This is a fascinating story. It’s from Andy Martino of the Daily News and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen from a baseball writer who works the beat or writes a column for a major media outlet. It’s about the Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda battle for the Mets first base job. But it’s mostly about Martino examining his role as a reporter and questioning whether he got things right.
Actually, he admits he got things wrong in preferring that the Mets keep Ike Davis and ship out Duda. The Mets did the opposite and the results have been great for them. Duda has thrived at first base for them. Martino wonders why he was so convinced that was the wrong choice.
Specifically, he wonders if his comfort with interviewing Davis, which he far preferred to interviewing Duda, and their significant personality differences made him think Davis was the better choice:
On a subconscious level, did I convince myself that Davis was a better choice because he was a better quote, a friendlier guy, one for whom I came to feel genuine affection as a person? . . . Davis was interesting to talk to, sympathetic and likeable; did that up-close knowledge render me incapable of drawing an objective conclusion, and presenting it to readers? And to overstate Duda’s problems, which he seems to have since overcome?
Those are a couple of rare and brutally honest questions for a baseball writer to ask himself. In my personal experience of interacting with baseball writers there is a near-religious belief that players with personalities like Daivis’ can cut it in New York and players with personalities like Duda’s can’t. There is an even more prevalent belief that a good quote is a good person and that a good person is a good baseball player. If you doubt this, criticize a favorite but flawed baseball player on a given team and see how many steps of argument it takes for the beat guy for that team to defend with some variation of “but he’s a good guy” or “his makeup is off the charts” or whatever. Sometimes that’s the team’s view of the matter. More often than we realize, I believe, that’s the writer’s view.
Really interesting stuff from Martino. I’d be curious to know how many other baseball writers ask themselves these questions, even if they do it in private instead of in print like Martino does here.