August 16, 2014

On LeBron talk and the state of journalism … While We’re Waiting

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“The idiots are bad, but the smart people who take them seriously might be even more unbearable. … With the people who think LeBron isn’t a real winner, has no heart, will never be MJ, whatever … Why should anyone care what they think? It’s like discussing Obama’s legacy with people who still think he was born in Kenya.” – Grantland’s Andrew Sharp

I’m a big fan of this fellow. I said as much back in October after his “Field Trip to Believeland” article. This time around? Sharp calls out the idiocy in the never-ending LeBron argument. The guy is the best player in the world. Move on, folks. Stop engaging.

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“A majority of the reporters interviewed felt that blogging was not ‘real reporting’ and that bloggers hurt the credibility of ‘real reporters,’ the study said — noting that some now feel bloggers have been marginalized because of the popularity of Twitter.” – Nieman Labs’ Joseph Lichterman

That’s just one of many tidbits from the fascinating summary of the University of Texas study on sports journalism and the web. Certainly, I know some long-time sports journalists that aren’t too fond of Twitter and the Deadspins of the world. But things aren’t changing anytime soon, folks.

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“Do anonymous sources have any place in journalism? Obviously there’s a difference between listening to anonymous sources and masked whistleblowers and putting into print what they say verbatim. I have nothing against anonymous sources who help guide reporters toward the verifiable — I just draw the line at routinely printing what they say.” – Reuters’ Jack Shafer

Great take on the proliferation of anonymous sources in American journalism. The article focuses on the news sections of The New York Times and Washington Post, but we’re undoubtedly seeing the same process playing out in large waves in sports journalism. Paging Chad Ford, et al.

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Indians prospect Tyler Naquin had his 17-game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday. During the streak, the 2012 first-round pick out of Texas A&M batted .431/.468/.611. He’s not the most overwhelming physical specimen, but he’s hitting .320 in Double-A in his second full season. He was a surprise low-upside college bat. Maybe he could round out a career as an everyday outfielder … but I’m moderately skeptical still. Reports have always pegged his most likely path as a fourth outfielder.

Earl Bennett was released by the Browns this week. Tough year for Bennetts in Cleveland, ammirite?!

Speaking of releases, Grady Sizemore was DFA’d by the Boston Red Sox. Hate to see Grady go. He was only batting .216/.288/.324 in 205 plate appearances. It’s hard to remember, but Grady’s peak actually was otherworldly. He averaged 6.2 rWAR from 2005-08, averaging a .281/.372/.496 batting line with 41 doubles, 27 homers, and 29 steals. He was a natural. Sucks to see his career wind down like this, yet at least he was able to give it another go this season.

ESPN.com had a feature on the Carneys. Unaware of that last name? Well, it’s Jim Carney, former Akron Beacon Journal writer and his son, Patrick. That son happens to be the drummer for The Black Keys. Neat article on the family’s love of baseball and Northeast Ohio.

According to Baseball-Reference, Indians attendance is down 16% from the first 33 home games last season. That’s kind of a big deal, no? My chart, which excludes Opening Day, looks downright ugly.

The Starters (the guys who used to do The Basketball Jones) interviewed the Miami folks who co-own the Unknwn clothing store with LeBron James. Why is this newsworthy? Shoutout to my childhood friend Jaron Kanfer, one of LeBron’s St. V-M teammates, who is gaining notoriety for the gig.

Kyrie Irving threw out the first pitch at the Indians game on Monday night. He also took batting practice. There were lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of pictures to be taken. Who said he doesn’t love Cleveland, eh?

Likely All-Star (in one way or another) Michael Brantley officially has a mild concussion. The team hopes he will return on Saturday. As I tweeted earlier in the week, Brantley is already closing in on his career high in WAR. He has 3.2 rWAR through 69 games this year; his best so far was 3.4 in 149 games in 2012.

And finally, Mike Trout is sensationally good. Like, best-start-ever-to-a-career good. FanGraphs’ August Fagerstrom had a great article on the best three-year peaks in MLB history. Trout’s first three seasons are projected to finish top in the top eight all-time for position players. That’d be the first non-Barry Bonds three-year stretch of 30+ fWAR in 50 years.

  • FearTheRoo

    The Tribe has been playing very mediocre this season. They probably deserve more fans, but they aren’t helping themselves with awful play. Just win and people will show up.

  • Pat Leonard

    This is historically inaccurate. See: Last Season, Volume 2013.

  • BKJD

    It’s a wonder how the Indians placed sixth on the list of most fair weather fans in baseball.

  • MrCleaveland

    So because I disagree with Andrew Sharp, I’m an idiot. Got it. Thanks for pointing that out. I wasn’t aware of it. Probably because I’m an idiot.

  • RGB

    What Mr. Sharp fails to realize, or just conveniently ignores (I’m siding with the latter.), is that being the best at something doesn’t automatically exclude one from also being other things. ie. Immature, manipulative, entitled, etc.

  • Lunch

    Don’t forget to add arrogant to that list. After all, before the Chicago Bulls won any championships, MJ never told the fans (and the rest of the world for that matter) that the Bulls were going to win “not one, not two, not three…..”

  • RGB

    Nobody ever accused MJ of not being arrogant, but LBJ did take it to a new level.

  • technivore

    As of today the Indians have the best home record in all of MLB. If you want to go to a ballgame and see the home team win, there literally is not a better place to be than Progressive Field.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    “Just win, while one of the other major sports teams is gone from the city, there is an economic boom, and the team plays in a new park, and people will show up.”

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    If the home team wins in a Forest City, and no one is around to see it, does it still count towards their record?

  • Lunch

    “Do anonymous sources have any place in journalism?”

    Nine times out of ten, Nope.

    Consider the fact that I could post multiple tweets from a convincing anonymous profile that I created on twitter, for example, that states “Kyrie Irving hates Cleveland. Wants a trade to Miami #WINNING,” or “Cavs having a (Edit:) HAPPY ENDING (hehe, eggroll) party at the Q. Fans and players in birthday suits are welcome. #BABESWITHBIGYUMMIES,” would you ignore them, or would you be first in line trying to convince Kyrie to stay while doing the 69 with someone else?

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Anonymous sources will continue to be used despite their idiocy in both sports and normal journalism simply because it’s easy for the reporter and the person talking, and there’s absolutely no repercussions to the former for doing so.

  • MrCleaveland

    And Jordan didn’t quit the Bulls like a big baby after years without a title to join the Pistons, Celtics, Lakers, or Cavs.

  • Steve

    I wonder if you read the article

  • MoreGolfLessWork

    Normally I like what Sharp puts out on Grantland but I don’t agree with that article at all. A huge (HUGE) part of being a fan and following a sport is having strong opinions. He way way oversimplified things to force his point across.

  • nj0

    Who walks away from a well run organization with a stacked roster and a hall of forever coach?

    Not to give Lebron a pass (I think he’s a jerk too), but – based on everything I’ve read about Jordan’s drive to win – I don’t doubt for one second that he would have walked away from the Bulls if they were run like the 08-10 Cavs.

  • nj0

    That Grantland article reminded me of this.

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/atheists.png

  • nj0

    2007 too. Facts don’t win the day when it comes to greedy DOLANZ!!!

  • Raab

    I wouldn’t waste your time or mine with a long discussion of anonymous sources. I’d prefer to leave at this: They are essential to meaningful reporting, and they are handled differently by different reporters and different media outlets. In many, many instances, sources demand and deserve anonymity because public exposure may endanger their jobs. In others, they’re government or team officials or players leaking or spinning. Good writers and editors try hard to strike a balance; lazy or rushed or dishonest journalists don’t worry about it.

  • Hopwin

    Hey Raab, my problem has always been “anonymous sources” that turn out to be false. Not sure how rampant it is but from the outside looking in, a lot of “anonymous sources” appear to be smokescreens for a writer to publish an article that states their own opinion, belief, thoughts, without having any actual basis in reality.