Anonymous sources, jersey numbers, and peeing on people? While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

WFNYBanner www

Happy Tuesday WFNY!

I often like to start my WWWs with a cold open. Perhaps it’s because I like a lot of TV shows that have used them really well over the years, or else I just enjoy a good anecdote. Whatever the case, I enjoy them, but I was struggling to think of one for this week.

So I figured I’d start this week with a question for you readers, as I am by nature curious about the things that other people are curious about. So the question is this: If you could travel back in time to one specific year/period, when would you travel to?

There are so many amazing stories throughout Europe’s rich history that would be fascinating to visit. Or maybe it would really be amazing to journey back to Judea in the ancient Roman Empire and find out first hand what that Jesus of Nazareth guy was all about. I think an obvious time to travel back to would be the birth of the American Revolution and watch the uprising unfold first hand.

But my answer would be something different. I think I would like to be there when the Pilgrims first came to America. Granted, I know how especially brutal that first winter was for the new settlers, so maybe I don’t need to be there when they first land. But I would love to see what this land looked like when it was untouched by European explorers. While, yes, there were some areas of swamps and rough wilderness, the pilgrims actually experienced a rather peaceful looking countryside with many parts not all that unlike what they knew back home in England. I just think it would be awesome to see what America was really all about before it was America.

*****

Are anonymous sources bad for sports?

Over the weekend, Sam Amico delivered a pretty fascinating piece on his disgust for rumor-mongering in the NBA, and he placed much of the blame on a combination of anonymous sources and NBA players and personnel not talking to the press.

You can count me as one of those who have grown exhausted with all the rumors that have persisted in this offseason. I’ve always been someone who has loved following NBA rumors and trying to decipher which ones are grounded in truth and which ones are complete nonsense. But with the pervasiveness of media today, the rumors are inescapable and suffocating.

So how much are unnamed sources to blame? And if they’re a problem, how do we go about fixing them? Well, there isn’t an easy answer. As Amico wrote:

Back to those ever-present unnamed sources. It’s a problem with today’s NBA coverage — and yes, guilty as charged. But the NBA can work on changing that. I don’t know how. I’m not running the league. I’m just some dude who writes and occasionally goes on TV.

I think a big reason why I enjoyed Sam’s piece so much is that he was upfront and honest that he himself has relied on and used unnamed sources in his reporting. One of the things I like the most about Sam is that he’s unafraid to admit what he doesn’t know. Just because someone doesn’t have the answers, it doesn’t mean a problem doesn’t exist.

Twitter is littered with some of the worst offenders of spreading false rumors. It often exists to serve the role of the proverbial wall upon which rumors are thrust to see what sticks. Fake Twitter accounts pop up all the time proclaiming themselves insiders. If they rumor they spread comes true, they stake their claim in the glory. If the rumor turns out to be false? No problem, they can just create a new Twitter account and start all over and try to guess right the next time.

I don’t know how to feel about it all. On one hand, these are real people’s lives that are being discussed and thrown into chaos because someone decided to start spreading a rumor. On the other hand, as Amico points out, a little more transparency would go a long way toward squashing some of the more baseless rumors.

From rumors of Kyrie Irving’s discontent in Cleveland, to rumors of Dion Waiters punching Kyrie in a players’ only meeting, to talk of LeBron’s return, and all the various rumors of multiple Cavaliers being sent to Minnesota for Kevin Love in a trade, this past calendar year has been a cesspool of rumors in Cleveland. This is yet another reason why, at this point, I am more eager than ever for this offseason to be over and for the season to start. I just want to talk about basketball again and get away from the soap opera side of sports.

*****

23 it is

At least one mystery has been settled. Over the weekend LeBron James took to Instagram to announce that he will indeed go back to wearing number 23 on his jersey again in Cleveland. On the list of things I care about, the number that adorns LeBron’s jersey ranks awfully darn low. As long as it says “Cleveland”, “Cavaliers”, and/or “Cavs” on it, I really couldn’t care less what number he wears.

But I still surprised to see some light backlash to this decision. Some of it was national, but a fair amount of it came from Cavs fans. Yes, when LeBron initially announced he was changing numbers from 23 to 6, he cited his belief that nobody should be allowed to ever wear the number 23 in the NBA again. So sure, he went back on what he said at that time. Who cares?

I once proclaimed that I would never own an Apple computer. And yet here I sit writing this on my Macbook Pro, which I consider my favorite computer I have ever owned. When I first heard Radiohead’s album “Kid A” back in 2000, I initially hated it with a passion. I found it offensive and an affront to what that band was capable of. Today, it will make any list of my Top 5 Favorite Albums of All Time. I once said that I was done with TV forever, with the exception of sports and news. I vowed I would never watch another sitcom or drama, and even called them poison of the mind. Today, I am complete TV drama junkie. I went back on my word and dove head first back into watching TV.

I have a feeling I’m not the only one to say I thought one thing or was going to do one thing, only to later go back on that proclamation. It seems like such a bizarre thing to criticize LeBron for, even if the criticism was pretty mild. Players who wore the number 23 last season include Allen Crabbe, Anthony Davis, Austin Daye, Draymond Green, Kevin Martin, Toure’ Murry, and Marcus Thornton. So it’s not like LeBron’s initiative was working anyway.

Or maybe there’s a more sinister explanation. Perhaps LeBron’s real reason for switching was due to Miami having retired the number 23 and LeBron already knew he was going to Miami when he announced the number change. I mean, that’s probably not the case, but who knows. I just know that any angst over what number he wears is awfully ridiculous.

*****

A quick word about baseball’s big Hall of Fame weekend

I admittedly don’t discuss baseball much on my Tuesdays, but this was a pretty incredible weekend for baseball’s Hall of Fame. They inducted one of the best classes I can remember with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa all going in. It was an all around excellent weekend for MLB and the Hall of Fame.

But there were some undertones that perhaps bothered me a bit. The Hall of Fame announced a change in the ballot. Now, players can only be on the ballot for ten years, as opposed to the current fifteen year limit. This was a move obviously designed to make it harder for any of the steroid era players to get in. As some of the more hard line voters get older, there was some thought that the younger generation of voters might start voting some guys in. The Hall was having none of it.

I’ve always felt that players like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire deserve to be in. I know what they did, but these were still two of the best players I have ever seen in my life. Barry Bonds doesn’t deserve to be the Home Run King. There’s no question steroids helped him reach that level. But I do not think steroids made him a Hall of Fame player. I think he got there on his own. I personally would rather just see these guys get in. It’s not like we’re ever going to forget the steroid era and what all went on. As long as Bonds holds the records, which he probably will for a very, very, very long time, nobody will ever forget.

But we also don’t know who all was using. How many pitchers were also using? We just don’t know.

Another thing that wasn’t lost on me was Tony La Russa owing a decent amount of his success to guys like McGwire and Jose Canseco. I find it hard to believe that La Russa was completely in the dark about what was all going on. This isn’t meant as a criticism or to say he doesn’t deserve to go in. Just that it feels a bit “off” to me that he was able to reap a lot of the benefits of players using steroids without the accountability.

Finally, a word about Maddux. I remember the tail end of Nolan Ryan’s career. I vividly remember the freaks of nature that Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were. But for my money, the best pitcher I have ever seen was Greg Maddux. He didn’t rely on other-worldly velocity to get guys out. Instead, he was an artist on the mound, painting the corners and pinpointing the ball exactly where he wanted it. The guy was completely untouchable on most nights.

Having said all that, I am a little surprised more isn’t made of the fact he supposedly used to pee on rookies in the showers. That sounds made up, I know. But it’s a story that’s been around for a while. Then a couple weeks ago, David Fleming wrote a brilliant piece talking about the culture of showers in sports, particularly in relation to Michael Sam being the NFL’s first openly gay player. In Fleming’s piece, he mentions Maddux’s ritual of casually walking up to rookies in the shower and peeing down their leg. I guess that’s supposed to be a form of team bonding, or something. Or maybe it was just another way for Maddux to exert his dominance, I really don’t know.

The only reason I bring this up is because Fleming’s piece reminded me of it, and it’s put into a different context when you consider the Jonathan Martin situation last year. He walked away from his team over incessant verbal harassment and financial burden, yet Maddux peeing on teammates is told as a light hearted and “funny” anecdote.

The point is, sports are weird. It’s not always easy to distinguish where the lines exist. What makes some athletes the good guys and others the troublemakers? In society, peeing on people is frowned on while using illegal substances is often bragged about. In sports, the opposite is sometimes true. I’m no moral authority and I’m not here to tell anyone what is right or wrong. I can only speak for myself and say that while this was an amazing weekend for the Hall of Fame, it also somewhat illustrated to me how strange the culture of sports can be at times.

*****

LeBron of Oz OH

Dawn Griffin, a long time friend to WFNY, is a top notch graphic designer, artist, and illustrator. She has done all kinds of work, including some work for WFNY, but I’ve always enjoyed her Zorphbert & Fred comic series. Dawn recently came up with this great LeBron comic centered around the idea that “there’s no place like home”.

LebronWizardofOz

If you would like to see more of Dawn’s work, check out her website at http://dawngriffinstudios.com/.

*****

An attempt to find an album of the week

Finally, July is almost over. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous WWWs this month, but July is historically an awful month for new music releases. The music industry seems to take their vacations in July and only a small handful of good releases trickle through. But this July has been especially brutal. There are a couple albums I’m looking forward to in August, but for now, we still have one final new music Tuesday in July to get through.

This week is no exception to previous weeks. Not a whole lot out there to pick from. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have a new album out today, and former Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis releases her first solo album since 2008’s “Acid Tongue” today. Her new album, “The Voyager” is a nice indie pop album and I do highly recommend it. In fact, I had planned on this being my pick for new album of the week. But I’m going to go in a slightly different direction.

I’m sticking with the indie pop theme, but for my new album of the week, I’m going with Hooray for Earth’s new album, “Racy”. Hooray for Earth are, of course, a Brooklyn based band which utilizes large quantities of synth pop and tries to reformulate them into indie rock context. You’ll hear comparisons to the likes of MGMT and Yeasayer tossed around, but I don’t find either comparison to be all that appropriate. At their core, Hooray for Earth write more tightly constructed songs and everything is wrapped around the hook of the song. And yeah, this band is super catchy when they want to be.

 

*****

That’s it from me this week. We are just ten days away from the Browns’ first preseason game of the year. It’s so close I can feel it. Football season is right around the corner! Have a great week everyone!

 

  • RGB
  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    According to the Browns’ website, their first preseason game is August 9, which is 10 days away: http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/schedule-and-events/schedule.html

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    http://books.google.com/books?id=vSCra8jUI2EC&pg=PA286#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The first Europeans in Ohio found woodlands that resembled English parks–they could drive carriages through the trees.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    This may be a radical idea, but if Amico doesn’t like using unnamed sources then he has all the power he needs: don’t use them. If you can’t get someone to go on record confirming something then don’t go with it. That is (or used to be) a basic principle of reporting.

    Blame the league and the teams all you want, but you either part of the problem or part of the solution.

  • RGB

    It’s the Love-O-Meter!
    ie. the countdown until Griffin can cough-up Wiggins.
    It’s my personal PSA to the ESPN acolytes. :D

  • mgbode

    Through them? Ghost trees?

  • Toddyus

    Um, even if we don’t count today, August 9 is 11 days away, no?

  • Toddyus

    I couldn’t agree more. I also don’t praise Amico for identifying the problem and not recommending a solution. How is this the NBA’s problem? There’s a big difference between some schmo making a fake Twitter account and an actual (supposed) journalist citing unnamed sources.

    It’s lazy that he uses unnamed sources and it’s lazy that he complains but does not identify the most obvious solution: stop citing unnamed sources. Lift yourself above the fray, Sam. My J-school professors would have failed us if we cited unnamed sources. It’s pathetic.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey
  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Blah, reading fail on my part, my bad. Shows how much I’ve trained my eyes to ignore the word “Love”.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Real tempted to give this “Featured Comment” status already.

  • mgrace74

    That is true, however how I read his statement is that he would if everyone else were forced to stop as well. It seems similar to the steroid era wherein so many were using, it was almost required to do so to compete.

    If Sam stopped using unnamed sources, he would not be able to compete with those who do, in terms of rumor and news breaking. Just my opinion.

  • Harv 21

    Thank you. As if begging for a wizard with a magic stick will stop the nonsense. Today’s readers click voraciously on anything juicy they see and seem to hold no one accountable, which promotes more baseless drivel. You can’t just demand that stop any more than you can just demand that the National Enquirer either clean up their act or disappear from the supermarket line.

    It’s really up to the readers, to hold reporters/sites accountable by ignoring them when they spew nonsense or calling them out. I’ve been waiting for a powerful site to hold the feet of these merchants of Speed and Clicks Uber Alles to the fire by challenging their accuracy, again and again. When a talk show host asks a draftnik promoting his book: “Why did you promote so many rumors that turned out to be false – what standard do you hold yurself to?” Media can still build credibility long term – Woj is an example of one who sacrifices some speed and scoops for accuracy, almost always gets it right and thereby becomes a trusted source. Amico’s hand-wringing seems childish at best, hypocritical at worst. He’s a cog in the machine that’s doing this.

  • RGB

    As soon as I can develop and patent my ESPN-filter, I’ll be rich.

  • mgbode

    I would go back in time to hunt a dying Trex, only to take one mis-step off the path crushing a single butterfly to drastic future effect.

    Nice job completing the true butterfly effect circle Andrew with your question posed. Ray Bradbury would be proud.

  • RGB

    Step on a butterfly…Browns win Super Bowl…Tribe wins World Series…Cavs win NBA Championship…

  • RGB

    Step on a butterfly…Browns win Super Bowl…Tribe wins World Series…Cavs win NBA Championship…

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    DIE BUTTERFLY DIE!

  • dwhit110

    Yeah, I didn’t care for Amico’s article nearly as much as Andrew did.

    1. The local “blogs” are giving us the best Cleveland sports coverage. Without WFNY, FTS, Stepien Rules, Cavs the Blog, and I’m sure others, Cavs coverage would be a total joke. This is true across sports. There are some beat reporters still doing very good jobs, but the non-traditional guys are eating their lunches in most cases, and it’s caused guys like Grossi to get a little more pep in their step and do better work as a result. Restricting access to the traditional guys creates an old boys club and turns everyday coverage in the Baseball HOF voting process. No thanks.

    2. The NBA has been a headline throughout the entire offseason. I agree that the rumor mongering and unnamed sources gets really tiresome, but being so top of mind, even when games aren’t being played, is great for the league. No way they want to shut that down.

  • mgbode

    In The Sound of Thunder, stepping on the butterfly merely changes a pleasant near-utopian future into a dire fascist state. In order to obtain the three things that you desire, I think you’re going to have to find something a tad bigger than a butterfly :)

  • mgbode

    Yep. ESPN and all the major sites are driven by page clicks and TV ratings. The leagues are driven by the same. Rumor mongering has been a crazy boon to both items, so neither the leagues nor the MSM want it to end.

    In fact, once you depose a Tebow, the search is on for the next fad player (and here comes counter-balance JFF). MSM is crafty that way.

  • Harv 21

    Nice comment, agree on both. NBA owners have a communal woody from still being front and center a month plus after the Finals ended.

    Re blog coverage, as newspaper readership plummets feels to me like teams are already reacting with more access, at least to decent bloggers. Twenty plus years ago Art Modell had Grossi taken off his beat with the PD for claiming the Browns didn’t comment on something when (Modell claimed) he had never been called. Doubt any owner today could dare to intimidate and try and control the message like that – the rising alternative media would tar and feather him and still get their version out to the masses.

  • RGB

    I saw that flick on SyFy.
    Sound of Thunder II…exterminate baby seals, change dire, bleak, dystopian Cleveland sports reality into bountiful paradise overflowing with sporting success…an overflowing cornucopia of professional sports championships.

  • mgbode

    Also, would be remiss not to give Dawn props. Always good when she drops in with artwork. Gotta say my personal favorite has been Coach Potatohead

    http://dawngriffinstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/unnamed.jpg

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    and the movie was pretty terrible. the book was, like most Bradbury stories, a masterpiece though incomplete (due to his short story style):


    The stomp of your foot, on one mouse, could start an earthquake, the effects of which could shake our earth and destinies down through

    Time, to their very foundations. With the death of that one caveman, a bilion others yet unborn

    are throtled in the womb. Perhaps Rome never rises on its seven hils. Perhaps Europe is forever

    a dark forest, and only Asia waxes healthy and teeming. Step on a mouse and you crush the

    Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity. Queen

    Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross the Delaware, there might never be a

    United States at al . So be careful. Stay on the Path. Never step off!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Love the image of Gilbert in that cartoon. It reminded me of one drawback which I’ll most likely have to deal with numerous times this upcoming Cavaliers season. That is Mr. Gilbert sitting in with Cavs announcers during games. If there was one bright spot over the last four years it was missing having to hear Gilbert during games. Oh well at least things will be more exciting not to mention more winning.

  • RGB

    I love cheesy SyFy movies.
    Speaking of which…

    http://schmoesknow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/image2.jpeg

  • nj0

    I disagree about the ballot changes being about keeping steroid era players out of the Hall. (Who it really screws is poor Tim Raines.)

    I think the change is to avoid the ever present logjam of players that seems to be the status quo now. Five years less mean less space filler players who have no chance to make it but still eat up votes. I also think this (along with the new code of conduct and public ballots sans voter names) is sort of a shot across the bow to the BBWAA as a whole who, imo, need to show a little more urgency and a lot more transparency.

    It also lets the guys who aren’t going to get in get off the ballot earlier to then get consideration from the Veteran Committee (and other special HOF committees). So in that way, this could be seen as helping the steroid users (especially based on the percentages they received the first few years of being eligible).

    Ugh. I hate even talking about the Hall. It gets me so fired up. Why isn’t Mussina in?!?! How did he only get 20% when he’s every bit the pitcher that Maddux and Glavine are? How do these reporters decide on who they’ll vote for? Makes NO sense.

  • mgbode

    I used to love them as well. Just don’t have time anymore and other things I love more :)

    SyFy really missed the boat by being on local cable though. They cut entire scenes from some of their movies and it really ruins it for me. It needed to be a pay-channel. Not quite as bad as Chiller trying to get by as a TV-PG channel, but still bad.

  • mgbode

    One of those, if I was crazy rich things, but if I was crazy rich, then I would buy up a whole ton of memorabilia and start up my own sports HOF.

    2 ways to get in:

    (1) General HOF member (as-is now).
    (2) Elite HOF member

    Elite HOF members are the best at their position in their era. We can argue eras, but once decided, then it would be done. And, it’s a way of recognizing all the great players (general) while still giving special notice to the best of the best (elite).

    Could even do a 25man roster for the Elite section.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    ha ha!! I loved drawing Mike as Mr. Potatohead. I came up with that one pretty quickly! Thank you, man. ;0)

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    Many thanks Andrew for sharing my latest cartoon! I’m kinda pissed it took me this long to come up with it! Gotta be more timely.

  • cmm13

    DEVELOP PATENTS FROM HOME, IT’S EASY.

    JUST ASK ME HOW YOU CAN GET RICH WORKING FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR LIVING ROOM.

  • JNeids

    They put as much thought into the title – “The Second One” – as they did into the production, I’m sure.

  • RGB

    That’s what I love about SyFy productions.
    They never let the ridiculousness of a concept stop them.
    Sharktopus is an all-time great! :D

  • RGB

    As soon as I receive my check from Nigeria, I’ll have all the funds I need.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This was your other option for multiple reasons too:

    http://www.candywarehouse.com/assets/item/large/image-128424.jpg

  • nj0

    However you do it, create some clear guidelines on what gets you in. Not saying it has to be stats driven, but don’t leave anything up to interpretation. I swear, the logic some of the voters employee is beyond asinine.

  • mgbode

    Awesomeness of facial hair will be a separate wing of the museum.