Been putting together a few quick baseball thoughts -- was going to throw them together into one massive blog post. But then I thought that it would make me look so much more productive if I separated them and posted them throughout the day. So that's what I'll do. We start with the Murray Chass saga.
* * *
"Tom Verducci wrote in his SI.com blog that contrary to what I wrote, he voted for (Marvin) Miller. I have no first-hand knowledge of that fact any more than I had of my reporting that he didn’t vote for Miller. The Hall of Fame does not disclose how its committee members vote. However, in this instance I will take Verducci’s word."
-- Blogger Murray Chass
I think we have all learned to appreciate the art of the apology in sports over the last few years. Lord knows we have had to hear a bunch of them. But I have to give it up to Murray Chass, a New York-based blogger, for inventing something that seems kind of new and promising: The snide apology.
Last week, Chass blogged with "no first-hand knowledge" that my colleague Tom Verducci did not vote Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame. He was thisclose to being right -- if only he had left out the word "not." Chass was apparently told this bit of falsehood by Miller himself, though Chass fully understood that Miller had had no more first-hand knowledge than he did. Also Miller is 93 years old, and he's been through this absurd Hall of Fame ringer a few times, and he undoubtedly had some powerful emotions going. Miller has since apologized directly to Verducci. Chass has since blogged six paragraphs under the subhead "My Personal Journalism Lesson."
I should say before getting into Chass' lesson, that in the original post he did not just blog that Verducci was one of five Miller no-votes. He also blogged in detail about WHY Tom did not vote for Miller, throwing in this perky little judgment: "I’m not sure what Verducci, the Sports Illustrated writer, thought of Miller, but I know he didn’t think much of the job Miller had. When Verducci covered baseball for Newsday, the Long Island daily, he hated covering baseball labor. And when he did cover it, he wasn’t very good at it."
Lovely. Now, Chass was obviously emotional about Miller missing the Hall of Fame -- it seems that before he was a New York based blogger he spent some time working in the mainstream media and covered Miller. I fully understand this and actually feel empathy for his feelings. I was extremely emotional when a Negro Leagues committee did not vote Buck O'Neil into the Hall of Fame (but voted in 17 long-deceased players and executives). Still, to call someone by name without proof is not just a violation of journalistic ethics, it is a disgusting thing to do.
And then -- there's this pathetic non-apology. It's funny, I was over at Baseball Think Factory reading a few comments, and a couple of people actually PRAISED Chass for this absurdity, actually thought he took responsibility for his journalistic atrocity. Are you kidding me? Have our standards fallen so far that THIS excuse for an apology can be viewed by anyone as taking responsibility? Tom Verducci went to the Hall of Fame, asked them if he could go public with his vote to clear his name, and then said publicly he voted for Miller. And Chass STILL blogs that he has "no first hand knowledge of the fact any more than I had reporting that he didn't vote for Miller?" WHAT? You have Tom Verducci's first-hand statement RIGHT THERE. He is the MAN WHO VOTED. He's TELLING YOU what he did. And Chass is now blogging to us that he did "reporting" before to find that Tom didn't vote for Miller? Last I heard, what Chass did isn't called reporting. It's called "assassination of character."
But at least "in this instance" he will take Tom's word. Bloody decent of him.
Later, while Chass admits that his reporting was shoddy, he makes clear that it's the first time he's EVER done shoddy reporting. Really. First time ever. At first he says that 99.9% of the time he reported with great fervor and ethics but he immediately makes it 100%. He has not been shoddy even one out of a thousand times. Yep, this is the very first time he has ever done anything like this, which, you know, is kind of funny because barely two weeks ago Chass blogged that Texas manager Ron Washington's explanation that he used cocaine for the first time "defied credibility, but everyone bought it, never questioning the likelihood of a 57-year-old man using cocaine for the first time and being tested randomly at just that time." Apparently, everyone is now supposed to buy that Chass, a man in his 70s, has for the very first time in his life "taken a shortcut."
And what caused him to break from his perfect 100% record as a reporter? His words: "I was unable to (check reporting) because I was out of the country on vacation with no access to information, such as telephone numbers or e-mail addresses, for people who might have known." As a father, I am growing used to hearing lame excuses. But I would hope that my nine-year-old, at least, would have already known not to use something that lame. If Chass was out of the country and on vacation, he shouldn't have blogged his false post in the first place. And the only email that seems to matter to me is Tom Verducci's -- and that one's not hard to find.
I'm not saying this was the worst apology of the last few years because there have been some doozies. I'm just saying that it's a good thing most bloggers have higher journalistic ethics than Blogger Chass.