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

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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.”

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.