December 13, 2010

In Which Blogger Murray Chass Learns A Reporter Should Verify His Facts

Murray Chass is often used as a punchline by baseball fans who are not afraid to think critically, but Chass's recent blog post about whether or not Tom Verducci, a member of the Hall of Fame Expansion Era committee, voted for Marvin Miller last Monday was no joke.

After Miller, now 93 years old, failed to be elected to the Hall by one vote, he told Chass that he had heard -- but did not know for sure (because the ballots are confidential) -- that one of the five members who had not cast a vote for him was Verducci.

Chass, a member of the Hall of Fame since 2004(or not), was incensed -- and proceeded (after changing into his pajamas and eating a few cold Pop-Tarts) to violate nearly every ethical standard that any self-respecting journalist should follow.

He banged out an indignant post despite having "no first-hand knowledge" of what he was writing about. He made no attempt to contact Verducci -- later offering an excuse Joe Posnanski says his nine-year-old daughter would be embarrassed to use. Miller also went out of his way to insult Verducci's reputation by inventing some possible reasons (dating back 20 years) why Verducci would deny Miller a vote.

Unfortunately for Murray the Blogger, Verducci did vote for Miller. We know this because Verducci asked for and received permission to make his ballot public.

Chass says this episode has "reminded me that a reporter always has to check and verify his information". Huh. I am not altogether clear on how someone who wrote for the New York Times for nearly 40 years can forget that he should avoid simply making shit up.
In 99.99 percent – no, make that 100 percent – of previous articles or columns, I checked something like that and confirmed it to my satisfaction before writing it. I should have done that in this instance and not taken a shortcut ...
Old farts in the mainstream sports media claim that we write unverified shit and have no accountability. Damn, Murray, I know you were perfect before this, but you are not making it any easier for bloggers to get respect.
If you go to Chass's blog and click on the "About" tab, you get this nugget of gold:
This is a site for baseball columns, not for baseball blogs. The proprietor of the site is not a fan of blogs. ...

[T]his site will most likely appeal primarily to older fans whose interest in good old baseball is largely ignored in this day of young bloggers who know it all, and new-fangled statistics ... which are drowning the game in numbers and making people forget that human beings, not numbers, play the games.
I wonder where Chass's dividing line between know-it-all "young bloggers" and "older fans" who love "good old baseball" is. Chass graduated from college in 1960, so if he was maybe 23 years old then, he would be in his early 70s now.

Bill James is 61.

John Thorn is 63.

Earnshaw Cook was 64 when he published Percentage Baseball.

Allan Roth died at the age of 74.

Branch Rickey lived to age 83.

Henry Chadwick, who invented the box score and developed Range Factor more than 138 years ago, was 84.


laura k said...

I was thinking about Marvin Miller lately, hoping against hope he'd be elected to the HoF before he dies. At least he'll have the comfort of knowing many people wanted him to be.

I have a letter from him! It appears to be written on an old manual typewriter.


Chass says this episode has "reminded me that a reporter always has to check and verify his information".

FSS. Srsly.

laura k said...


laura k said...

From Murray Chass' Wiki entry:

Chass has said in interviews that he hates blogs. In 2008, Chass started a website at He notes that the site is not a blog, but an online outlet for publishing traditional columns.

What an idiot. An "online outlet" but not a blog? WTF does he think blogs are, anyway???

Don't answer that.

Chris Wertz said...

Just to clarify, Murray Chass is not a member of the Hall of Fame as stated in the article. In 2004 he received the J. G.Taylor Spink award. That is not the same as being inducted.

Even the NY Times got it wrong in their reporting of the event:

Chris Wertz said...

Follow up tomy previous post:
Here's great explanation of the distinction

9casey said...

eating a few cold Pop-Tarts

That is the only I eat Pop Tarts........Is that wrong?......

Rob said...

Cliff Lee sweepstakes is at its tipping point.

Ken Rosenthal:

"It's (almost) official: Lee has reached a tentative agreement with the Phillies. He's waiting to see if the Rangers will offer 8 years."

Only if they're high, they would.

If Lee does sign with Philadelphia, their rotation would be just about jaw-dropping.

Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, 5th starter.

Also word is Lee could leave $50-70 million on the table to go to Philly over New York.

Rob said...

Scratch that. I got duped by the fake Rosenthal account!

That's embarrassing.

Rob said...

The real account is @Ken_Rosenthal.

Fake account is @Ken_RosenthaI, with an I at the end. Clever, but stupid.

The REAL Rosenthal:

"I have not tweeted anything new on Lee since story I wrote earlier. Anything else is a fake."

allan said...

Joelsherman1: "At thsi moment, #Yankees have become extremely negative about landing Lee and believing that he is edging toward #Phillies"

Heyman: "being told cliff lee decision unlikely to come tonite but may be as early as tomorrow."

Heyman: "lee may leave up to $70 mil on table to sign with philly. if he gets it done with them, he will truly be able to say it wasnt about the $"

Heyman: "everyone who said cliff lee wouldn't leave a penny on the table is off by a few pennies: 5-7 billion of them."


Rob said...

Okay, this is Jon Heyman, like, the REAL Jon Heyman, at 11:54 PM:

"yankees have been told they're out of cliff lee sweepstakes"

Rob said...

Heyman screwed up the money in that tweet - I don't know what planet he's on tonight.

Also: It's pretty sad how lazy sportswriters are when writing tweets. Hey, just because it's 140 characters, you're a sportswriter. Write correctly!

Rob said...

No wait, his math was right. Jeez, why do people try to be so damn clever? Give it to us straight, man! Don't make me break out the calculator!

Anyways, as long as Cliff Lee won't be a Yankee, I can rest easy tonight.

Rob said...

T.R. Sullivan from (Rangers beat writer):

"Cliff Lee is going to the Philadelphia Phillies, industry sources said Monday night. The Rangers were told Monday night that Lee is going to the Phillies, It is a done deal"

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:

"Just confirmed: Cliff Lee has told Rangers he's taking a five-year deal from Phillies."

allan said...

Greatest. Offseason. Ever.