October 4, 2011

When You Can't Trust What You Read

Peter Abraham, Globe, September 29, 2011:
[T]here will be a press conference where Theo Epstein will take questions about the disaster that was the 2011 Red Sox.
Peter Abraham, Globe, October 4, 2011:
[I]t's time to be honest. The 2011 Red Sox were not a disaster.
It's nice to see Abraham own up to his part in perpetuating a lie - "I'm as guilty of propagating this as anybody else and for that I apologize" - but it remains distressing. Reading through the batting stats that Abraham now cites showing that the Red Sox were one of MLB's elite teams, it's obvious that he was well aware of all of this throughout September.

The Globe's Extra Bases blog - and similar pages at the Herald and Projo, and every other sports website - blurs the line between factual reporting and the opinions of a columnist. That line has not been sharp for a long time, of course, as non-wire service game stories have relied more on narrative than "just the facts" for quite some time. And anyone who has read Extra Bases - and especially its live game blogs - knows Abraham is no stranger to snark, back-handed (and front-handed) insults, and the type of emotional. in-the-moment commentary that is more at home on a blog or message board, not a national newspaper.

If Abraham labels the team a "disaster" and then completely reverses himself four days later - and says that anyone who did call the team a disaster (like he did!) needs to "dial it back a little" - how can a reader take seriously anything he says from now on? Even his most factual reporting will (and, perhaps, should) be read with extreme skepticism. Readers of any future article may well wonder if Abraham will be shortly posting a complete retraction.

A lot of Red Sox fans (including myself) have tuned out (or do not take seriously) various Boston writers because their work is superficial and exhibits a profound laziness or they have an obvious agenda that steers clear of any facts. Indeed, those agendas are so blatant they might as well be posted in neon orange on their employers' websites.

Please note: I do not put Peter Abraham is either category. Nearly all of his work for the Globe newspaper is well-written and the amount of material he posts to Extra Bases is clear evidence that he works his ass off. I am using him as an example only because he came out with this apology. But his about-face - however welcome it may be - damages the reputation of every writer that covers the Red Sox. It would have been better if Abraham had resisted the temptation to exaggerate and pile on when the team was going down the tubes. We deserve some professional distance and level-headed perspective from the beat writers.

Here are two more snips from Abraham from a few days ago:

Peter Abraham, Globe, September 29, 2011:
[T]he Red Sox were a collection of talented individuals who didn't necessarily seem all that concerned with the guy next to them.
Peter Abraham, Globe, September 30, 2011:
It was rare that a pitcher, particularly one of the starters, spoke to a position player and that created a gulf in the clubhouse ...

The 2011 Red Sox also were not the hardest-working team you'll ever see. Some players are extraordinary in their level of preparedness. But others did the minimum expected of them. ... It also was telling that the only regular players who routinely showed up for optional batting practice were Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Is some of this true? Is any of it true?

It seems within the realm of possibility that most of it is accurate, but, unfortunately, we really can't be sure.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if anybody has commented about this; but if Epstein could find a way to leave, wouldn't it be insane to see Francona & Epstein working for the Cubs. They would be my 2nd fav team for sure

Kyle said...

I had always enjoyed Extra Bases the past few years for live, in-game synopsis. However, somewhere during this season I cut back my reading because Pete Abe and often Cafardo (filling in) just were terrible. Pete really started to allow his hate for the Red Sox to show through.

FenFan said...

Hey, time for Steve Buckley to stir the pot in a manner not unlike CHB.

Desperate for news, Buck?