Wednesday, November 4, 2015

3 comments The Kansas City Star Shows How to Report on a Story and Then Make Themselves a Part of the Story

Lee Judge of "The Kansas City Star" writes a blog-ish type online section of the paper called "Judging the Royals." It gets updated daily or so. No journalist whose last name is "Judge" should allow an opportunity to go by without inserting his/her last name into the title of his column. So Judge wrote his opinion on the subject of Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper, which again, is a great metaphor for what the Nationals team has been doing all year to Harper. Of course, Judge's take on Harper was pretty hot and it drew some attention, which I am sure was by pure coincidence. This then gave the editor of the "Star" a chance to publicly comment on the attention this post by Judge received. So now Judge gave an opinion and an editor is commenting on that opinion. This is how you make yourself a part of the story. Give an opinion, then comment on your own opinion and the attention it receives. ESPN would be proud.

"Hey, look at the attention we received for something one of our columnists wrote!"

Then, OF COURSE, Judge had to address his previous comments in his next "Judging the Royals" blog-ish post. I mean, he would be remiss if he didn't address the story he had created. Now Judge is commenting on his comments about a story. I may have missed it, but I'm surprised an editor didn't then comment on Judge's comments about his comments about the story. Really, he tried to explain himself at more length, because any chance to get more attention for the "Star" (which I do understand by the way) can not be passed up. People are paying attention now to what he's said and discussing his opinion. He's become part of the story. That's how it goes.

I'll start first with the original post that asks if Jonathan Papelbon should have choked Bryce Harper. Considering choking seems like an extreme act, I would go with "no," but Judge takes a more nuanced view. Much like a nagging wife, sometimes a person is just asking to get choked a little bit. Bryce Harper is one of these people begging to be choked.

(By the way, I am not a Bryce Harper fan because I don't like the Nationals. I'm sure I've wanted to metaphorically choke him at some point, but never literally)

I don’t know Bryce Harper from Adam,

"I know nothing about this person...but I'm going to go ahead and say that my perception based on watching him play a sport is probably 100% accurate. I mean, I'm advocating for him to get choked by a teammate. How could I be wrong?"

but he certainly seems like a young man who needs an attitude adjustment.

It's a good thing Lee Judge isn't a policeman.

"I don't know this kid standing on the corner, but he looks like he is up to no good. I'm going to go ahead and arrest him, perhaps shoot him if he insists too intently he's done nothing wrong."

I feel bad for the defendant if Judge is ever on a jury. And yes, I have no doubt he would write a blog post about his jury experience and call it "Judge and Jury."

"I don't know this kid who is on trial, but he has hair longer than I'd like to see on a young man. Plus, he just looks like he needs an attitude adjustment. I've heard the evidence against him, which was all unpersuasive, but my intuition has never been wrong. I say convict him." 

Unfortunately he was choked by the wrong guy in the wrong place.

Bryce Harper needed to be choked, but the wrong person choked him. Much like a disobedient woman MUST be choked by her husband and only her husband, this is a very strict rule with no exceptions, Bryce Harper must be choked by another position player. It's only right. If Lee Judge sees a child being hit in the head with a baseball bat, he will immediately stop and make sure the person doing the hitting is the parent. If so, carry on. If not, this isn't right and he is not afraid to be the hero and do something about it. 

In baseball culture, pitchers — especially relievers — do not get to criticize position players for lack of hustle. 

So the choking was fine, but the wrong person choked Harper. I can't see how this doesn't make sense. 

So if you spend a fair amount of time sitting in the shade eating popsicles, you don’t get to criticize position players for failing to run out a fly ball.

In fact, if the world were fair then someone would choke Jonathan Papelbon for choking Bryce Harper. It just has to be a position player or starting pitcher who chokes Papelbon though, because another reliever doesn't get to criticize Papelbon for choking Bryce Harper.

And I hope you realize the irony of a sportswriter, a person who works hard but literally could spend an entire baseball game eating popsicles in the shade, commenting on which baseball players can and can not choke Bryce Harper based on whether that player can eat a popsicle in the shade during a game.

The second problem was location: if you want to choke Bryce Harper — 

I know what Judge is going to say. Do it in private. Beat your loved ones, commit senseless violence in life to anyone you know or work with, but for God's sake keep it private. 

and I suspect if you played with him, you might — 

This suspicion being based on the fact that Lee Judge has already stated he in no way knows Bryce Harper. It's a strong take for someone who doesn't know Bryce Harper at all. 

ask him to come up the tunnel and then choke him. 

You don’t do it in the dugout for everyone in the world to see; you keep that stuff private.

To an extent, yes, but maybe just don't choke a teammate. Now I realize that teammates get in scuffles all the time. That's not really my issue here, despite the fact Judge will later try to frame that as the issue his critics have with his comments. My issue is Judge essentially is excusing Papelbon from choking Harper because he just feels like Harper is the type of person who should be choked. Therein lies my issue. Scuffles happen, I get it. Saying a guy should be choked has nothing to do with privacy though.

So you can blame either guy for what happened, but you should probably blame both. 

I'm not sure Harper should be blamed for seeming like he should be choked. But hey, when could Judge's perception of an athlete ever be wrong? 

Then Judge has some thoughts about a manager using his closer in a tie game on the road. I don't think I agree with these thoughts. There is some logic to his explanation as to why a manager shouldn't use his closer on the road in a tie game that I think Judge is missing.

So using a closer in a tie game at home gives you two shots to win a ball game.

But use your closer in a tie game on the road and no matter what you’re closer does, you’ll still need more pitching to win the game. 

And you will also need more offense to win the game, as well as make sure your pitcher on the mound doesn't give up a run or else the game is over. So a good way to ensure your team gets another chance to score a run and win the game is to make sure the relief pitcher who is pitching in the bottom of the inning doesn't give up a run to lose the game. I don't think hoping an inferior relief pitcher doesn't give up a run is the best way to win a game. The assumption your team will score a run and the closer will get an opportunity to pitch seems like a faulty assumption to me. If the point is to win the game, do all you can to ensure your team gets a chance to do so. This means potentially pitching your closer on the road in a tie game.

Not using the closer in a tie game on the road is like not filling up a plane with gas before going to the next destination. I mean, you still need gas when you to your next destination, so why fill up twice? 

So if you were wondering why Ned Yost didn’t use Wade Davis on Monday night — and apparently some fans were — if Wade had pitched a scoreless bottom of the eleventh, someone would still have had to get three outs in the bottom of the twelfth.

Right, but that someone would have had an opportunity to get three outs in the bottom of twelfth, while using an inferior pitcher means the game may not get to the bottom of the twelfth. 

So if Miguel Almonte is going to give up a walk-off homer, you want him to do it before you waste an inning from your closer.

If ensuring the game is still tied and the Royals still have a chance to win the game is "wasting" an inning from the closer then I am all for "wasting" an inning. How is it a waste of an inning to ensure the Royals still are playing in a tie game at the top of the twelfth? 

So now the editor of the "Star" comments on the attention the post received. Because, commenting on the story is a great way to keep the original post alive, right?

Twitter is the most negative corner of the Internet, in my opinion. Its short bursts of 140 characters tend to be long on outrage, and media sources are constant targets.

This is partly true. Sometimes a person is asking to be a target when they suggest a human being deserves to be choked though. Twitter is long on outrage, but there are ways to make yourself a target on social media and Lee Judge managed to do so. 

The Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon got into a fight in the dugout during a game Sunday. Papelbon has been suspended for four games without pay. The Star’s Lee Judge wrote about it in a blog post asking, “Should Jonathan Papelbon have choked Bryce Harper?”

Writing a post titled "Should Jonathan Papelbon have choked Bryce Harper?" is asking for negative feedback. It's begging for negative attention. 

It starts: “I don’t know Bryce Harper from Adam, but he certainly seems like a young man who needs an attitude adjustment. Unfortunately he was choked by the wrong guy in the wrong place.” An earlier version read, “…he certainly seems like a young man who needs choking.”

The critics, such as Gawker sports commentary site Deadspin, called the post things such as “psychopathic.”

I mean writing that is a bit psychopathic. Saying a person needs to be choked sounds a little bit crazy. 

I reached out to Lee, who it should be noted has also been a political cartoonist for The Star for some 30 years. He’s well accustomed to expressing provocative opinions, sometimes in blunt language. His reply, in which he stands by what he wrote:

Judging the Royals is an inside look at big league baseball; it not only deals with how the game is played, it also reveals some of the game’s unwritten rules. In today’s column I said that if Jonathan Papelbon wanted to choke Bryce Harper, he should have done it in private. Ballplayers have scuffles and arguments more often than fans know, but those scuffles and arguments are supposed to take place out of the public eye.

If Judge thinks the sum total of the outrage is over his comment that the scuffle should have taken place in private, then he's missing part of the point. It's the whole "I don't know Bryce Harper but think he needs an attitude adjustment and should be choked" comment that is part of the point as well. 

Whether fans like it or not, baseball players throw at each other, do takeout slides on each other and sometimes fight with each other. When they do those things, there’s a right way to do it and that’s what today’s column was about.

He's still not totally getting the point on why there was some outrage. 

My own opinion is that a blog may be a place for frank ruminations on these sorts of topics, and I find some of the Twitter hand-wringing disingenuously genteel. You hear stuff far less considered than this every day on sports talk radio and — for crying out loud — from well-known voices on Twitter itself.

If sports talk radio is the standard by which Lee Judge's columns are held, then the bar is being lowered for him further than it should be.

"The opinions at our newspaper are consistently on-par with the opinions of the lowest common denominator of sports fans."

That's the defense. R.I.P. sports journalism.

So now Lee Judge must of course re-comment on his own story and how he "accidentally" became a part of the story.

In 2010 I was given space on this website and the freedom to cover baseball in my own way.

I’d been hanging out with pro ballplayers for years and thought the way they looked at the game was fascinating and I wanted to bring that point of view to other baseball fans.

I love baseball, but I find the point of view the players have to be less than fascinating. Unwritten rules, bizarre beliefs that dinosaurs don't exist, and various other bizarre theories about life and politics...I like to watch them play the sport though. It's just I don't necessarily care about their point of view simply because I like to watch them play baseball. 

We’re in a bold, new age of journalism, which is a nice way of saying we sometimes put stuff on the web site and if an editor has time, he might proofread your work after it’s been posted.

"We lowered our editing standards, but that's not our fault at all. It's just what we are forced to do. This is what 'the people' want in this new era of journalism. Don't blame us." 

On Tuesday morning, the freaking out began early and editors almost immediately changed “seems like a young man who needs choking” to “seems like a young man who needs an attitude adjustment.”

"Almost immediately." So it got fixed almost immediately, what's the big deal?

"I cursed out my co-worker, but almost immediately apologized and handed her a Kleenex. Can't we all move on?"

One night back in 2010 while I was writing a column and trying to think of another word for pitcher. I came up with the word moundsman.

That night I decided my writing was bad or sucked. I have never in my life uttered the word moundsman and thought it was BS that I was about to write it. That night I decided to just tell readers what I had to say in my own words, just like if I’d met them in a bar on the way home from a game, and if you go to the right bar, that’s entirely possible.

The defense of "shooting from the hip" or having "real talk" doesn't serve as an excuse for the comments that you are making. This is a general rule me thinks. 

So when I said Bryce Harper needed choking I was probably only 97 percent serious.

It was a joke! Judge was only 97% serious. So he was pretty much entirely serious, except for when you want to criticize him, because then it was a 3% joke. I'm guessing Judge isn't a fan of Sabermetrics and numbers, but even a third-grader knows 97% of anything is pretty damn close to 100% of that thing. 

But here’s why I would say that, even in jest: Bryce Harper has acted like a jerk on a baseball field and I’m not the only one that thinks so.

But it was 97% serious. That doesn't even come close to qualifying for "even in jest" status. 

Here’s a headline from The Washington Post published last summer: “Bryce Harper is still just 21 years old, but he needs to stop acting like he’s 12.”

That headline appeared above a column written by Mike Wise.

Poke around the internet and it’s not hard to find stories about Harper blowing kisses to pitchers, taking an exaggerated amount of time to jog around the bases, getting ejected from games and yelling at opponents, umpires and teammates.

Bryce Harper is an asshole. I can absolutely agree with this. I don't like him and I don't like the Nationals. 

His defenders tend to make three points:

1.) He’s really good at baseball.
2.) He’s changed.
3.) And he’s really good at baseball.

Letting a guy get away with bad behavior just because he’s good is how Bryce Harper became Bryce Harper.

So why does Jonathan Papelbon get away with some of his behavior? What gives him the ability to be the Official Unofficial Unwritten Rules Spokesman for the Washington Nationals? Isn't he getting away with bad behavior by choking Harper? 

And I gotta say that if Bryce Harper managed to provoke a teammate into choking him in front of the whole world, he probably hasn’t change all that much. 

You gotta say it. It has to be said. Ask Stephen A. Smith about it. If you provoke someone constantly, then whatever act of violence that happens to you is most likely deserved in some way. 

After my original blog was posted, it got picked up by Deadspin — the website that will tell you why your team sucks —

Yeah, but they are only being 97% serious. So it's all a joke. 

I began getting emails saying I was promoting violence in the workplace and if Papelbon had attacked Harper anywhere but a baseball field, Papelbon could be charged with assault. Co-workers should not solve their differences with violence.

If every NFL player who got in a scuffle with a teammate was charged with assault, you couldn’t field a team.

I personally recognize the difference in a normal work place and a work place in the athletic arena. Scuffles will happen in the athletic arena. Placing "right" and "wrong" in these situations where the person getting choked feels like a bit much, especially when you don't know for certain what happened and have no idea first hand about the personality of the two players involved. 

If Papelbon putting his hands around Harper’s throat was assault — and I’ve seen a third-grader’s birthday party with more actual violence —

What kind of third-grade birthday parties is Lee Judge attending? I'm assuming by looking at Judge that all of his children are grown by now. Does he still attend third-grade birthday parties? If so, does he attend these parties in anticipation of the violence? If so, I think that would answer a few questions I have about his take on Harper v. Papelbon. 

Pretending that professional sports teams are bound by the same restrictions that apply in an accountant’s office or a grocery store is disingenuous; it’s just isn’t so and the people who do it are looking for an excuse to be outraged.

You are missing the point. The point isn't really the fight. It's that a person got choked and you said he deserved to get choked without even knowing that person. Also, you indicated you had no issue with a fight, but it just should have happened in private. Fights happen. I get that. It's reasonable also to accept that fights happen, but this doesn't mean they are justified fights and it doesn't mean a person deserves to be choked. 

“Retired pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, writing for FoxSports.com, laid out the old-school case against Harper and for Papelbon.

If you want the ballplayer’s point of view — and that’s the main reason you might want to check out this blog — I gave it to you. Teammates sometimes scuffle (I know of several physical confrontations that never got public scrutiny). Bottom line: If you’re going to scuffle, don’t do it in the dugout.

Nitkowski bravely got anonymous players to comment on the Harper versus Papelbon scuffle. For that, these players should be admired. After all, they feel so strongly one way that they aren't even brave enough to put their name to their opinion. It's "old-school" to suggest Bryce Harper should be choked and not put your name to the opinion. So anonymous players saying Papelbon was in the right doesn't really do it for me. 

The same thing applied to the Papelbon-Harper confrontation, so I thought fans who want to know how things work in the big leagues would be interested in that distinction. It wasn’t a long bit and originally it was tucked in at the bottom of a longer post.

But, pageviews! The editors knew they had a hot take that could get them some web traffic. 

But we’re being encouraged to do everything we can to increase traffic to our website, so I figured I’d put it at the top of the post because it was big topic of conversation in the world of baseball. If increasing traffic was the goal, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Increasing traffic is always the goal. It would be nice if Lee Judge increased traffic by not suggesting violence against an athlete was justified, but hey, take the pageviews where you can get them I guess.

But right now I just want to take the opportunity to say something to all the people I offended and I say it with complete sincerity:

Thanks for the page views.

Edgy! You know, if acting like a jerk means a person should be choked, then maybe Lee Judge would suggest that Lee Judge suggesting Bryce Harper should be choked is a jerk thing to do. Therefore, maybe Lee Judge would believe he should be choked by one of his co-workers.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article37077174.html#storylink=cpyd

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But here’s why I would say that, even in jest: Bryce Harper has acted like a jerk on a baseball field and I’m not the only one that thinks so.
Here’s a headline from The Washington Post published last summer: “Bryce Harper is still just 21 years old, but he needs to stop acting like he’s 12.”
That headline appeared above a column written by Mike Wise.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article37077174.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/public-editor/article36973230.html#storylink=cpy

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/public-editor/article36973230.html#storylink=cpy

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article36919842.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article36919842.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article36919842.html#storylink=cpyUnfortunately he was choked by the wrong guy in the wrong place.
In baseball culture, pitchers — especially relievers — do not get to criticize position players for lack of hustle. Guys like Jonathan Papelbon play every once in a while, guys like Bryce Harper play all the time. So if you spend a fair amount of time sitting in the shade eating popsicles, you don’t get to criticize position players for failing to run out a fly ball.
The second problem was location: if you want to choke Bryce Harper — and I suspect if you played with him, you might — ask him to come up the tunnel and then choke him. You don’t do it in the dugout for everyone in the world to see; you keep that stuff private.
So you can blame either guy for what happened, but you should probably blame both.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article36919842.html#storylink=cpy

3 comments:

Chris said...

Does Lee Judge just walk around Kansas City advising people on the best possibly way to violently assault people and commit crimes? Because it sure as hell sounds like it Hey buddy, I know you wanna beat that guy up who cut you off but don't do it here in the road. Follow him then corner him in a dark alley and then beat him up there!

Slag-King said...

Lee Judge is in the wrong business. He should be like Don King and become a promoter of fight nights between, well, anyone, including third graders. Imagine the money he'd rake in by allowing Harper and Papelbon duke it out in the ring.

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