Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Look, I'm not one of those humorless watchdogs who lose sleep over what gets printed in the newspaper, let alone the sports section of the newspaper, but this, written by the pouting Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe evidences an incompetence so basic that it defies description:

Rice hit for power in a day when power numbers were legit. He was the dominant slugger of his time, a man capable of inducing an intentional walk when the bases were loaded.

Except not once in over 9000 plate appearances was Jim Rice ever intentionally walked with the bases loaded. Never.

Shaughnessy is either blatantly lying about Rice's intentional walks in order to sharpen a point or else he was grossly negligent in not checking such an easily checkable fact. No matter the case, this is the sort of misstatement that would get writers in any other section of a newspaper fired or reassigned, and would foment a correction by the editors.

This is not a matter of stat geeks vs. sportswriters. This is not a matter of Rice backers vs. Rice haters. This is simply about expecting a reporter for a major daily newspaper not to make up facts out of thin air.

UPDATE: I just realized that the headline of Shaugnessy's story is "Nothing False About His Case." How I missed the irony on the first read-through is a mystery me.

UPDATE #2: I just got an email from someone defending Shaugnessy based on his use of the word "capable," and arguing that the use of that word gets him off the hook. I disagree. While it may be one thing to talk about capabilities regarding unknown future events ("Papelbon is capable of saving 55 games next year"), it's not all that different from a lie to assert that a player was "capable" of doing some specific thing he never did when making a case for his past accomplishments. To say that he was in this context (i.e. assessing Rice's career accomplishments) is to intentionally mislead the reader into thinking such a thing actually happened when it did not.

To illustrate the difference, I would ask if anyone would be willing to give a member of the New York press a pass if they said, in an article arguing for Jeter's greatness, that he was "capable" of winning the triple crown in 1999, "capable" of turning five unassisted triple plays in the 2004 ALCS, and "capable" of hitting for the cycle last June 25th? Of course you wouldn't, because it's one thing to say something like "Jeter was capable of hitting for more power if he had tried," or "Jeter was capable of playing Ozzie Smith-level defense," it is quite another to cite specific fictitious accomplishments in an effort to pad Jeter's resume.

And this is what Shaugnessy is doing. Perversely enough, however, by doing so, he's hurting the cause of his beloved Jim Rice. This is because by trotting out such arguments, he is allowing those opposed to Rice's candidacy to accurately say that his supporters have no choice but to lie about his credentials in order to make their case.


Jason said...

Uh oh, Craig. Even hint at anything negative towards one of their own and the RSN will attack you with the venom of a thousand snakes. Facts and different views be damned; if you cross them they will attack you.

Good luck with them, they can be a nasty bunch.

All that being said, I think most Sox fans generally view Dan S. as Yanks fans view Lupica: we can't stand either. Dan perpetuated the "Curse of the Babe" and rammed it down their throats, so maybe the RSN will go light on you here.

As for the content of you posting, maybe it's just me but it seems reporting standards have slacked in recent years. Maybe it's due to the instant nature of news reporting, a desire to keep pace with the blogosphere, etc. Case in point: in the hours leading up to the Mitchell Investigation, published that bogus email list of "reported names" with no substantiation or fact checking. That was flat out irresponsible for a major news outlet to run with it. All that was done was a simple retraction after the fact.

I've gotta hop off the soapbox as I am buried with work today, but I needed to check in as a mental break.

Be well,

Chipmaker said...

Gol-lee, if that's Dan Redhead's standard for voting for a slugger, he's surely going to vote for Bonds (who really DID have a BLIBB, in 1998, before his ascension to BONDS!) when Barry gets on the ballot.

Shaughnessy's lost it.

Kevin said...

Welcome to the hellacious sports writing we endure here.

Osmodious said...

"Shaughnessy's lost it."
No, he never had it to begin with. This guy writes the most one-sided, ludicrous, loud-mouthed tripe of any of the sports hacks out there. I mean, we all know that the baseball writers have a Red Sox bias to begin with, but this guy is off the hook.

Then again, the popular media in general has adopted this whole "if you say it is true often and loudly enough it IS true" mentality, so he's just doing the same thing.

I take comfort in the fact that, being a die-never Red Sox fan, he is a miserable person for whom nothing is good enough and who has never had a moment of happiness in his entire life (if you ever saw the HBO 'Curse of the Bambino' documentary, you'd have seen this firsthand in his interview segments...pal, lighten up, it's just baseball!).

Jason said...

See, Osmodious made my point, even RedSox fans hate Big Red Dan, just like Yanks fans hate Lupica. Well, everyone hates Lupica so maybe that's a bad example.

Diesel said...

Diesel was a commenter capable of having a threesome with the "Sweet Valley High" twins while authoring the screed that would ultimately convince 75 percent of the baseball writers to give up their jobs and allow computers to write all baseball stories from that point on (in binary, of course).

And by capable, I mean Diesel had a pulse and liked girls.

Anonymous said...

I also emailed Shaughnessy asking for the dates this happened. He wrote back:

"orioles did it.
brewers "pitched around him" to walk him with bases loaded"

Hmmm... if he was twisting language around before by saying Rice was "capable" of doing it, now he's just flat out misinformed. Or lying. The Orioles never intentionally walked Rice with the bases loaded in a regular season game.

Grant said...

To be fair to Dan, that sounds like something today's Orioles would do. Walk a low-OBP guy with the bases jammed, that is.

Grant said...

er, more like lowish. I let hyperbole get the best of me. Rice wasn't Ruth or Bonds, but his OBP wasn't anything to sneeze at.

Also, the O's stink.

Michael said...

I posted this question on Law's personal blog yesterday so I'm very appreciative of the answer. The Shaughnessy column wreaked of apocrypha. Until I read the earlier post concerning Shaughnessy's reply with "dates" and 'teams" to support his position, I suspected his defense would be that some decaying manager had told him that they feared Rice so much that they considered walking him with the bases loaded Thanks for wiping away the crap to reveal the truth.