasons why I choose newspapers over other media (and why I always, pre-internet, was never a big fan of TV and radio news). Other people's preferences do not impact my decisions until they gain enough mass to drive my choice out of business, which could happen but might not.

    I can tell you one thing for sure, though. If newspapers do die someday, I would have to make some changes, but I'd still be unlikely to spend my time reading articles like this one.
  11. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Approaching this as a fan and not as a journalist (if nothing else but because nothing I do in journalism will ever approach the big leagues).

    You won't see it in newspapers because the newspaper caters to a much broader audience.

    Baseball fans are a whole wide world. Most of them are happy with gamers and player features, so that's what newspapers give them.

    There's a subset of fans who want a helluva lot more. We're a smaller group, but we consume a shit-ton more baseball content, so there's money to be made off of us that newspapers don't seem interested in touching, because it's not part of their broad-based business model.

    Here's an example story from this Cubs fan from this offseason.

    There are/were three important Cuban prospects this offseason: Yoennis Cespedes, Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion.

    The Cubs' message boards I frequent were buzzing about them from early on in the offseason. Cespedes was a guy who might be able to contribute immediately, Soler is a higher-ceilinged, long-term project teenager, and Concepcion is a moderately interesting 20-year-old pitching prospect with a low ceiling but surprising polish for his age.

    Anyway, Cespedes obviously hit the mainstream when his workout video came out, and I think I saw the other two mentioned occasionally in Chicago's big papers' coverage.

    Over the winter, I saw scouting reports on these players, I saw statistical projections based on past Cuban imports, I saw scouting analysis of the few video clips that could be found on the guys. I didn't see any of that in the newspapers' coverage.

    Sometime around December, a poster on one of the Cubs message boards said that the team was heavily interested in all three Cubans. This poster doesn't post often, but he's broken news on several pieces of team news in that past that only someone with inside knowledge could know, so he's got credibility. Things like 23rd round draft picks signing and the dollar amounts weeks before anyone else had them. I didn't see that in the newspapers either.

    So anyway, in early February the rumors start showing up that the Cubs have come to an agreement with Gerardo Concepcion. The dollar amount was for quite a bit more than many had predicted, and he got a major-league deal (which limits the amount of time that he can spend in the minors, and increases the amount of money he can get in early seasons in the majors).

    So for us hardcore fans, there were two blaring questions that just had to be asked:

    1) How was the contract structured? A total dollar amount was being reported, but the breakdown between signing bonus and yearly salary wasn't. Different combinations of bonus/salary would yield wildly different salaries down the road if he makes it to the majors.

    2) How fast do the Cubs have him throwing? He reportedly (not by the newspapers) had done some private workouts for high-level Cubs brass at some point in the offseason, and at his age it's possible that he had either added some velocity or the Cubs saw something in his mechanics that made them think he could add velocity.

    Those are two questions that only the Cubs would know, and something only someone with access to the Cubs' front office could ask. They should be the most obvious questions in the world to anyone who had been following the story.

    So when the newspapers did a story on the signing the next day, it was incredibly frustrating to see that neither of those questions were asked or reported on. We got 8-column inch puff pieces announcing the signings and giving some generic GM-quote scouting reports about how he's a young lefty with good command.

    To the hardcore baseball fan, that kind of thing happens all the time, which is why none of us particularly care about newspaper coverage of baseball. It's fast-food coverage, and there's nothing wrong with fast food (shut up), but that's what it is.

    Not at all. Not even close.

    The sabermetric community as you are thinking of it is more or less dead. There's a few dinosaurs still floating around out there of course, but history has passed them by.

    In the last few years especially, the cutting edge of sabermetrics has pretty much accepted that the box score has been sliced and diced just about as far as it possibly can be and there's not much left to be gleaned from hacking around with more statistics. There's been a renewed interest in learning about scouting and what it brings to the table. When statheads talk about pitchers these days, you might think you were listening to scouts. They talk about velocity, movement, release point, repeatibility of mechanics.

    The SABR/scouting war is more or less over. Each side had to give up some conceits that were making them misunderstand some aspect of the game, and now they are working together quite nicely to complement each other.
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member


    And if you don't believe Rick, just listen to Dipoto (LAA), Melvin (MIL), Antonetti (CLE) or Shapiro (CLE):


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