Pinstripe Bible and River Ave. Blues issue statements about the censorship allegations

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On Tuesday Moshe Mandel of TYU presented evidence which strongly suggested that the YES Network and/or the Yankees caused one Yankees blog — Pinstripe Bible — to ratchet-back criticism of the team in light of the Rafael Soriano signing, and that it punished another blog — River Ave. Blues — by removing the Yes Network toolbar for a period of time.

In the past 24 hours or so, both blogs issued statements on the matter.  Here’s River Ave. Blues, passed along at the bottom of a TYU post from yesterday:

“The YES Network has no editorial control over the content produced by River Ave. Blues, and at no point during our relationship has YES ever asked us to edit or remove any post we’ve published on RAB.”

Here’s Pinstripe Bible:

On Tuesday, Moshe Mandel of the blog TYU raised some questions about the Pinstriped Bible in the aftermath of the Rafael Soriano signing, making allegations of censorship. I chose not to comment at the time. However, given the volume and tone of speculation I have read, I would be remiss if I did not say the following: the Pinstriped Bible has been affiliated with YES almost since the network’s beginning. In all that time, I have never been asked to alter the tone or substance of my commentary. The day that happens is the day we part company, though I don’t expect such a thing to come to pass, because the YESmen understand as well as I do that our readership is looking for honesty, not propaganda.

In response to the former statement, I consider the matter closed.  As TYU noted, RAB did not change its posts on the Soriano matter.  All that happened was that the YES toolbar disappeared for a period of days and then returned.  It’s possible that the toolbar stuff was punishment by YES, but it’s also possible there were other reasons for it.  And ultimately, I don’t think most readers care a lick about whether a toolbar is there or not as long as the content is good and credible and that has never been at issue with RAB.

In response to the latter statement, I asked Steve — on Twitter — if that also means that no one at YES or the Yankees voiced displeasure at his initial post. My reason for asking was that there is more than one way for an organization to influence the message.  Even if Steve was not asked to change the content of his post, was it possible that there was subtler pressure being applied in the form of harrumphs, veiled threats, smoke signals or anything else?  Steve dismissed the possibility:

Me: Steve: so is it the case that no one at YES or the Yankees was critical of your initial post?

Steve: No. I revised the post upon further consideration and input from colleagues.

I know both the RAB writers and Steve Goldman of Pinstripe Bible (in that way you know people you talk to online).  I have no question about their quality as writers and analysts.  I likewise have no cause to question their integrity whatsoever.  If there is any doubt about this at all, let me be clear: my interest in this topic is no way meant as a criticism of RAB or Pinstripe Bible.  Rather, I am interested in the extent to which the Yankees and/or the Yes Network has attempted to influence what affiliated bloggers are writing about the team if, in fact, they are.

Having said that, I will honestly say that I don’t know how to reconcile the changes in the Pinstripe Bible post — outlined in TYU’s initial report — with Steve’s statement today.  I take him at his word. But I still not sure I understand how that post ended up as mangled as it did.

Obviously we as bloggers are entitled to change our minds about things.  Blogging is often a game of ready-fire-aim, and our initial opinions on a matter are often in need of later revision as new facts come in or as we reflect on a matter for a while.  And that’s how it should be. Immediacy is important for blog readers and the benefits of such immediacy outweigh the costs most of the time. But a corollary to that notion is that a blogger’s change of opinion on a matter should be transparent.

I don’t begrudge Steve for reflecting on his initial opinion of the Soriano signing and ratcheting back his rhetoric some.  I’ve done that many times myself.  But it does strike me that a better way to handle it is to update a post or do a second post that makes clear that the blogger’s mind has, in fact, changed.  Doing so helps the reader better understand your thought process and helps them weigh the credibility or your opinions.  Not doing so causes the reader — as it caused TYU, me and others in this case — to question why the changes were made and to wonder if it was something greater than a mere change of mind.

Again, these are just my personal thoughts on the matter and I don’t presume to have a monopoly on wisdom on this topic.  Just thinking out loud, really.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.