The Daily News claims that A-Rod is scared and paranoid … and they know, how?

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I generally have no problem with anonymous source reporting. Anonymous sources often make it possible for reporters to get stories they otherwise wouldn’t get. The entire trade rumor circuit which, no matter what you think about it, is extremely popular among readers, is based on it.  Bigger, important news often hinges on anonymity because people are sharing information which could get them fired. Or worse.  It’s a necessary part of journalism and anyone who dismisses a story merely because it’s sourced anonymously is being foolish.

That said, there are limits to what can and can’t be sourced anonymously. For example, you have to give the reader some sense of what kind of source the person is so as to give them at least some confidence that the information you’re imparting is legitimate as opposed to 100% pure, unadulterated baloney.

For example, “a government source” is more useful than merely saying “a source.” A “source who has examined the documents/microfilm/offer/whatever” is useful. A “source close to [notable person]” is a bit more vague, but it’s something.  All of it beats saying “a source.”

In contrast, if your anonymous source seems impossible — like, there’s no immediately plausible person saying x, y, z who would know, that’s a big problem. If your story makes a savvy reader focus way more on where the information could possibly be coming from than the information itself, that’s likewise a problem.

With that I give you the latest from Daily News. A paper which has, thus far, embarrassed itself repeatedly since last Tuesday’s revelations about the A-Rod/Biogenesis story:

Alex Rodriguez is taking his wildest swing yet in his fight against steroid allegations: The Yankees and MLB are conspiring to push him out of the game. Sources say the embattled Yankee star is “scared” that bigger forces are at work to try to discredit him and sink his career … “He’s scared, because he thinks this is so unbelievably false, and he’s wondering who could be behind this … He thinks something could be going on larger than anyone might think.”

The person quoted thusly is repeatedly identified as “a source.” There is no sense if this is a friend of A-Rod’s, a business associate or anything. There is no information imparted which even suggests to the reader that the source might have some access and insight into A-Rod’s psyche. This could just as easily be a hot dog vendor speculating about what A-Rod might feel as it could be a confidant.

And in this story, from this source, that truly matters. It matters because the information here paints A-Rod in a negative (indeed paranoid) light. This after a week’s worth of the Daily News more or less transcribing highly implausible “the Yankees are going to dump A-Rod” talking points from the Yankees front office with almost zero critical analysis at all. And, of course, a decade’s worth of trying to slam and humiliate Rodriguez at every possible opportunity.

In short, the Daily News has done nothing to warrant the benefit of the doubt here. Its sources are incredibly thin. This latest story conveniently serves to bolster the Daily News’ “A-Rod is done as a Yankee” narrative. Given the peculiarly inside vibe to this — and the fact that no one truly close to A-Rod would be a likely Daily News source give its treatment of him over the years — it is damn nigh impossible to imagine who on Earth could be the Daily News’ “source.”

But is it true? I suppose the beauty of the way this story is written is that we have no way of knowing and no way of checking.  But therein also likes the very best reason to question this story coming from this outlet.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.