This is basically a football thing, but it’s worth reading all the same because it impacts the kind of stuff we do here at HardballTalk.
Mike Wise of the Washington Post tweeted some pure baloney about Ben Roethlisberger today and when he was busted on it, claimed that it was some grand kind of experiment designed to “test the accuracy of social media reporting.” In other words: watch those silly bloggers repeat my lies.
Florio nails it, though: while we do some original reporting of our own, places like PFT and HBT spend the bulk of their time sifting through the sports news of the day, passing it along to you with context, opinion and humor added. As part of that function, we have done our best to figure out which media outlets are reliable and which ones aren’t so you can be as sure that you’re getting good information (or at least as sure as anyone can be of such things).
While I understand that there are some in the traditional media who question the legitimacy of what we in the blogosphere do all day, for one of those outlets to just make stuff up and then have the nerve to turn around point at the blogs for their credulity in passing along the news is simply ridiculous.
Maybe this is all too inside-baseball for most folks, but there’s a larger conversation going on right now about the future of media. The end product of that conversation affects all of us as information consumers. To watch someone at the one of the most respected newspapers in the country pull something like this says a lot about what some people in the traditional media think about the value and seriousness of that conversation.
The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.
The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:
- Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
- Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
- There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.
Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.
If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.