Internet Tough

The guy Jeff Pearlman called responds

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You’ll recall the thing on Friday afternoon in which Jeff Pearlman wrote a column at CNN about confronting “online haters” who have made Pearlman and other online writers “targets for abuse,” aided by the anonymity of the Internet. One of the guys Pearlman tracked down and called was Andrew Tworischuk. Yesterday Andrew gave his side of the story. I don’t endorse a lot of what Andrew says — like Pearlman, I agree that the lack of civility on the Internet is not cool — but I found this part of it rather interesting:

A few weeks later, [Pearlman’s] article comes out. It’s not bad (and not as nasty as I expected) but it’s of course not exactly a full portrayal of what happened. First of all, both me and Matt’s twitter names are our full names. I have an extremely uncommon last name so all he had to do was plug it into yellow pages. It wasn’t hardcore undercover detective work like he made it out to be. Secondly, the article makes it sound like I was harassing him. I said something dumb in passing and when challenged didn’t back down. It wasn’t like I was inundating him with hate mail.

Having read this and having gone back and checked out Pearlman’s blog posts from the relevant period, I do think that Pearlman is skewing things a bit in his CNN post.  Anonymity may or may not be a problem on the Internet, but the guys he took issue with were not at all anonymous.  And at least in Andrew’s case, he wasn’t even bothering Pearlman over at his blog. He was merely tweeting something about him. Pearlman had to search for his own name in order to find the the stuff with which he took issue. Andrew wasn’t seeking Pearlman out and attacking him.  Maybe he wasn’t polite, but I suspect that if anyone Googles themselves they’ll find that people are saying bad things about them.  Tracking down and confronting such people, however, is not the kind of thing that a confident and healthy person should spend a lot of time doing.

This just ties back in with my observations from Friday. There may or may not be a problem with the way people interact on the Internet, but to the extent there is, it’s not a function of anonymity and the rude nature of the medium of blogging in and of itself.  Immediacy has way more to do with it. To spout off at a writer 20 years ago you had to write a letter, and by the time you do that the moment has passed. Now you can click before you think.

But is there something else going on here than merely anonymity and immediacy?  In the past, Jeff Pearlman has called a subject of his writing “evil.”  He called someone “a truly pathetic human being” and a “punk.” These aren’t isolated incidents. It’s fairly par for the course for him to make stark moral judgments about people and to say things about them that he would never, ever say to their face.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, because it is his blog and his voice. You can say a lot of things about Jeff Pearlman, but he is a passionate writer who never hesitates to speak his mind. I wouldn’t dare propose that he censor himself and if someone tried to censor him, I’d defend his right to say what he wants to the death, even if I disagree with it.

But there’s no escaping the fact that a writer ultimately sets the tone for his blog.  As such, he should not be surprised when he reaps what he sows.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.