Monday, March 05, 2007

Gyroball!

There's a sweetness in revisiting aspects of your life that you've set aside. Visiting your old high school, for instance, or hiding in the bushes outside your first girlfriend's house. So it was with me; first with blogging and now with the inevitable companion to blogging, batting Will Carroll around like a kitten with a shiny foil ball.

And did I ever used to do that a lot! I notice, as I lovingly peruse my own archives, that January of 2006 alone saw me pretend to interview him, call him on the hypocrisy of mocking James Frey while also calling his co-blogger/ass-kisser a moron for adoring James Frey and for being too damn dumb to even read his book (special guest star in the comments to that post: Probably Bill Ladson!), and get pretty annoyed at his AIDS jokes and fumbling attempts to backhand Aaron Gleeman.

Those were good times, weren't they? Since then, though, it's become harder and less rewarding to follow Will's absurd adventures in the land of pseudojournalism. For one thing -- and if you're looking for an indictment of sports journalism, here you go -- keeping up with Will actually costs money. Sure, I'll read Carroll's hilarious proclamations of his own importance if they're on some blog, but the crew at Baseball Prospectus (Swingin' Joey Sheehan and the Doctrinaires!) sure isn't getting my forty bucks again.

The other reason for my letting up is that Will's spent most of his time talking about this damn gyroball, and I A) don't care and 2) don't have the kind of knowledge of the subject matter that would allow to me to critique Will's blatherings with any kind of authority. But with Daisuke Matsuzaka, allegedly a constant practioner of the arcane art of the gyroball, making his major league debut, Will's been all over the place (or sulking when he's not mentioned). What finally sent me over the edge was this piece by the Post's own Dave Sheinin -- a Distinguished Senators Most Favored Sportswriter -- which pretty neatly summarizes how the cynically credulous coverage of the gyroball is allowing Will to spew his falsehoods far and wide.

What was supposed to go here was a recitation of events. Thanks to Google and my new favorite Cubs fan, though, I don't have to do any of the work. A fellow named Koch over at CubDumb has been doing some very important work, and, unless you're one of those DS fans who tunes out when Carroll comes up, you owe it to yourself to read this and then this. Seriously good stuff. Basically, Will has been wrong about this pitch (or pitches or whatever) at every step. His well-documented shamelessness, though, serves him well here, as he's quite comfortable just changing his story as the facts necessitate. At first, Will described this magical superpitch that a mysterious, inscrutable far Eastern hurler threw regularly. This blew up once someone (Jeff Passan in this case) did some actual reporting or at least fact-checking and found that -- Oops! -- Matsuzaka doesn't even throw it. Events continued to unfold in pretty much this pattern: Will claims something, an actual journalist or player or physicist contradicts him, and Will adjusts, always hoping to be recognized as the expert in spite of the fact that -- whatever truth there is behind all this double-spin mechanics and whatnot -- Will's uncovered none of it. From the Boston Globe:
"The Secret of the Miracle Pitch" has never been translated into English, and given all the confusion surrounding the pitch, it's perhaps apt that the man who has championed it in the States doesn't speak Japanese. Yet Will Carroll managed to procure a copy of the book, and though he couldn't read it, he deciphered the book's myriad illustrations and drawings, and fashioned himself as something of a gyroball guru.
That's how a real journalist says that he thinks you're full of crap, Will.

Whatever the facts of the "gyroball" are -- and I'm in no position to figure that out -- it's clear that Will Carroll has no idea. It's also likely if not certain that they're far more prosaic than Carroll and the mainstream press' coverage are letting on -- maybe so prosaic that it's just a cut fastball or something. That doesn't make for good copy, though, and that's why I'm annoyed with Sheinin and company. Here's how almost all of these stories have gone:
  • Part I: Obligatory reference to Bruce Sutter
  • Part II: Obligatory reference to Godzilla
  • Part III: Carroll's claims are presented
  • Parts IV through VII: Carroll's claims are refuted by Al Leiter, Barry Bonds, Bobby Valentine, Robert Adair, and a cast of thousands
  • Part VIII: The Big Finish. "[It's a complete fraud], but maybe, just maybe, this [made-up] pitch could revolutionize baseball."
They know it's crap, but it's like reporting on Bigfoot or UFOs or Atlantis: if you humor the nutcase, he'll give you a story. Welcome to your journalistic niche, Will.

4 comments:

Harper said...

Your slander of Will Carroll is reality McCarthyism.

Yuda said...

Did I ever tell you about the time Will contacted me looking for somebody who could read/translate Japanese?

Good times.

Crash said...

Nice bit on the gyro-ball mystery being "solved" from a recent Yahoo sports article: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2aorct

Ryan said...

From that article: "Everyone," Tezuka said meekly, "kind of misunderstood."

I wonder who he's talking about.