Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Take Exception

A warning to the casual reader: the following post is really inside baseball. Well, not in the literal sense, because that would be fine and require no warning. It's a lot of blog drama, and I understand if you're not interested.

Farid at Beltway Boys just put up his interview with Bill Ladson, the Nats beat reporter for MLB.com. The neat part is that Ladson hates me, along with several other worthy bloggers. That's fine. I've come to terms with it. What I haven't yet come to terms with, though, is Farid's sycophantic attitude, his willingness to take Ladson' preposterous claims at face value, and his genuinely insulting generalizations about "bloggers."
Bloggers sometimes assume that we can write what we want with impunity because the only people that read our work are fellow fans who understand they are reading subjective rants, some of which we didn't believe ourselves when we wrote it.
Examples please. And not just examples from your writings, Farid. You're calling out "bloggers" here. I'm a blogger, and I assume that I can write with impunity because I'm protected by the First Amendment. And since Farid understands the inner motivations of bloggers, perhaps he can show me the stuff I didn't believe myself when I wrote it.

I'll summarize the next bit: "Ladson whined about some stuff and I agreed with him." Then:
I agreed that this wasn't good reporting - that is - printing assumptions as fact.
Like the assumption that we Nats bloggers make stuff up because we don't think Bill Ladson's reading? Seriously not good reporting.

Then we take a long break from the juicy stuff. There are actually some interesting questions and some interesting answers in the middle here. You might want to read the whole thing, even though it's gigantic.

Then Ladson resumes bitching, and Farid resumes enabling.
I assumed that a proficient writer like Bill Ladson wouldn't waste his time reading what hack-reporters like us wrote about the team.
You're doing it again, man. If you want to call yourself a "hack-reporter," fine. But keep your insults and your random hyphens away from me. Ladson:
"I do have a problem with some of the bloggers who act like they're in the know, in the locker room, and act like they know everything."
Huh. I had an anonymous commenter accuse me of that exact thing a while ago. I'm sure it's a coincidence. It was nonsense then and it's nonsense now.
I can't stand that fact that they get personal.
You know what's even worse than that? Anonymous commenters who get personal. But we could be talking about completely different things here, as Ladson has an idiosyncratic definition of "personal." Here's how I look at it, and tell me if you disagree.
  • Non-personal: "Bill Ladson's methods of evaluating players are incorrect."
  • Personal: "Bill Ladson's methods of evaluating players are incorrect and he is a bad person."
You see the difference, right? Ladson seems to consider a personal attack anything that contains the word "Ladson" and is not prefaced by email to him. Farid again:
The problem here is that bloggers are like journalists only in that we write words that end up being published somewhere.
Yeah, the free exchange of ideas is a real bitch. Why can't the government do something about this?
Unlike the mainstream media (at least those who are honest), we don't have set of rules to follow, we don't have an editor (other than our own common sense) to say, "Dude, that's going too far."
Right. And my common sense is doing a fine job. I don't need yours.
Now, I'm not talking specifically about any blog, but in general, we could do a much better job of being fair to those we write about.
You should start talking specifically about any blog, because if you don't I'll continue to assume I'm included as a target of all this helpful advice.
To us, talking bad about Ladson or Bowden or Kasten is like talking badly about our sister when she's in the other room. They aren't listening, so it won't hurt them.
There's that first person plural pronoun again. Don't tell me what talking bad about any of these guys is like, especially when your simile is so damn weird. I know Ladson reads my blog. I don't care if Bowden or Kasten does. I say the things I say because I belive them and because I can back them up, not because I think I can get approving howls from all the other unscrupulous lying bloggers.
I learned that bloggers have a responsibility to be fair to those they write about.
You just now learned that? What were you doing before?
Oh sure, we can haggle all we want about the "who's" and "what's" and "when's" of baseball, but when it comes to reporting, it needs to be fair and it needs to be accurate.
Fine. Whatever. I'm not a reporter. If I want a reporter, I'll go to Barry Svrluga.
It's easy to take a swipe at those in the public eye, guys like Ladson and Bowden and Kasten. To us, these are nameless, faceless men, which makes it much easier to be less than fair when writing about them.
If they were nameless and faceless, neither I nor anyone else would have any idea who I was making fun of. And as far as being fair, it's not like Bowden didn't sign Cristian Guzman. Or wear tracksuits. Or give fistbumps.
The difference, however, is that they are professionals, and this is how they earn their living. We can disagree with them all we want, and we can even be forceful in how we disagree.

But getting personal? Nah. That's just no good.

Since when does being a professional make you immune to criticism? You ever criticize the President? Well HOW DARE YOU?! He does that for a living.

The obvious response is that Farid isn't talking about any criticism, just the personal stuff. But given Ladson's ridiculously self-serving idea of what a personal attack is and Farid's sycophantic willingness to go along with it, it's clear what's meant. You agree with Bill Ladson, dammit, because he knows better than you.

And if that's going to be your attitude, you might as well quit. Farid is exhorting bloggers to stop providing an alternative to the baseball media and start providing fan sites, and I'm grateful beyond belief that the nature of blogging dictates that no one -- not Farid, not Ladson, not anyone -- has any authority over me or my writing.

Related Reading. The Ladson interview and my response to it have caused quite a stir in the sleepy winter Natmosphere.
  • Banks of the Anacostia, Capitol Punishment, and Oleanders have difficulty accepting Ladson's mystical theories of player evaluation.
  • Econo then thinks about it for a while and gently suggests that Farid's starstruck interactions with a superstar like Ladson may have led him to excess. Plus he yells at Boz, which is always fun.
  • Dave at the Triple Play muses, reflects, then reflects musingly on musing reflections. I can't help but picture him strolling along a lake on a crisp autumn evening.

20 comments:

Chris Needham said...

God Bless You, Ryan whatever-the-hell-your-last-name-is!

DM said...

You're a blogger?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like somebody hit a wee bit too close to the nerve.

Brian said...

And there are those anonymous comments again. If you want to bring snark, at least acknowledge who you are. Otherwise you are nothing more than irrelevant noise to the discussion

Ryan said...

Sounds like somebody hit a wee bit too close to the nerve.

Obviously. What's your point?

Yuda said...

Sounds like somebody hit a wee bit too close to the nerve.

Sounds like Bill Ladson needs to grow a pair and start posting under his own name.

Or are you afraid that MLB.com would fire your ass if they knew what you were really like, Bill?

Chris Needham said...

That's what I mean about Yuda -- always making stupid comments.

Your Editor said...

I suggest you place a colon between "Yuda" and "always."

Anonymous said...

Viva senador distinguido! Folk hero for the common blogger!

farid said...

Thanks for the post regarding my story. That you misrepresented several points I was trying to make is besides the point.

I specifically said: "I'm not suggesting that anyone should change their styles based on what I say."

I think that was pretty clear, meaning that your last paragraph,

....Farid is exhorting bloggers to stop providing an alternative to the baseball media and start providing fan sites, and I'm grateful beyond belief that the nature of blogging dictates that no one -- not Farid, not Ladson, not anyone -- has any authority over me or my writing," really holds no validation, does it?

And maybe that's what Bill was talking about, how a person's words can so easily be misrepresented. Had one of your readers not read my story, they would have believed that I was trying to "gag" you.

I expected to take this kind of heat from some of the bloggers, and so I am not surprised; it came from where I thought it would come from.

But I'm not mad, not in the least. And, when someone close to the Nationals gives you an interview, I'll read it with great interest.

Farid

Yuda said...

I specifically said: "I'm not suggesting that anyone should change their styles based on what I say."

Farid, I suggest you look into what the phrase "passive aggressive" means, because it fits you to a T.

Yuda said...

Upon further reflection, I've decided that -- according to some bloggers and beat writers -- the correct way to have posted the previous comment is as follows:

"I think some bloggers are being a little passive-aggressive here."

Chris Needham said...

I'm glad you clarified that. You were getting a little too personal there.

Ryan said...

I misrepresented nothing. You contradicted yourself.

I specifically said: "I'm not suggesting that anyone should change their styles based on what I say."

Yeah, I saw that. But I figured that you changed your mind when you started telling us to change our styles based on what you said. For example, “Oh sure, we can haggle all we want about the "who's" and "what's" and "when's" of baseball, but when it comes to reporting, it needs to be fair and it needs to be accurate.” The obvious implication is that someone isn’t being fair and accurate and needs to change that. I could cite other examples, but the good ones are all in my post.

Had one of your readers not read my story, they would have believed that I was trying to "gag" you.

I don’t think so. I think a reader would have believed that you were trying to guilt bloggers into not criticizing “real” writers. A reader with some background information would think that you trying to insult Chris without looking like you were.

I expected to take this kind of heat from some of the bloggers, and so I am not surprised; it came from where I thought it would come from.

Ah, so you knew that you were putting up inflammatory material, and you knew exactly who would be offended. It’s nice to have an admission that you did, in fact, intend to insult certain bloggers, even if you didn’t have the courtesy to name them.

But I'm not mad, not in the least. And, when someone close to the Nationals gives you an interview, I'll read it with great interest.

Ooh, catty! And telling. Especially when compared with a comment you left on your blog.

The blogs who try to be fair, who disagree while not getting personal, are the blogs asking for - and receiving - permission for these interivews.

And who are those blogs, the ones who get personal and aren’t fair? You won’t tell us or give examples, so we have to go by Ladson’s complaints. Let’s have a look:

Bill told me that it irritated him to read bloggers report that he is a Nationals' "insider," that he has some secret password or unlisted cell phone number that leads him directly to Jim Bowden or Stan Kasten.

How is suggesting that Ladson has good access to Nats brass something to get upset about? Sounds like a compliment to me. It must sound like a compliment to you too, given your obvious self-satisfaction at scoring an interview with “someone close to the Nationals.”

I do have a problem with some of the bloggers who act like they're in the know, in the locker room, and act like they know everything.

That sounds more like a personal attack coming from Ladson. A personal attack, as I mentioned in the post, that was also launched at me by an anonymous commenter. I hope whoever that was learned a lesson about civility!

One blogger actually said that he hacked into my computer

This is preposterous, and you should be ashamed of yourself for putting it out there without expressing any doubt or making the slightest attempt to figure out the background. You said that Ladson named names. Well, our email addresses aren’t secrets, Farid.

and said that I "googled" myself all the time.

Barely personal and not an attack. And this is why I accused you of demanding blind obedience from bloggers. If you’re willing to accept this as an unfair personal attack, then it’s hard to figure what kind of forceful disagreement you do think is acceptable.

So, Farid, if you don’t want me to start assuming the worst about you, I’ll need a few things from you. First, some examples of comments about Ladson that you thought were personal attacks. Second, an explanation of both why you accepted Ladson’s claims without any skepticism or attempt to see the other side of the issue and of why you turned a blind eye to Ladson’s own apparent misdeeds. The post on your blog just before the interview, for instance, had an anonymous comment that was a personal attack (a real one this time) against Chris and Yuda, both of whom rule. I’m almost positive you responded with some cryptic talk about how you were pretty sure the commenter was part of the story, (i.e., Ladson), but that comment has since disappeared. Some clarification here would make it much easier to assume that you’re trying to be fair.

Finally, I’d like to see if not an apology at least a backtrack from your references to “hack-writers,” bloggers who write things “we didn't believe ourselves when we wrote it,” and the like.

If I don’t see an effort to clarify these issues, I’ll have to assume that the Ladson interview was in part a vehicle for you to undercut bloggers you don’t like in a passive-aggressive (as Yuda put it above) or simply cowardly manner.

Ryan said...

Also telling is your response, which I just noticed, to Harper's post on the interview:

It was obvioius that you had some concerns with the story by your link to “Dinstinguished Senators.” That said, you didn’t repeat them in your print — you were trying to be fair.

Fairness=not expressing concerns. Gotcha.

James said...

Fairness=not expressing concerns. Gotcha.

Ah, the old Swiss approach.

Because, clearly, what makes blog writers valuable when compared to more mainstream media outlets is their ability to self-compromise, as opposed to being compromised by an editor. No?

MDG said...

I think all the beat writers paid by MLB suck. And you can quote me on that.

DC Sports Chick said...

Dave Ladson's a superstar? News to me...
;-)

DC Sports Chick said...

argh. I meant BILL! Sorry, that's why I shouldn't try to do five things at once...

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