Pinstripe Bible and River Ave. Blues issue statements about the censorship allegations

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On Tuesday Moshe Mandel of TYU presented evidence which strongly suggested that the YES Network and/or the Yankees caused one Yankees blog — Pinstripe Bible — to ratchet-back criticism of the team in light of the Rafael Soriano signing, and that it punished another blog — River Ave. Blues — by removing the Yes Network toolbar for a period of time.

In the past 24 hours or so, both blogs issued statements on the matter.  Here’s River Ave. Blues, passed along at the bottom of a TYU post from yesterday:

“The YES Network has no editorial control over the content produced by River Ave. Blues, and at no point during our relationship has YES ever asked us to edit or remove any post we’ve published on RAB.”

Here’s Pinstripe Bible:

On Tuesday, Moshe Mandel of the blog TYU raised some questions about the Pinstriped Bible in the aftermath of the Rafael Soriano signing, making allegations of censorship. I chose not to comment at the time. However, given the volume and tone of speculation I have read, I would be remiss if I did not say the following: the Pinstriped Bible has been affiliated with YES almost since the network’s beginning. In all that time, I have never been asked to alter the tone or substance of my commentary. The day that happens is the day we part company, though I don’t expect such a thing to come to pass, because the YESmen understand as well as I do that our readership is looking for honesty, not propaganda.

In response to the former statement, I consider the matter closed.  As TYU noted, RAB did not change its posts on the Soriano matter.  All that happened was that the YES toolbar disappeared for a period of days and then returned.  It’s possible that the toolbar stuff was punishment by YES, but it’s also possible there were other reasons for it.  And ultimately, I don’t think most readers care a lick about whether a toolbar is there or not as long as the content is good and credible and that has never been at issue with RAB.

In response to the latter statement, I asked Steve — on Twitter — if that also means that no one at YES or the Yankees voiced displeasure at his initial post. My reason for asking was that there is more than one way for an organization to influence the message.  Even if Steve was not asked to change the content of his post, was it possible that there was subtler pressure being applied in the form of harrumphs, veiled threats, smoke signals or anything else?  Steve dismissed the possibility:

Me: Steve: so is it the case that no one at YES or the Yankees was critical of your initial post?

Steve: No. I revised the post upon further consideration and input from colleagues.

I know both the RAB writers and Steve Goldman of Pinstripe Bible (in that way you know people you talk to online).  I have no question about their quality as writers and analysts.  I likewise have no cause to question their integrity whatsoever.  If there is any doubt about this at all, let me be clear: my interest in this topic is no way meant as a criticism of RAB or Pinstripe Bible.  Rather, I am interested in the extent to which the Yankees and/or the Yes Network has attempted to influence what affiliated bloggers are writing about the team if, in fact, they are.

Having said that, I will honestly say that I don’t know how to reconcile the changes in the Pinstripe Bible post — outlined in TYU’s initial report — with Steve’s statement today.  I take him at his word. But I still not sure I understand how that post ended up as mangled as it did.

Obviously we as bloggers are entitled to change our minds about things.  Blogging is often a game of ready-fire-aim, and our initial opinions on a matter are often in need of later revision as new facts come in or as we reflect on a matter for a while.  And that’s how it should be. Immediacy is important for blog readers and the benefits of such immediacy outweigh the costs most of the time. But a corollary to that notion is that a blogger’s change of opinion on a matter should be transparent.

I don’t begrudge Steve for reflecting on his initial opinion of the Soriano signing and ratcheting back his rhetoric some.  I’ve done that many times myself.  But it does strike me that a better way to handle it is to update a post or do a second post that makes clear that the blogger’s mind has, in fact, changed.  Doing so helps the reader better understand your thought process and helps them weigh the credibility or your opinions.  Not doing so causes the reader — as it caused TYU, me and others in this case — to question why the changes were made and to wonder if it was something greater than a mere change of mind.

Again, these are just my personal thoughts on the matter and I don’t presume to have a monopoly on wisdom on this topic.  Just thinking out loud, really.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.