Archive for the 'New York Times' Category

23
Apr
08

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Press Pass – pt. 3

Some day soon, a book will come out entirely centered around the journalistic phenomenon we now call blogging. Specifically sports blogging. It won’t be written by a blogger, but some Ph.D. at a liberal arts school. The book will analyze all the ways in which this new form of media has effected “traditional sports reporting” and how the landscape of event coverage has changed forever. One of the chapters in this book will be an expansion of this article (or at least the beginning of it), published in the New York Times on Monday, April 21. The chapter will center around access, and who deserves what amount. But before all that happens, we wanted to address this issue in a five-part series. We will view the access question from the perspective of all the major parties involved: owners, players, reporters, bloggers, and we’ll end on Monday with the most important perspective of them all — the fan’s.

PART 3 — THE REPORTERS

Alright, let’s get this out front first. Yes, a lot of reporters write blogs for their given outlets, but it’s not necessarily by our own accord. More often than not, an editor calls us into the office, tells us that management wants to establish more of a “Web presence” because that’s what all the kids are doing these days with their Giggles and Tube Yous, then they tell us to cross our arms and “Oh my god, look at the spider on the ceiling!” then *FLASH*-*SNAP*, we have a blog.

What I’m trying to say is, that’s not entirely by choice. As much as I love being forced to write twice as much as I used to, I’m not the biggest fan of sports blogs. Never really have been.

I look back on how I got to this point, and I see college where I spent countless hours in sweaty rooms writing news leads and memorizing the different between lay and lie. I covered field hockey and volleyball and water polo and track and softball… And what did it all get me? My first job covering all the same shit — except at a high school. My big stories were about a basketball player with down syndrome and a football recruit getting arrested (which I co-bylined with a fat man named Bill who had a burly mustache and a car that smelled like sour hot dogs).

Ten years of that landed me right back at the colleges, and another 15 years after that I finally cracked open the doors to a professional press room. That’s how I got the job I have, how about you bloggers that want a seat next to me? You opened an account at Blogspot and started calling me a shmuck.

I’m not saying all that makes me more or less worthy, I know the world doesn’t work like that. What I’m saying is that you can’t replicate the passion and respect that those 30 years have left me with. I approach these games like a surgeon approaches a patient; like a lawyer approaches a courtroom. These are not some free tickets to me. This is work.

When I look around that press room, I see a bunch of tired faces that carry the same battle scars as my own. And I’m just as dependent on those guys as I am on my recorder and notebook. You see, in the eyes of these athletes, we’re all the same. Lumped into one giant bunch. “The Media.” And the fact of the matter is, if one guy pisses of the coach, he walks out on all of us. I have to tell my editor that my story won’t have quotes tonight, just like the other 20 guys in the room. Around here, there isn’t any room for renegades.

Listen, even though I could go on about “ethics,” and “standards,” and how “I can’t do what you do and get away with it,” I don’t think those are the central issues to this matter. I think journalists have proven they are just as capable of acting unethically. What’s bigger is the history, tradition, and honor that surrounds covering a coach who just won a Super Bowl, or a 22-year-old kid that’s sobbing into your microphone because he just lost the last meaningful game he’ll ever play in his life.

Those are the things that are not to be taken for granted. And unless you’ve seen that same elation on the face of a little league coach or that same anguish in the eyes of a high school softball pitcher, I argue that you’ll never truly understand what a privlege it is to cover these games. So for now, let’s just stick to what we each do best. I’ll keep writing game wraps, and you can keep calling me a shmuck.

View the other perspectives: The Owners and The Players

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20
Feb
08

Just like cheatin’ on your wife…

It’s not illegal unless you’re caught on tape.

Or at least, that seems to be the road the whole “Spygate” scandal is headed down. Leave it to the New York Times to put a seemingly unethical situation into perspective with this fantastic article. Most people are very fast to bury Belichick, others are holding out hope that this will all wash over, and an even smaller portion of us are just so enraged that the media resorted to throwing a “gate” suffix at the end of another scandal that we can’t mentally progress any further.

But one option that nobody seems to have considered is that it ends up being the NFL that gets all shook up after this — not the Patriots. I mean, they have a very intense ethical dilemma on their hands here that the likes of Socrates would appreciate. It’s your classic slippery slope argument of asking where to draw the line on a particular issue. I guess the main question here isn’t Is it wrong to steal signals? but rather, Is it wrong to use a camcorder? Because if you think the first question is at the heart of this, well, let me allow the commissioner to field that one…

“I’m not sure that there is a coach in the league that doesn’t expect that their signals are being intercepted by opposing teams.”

We hear of this a lot in baseball. It’s pretty much common knowledge that if a man is on second base, that batter is going to have a clue as to what’s coming. And hell, in that sport we have national television revealing the signals, so tell me that teams don’t watch tape of opposing signs.

All I’m saying is: This isn’t as open and shut a case as it may see. The door will inevitably remain open here. And if the hammer falls on Belichick, don’t think he won’t come right back and hire some savant from Pawtucket that reads lips, hand him a pair of binoculars and a pen, and ring the bell for Round 2.

28
Dec
07

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

The “Evil Empire.”

At least, that’s what they’ve been called from time to time. You know, those guys who buy their way to the top of the league. They’re willing to overpay just to take stars away from their top competitors. Then, utilizing their position atop the food chain, they attempt to call the shots and feed the fire that, ultimately, just ends up making them more profit. And the entire cyclical process can begin again.

No, not the New York Yankees. Though I have seen them cast in a similar light. Where did I see that? Oh, that’s right, on ESPN. That’s where I’ve seen that whole “Evil Empire” label branded upon George Steinbrenner & co. I guess it takes one to know one.

A recent article in the New York Times by Richard Perez-Pena has revealed a bit more of the truth behind irony-SPN. A network which is never hesitant to cast the Red Sox and Yankees of the sporting world as the corporate giants who drop their giant boot of cash down upon the rest of the competition, may just be the biggest perpetrators of such activity in sports.

More than anything, it’s just kind of funny. Among all the journalistic work reporting on free agency and the tactics used by big spenders, the guys on the business end of things were obviously paying attention just as closely as Peter Gammons.

“The numbers they throw around are out of reach.”

Sounds like something you’d hear from Royals or Marlins management. But no, that’s Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, a sports editor at the Washington Post, talking about ESPN’s uncanny ability to lure top writers. And making moves like offering Rick Reilly (undisclosed) dollars not only gives ESPN another big (white, middle-aged, snarky) gun, but, perhaps more importantly in the “Evil Empire” agenda, it takes a big staple of the competition out of the lineup. Remember when the Yankees signed Johnny Damon? Anybody?

Oh, and it doesn’t stop there. The article also discloses that ESPN charges, “by far,” the highest subscription rate of any cable network and more ads per magazine than its competition. You’re kidding, the same providers of such hardcore investigative pieces as the Coors Light Cold Hard Facts and Six Pack of Questions, the Hummer Press Pass, the Budweiser Hot Seat have more ads per issue than Sports Illustrated? (That bit of sarcasm brought to you by rich, chocolaty Ovaltine).

But easily my favorite part of this article (aside from the goofiness of a sports media outlet refusing to releasing contract information) comes right near the end when we get the distinguished opinion of sports agent, and general slime of the earth, Scott Boras. “It’s like going from a guppy to an octopus,” says the shark.

You just can’t make this stuff up. But I have an idea of who could if they wanted to…

18
Oct
07

No news is good news?

Torre quits! No waitAs I write this, ESPN is reporting that Joe Torre has turned down a $5 million, 1-year deal to remain with the Yankees. However, they keep saying “apparently,” so Andy Katz might be on the story.

Either way, thank God this Torre news nightmare is over. What is happening lately with non-news stories being completely over-covered?

First we have Kobe demanding a trade, then not demanding a trade. The next day, Kobe is cleaning out his locker!! Oh wait, sorry, he’s just cleaning up his locker.

Then this Joe Torre nonsense started.

Will he come back? Will he leave? Oh my God, I can’t sleep until someone hypothesizes!!!

Earlier this week, the SportsNation poll question on espn.com was, “Who should the Yankees keep, Joe Torre or Alex Rodriguez?”

What’s that? You didn’t know the rule that says a team can only keep either its manager or star player when both are up for contract renewal? You need to read more Baseball Prospectus.

Long ago, in journalism school, I was taught that stories are to be chosen based on how newsworthy they are. I couldn’t even tell you what criteria the above stories passed.  But, either way, I thought I could always fall back on the sports section of the beacon of spectacular journalism that is the New York Times. Until I saw the following headline.

“The only Yankee News Is That There is Still No News”

Honestly NYT? You’ve violated Rule 1 of the profession and we haven’t even gotten to the lead.

If I’m a reader, who knows nothing about the Yankees, baseball or sports, why would I read this story? Because it contains no news? How do you even write a 16-graph story that contains no news? More rhetorical questions!!

Suddenly, Klosterman’s suggestions aren’t looking so drastic.

10
Oct
07

Don’t get on Richard Sandomir’s bad side

Chip CarayWhat’s happening people?

It feels good to be posting again, sorry for the long time off…life is getting a little crazy.

Well, in case you missed it, the Cubs did not win the World Series. Soooo, if you had your money on Chicago, apologies.

But, that has led us to some other “great” “baseball” “news” — Chip Caray sucks at broadcasting.

This was brought to light by New York Times resident Debbie Downer, Richard Sandomir.

Sandomir always has some problem about how individuals in sports media go about their jobs. Personally, I would never condone such dissent.

However, I wanted to post this yesterday (simply as information, mind you), but my friends over at We are the Postmen handled it nicely (and more quickly).

So I figured the issue was dead.

Not so.

Today, Sandomir used his column to give Suzyn Waldman a pass for crying after a Yankees’ broadcast the other night. (Note to aspiring sports journalists…She’s known them a long time, so it’s OK)  Sandomir managed to stay focused on Waldman for approximately 8 paragraphs. Here’s his actual transition back into ripping Caray:

To me, it is worse to be a clueless announcer than one who is emotional in a sport where crying is prohibited by the cinematic manager Tom Hanks. But Torre cries, so maybe it’s good for all of us to get out our hankies. Chip Caray of TBS can set aside the hanky for a copy of a Manhattan map, access to MLB.com and a Yankees media guide.

See how he did that, he just slipped it in there. You didn’t even notice. (That’s why I’m here, don’t mention it)

The next sentence is as follows:

I won’t go on at length about Caray’s miscues during the Yankees-Indians division series as I did yesterday.

There are then about 8 consecutive paragraphs on how Caray screwed up and TBS could fix their broadcasting for the next series.

Here’s my question? Does this honestly deserve two columns in the New York Times? Has Sandomir ever watched a baseball game on TV? Ever heard Joe Morgan perhaps?…He makes up shit all the time. Half the time, he doesn’t even know where the guys on the field played before coming to their current teams.

And what is the moral of this column? It’s OK to be biased, but not to have your facts wrong? That’s great advice to give the media these days, since we know how objective our sporting networks are.

You’re better than that NYT. Even if Sandomir isn’t.