Great Moments in comparative media: the Orioles sign Garrett Atkins

Leave a comment

CTB readers knew this already, because Aaron wrote all about it on Friday. Orioles fans at large knew it because Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun originally broke the story the day before. This piece, in the Baltimore Sun, however, just popped up in my RSS feed, reporting that the physical has been passed and the deal is now done.

It’s the last one that has me appreciative of how the business of the hot stove league has changed in just the past few years. When I was at the Winter Meetings, I could tell which writers there were more blog-oriented and which were more hard copy-oriented by the way they talked about deals.  Hard copy guys would ask aloud “does anyone know if the Smith
deal is done yet?” Bloggers would say “well, yeah, that happened yesterday.”  The response would be “but is it official?” with the implication being that it’s not a story until it is.  The answer would be either yes or no, but the silent thought was “dude, we all blogged it yesterday, so it’s done. If he fails the physical or something, that’s a new story.”

I’m not suggesting that one approach is better or anything. Indeed, from the perspective of accuracy, it’s without question that the people waiting for the official announcements of deals do a better job.  Someone in this short attention span world has to be comprehensive, right?

But after blogging for three years, it’s pretty apparent that there’s a huge audience out there — probably the vast majority of the total audience — who wants to know stuff right now. Yesterday, even. For that audience, the story has run its course once it’s been blogged or tweeted by enough people without the report being directly contradicted by a team source. The official announcements come hours or sometimes days later. The physicals and paperwork as much as a week later. Maybe more (anyone heard where Nick Johnson’s press conference is?). By that time, the audience has moved on to the next six deals.

So I see today’s Garret Atkins report and scratch my head. Not about why it’s out there — it’s an essential part of the Official Record, as it were, and I’m glad the Baltimore Sun is keeping it.  No, I scratch my head because I’m not sure where it fits into the lightning quick news cycle that has developed in the baseball offseason.  If I post about it, I’m posting what most of you think is old news. If I don’t, I’m not posting the full story.  I’m not yet sure what to do with these things, actually.

Sorry for the meta navel gazing here, but it’s been a slow day since the Vazquez trade went down — remember that? It was hours ago — and I just felt like speculatin’ about a hypothesis.

Anyway, Garret Atkins is an Oriole.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.