Saturday, July 10, 2010

Your Arrogance Blinds You...

  • Now, you will experience the full power of the Dark Side...

Years ago, I would watch the afternoon junk such as Geraldo. Host Geraldo Rivera would have as a guest Mike Walker of the National Enquirer who would sit by on the end of the panel with a telephone set up right next to him in case any "breaking news" hit while the taping was underway. Occasionally, you'd see Walker talking into the phone in an animated fashion while the show was rolling as if he was receiving the latest on whatever. (I mostly remember Geraldo and his schlock during the O.J. Simpson trial.)

This was before everyone had a cell phone and the ones people did have looked something like the apparatus that Joan Cusack had attached to her head in Sixteen Candles.

Of course the phone was probably a prop to advance the myth of "up-to-the-minute" reporting, but it was part of the show----designed to make it seem like the heroic individual reporter has access to that which the masses simply don't; that they're working hard to garner inside stuff to enlighten, educate and entertain.

I couldn't help but think of the florid silliness of "breaking news" as Joel Sherman of the New York Post ran with a story implying that the Yankees were getting Cliff Lee and then sat by impotently as the deal "on the verge of completion" fell apart as quickly as it supposedly came together.

Reading between the lines of Sherman's piece, you see that he was parsing to protect himself but came as close as one could possibly come to announcing the deal before the fact.

It's like "almost" having sex. Halfway there is still there.

His tweets on Twitter and article in the Post sure made it seem like the deal was done. The entire sports world was rocked by the pending trade...until it collapsed.

Here are the Tweets from the intrepid Joel Sherman, aka @Joelsherman1:

Heard late last nite $Yankees are on verge of acquiring Cliff Lee and got this story into final edition of paper (cont)

#Yankees love Lee, were hanging on outside and heard ystdy that #Mariners like their package and talks intensified, more coming in 3UP

3UP how and why #Yankees moved to brink of obtaining Cliff Lee late last nite #Mariners

#Knicks didn't get #LeBron, but #Yankees storm in late and look like got Lee, I am reporting and

And in the Post, the main bit is the title at the top of the page, not the content that was altered during the day from looking "definite", to looking "definitely maybe"...until it blew up.

The title at the top of the page on this link is: "Yankees to trade for Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee".

That's the beauty of the Internet. It's always there. For good measure I saved the screenshot.

Does the phrase, "Yankees to trade for Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee" sound as if a deal is done to you?

And these "reporters" and faux baseball experts wonder why the newspaper is dying? It's not due to the increasingly rapid dissemination of information, it's that the information they provide is so easily rendered as inaccurate almost immediately upon them presenting it.

Does Sherman have any credibility left? Gone are the days when it took effort to go back and see what someone said and wrote months and even years previously. Now, it's all there for the checking; and if you want to judge someone's aptitude, all you need is a little bit of patience and the right keywords and it's there for the asking.

Not only are they wrong, but they're irresponsible. Because there's always an out with the carefully chosen language of "not yet done"; or "close"; or "goal line"; or "verge", that doesn't cloud the allusion of fact.

Can you imagine the reaction if a lowly blogger wrote something like this? If it was delivered as a done deal to a public desperate for crumbs regarding the best pitcher on the market, Cliff Lee? A pitcher who could mean the difference between a club finishing at .500 or making the playoffs and possibly winning the World Series?

A blogger would be hammered in a similar fashion as the infamous "J-Rod", Jared Morris was when he asked the very fair and reasonable question of whether Raul Ibanez's first half success as a member of the Phillies in 2009 could be attributed to PEDs. He didn't accuse Ibanez of anything untoward; all he did was ask a question; but he was attacked in print and on television and was overwhelmed by the attention he received, coming off as furtive, frightened and unable to eloquently express and defend himself verbally.

Scoffed and dismissed because he's not a "reporter", it was easy to attack him because he was "just a blogger".

What about Sherman? Since it was a longtime baseball reporter and columnist that broke the story, this was automatically treated as if it had legs; that it was real. Was it real at the time? Was Sherman's cautiously twisted verbiage accurate? Technically, it probably was. Did the Post, Sherman, the Yankees and Mariners want this out in the open to achieve their own ends? Of course. But the public that was so taken in by the finality of the deal that they hustled out and purchased the New York Post; logged onto various websites; discussed and cited the articles again and again and were the willing participants in the propaganda designed to create a buzz.

The irresponsibility with Sherman is in fact far worse than it would be with any blogger because Sherman has access to the executives in question; he's doing more than speculating; he's getting the story from people supposedly in the middle of the talks----or so we're told. Much like the silly Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols "rumor" that was floated earlier this year, is it possible that the talk was an entity unto itself? A black hole feeding on the destruction in its wake and growing exponentially until it was out of control?

It's an astounding bit of manipulation how the teams fed the details of the negotiations to Sherman; Sherman reported it as if it were fact; the Post ran the story; Sherman's brethren within the media picked up on it; the fans grew giddy or enraged at the prospect of Lee winding up with the Yankees; and it expanded...until it collapsed under its own weight of inaccuracy.

Truth has become secondary (and that's being generous) to baseline realities of money and perception. You're---YOU----are being treated as a fool; one whose emotions and interpretive abilities are twisted by those who have a stake not in the accuracy of what's reported, but the post-reporting behavior of those reading it by buying, linking, discussing and reacting.

Do you want to continue to be treated as a fool? As a sheep who bows to the whims of those with a forum and supposed connections to gather information and credibility to make it seem real?

But how can you be credible if you're always wrong?

I have no agenda.

I know nothing of compromise for what I believe.

Nor do I have fear or restraint.

I could make stuff up; suggest I have an insider who doesn't really exist; prop up the attention I receive; maybe sell a book or two; but it would be seen as an outsider trying to "troll"; the equivalent of screaming fire in a crowded theater. It's not hard to do. But I won't undermine myself and cross personal boundaries as a means to an end.

The accuracy or inaccuracy of Sherman's reporting is irrelevant. The real reasoning behind the story is more important than the story itself.

The Post, Sherman and his ilk are using you.

Will you continue to be used?

Will you?

  • Oh, and then----as an afterthought----Cliff Lee was traded to the Rangers:

Who knows if the Yankees thought they had a deal with the Mariners for Cliff Lee and whether all that remained was to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's"?

It seems to me that this was all part of business and an orchestrated series of leaks by everyone involved to achieve their own goals.

For their part in the drama, the Mariners season is shot and the only saving grace they had was to get more for Lee than they gave up to the Phillies to get him and if that meant using the exuberance (to put it mildly) of a New York tabloid to create panic among other interested clubs? So be it. It's part of the landscape. For the Yankees to now claim that they were misled by way of cover for a deal that fell apart is how the trading game is played.

It's like high school (or Twitter).

Everyone's whispering and gossiping and telling the biggest yenta----the person they know will run and cluck like a hen before verification (see Sherman, Joel)----and get what they want. I have no interest in Sherman's after-the-fact self-preservation as he justifies his "reporting" with breakneck backpedaling.

The Rangers jumped in and sweetened their offer for Lee and got him----just as the Mariners wanted. The Yankees, who didn't need Cliff Lee now, are safe in the knowledge that they'll be one of the big players for his services in the off-season. Evidently I was wrong in my belief that they'd prefer to spend for Carl Crawford rather than Lee this winter----or perhaps they'll go for both, well within their rights and financial might to do so. The Mariners went elsewhere for what they thought was a better package.

The deal goes as follows from this story on (yeah, the web is my source; then I analyze on my own without going off on a tangent before the fact; I'm not ashamed):

The Rangers get LHP Cliff Lee and RHP Mark Lowe.

The Mariners get 1B Justin Smoak; minor leaguers RHP Blake Beavan; RHP Josh Lueke; and 2B/OF Matthew Lawson.

The Rangers in a weak division; they have the power bats to score plenty of runs and a relatively deep bullpen; their starting rotation was serviceable enough----even with the injury to Rich Harden----to hang on and win the division, but with Lee they automatically make themselves a legitimate threat to win the pennant. Most importantly, even though the ownership flux makes Lee an absolute rental, they had the prospects to do the deal based on the wealth of talent in the organization without gutting the system. They bolstered the bullpen with the hard-throwing Lowe.

Smoak is a beloved prospect who hasn't yet found his groove in the big leagues; Beavan is 21, stands 6'7" and has shown ridiculously good control in the minors with few homers allowed. Lueke is 25-year-old reliever; he stands 6'5" and has massive strikeout numbers. Lawson is a 25-year-old second baseman and outfielder with speed, on base ability and some pop.

The Rangers have shown themselves to be savvy drafters under Jon Daniels and the draft picks they'll get for Lee after he leaves are reasonable compensation to account for what they gave the Mariners.

Although the suggestion that Jack Zduriencik was a "genius" is nonsense, he's still a good judge of talent in both scouting and with numbers; he loaded up on players that are close to big league ready for a player he didn't need and had to trade. Getting the deal done early ends the feeding frenzy; if he had it in his mind that he wanted at least four players for Lee, then he did his job.

Now we can stop with the Lee speculation. He's been traded. Finally.

Nolan Ryan was a vicious, mean competitor who wouldn't hesitate to fire a fastball under the chin----or behind----any and all hitters who dared do anything to invite his wrath.

The Stone Cold Killer, Cliff Lee, is Nolan Ryan's kinda guy.

Now he's got him.

And the Rangers are going for it.2010BaseballGuideCover.gif

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She-Fan said...

I hear you on Sherman and I assumed the deal was done, given the language in the reporting. That said, he wasn't the only one reporting the story. Today's NYT confirms that the deal was just about done and the Mariners hit up other teams afterwards, essentially to say, "Last call, everybody." And the Rangers threw in their prized piece. Cashman, apparently, feels "used." But the truth is, you're right when you say that a deal isn't a deal until both teams confirm it is.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

If Cashman feels used, he should also know it comes with the territory. I accuse myself of minimizing what Cashman does sometimes because of the Yankee check-book he has at his disposal, but getting used and played like a fiddle is a dynamic he has to contend with to a much greater degree than other GM's do.
I enjoyed hearing the deal fell apart like wet toilet paper. As well as the 1st place Rangers are playing they are still an organization with more problems than a math book. They should count their lucky stars Nolan Ryan is giving that team direction. Nice to see another team trying to be a the Brewers did with C.C. I just have to question their motivations because of the unsettled ownership. I want to know what they're really thinking. I'd like to think this is Ryan taking the Texas Bull by the horns.

Jeff said...

As you point out, the real moral of the story is: Don't fuck with Nolan Ryan.