A young blogger admits a mistake and apologizes

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Yesterday I highlighted and sharply criticized a blog post that appeared on the Rays Colored Glasses blog. The post was by a writer named Robbie Knopf, and it was about Rays reliever Josh Lueke, who was charged with rape and subsequently pleaded guilty to a count of “false imprisonment with violence.” The regrettable upshot: if Lueke achieves baseball glory, all will be forgotten and (maybe? It was hard to tell) forgiven.

Since yesterday the post has been taken down and replaced with an apology. I believe it to be a good, heartfelt apology and I think it’s worth reading. Which you can read in its entirety here. In part:

As a young writer, I made a series of mistakes in my recent article about pitcher Josh Lueke. I touched on a very sensitive topic in his arrest for rape, and how it all relates to his future in major league baseball. As a writer, it is my responsibility to clearly present my thoughts and analysis to the reader … In exploring this issue, I did not exhibit nearly enough care, talking far too much about baseball and far too little about consequences. It is entirely my fault that the article took the tone that it did.

It is worth noting that Robbie is 17 years-old. That doesn’t excuse him, as anyone with a platform is responsible for the words he or she writes regardless of how old they are. But it does help to explain how a sensitive and volatile topic like this was mishandled. Even professional writers with decades of experience are prone to mishandling such things. And, as the weekend’s coverage of the Stubenville rape case made clear, so too are entire cable news networks who damn well should know better.

It is also worth noting that, in the past, other professional writers have made errors in judgment just as bad if not worse than what young Mr. Knopf did. I’m immediately reminded of Mark Whicker’s odious column in the OC Register a few years back in which he used the horrifying case of Jaycee Dugard as a vehicle for lame sports riffs, with a closing line — “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard” — which was perhaps the most callous and insensitive thing I’ve ever seen written in a sports column. Note: the column still appears on the OC Register’s website. Whicker apologized for it, but (a) it wasn’t all that great an apology in my view; and (b) there are reasons to believe it wasn’t all that genuine an apology.

I don’t feel that way about Robbie, who seems genuinely shaken by his mistake and who seems genuinely contrite. There’s no question that he’ll learn from it, even if it’s regrettable that he had learn in this particular way.  For my part, I hope the entire experience doesn’t sour him on writing, dull his instincts or deter him from taking bold stances when he feels them warranted.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.