Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm Still Writing Goat on my Checks

Special thanks to my dad for that awful joke.

This is buried amid some typical balloon juice about Sammy Sosa and Jose Vidro's knee.
In fact, [intergalactic trophy hunter Royce] Clayton, 35, has already had a lengthy conversation with manager Frank Robinson early this week. Clayton said it was the best talk he has had with a manager in years, and Robinson, according to Clayton, has encouraged him to compete for the starting job with the Nationals.
I would be shocked if this turns out to be true. Jim Bowden has $12 million and his reputation invested in Cristian Guzman, and he's going to play until it is absolutely clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that he can't do it. Which is to say, until Tom Boswell admits it. It would be pretty sweet for this Predator do what that first one did to Carl Weathers, though.

Will Carroll is using Oprah's mauling of best-selling author/complete butthole James Frey to tell us how virtuous he is.
For me, it's interesting in that fact-checking has always been a big part of my career.
If there's not beverage all over your monitor, you're either not enjoying a beverage or there's something very wrong with you.
I'm not a trained journalist, instead learning on the fly and occasionally suffering for it. I make mistakes, no doubt -- Washington Grays, anyone? -- but always make an effort to both admit those mistakes and to be as transparent as possible about how that mistake was made.
One paragraph and he's completely contradicted himself. Will was quite forthcoming about why he got the Grays wrong: he had a source, the guy at the hat factory. He went with this one guy's story and was completely, typically dead wrong. Where's the fact-checking in that journalistic process?

And while I'm at it, let me dredge up this Carroll Classic:
I have two jobs - generate content and generate interest. It's best when I can do both, but doing one or the other has some value as well.
In other words, "I make stuff up to get people talking about me." That's not exactly fair -- he misleads more than he invents. Saying Matt Lawton is "a name we're going to care about" is only vaguely dishonest. Similarly, saying "fact-checking has always been a big part of my career" is absolutely true in that working with Carroll and expecting to get anything that checks out here in the real world requires a tremendous amount of fact-checking, as Will admits. He's just not going to do any of it.
My "Dr. X" excerpt from "The Juice" not only made it past the test of my publisher and attorneys, but before Sports Illustrated ran the piece, I talked to no less than three people who closely checked the story. It was a hard process, due to the protected identity of my source, but I understood their job and, in the end, truth is truth.
It's interesting that Will defends the suspicious "Dr. X" portion of the book while ignoring the dubious and quite possibly fictional career of "John Albertson," a marginal big-leaguer who experimented with the roids. Basil, a fair-minded guy (except when it comes to the filioque clause) who does not share my vendetta, thinks the whole thing is made up. Care to reassure us on the rigorous fact-checking there, Will?

I used to think that Will's co-blogger Scott Long abandoned his worshipful attitude toward his patron only when he felt the White Sox were being disrespected. No longer! Will's comments on the James Frey schadenfreude-fest have prompted Scott to hail as a masterpiece a book he's never read but has only heard. And that he picked out because it had a pretty cover.
In late 2004, I picked up an audiobook at my library by an author named James Frey. Generally, I don't pick up a book from just looking at the front cover, but the artwork was interesting. . .

A Million Little Pieces is the most dynamic book I've ever heard.
I'm generally disinclined to pay attention to literary criticism from a guy who put's apostrophe's at the end of all word's that end in "s" anyway, but at least read the damn book before you start pontificating on the importance of authenticity in literature.


Above: another literary classic recently enjoyed by Scott Long. "Of all the Bronte sisters' oeuvre, nothing surpasses the artwork of Jane Eyre."

Further reading: James Frey parodies have become a genre unto themselves. My favorites can be found here and here. Scott Long, meanwhile, recommends Melville.

12 comments:

Olivier said...

A 28 years old shortstop with a 4 years contract getting his ass served in a pringle can by Royce Clayton?

Man, that hurts. That just hurts.

Royce Clayton? The guy who used to hit like Guzman in Colorado? Somewhere in the fabric of the world, somehow, something snapped...

Anonymous said...

If you are so smart, how do you know this is not true?:

This is buried amid some typical balloon juice about Sammy Sosa and Jose Vidro's knee.
In fact, [intergalactic trophy hunter Royce] Clayton, 35, has already had a lengthy conversation with manager Frank Robinson early this week. Clayton said it was the best talk he has had with a manager in years, and Robinson, according to Clayton, has encouraged him to compete for the starting job with the Nationals.
I would be shocked if this turns out to be true. Jim Bowden has $12 million and his reputation invested in Cristian Guzman, and he's going to play until it is absolutely clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that he can't do it. Which is to say, until Tom Boswell admits it. It would be pretty sweet to this Predator do what that first one did to Carl Weathers, though.

What proof do you have? You claim to know it all. Show the proof. Put your money where your big mouth is. You claim to be an insider.

Chris Needham said...

Where does he claim to be an insider? Someone's a bit defensive, it seems.

He's not saying facts, which you could find proof of, but stating an opinion based on certain facts that we DO know.

All he's saying is that it's unlikely that the Nationals would bring a mediocre shortstop in on a guaranteed contract to replace a shortstop with a huge contract that's a noose around the current GM's neck.

You may not agree with it, but that's certainly one possible and plausible reading of it.

Basil said...

I didn't know the "Dr. X" section generated any controversy. Now, as I noted in my review, I thought very highly of the chapter but still considered its content dubious (or at least highly artistic licensed). But that was in light of the Albertson thing, and I also noted the same skepticism about the Wes the Kid chapter (including the money quote from the scout).

But if Dr. X got by the lawyers, then it must be cool.

Randolph said...

Assuming "Anonymous" is not just engaging in parody...

Saying "I would be shocked if this turns out to be true" is quite different from saying "this is not true" in a very basic way. One is a statement of opinion based on context, history, and the logic of the situation -- an inference -- the other is a flat statement of fact. You don't need to be an insider to state an informed opinion.

This is one of Carroll's main problems -- he states everything he writes in absolute terms, as fact, when actually a lot of it is inference (often informed, sometimes not). So he comes off like an arrogant jackass a lot. Rather than saying "I don't think this is true," he says "this is not true." And then gets hella defensive when he turns out to be wrong. Rather than saying "sources tell us Pete Rose and Selig's people are working on a deal to reinstate him," he says, "Pete Rose will be reinstated, book it."

El Gran Color Naranja said...

Maybe Will Carroll has a side job as a "Herman's Head"-esque fact checker. Then he would just be misleading which is par for course.

Openings to rejected Carroll columns:
"I've always accepted the risks that go along with journalism work, whether that risk is being kidnapped by militants or trashed by Chemical McCarthyites"

"That horrible accident on a highway in Florida reminds me of how we've had another horrible accident on a highway we all know and drive on. I'm talking about the information highway and it's the accident of 'bad blogging'"

"The birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart makes me wonder, who of us will be remembered 250 years from now. Mozart was dynamic and an innovator. Words I've heard used to describe my work. Certainly, right now, Aaron Gleeman is a Pachabel type. Not delivering the strongest work, but remaining very popular"
Doesn't deliver the strongest work

MissChatter said...

Wow, he spelled "Pachelbel" wrong, assuming he means the composer who wrote the famous "Canon in D". (As a kid, I called him "Taco Bell", misunderstanding the pronunciation!)

Well, Will Carroll is certainly generating talk about him, eh? At least that part is true.

El Gran Color Naranja said...

Fake Will Carroll is a notoriously bad speller of composers last names. Baytoven, List, Greeg

MissChatter said...

Heeheehee! Sorry, just saw the "Rejected openings".

Anonymous said...

As I figured, he couldn't answer my question. He thinks he knows it all about the Nationals, but he knows nothing.

Chris Needham said...

I think you're misunderstanding his point. He's not saying that the report is wrong. I'm pretty sure that Ryan believes that the meeting took place.

What he'd be 'shocked about' (which is an opinion, not a statement of fact) is that they'd sign Clayton and give him the starting job, and he lays out his reasons why.

You can disagree with him, and think he's an idiot. But you're presenting it as if he's claiming to have inside info, which he's clearly not saying. He's just looking at some of the facts out there, and making a reasonably educated guess at what might happen. Nothing more.

If you disagree with his interpretation, fine. But at least he's putting a little bit of thought into his conclusions.

Brian said...

at least he's putting a little bit of thought into his conclusions
not to mention actually identifying himself rather than hiding behind anonymous posts