Over at SB Nation, former ESPN writer Rob Neyer talks about why he was suspended by his longtime employer back in 2000.
After writing and before posting a piece on a statistical controversy involving Randy Johnson, Neyer attempted to contact Elias editor Steve Hirdt “for some clarification.” When there was no prompt response, he ran the piece anyway.
Shortly afterward, my editor called. Or rather, my editor’s boss called. They were yanking my column because I hadn’t called Elias. But I had called Elias. My editor’s boss called me back a few minutes later. Sorry. Steve Hirdt says you didn’t call. Nothing we can do about it. Tough (%$^!).
Neyer, upset about the incident, criticized ESPN on his personal website and was originally suspended for two weeks, without pay, as a result. The suspension was later reduced to one week.
To this date, Neyer is convinced Hirdt didn’t get back to him for personal reasons. Neyer is a Bill James disciple, and James and Hirdt have had a long-running feud, which Neyer briefly touches on.
Neyer adds that he was once scheduled to debate a topic with Hirdt on ESPNews, but that Hirdt refused to appear with him, leaving Neyer to apparently debate himself.