Brien Is Right, Murray Chass IS a Hack

Chass’ latest affont to Brien’s peace of mind appeared last week, where Chass relayed a story told to him by ex-baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent.  According to Vincent, several years ago Vincent had the chance to discuss life with ex-Red Sox GM Lou Gorman, and Gorman told Vincent the following story: (1) after the Red Sox 1986 season, the team offered to sign star pitcher Roger Clemens to a long-term contract at $1 million a year, (2) then-baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth (Vincent’s predecessor as Commissioner) told Gorman that the Red Sox were forbidden to pay Clemens more than $500,000 a year, (3) Gorman was forced to go back on his initial offer to Clemens, leaving Clemens and his agent “crazed”, and (4) Gorman felt that the Red Sox’s failure to go forward with their million dollar deal led to Clemens’ departure from the Red Sox in 1996.

According to Vincent-as-reported-by-Chass, Gorman made Vincent promise not to repeat this story until after Gorman was dead. …

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No, really, Murray Chass is a hack

First of all, the entire post is based on hearsay. Fay Vincent isn’t telling Chass a story about something that happened to him, he’s giving a second hand account based on what someone else told him happened. That’s the first, and biggest, red flag. Add in that the original source is now deceased, and a reputable journalistic outlet likely wouldn’t have ever published this, especially considering that Vincent has a well known axe to grind with Bud Selig. This is Journalism 101.

Furthering the list of ways in which Chass violates basic journalistic standards, the two people he calls to verify the story don’t verify it. Gene Orza states flatly that it isn’t true, and Randy Hendricks only corroborates it if you choose to read his comments in a way that confiems what you already believe to be true. The fact that he didn’t mention this in a book that included the subject matter should take precedence over a non-specific recounting of events 16 years after the book and 24 years after the act allegedly happened.…

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Blogger Murray Chass Smears Stan Musial

Well it’s plausible anyway, but that’s not really how it happened. According to Curt Flood Jr., his father and mother were denied Service at Musial’s restaurant, but Stan the Man himself was not there that evening, and so had nothing to do with the incident (whether the restaurant was segregated as a rule or this was an isolated event I don’t know, and really is neither here nor there to me. We’re talking about St. Louis in 1963, so even if Musial was operating a segregated business, at worst he was a coward or on the wrong side of history. He’s hardly history’s greatest monster). What’s more, Flood’s son goes on to say very nice things about Musial as a person.

So what do we have here? Chass takes a story that was recounted to him third hand, doesn’t contact any of the parties involved or anyone close to them (it appears that the only source Chass uses is 93 year old Marvin Miller’s memory), strips out the social  context completely, and proceeds to write the most fire-breathing, reactionary blog post internet column he can.…

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The Dishonest Murray Chass: Part 3 in a Series

How do I know that, because you have to be either a terrible writer or a dishonest hack to write a paragraph like this one:

I have considered WAR and VORP (“value over replacement player;” yes there’s that replacement guy again), and I have a basic problem with them. The replacement player isn’t real; he’s a myth, and I’ve never seen a myth play baseball. It’s like fantasy baseball. That stuff isn’t real either.

The word “real” is doing a lot of work here, and readers who are inclined to agree with Chass, or who aren’t really reading him overly critically, probably won’t notice the subtle change Chass makes in the middle of his “comparison.” In regards to replacement players, Chass is saying they aren’t real in the sense that you’d say that Bigfoot or The Boogeyman aren’t real. That is, they don’t actually exist at all. But then, in regards to fantasy baseball, Chass shifts how he’s using the word “real” to more of a subjective, state-of-being type of concept, as in “fantasy baseball isn’t real baseball.” He’s obviously not trying to claim that fantasy baseball doesn’t exist.…

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The Definitive Murray Chass: Part 2

(click “view full post” to continue reading)

“I got the idea in 1983 and ’84,” Lowe (at right) said. “I was hearing managers saying they were looking for six innings from their pitchers. I heard Whitey Herzog say ‘all I want from my pitchers is six good innings.’”

That’s where six innings came from. And the runs? “Six and two is too stingy, six and four is too much. I wasn’t going to get into a more than or less than. This was new and had to be understandable.”

Why the need for a new statistic? “I didn’t like e.r.a. as a definitive stat,” Lowe said. “One bad start could wreck your e.r.a. But I never said don’t look at wins and losses.”

I have never liked the idea of a Quality Start and have never referred to it. For me, a pitcher has to do better than a 4.50 earned-run average, which is what three earned runs in six innings is.

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The Definitive Murray Chass: Part 1

Consider the transformation the pitching fraternity has undergone in recent decades. It began with the advent of the five-man pitching rotation, with starters pitching every fifth day instead of every fourth day. Then came the pitch count with 100 pitches set as the limit.

Then it was decided to place a limit on the increase in the number of innings a young pitcher could pitch from one year to the next. All of these “advances” were made in the interest of preserving pitchers’ arms, preventing injuries.

The game’s alleged pitching experts were so focused on preventing injuries that they didn’t think of the possibility that the changes in the ways young pitchers were being trained were the cause of injuries. Pitchers were being pampered, and it was as if their arms were placed in glass cases to preserve them.

“Warren Spahn believed the more you threw the stronger your arm would be; he never got hurt,” said Fay Vincent, the former baseball commissioner, who interviewed the 363-game winner for the first volume of his three-volume oral history project.

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An Anti-Stat Argument Murray Chass Would Be Embarrased Of

We have entered sports’ industrial revolution. Statistics are making sports homogenized, faster and efficient. For those standing in the hallway or blocking up the hall, it will only get worse.

We’re three sentences in, and I have no idea what the heck is going on. This is always a promising sign.

Seriously though, I don’t know how statistics are making sports faster or more homogenized. Given the various debates that rage more or less constantly over the use of various statistics, the validity of certain ones, etc., I really have no idea how stats have made sports more homogenized. As they say, that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Sports consciousness is in for a sea change and ESPN plans to be at the forefront.The WWL has hired engineer and former NBA consultant Dean Oliver as “director of production analytics.” Wielding ESPN’s power, he will infuse new stats into the marketplace to weed out the common, misplaced understanding.

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