Murray Chass

Blogger Murray Chass attacks me for bad reporting, ignores quotes, evidence in doing so

77 Comments

Murray Chass, who actually was the foremost expert in the media regarding baseball labor issues in general and collusion in the 1980s in particular, decided to tear me a new one over at his blog today after I wrote about those potentially collusive statements regarding Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales a couple of weeks ago. Statements which led to Tony Clark launching an investigation into their source.

When someone told me Chass was on my butt about that I actually got worried. Because, for as silly and crazy as his writings have become over the years, you can’t knock the man’s expertise on labor and collusion. That’s his turf and I was legitimately worried that I made a dumb mistake in my posts on the subject. So, while it’s always the better move to ignore Murray Chass, in this instance I had to go read what he wrote to see how wrong I was!

You’ll be shocked to learn that he’s far more interested in taking me to task for being a blogger and and not a reporter. Which is awesome considering that he himself is a blogger* but we’ll let that slide for a minute. He’s particularly upset that I claimed that Tony Clark is trying to to investigate the source of those quotes about Drew and Morales and that, in doing so, he’s not going to win over any friends in the media:

In the hours before I wrote this column I was looking for something and found something else, one of the dumbest and most ignorant pieces of baseball writing I have read in years. It was a piece by Craig Calcaterra of NBCsports.com.

Calcaterra criticized Tony Clark, the head of the players union, for suggesting that anonymous comments from club executives about free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales could be a form of collusion . . . With his comments, Clark was not trying to sniff out sources or their identification.

Tony Clark was not trying to sniff out sources, eh? Better tell that to Tony Clark, Murray, because here was his official statement on the matter:

“I am angered that numerous baseball executives have blatantly and intentionally violated our collective bargaining agreement by offering to ESPN comments about free agent values of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. These statements undermine the free agent rights of the players and depress the market values. Today, I have called upon the Commissioner’s office to investigate immediately and thoroughly the sources of these statements and to take appropriate action to enforce our agreement.” [emphasis supplied].

A few days later, Clark sent all registered agents a document retention order, demanding that they keep all records of their contact with reporters regarding Drew and Morales.

I suppose I’m crazy to see those things as Clark “trying to sniff out sources for their identification.” Unfortunately Chass — after lecturing me about ignoring relevant information in my writing — ignores both of those things in reaching his own conclusion on the matter.

Murray, you’re a Hall of Famer, and for all the work that put you there, I respect you. But you have no more business being out there engaging in media criticism than 83-year-old Ernie Banks has being in the Cubs’ lineup against the Diamondbacks this afternoon. Less so, actually. Because while neither Banks nor you are likely to be able to catch up to a fastball these days, at least Banks isn’t blinded by bitterness and rage about not being active anymore.

*I suppose there are many definitions of “blogger,” but the original and in my mind truest definition of the term is one who reads and synthesizes news and opinion on the Internet, forms his or her own opinions about it, links said news and opinions on his or her “web log” — which is where the word “blog” comes from — and talks about what he or she thinks about the matter.

While, today, bloggers such as myself may work for large media organizations like NBC, the original promise of blogging was that it gave people not affiliated with the mainstream media a chance to write and opine about the issues of the day.

In what way Murray Chass does not fit this definition is beyond me. He is a blogger in the purest and truest meaning of the word. In form — he writes a blog from his home in his free time — and in practice — he is using it to attack a writer from a large media organization — Chass is, in fact, the Platonic ideal of a blogger. He is keeping it so real as a blogger, he makes a guy like me — who considers himself a pretty decent blogger — look like some sort of sellout. A piker. Frankly, I’m a tad embarrassed at how much more of a legit blogger Chass is than me sometimes.

So I shall no longer call him The Blogger Murray Chass.” I shall call him “King Blogger Murray Chass, O.G. Pimp Daddy Blogger Par Excellence.”

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
19 Comments

It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.