Tuesday, June 30, 2009

9 comments Jay Mariotti Tells Us What Bad Journalism Is...Ironically Doesn't Link Us To His Own Articles

Sometimes in the morning I have to scour the Internet for a few minutes or check my bookmarks and make sure an article is worth writing about before I start typing. Other mornings I can find an article and just know that is the one I want to write about, but look to see if any other bad journalism is out there. Today when I read Jay Mariotti's article for the day I knew write I wasn't going to look anywhere else. Someone on the Internet could have written the worst article in history saying that Phil Mickelson is a racist and Kobe Bryant doesn't deserve to make it to the Hall of Fame because Brett Favre is the greatest quarterback ever. It doesn't matter, this Jay Mariotti article on steroids needs to be written about. I just hope I do it justice.

Jeff Pearlman, or someone pretending to be Jeff Pearlman, wrote a comment about Fred's post on Sunday, which was about Jeff's article on steroids. He called Fred's post an "essay" which does sound a little bit 8th grade English but that is perfectly fine. Jeff Pearlman, as I have stated repeatedly, is a great writer who wrote a post about steroids that Fred and several others either did not get or did not agree with. Again, that is fine because Jeff seems like a good guy.

Jay Mariotti wrote an article about steroids and he is not a good guy. I consider him to actually be one of the worst columnists currently working in America. He takes his vendettas for prior wrongs done to him out on others (I could link FJMariotti's entire archive but won't). He attacks those who make mistakes. He even covers up his own mistakes by changing his opinion and rewriting columns to fit his new opinion.

Today Jay decides to start calling out blogs for steroid guessing. As if a little bit more diligence and oversight by the mainstream media could not have lessened the impact of steroids in baseball. The mainstream media has had in the past little to no interest in finding out what was behind the great numbers that were put up in Major League Baseball from 199?-2005. The holders of the key to the journalistic truth were too busy getting interviews with the players and writing about these player's exploits on the field to even suggest they may suspect steroid use. Now that some investigative journalists have actually uncovered tons of evidence of steroid use in baseball the media feels like they are the ones who need to guard the reputation of current baseball players as well, which is exactly what they were trying to do in the 90's. See what they do? They ignore, accept denials, find out the truth, indict that player for cheating, and then begin the cycle of ignoring over again. The media enabled the Steroid Era by being in a position to ask questions and not doing so.

Twelve months a year, I'm paid to dispense information and opinions on a major Web site read by millions, not to mention a major TV network watched by millions. I don't have to STRRRRRETTTTCCH THE TRUTH or make something up to be noticed as a columnist.

Yet Jay still insists on stretching the truth or painting managers, columnists or anyone in the world he doesn't like in a bad light. He's a rebel that way. Just last week Jay made something up and stretched the truth. He said he knew something was going on with Sammy Sosa in the 90's and early 2000's. I doubt that Jay ever knew or wanted to pursue the truth about Sammy Sosa and the reasons behind his out-of-this-world baseball numbers.

If Jay had so many suspicions then where were was the article about the suspicions or any mention prior to that article of his suspicions of Sammy Sosa? There were none I could find. I understand libel laws in the United States and I understand the truth is an ultimate defense in any libel case. Even though Jay is not an investigative journalist, he still had no interest in finding out if Sosa was on steroids because he was too busy enjoying the ride. Why would he want to burn Sosa with a story he might think was the truth and ruin so many good chances for access with interviews and other interactions with Sosa?

But in this changing media sphere, where everybody and his pet tarantula has a blog, many do have to compromise facts and fair play to turn heads and maintain some sort of living.

Pet tarantula! Haha...bloggers are such losers they keep spiders as pets BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO FRIENDS! Just like writers, there are good and bad bloggers. Good bloggers turn heads with facts and many don't get paid to make a living doing what they do. Are there times when many mainstream blogging sites have gotten something wrong? Of course there is, that happens almost as frequently as ESPN gets a breaking news story wrong and then refuses to admit it. Rather than go hire Adam Schefter to make sure all the stories that are being broken are correct, many mainstream blogs have to rely on their sources who could very well be wrong. I really doubt anything is intended to be malicious in nature. Many bloggers are sports fans who want to see the game rid of PED's and are not looking to just throw players under the bus.

For all the fine work done by legitimate journalists who continue to uncover the smut in what inarguably is sport's biggest scandal ever -- T.J. Quinn, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Selena Roberts among them -- the sports writing business is rife with too many reckless idiots who don't hesitate to publish or post a name without the slightest bit of corroboration.

Apparently fine work in journalism in Jay's eyes now involves using anonymous sources to accuse the player of cheating in a book. We have no idea if these sources are credible or not. I don't see the difference in using potentially uncredible anonymous sources to base most of your accusations on and publishing under a screen name to use a fact based argument backing up suspicions of potential PED use. Either way, we don't know who is really doing the accusing, though I would suggest using anonymous sources holds less journalistic credibility than using charts and numbers.

If you know an athlete who uses steroids, convince us that it's true with corroborated material.

Let's be honest. Jay is talking about one situation with a blogger where he sort of kind of accused Raul Ibanez of using steroids using numbers and data. He actually never came out and accused Ibanez but sort of beat around the bush about it and let the reader make up his/her own mind about the end result. That was a situation with corroborated material, good honest numbers and facts were used but the mainstream media did not like the result.

You know what? They have never liked the result when someone does their job for them. I would bet in the late 1990's if a blog came out and accused Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of using PED's, there would have been any number of columns written by the MSM saying that the blogger was out of line and should not accuse without proof. It's funny how the media always falls back on the side of major league baseball players who have had a history of lying to the public rather than even acknowledging the potential truth of anything someone on a blog has written no matter how well researched. The mainstream media is like an abused wife who always returns to their lying baseball playing spouses no matter how many times they get burned by them.

I am getting off the subject. That was a well written and researched post by Jerod Morris...at least I found it to be. Did I come to the conclusion Ibanez is on steroids? I don't really know, it does take more than numbers to absolutely prove it to me, but I feel like if data like that had been used in the past then eyes may have opened faster to the PED problem in baseball.

The irresponsibility began three years ago when blogger Will Leitch wrote on a Web site that he had "80 percent'' faith in a source who said a Kansas City-based strength and conditioning coach was one of the redacted names in the Jason Grimsley report.

I like how Jay Mariotti doesn't give the Web site that Leitch worked for. I am not a huge Deadspin fan but he makes it sound like it was just some random site with no traffic. Though I am not a huge Leitch fan either, he is not just some blogger anymore, he actually has a real job now. Jay stretches the truth or at least shades the truth by forgetting to mention both of these facts.

Here's the problem: The trainer's name wasn't found anywhere in the report, meaning Leitch smeared the trainer and Pujols in one inaccurate swoop based on an "80 percent'' certainty rate

He missed that one. I know that has never happened to any other mainstream media site or network has it? Right?

The mess was exacerbated by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann,

I am going to go on a limb and say that most people only knew about the story because Keith Olbermann covered it. Especially since both Olbermann had a larger audience and probably more influence than Deadspin had at the time. I could be wrong.

Who's to blame for this? The blogger who got the original information wrong or the mainstream media personality who ran the story? I don't know, I am asking.

not until Pujols threatened legal action did a shamed, humiliated Leitch emerge with a correction titled, "A Deeply Regrettable Wrong,'' apologizing to the trainer in the process.

When was the last time you heard ESPN apologize for getting a story wrong? Even newspapers will put a small correction on Page 8 of the paper correcting a front page story from two weeks prior. My father had this happen to him. The local newspaper put his salary on the front page to show whatever the hell they were trying to show. No harm done because it was public knowledge. One problem though. It was wrong...by a lot. One week later in the "Local" section on Page 2 there was a small box correcting the mistake. It was too late, the damage was done. I realize the local paper is not really mainstream media but this is one example of many of where the media gets something wrong and there are no reprecussions or even a public apology worth a crap.

A reputable Web company would have fired him on the spot. Unfortunately, Leitch worked for a company that enjoyed the attention and allowed him to spew more lies about people. He profited from his fraudulence by writing a book read by a few of his blogging buddies.

Absolutely a lie. How am I to believe you will get fired from ESPN for putting a wrong story up, when I know of no instance of it and there have been stories reported incorrectly? This is a company that gives suspensions for off hand comparisons of people to Hitler (Jemele Hill), lets morning hosts insult an entire college with a suspension as punishment (Dana Jacobsen), and still employs a men who have been hit with a sexual harassment suit (Jay Crawford and Woody Paige). I don't know of any suspensions in that case.

I find it hard to believe he would be fired by a reputable company for writing one story that is wrong, especially if he believe what his sources told him.

In a post headlined, "The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows,'' Morris proceeds to do what he suggests himself is unfair and indicts Ibanez

Look at the title of this vicious screed against Ibanez.

"Maybe the 37-year-old Ibanez trained differently this offseason with the pressure of joining the Phillies' great lineup and is in the best shape he's ever been in. And maybe that training included ... Well, you know where that one was going, but I'd prefer to leave it as unstated speculation."

We have to be suspicious of nearly every single slugger that puts up career outlying numbers. That is just the way it is now. Morris did not accuse Ibanez of anything, he merely laid out a case showing how Ibanez's numbers really did not fit with the rest of his career. Journalists can stick their head in the sand all they want but if they had not been so busy enjoying the Steroid Era (which they now fittingly blame on the fan for enabling) maybe we would have had steroid revelations sooner and an entire decade of baseball numbers would not be lies attained by cheating. The players ruined baseball and baseball management and some of the media allowed it to happen.

I don't believe anyone should be blindly accused of using steroids but I also think it is so funny that Jay Mariotti continues to defend baseball players who have repeatedly lied in the past. How many times has a player denied the use of steroids only to later admit after he is caught that he did in fact use some sort of PED? The media is so quick to give these guys the guillotine after they are caught, teaching us all a valuable lesson in how to go from sticking your head in the sand to reactionary journalism in one fell swoop.

Predictably, another blog -- Hugging Harold Reynolds, if you can believe it -- linked the piece to its Twitter feed, and Morris instantly became the hottest potato in the sports blogosphere.

Actually a Philadelphia columnist read it and wrote about it. Then Ibanez found out. That's truly how it broke into the mainstream consciousness. Again, Jay Mariotti plays loosely with some facts here to try and prove his point. At least he didn't rewrite this whole column to change the whole message intended. Of course if it came out today that Ibanez tested positive, I am sure we would have an article criticizing Ibanez in this article's place and this one will have been erased. It's happened before with Jay.

All Morris had was two-plus months of Ibanez numbers -- .312 batting average, 22 home runs and 59 RBI until he went on the disabled list for a strained left groin -- that obviously trump his career power averages of 23 homers and 95 RBI.

Ibanez was doing that at the age of 37. That doesn't raise any red flags? All the proof we had on Bonds was that he was breaking every baseball and career record he and others had attained in the past at the age of 36. All the proof we had on Sosa and McGwire is that two people just happened to break a 37 year old record in the exact same year as each other and both did it quite easily. Sometimes "all you have" is really all you need.

I don't know if Jay is joking here but the fact the first two months of Ibanez's year was on pace to widely exceed his career averages should be a red flag. Jerod Morris even took the move from Safeco to Citizens Bank ball park into account to explain the numbers. He did not blindly accuse Ibanez but tried to make sense of it.

Unfortunately, I understand the environment we're in and the events that have led us to this era of speculation. At the same time, you can't just walk down the street and accuse somebody of being a thief because they didn't have a nice car yesterday and they do today. You can't say that guy is a thief."

Actually you can. If someone has a Dodge Neon and all of a sudden starts driving a BMW then clearly something in that person's life has changed financially. If that person has not come into money or changed job...it raises questions. We do it all the time with basketball recruits. God knows the NCAA is going to investigate if every Kentucky basketball player is driving an expensive SUV. The police would investigate if a person who has no job drives a nice car around town and has other expensive things. At least I hope they would.

Predictably, Morris made a fool of himself during a panel discussion on ESPN's Outside The Lines. Like many bloggers, he came off as someone who hasn't been properly trained to grasp libel law. Of course, the Internet is the Wild, Wild West and doesn't punish abusers for libeling people.

I do remember that Outside the Lines episode. He was very white looking.

Libel is a very serious thing but Morris no more accused Ibanez of taking steroids than he actually gave the evidence to others and let them make up their own mind. Again, Jay Mariotti has really confused the issue here. It's not about who has the most knowledge of libel law, it's about whether Morris just randomly threw accusations out of steroid use by Ibanez...and he didn't do this. I don't think what Morris did was any worse than write an entire book based on anonymous sources...and Selena Roberts is a hero to many now for that.

I have an anonymous source that says a Page 2 columnist is a pedophile. He/She meets up with younger fans and then uses his/her name and that fan's love of sports to lure them into his/her bed. I have sources who tell me this. You can't get me for libel, it is from anonymous sources.

Obviously this isn't true, but if I threw a few quotes in there and attributed them to an anonymous source who knew this Page 2 columnist well I would have a journalistically credible investigation going.

Meanwhile, the real professionals will keep pounding on the amateurs.

Give me a break. Why don't the "professionals" act like professionals then? Any moron who has a Dr. Suess book can write a Woody Paige column. Any fifth grader who has a grasp of 5 word sentences and 3 sentence paragraphs can write a Bill Plaschke column. Peter King doesn't even do his job anymore, he just writes puff pieces on athletes and spends most of his time defending his favorite football players and not reporting the full story of what he learns.

I find it so interesting that the "professionals" have no interest in finding out which baseball players are using PED's and will refuse to accept reasonable evidence, but they are also the first ones to indict when a player is found guilty.

And the problem involves more than bloggers. Recently, an ancient columnist named Rick Telander suggested in the Chicago Sun-Times that Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot's early power burst should send up red flags.

How can anyone take Jay Mariotti seriously? It's all about taking out his decade old vendettas. That is all he truly cares about. I am sure Rick Telander understands libel law and he also understands that defending baseball players who show circumstantial evidence of steroid use is so 1998. We can't be blind as a baseball viewing public anymore.

Bloggers and other columnists are not accusing baseball players to be assholes, they are doing it because after a decade of lying and deceiving the players deserve it. As a public, we are tired of our game being intruded on by illegal substances that dilute long standing baseball records and inflate a current player's performance in our eyes. If there is a player who is an outlier, it will be investigated as it should be.

Sorry, that's just the way it is now. Baseball brought this on itself.

Basically, Telander was no different than blogging boy Jerod Morris -- speculating based on numbers, not facts.

Numbers and not facts? Numbers are facts! You can't argue with numbers, they speak for themselves and Morris used fact based numbers to investigate.

Sure, we wonder. Know how many names have been leaked to me through the years?

Zero? Nobody likes you.

But as writers, we should not release our wonderment for public consumption unless we have full evidence of wrongdoing, as Roberts had when she broke the Rodriguez steroids story in Sports Illustrated.

What about her anonymous sources that said A-Rod was cheating? Selena Roberts, who I have no personal problem with, did not even have full evidence of A-Rod cheating, outside of unnamed and anonymous sources...but she gets credibility because she was right about one thing, A-Rod being on steroids at one time. That gives her free reign.

If Pujols and Ibanez were guilty, we'd probably find out in due time.

How? A privacy invading positive steroid test leak? Since when does the law of libel in America take precedent over the laws of privacy? The media doesn't give a shit if you get your right to privacy when it comes to steroid use, just don't break the laws of libel to accuse a player of steroid use before they can invade that player's privacy to find out the truth.

That's why I was so angry a few years back when I was framed by the Sun-Times. The agent for Scott Skiles, then coach of the Chicago Bulls, had given our basketball beat writer the financial figures for Skiles' new contract. They slightly differed from the numbers run by the rival Tribune, as supplied by Bulls management. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, no fan of mine, ridiculously marched his lawyers into the office and demanded a correction in my column -- even though the numbers had been approved by editors and were supplied to me by an editor.

Doesn't matter you got the story wrong. Don't hide behind your editor. Regardless if it is a group mess-up or a personal mess-up your name is on the article. That's the thing about Jay Mariotti, he has always held everyone else to a higher standard than himself. "Be professional," he says, but then he continously takes shots at previous co-workers and his previous employer. "Make sure you get the story right before you write it, " he says, but then when he had a story wrong, there is always someone else to blame.

So it bothers me when a writer just drops a name and doesn't face any repercussions. I'm definitely seeing an erosion in the accuracy game. We're down to, oh, about 80 percent now.

Every single slugger of the past 10 years who has hit on pace with Albert Pujols has used PED's. That doesn't send red flags up? A baseball player should not be absolutely blowing by his career home run pace at the age of 37. I am not saying Ibanez used steroids, I have no proof, but we have to be suspicious and part of the suspicion is using data to investigate. Any player who has hit for power like that at such an advanced baseball age has generally been caught as a steroid user at some point.

Ibanez says that he will be tested anytime and any day and anywhere for PED's and the public can have any sample they want to prove it. Ibanez probably is not using PED's, other than this year's elevated home run rate there is no evidence in his past that I know of where he is accused or thought to use PED's. It's hard to know or take any denial as fact because nearly every steroid user denies the use of steroids until they get caught. Jay is wrong here. I don't think any player should be blindly accused of using steroids but we are in a day and age when denials and reasoning like, "I work harder than everyone else," just isn't good enough to reduce any suspicions.


KentAllard said...

I sincerely doubt Jay Mariotti understands libel law, he doesn't understand anything else. I do like how he calls the blogger "boy" though. How condescending of him.

Kentucky basketball players used to get Corvettes. If they have fallen to SUVs, it speaks ill of the world. :-)

Bengoodfella said...

Actually Jay probably does understand libel law because I would imagine many people have threatened to hit him with a libel law suit at some point. I missed the whole "boy" thing. That was very condescending and makes me dislike him greater.

I should have picked a much cooler car. All the players at my college drove SUV's and we were just a mid-major college who fielded a decidely above average team at the time.

Either way, I am tired of steroids but Jay Mariotti needs to quit being an asshole.

KentAllard said...

"Either way, I am tired of steroids but Jay Mariotti needs to quit being an asshole."

Since that is the sum total of Mariotti, that would mean he would wink out of existence.

Okay, when I think of it that way, that is definitely what needs to happen.

Bengoodfella said...

I try not to get personal with some of these writers but Jay Mariotti just irritates me with how he takes his vendettas out on other writers and the reader of his columns.

It just absolutely kills me to think that so many baseball players have lied about steroids and used the same excuses yet Mariotti believes that Ibanez is 100% telling the truth. I am not saying he is not telling the truth but we have to question it. If we have learned anything from the Steroid Era it's that we can't believe everything we see. The post that Morris put up was trying to make sense of Ibanez's start and I don't think it was bad journalism, but it was the kind of questions the mainstream media should have been asking nearly a decade ago.

The fans want steroids out of baseball and rather than sit back and start quoting libel laws while waiting for a player's privacy to be invaded, they are using facts and numbers to see if any suspicions have merit.

There are no blind accusations going around, it's just bloggers doing the job of the "professional" journalists to see if the game is still clean. I am not for blind accusations but I am also not for sitting back and waiting for a player's privacy to be invaded or a clubhouse snitch to tell a paper that a player is on PED's. The proof has been in the statistics the player is putting up previously and will show up there again.

Anonymous said...

the libel argument is stupid. what he doesn't tell you is that pro baseball players are public figuires. for them to succed in a libel action they would not only have to provre the statements untrue, they would have to show they were written with " actual malice" which is a legal term. without going into its legal meaning, it is very hard to prove.that's why there aren't many suits by celebrities.

Bengoodfella said...

Great point anon. I was trying to avoid using my one year of law school education on the libel issue but there is a higher standard when it comes to public figures and you do have to show actual malice. I was trying to avoid a legal discussion...but since you rightfully bring it up...

Apparently Mariotti doesn't understand the issue of libel either. So like you said, not only would Raul Ibanez have to prove that Morris meant what he wrote with actual malice (which if anyone read in the article was clearly not present) but also that it was untrue and he would essentially have to be drug tested.

I am glad you chimed in with this, and I should have talked about it more in the post, but the very idea that a player like Ibanez may be using steroids is not libelous on its face for the very reasons you stated. I am obviously not for just making accusations at baseball players but for a player to prove libel against Morris would take a heck of a case that isn't present. That's why I did not completely understand the drama surrounding Morris' post because it just seemed like a study of why Ibanez was so successful this year and the reasons behind it.

Not to bring up PED's in that discussion would make it an incomplete discussion.

Daniel said...

This Mariotti thing is nothing new. As someone who is a huge chicago sports fan I always knew about his hypocrisy. This is a fellow columnist calling him out on it after the sox won in 2005. Its absolutely unreal how anybody could take what he says seriously.


Daniel said...

The link may have gotten cut off. If you type in Jay mariottis year in review into google its the first link that pops up.

Bengoodfella said...

I am sorry that Mariotti had infected your city with his brand of "journalism." I assume he only stayed hired by the Sun-Times because he got page views from angry people who hated him.

I would not expect this point of view from him, except for the part about hating blogs, because he seems like he hates all the players and would love to watch them get caught using PED's. So anything that furthers that would be a good thing in his mind.