Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Adventures in Journamalism – Spring Training Style!

I was hoping that the start of spring training would put an end to the stupid sh!t vomited up by our baseball media and presented as “news.” As usual, my faith in mankind was misplaced.

How dumb is your press corps willing to play? Consider this offering from Sully in today’s Tribune:

Part I of the Carlos Zambrano saga ended Tuesday when he agreed to a one-year,$12.4 million deal, avoiding an arbitration hearing only minutes before it was to begin.

But the degree of difficulty increases significantly in Part II of this mini-drama as Zambrano attempts to nab a five-year deal for about $90 million.

Which is it, Sully – a “saga” or a “mini-drama?” I’m pretty sure that a saga, by definition, is just a little bigger than a “mini-drama.”

A minor, nit-picky point? Yes. But the next question to ask is: why in God’s name phrase it in these terms in the first place? Why not just, I don’t know, report the sprocking news!

How would a real news reporter craft the lead to this story? I’ve had some experience at this sort of thing, and feel confident that this would be acceptable to any wire service in the land:

Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs avoided an arbitration hearing Tuesday when the two parties reached an agreement on a one-year, $12.4 million deal only minutes before the hearing was to begin. Both sides will not turn their attention to a long-term contract. Zambrano has said he is looking for a five-year, $90 million package.

The difference between my version and Sully’s: my version focuses on what’s actually happening in reality, while Sully panders his scripts. So far, the negotiations between Zambrano and the Cubs have been amicable. That’s boring! Better to ratchet up the hysteria by maintaining that every move this spring is fraught with “drama.”

For God’s sake, Sully – it’s just baseball, not an episode of 24.

And just to show that even a wire reporter can fall prey to the local scripts, here’s the lead from the AP’s Andrew Seligman’s story about Cub third baseman Aramis Ramirez:
Aramis Ramirez was the last Cubs regular to arrive at spring training, which a cynical Chicago fan might say was fitting.

No, he wasn't late -- he just didn't hustle to get to camp early. But the bigger question is whether he hustles on the field during the season.

Ha ha ha ha! This script was debunked about twelve times last year (A-Ram had some quad issues last year; Dusty, in his wisdom, figured it was better for his one offensive threat to take it easy on routine plays rather than go all out every time and risk a more serious injury). And yet it’s got a longer shelf life than Twinkies. I’m just surprised Seligman didn’t mention that Ramirez got head in the head by a pop fly.

But that’s probably because Dr. Phil was at Giants camp, and thus not available to relate one of his favorite scripts of 2006 to the AP man. The Trib just had to have its best baseball guy on hand to give us this gripping account of Barry Bonds’ arrival in Scottsdale:

At this point in his career, Bonds still has the ability to keep a team relevant, if not competitive. So there he was Tuesday morning, checking in for his 22nd season, his 15th with the Giants. He arrived at 8:30 a.m. in a silver SUV that was driven by his marketing rep and carried a well-dressed bodyguard.

Bonds dressed down in a long-sleeved black T-shirt, distressed jeans, shades with silver frames and a thick silver chain around his neck.

He walked past a group of 15 or 20 fans, mostly there to get autographs, and went into the clubhouse. He dressed quickly for a workout, at one point turning his cap backward, the only player in the room trying that look. Perhaps 30 to 40 reporters watched his movements, almost outnumbering the players and coaches who sat or stood, mostly watching the reporters.

It was an awkward moment, as so many around Bonds are.

The one guy who doesn't seem to feel too awkward about the spectacle is Bonds.

Now that’s some mighty fine baseball reportin’ there, Dr. Phil. He hits all the highlights – we know what car Bonds rides in, we learn that his bodyguard is nattily attired, and we get the red carpet rundown of Barry’s own outfit. And omigod – he put his hat on backward! And none of his teammates did! See how out of touch with his fellow players he is?

And of course Dr. Phil gets in a dig about what a meanie Bonds is – he walked right past those autograph-seeking fans. I’m surprised there wasn’t a doe-eyed young lad reduced to tears by the snub.

My favorite bit is the last two sentences. Thirty to forty reporters crowding in the Giants clubhouse watching Bonds get dressed. And Dr. Phil wonders why it’s an awkward moment?

Not to be outdone, Sully has his own fashion report, ready for tomorrow’s paper but fresh off the Internet tonight. Try to believe that a major metropolitan daily would use this as a story lead:

After Cubs pitchers were done running Wednesday at Fitch Park, coach Larry Rothschild gave young right-hander Jeff Samardzija some unsolicited advice on how to wear his cap.

Rothschild recommended the centered look, the way almost every major-leaguer has worn his cap since 1876. Samardzija's cap was cocked slightly to the left, just as it was in a photo in a recent edition of Baseball America, which named him the No. 3 prospect in the Cubs' system.

It's safe to assume Samardzija won't be wearing what Rothschild called "the left-handed look" any time soon.

Jeebus help us! OK, I get that it’s sports, and not real news. But can we get a story that’s a little more “sports” and little less like something that would run on The View?


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