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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.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!