D.C. talk radio guys accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes

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I linked Ken Rosenthal’s story from this morning in which he quotes an anonymous Nationals player saying that the Nats would be up 2-0 if they had Stephen Strasburg.  A couple of people in the comments who don’t like anyone criticizing the Nats decision in this regard suggested that Rosenthal was simply making it up. Never mind that he’s one of the most respected reporters in the business.

But it’s not just the die hards in comment threads doing it. Two D.C. talk radio hosts had Rosenthal on the air this morning and they did it too:

And so it was that Rosenthal appeared on 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies program Wednesday morning, and was greeted by Eric Bickel, incredulously asking whether “one player on the Nats actually told you that this team would be 2-0 if Strasburg was there?”

“No, I just made that up,” Rosenthal replied.

There was some prickly back and forth, after which Bickel said “You’re kind of being a [jerk], to be honest with you,” Bickel said. “I don’t really understand why.”  Some people on Twitter said that, rather than “jerk,” Bickel said “dick.” Rosenthal took the high road and explained in quite compelling terms, I believe, why it’s silly to accuse him of such a thing or of anti-Nationals bias in general.

I’m told by people who are familiar with the show that Bickel and The Fan’s Junkies is not exactly serious media so I guess it’s not terribly surprising that they’d do such a thing.  But really, the fact that anyone would accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes is simply unhinged.

Also unhinged: the degree to which fans in forums and now, apparently, radio hosts have gone to accuse anyone who writes or says things that don’t flatter their rooting interests as “biased,” and suggesting that it calls their factual assertions into question. Of course bias exists, but bias influences opinion for the most part. It does not necessarily call one’s factual reporting or analysis into question.

To the extent it does, it’s almost always more about not seeing the full picture or unconsciously tuning out data that doesn’t jibe with the bias.  It does not, outside of the most abjectly partisan news outlets, lead to people actually fabricating things like quotes from whole cloth.

Nationals do not activate Bryce Harper for Monday’s game

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The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.

Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).