Death threats and precedents

The Mariano Rivera stuff obviously struck a nerve today. For what it’s worth, I stand by my posts on it, both here and at NBC. There was a video that showed something interesting. I raised some questions about it and doubted whether simply saying “Mariano would never do such a thing” was enough to put the kibosh on the inquiry. I qualified everything I said with statements about how the video was not conclusive and how better angles would be needed before something conclusive could be said. If there was an actual accusation in my comments somewhere, someone will have to point it out to me. MLB at least felt it necessary to take a quick look. When they did and weighed in later, I posted an update quite quickly. All in a day’s bloggy work.

But clearly not everyone agrees. Question: was it illegitimate to post links to the video and ask the questions I asked in the first place? I don’t think so, but I’m curious for your thoughts. Not about Mariano — that’s over, and I’m quite content to accept MLB’s view on it, especially in light of the still photos that appeared later in the day. I want to know whether it was wrong to even raise the issue in the first place, and if so, why so. The one reason people cited over and over today — that it was Mariano Rivera we’re talking about here, and he’s not worthy of accusation — doesn’t convince me. If we had a picture of Mother Teresa raising a baseball bat over the head of a cowering man, would we not ask what was happening? The problem, it seems, only comes if you (a) immediately jump to a conclusion that she’s beating the guy without acknowledging that more could be going on that first meets the eye; or (b) disregard actual, later evidence which debunks the first impression created by the picture.

Two things lead me to ask these questions. First is the fact that I got a freakin’ death threat over all of this. It’s been deleted, but a commenter at NBC, after multiple posts in which he wished for me to die of horrible diseases, finally came out and said that he hoped someone killed me. Hey-o! I’m used to the Yankee nonsense I willingly stir up over there turning ugly, but this was beyond even my comfort level. There’s no need to tell me that was uncalled for — believe me, I know it — but was this merely a moron at work, or was the post (which was nearly identical to the post below here) beyond my usual taunting? I honestly want your opinion.

The second, and more substantial reason I ask is because I’m reminded of the Kenny Rogers affair from three years ago. You’ll recall that cameras captured some schmutz on Rogers’ hand. It disappeared an inning or two later. It was quickly looked into and then dismissed by MLB. In all of that, it was much like today’s business. The difference: Mariano Rivera has a better reputation than Kenny Rogers, and no one thought to say that Kenny Rogers was above such questions.

Was it legitimate to raise questions about Rogers and not Mariano? Was it legitimate or illegitimate for both? What are the rules here? Like I said, I think my posts were within the realm of the acceptable but obviously others disagree. Even those who don’t want me dead.

If you’re all tired of this, move along. There’s baseball happening. If not, though, I think it might be a worthy conversation to have in the comments.


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Michael
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Michael

Some people really need to consider their actions. The frickin’ Yankees aren’t worth wishing someone dead. Hopefully the cops can investigate and let Mr. Anonymous Death Threat Dude know that what he did is actually not “just talkin’,” but a crime.

And spitballs have been thrown by better pitchers than Mariano Rivera – something that might have been on his mind if he HAS tried it.

JackisBack
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JackisBack
Well thats unfortunate that you received death threats over this.  I don’t think it was out of line that you brought it up, at first glance it does look like he’s spitting on the ball, but that seems more a folly of the camera angle as its hard to pick up the spit going past the baseball in that shot.  But to bring it up, was legitimate in my opinion. I’m sure most people would’ve swore A-Rod never did steroids, and look what happened.  Rivera is a great player, and a great person, but he’s not a saint, he’s human.… Read more »
Bob Timmermann
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Bob Timmermann

So is NBC banning the IP address of the guy making the threat? I know it’s not much, but they should at least do that for you.

Bill B.
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Bill B.
Craig, The #1 reason why blogs are important: questions get asked. Bloggers mostly don’t have ties to corporations or extremely important people, so there are very few instances of conflicts of interest. As a result, questions that need to get asked, as you did today. It’s telling that a blog (I believe it was an Angels blog) started this whole fiasco, and then the mainstream media picked up on it. Of course Yankees beat writers or TV analysts, or what have you, are not going to raise the question because they want to have the privilege of getting quotes from… Read more »
Mode:Theif and Lair
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Mode:Theif and Lair
This is what I believe. It’s totally legit that you pointed out the video. My issue was that I felt you were arguing for the prosecution based on the Q&A you posted. So I felt like you were doing “a).” I think you should have been able to bring up that the lenses that are used not only could make it look like he spit on the ball, but (if you didn’t know better by logic) his hand comes out of his belly button and he can touch the railing along the left field line. It is legitamate to raise… Read more »
Yair
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Yair

Totally legit post and question. Really scary that someone threatened you over it. The only critique I would have had was that your question “is this the secret to Rivera’s cutter” had a Selena Roberts’-esque sensationalist feel to it – undeserved given the actual evidence at hand and the presumption of innocence we accord to all. But that’s a quibble. Keep doing what you’ve been doing!

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
When is everyone going to wake up and realize that players over the age of 37 (or really even 35+) who still dominate their sport need to be viewed with skepticism?  Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Brett Favre, Lance Armstrong – these guys SHOULD have their (recent) accomplishments questioned because guess what? Men in their upper 30’s and early 40’s that can compete athletically at a higher level than men in their 20’s is not natural! Things break down more easily, recovery takes longer, vision diminishes, flexibility lessens.  Now I’M NOT saying that all these guys are cheating (one way or… Read more »
Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall
Craig, you handled this issue exactly correctly. Let us remember that the Bernie Madoff scandal went on unimpeded because he had such an impeccable reputation that the SEC simply glossed over, ignored or rationalized warning signs that would have had anyone else on the carpet. Rivera’s reputation should afford him no presumptions at all when evidence surfaces suggesting that further investigation is warranted to confirm or refute suspicions of cheating. Yes: in the absence of unambiguous evidence, reputation enters into the equation; if Don Sutton was doing the spitting, I’d be less concerned about the camera angle. But raising the… Read more »
Mode:Theif and Lair
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Mode:Theif and Lair

I was going to point out my spelling mistakes, but there are too many.  Huge grammar fail on my part.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Bob—yes. No question about it. They’re very cool about that kind of stuff.  No complaints about NBC. Just some of the commenters.

Everyone else: good points all. Yeah, the “secret to the cutter” line was kind of a Roberts thing, wasn’t it?  I figured that since this wasn’t exactly criminal it was OK to play a bit, but I appreciate that the distinction between what Roberts riffs on and my little riff here was of degree, not of kind.  Fair enough.

Moshe Mandel
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Moshe Mandel
Disclaimer: Yankee fan here. Craig, I love your work, and pretty much always agree with you, but today I found that your writing was not evenhanded. Bringing it up was fine (although many Yankees blogs chose not to give credence to Halos Heaven, well known among those who frequent SBNation as a bunch of kooks), but as mentioned above, you brought it up and then argued for the prosecution when all there was was one very unclear video. I have seen a large chunk of Mo’s career, and he does a ton of spitting on the ground. Seeing a player… Read more »
Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Fair enough.  Like I said above (or in another thread; I’m a little punchy) I am predisposed to argue against the tide, and when I added the Q&A the tide was decidedly “it’s ridiculous to even question the great Mariano!”  That grinds my gears, so I figured I’d challenge the presumption a bit.  I’m sure you’ve had law professors do the same.

I always thought they were being jackasses, though. I stand by my posts, but I was probably being a bit of jackass too.

Mode:Theif and Lair
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Mode:Theif and Lair

DonCoburleone, there was a time people were expected to be dead at 40 years old.  It’s called evolution.  At age 42 in 1929 Jim Thorpe played football.  Also, call Jack LaLanne he’ll tell you about it.

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone

Theif and Lair was Jim Thorpe the best player in the league in 1929?  NO!  I’m talking about guys who are still in the discussion for being the best in the world at what they do (as professional athletes, not talking 38+ year old businessmen or authors or anything like that). We SHOULD view anything that those 38+ athletes do with greater scrutiny than anyone else. Why is that such a terrible thing to say?

YankeesfanLen
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YankeesfanLen
Almost have a hard time catagorizing my thoughts on this. I am known by all my friends and acquaintances as a pretty good (maybe borderline great) Yankees fan.  A few years ago they were maybe 15 games under 500 and I wouldn’t give in at the All Star Break, then they made the playoffs (although not too far). Obviously, given where I live, I come in contact with many fans of the NL team across the river and we tease each other. All summer long I have restrained myself from pointing out their obvious “challenges”, normally something that would be… Read more »
Mode:Theif and Lair
Guest
Mode:Theif and Lair
DC: I wouldn’t say terrible, but I just didn’t like that you are pointing out guys and insinuating that they are doing something illegal/unethical without more than “They are old, they shouldn’t be that good” as your “proof”. Don’t like Jim Thorpe or Jack LaLanne, that’s cool. How about these: Nolan Ryan age 42 1989 300 Ks (I seem to remember a no hitter after 40 as well) Tom Seaver age 40 1985 16 wins 3.17 ERA Satchel Paige 45 1952 3.17 ERA I’m not saying that the guys you mention definately didn’t do PEDs (except Mo obviously).  But saying… Read more »
Ber
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Ber

Is this really the first internet death-threat you’ve received? Those are what I “love” most about anonymous internet tough-guy commenting.

Doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that someone who publicly questions god should be put to death?

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

First one I took seriously. I’ve gotten a lot of “oh, go die in a fire” or “take a long walk off a short pier” stuff before.  This guy made four or five posts in which he said that he hoped I’d die of AIDS, cancer, etc., and then topped it off with one that said “Craig, I hope someone kills you.”

I suppose I could parse that to make it more aspirational and less of an action plan, but at some point you have to take the broad view of things.

Frank
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Frank

I personally just feel like blogs, news reporters, etc. jumped on this a little too soon.  Everyone just should have waited a little longer to see if there was anything to it.  I mean, there was no real precedent to think Mo was doing anything illegal.  If it was true, then by all means drop the hammer.  But I think it was a little soon to be making news out of it.  Especially since it was an Angels blog that most of the accusations were being backed up on.  Expected better I guess.  That’s all.

Michael
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Michael

Craig, never forget that it’s most definitely NOT your job to be “even-handed.”

You’re not a news reporter, and if you were, you wouldn’t have as many readers, because news is easily single-sourced.

Opinions and ideas are important. Don’t disguise them as news (we’ve seen what problems dressing up opinion as “fair and balanced” causes), but don’t suppress them either.

Daniel
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Daniel
I’m an Angels fan, and I have a couple of points to make regarding Craig and some of the comments above this. 1. Craig, what you did was fine.  I will agree with some of the Yankee fans that you definitely appeared to have a side in this, but this is your blog, you’re allowed to have opinions.  Even though I didn’t think, given the evidence that I say, that Rivera spit on the ball, I appreciated your input and opinion. 2. I appreciate your general, “Hey, let’s question the status quo” position.  Reputation is certainly relevant, but it’s not… Read more »
Ryan
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Ryan
Frank: i agree that media outlets, including blogs, often react too quickly, and often, irrationally. I will say though, that if acting quickly starts a conversation rather than reporting something just to report something, or reporting something for the drama, then it can be beneficial. And if anyone jumps the gun, it should be folks like Craig who use his [apparently crappy according to him] law/analytical background to further a discussion. Yeah, Craig was a little on the offense in this post, but i believe his contrarian explanation holds up. And as Bill B mentioned, I hope bloggers don’t stop… Read more »
APBA Guy
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APBA Guy
Craig- We’ve known for a while the commenter gene pool at NBC has its share of anomalies, imagine what it’s going to be like when you are elected the first blogger President. I think it’s great that you raise these issues, and taking a side in the argument, regardless of which side, is a better way to stimulate discussion than trying to appear dead-even neutral. When you take a side, especially in the anonymous blogger world, there will be nut-jobs who agree with you and those who don’t, but hopefully a lot more non-nut-jobs reading and commenting because of what… Read more »
DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
Theif and Lair you missed Ted Williams age 38 season when he hit .388/.526/.731 (1.257OPS!). But theif you’re missing my point i think. I’m not saying every athlete over 36 who is still great is cheating. I’m saying that because of players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and especially Roger Clemens we can no longer assume these guys are clean just because they’ve never been caught cheating in the past!  If ANY kind of evidence of cheating comes forward regarding a player who is 40 and still the best in the world at what he does it should be taken… Read more »
Ron
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Ron

You asked, you didn’t accuse.

You didn’t create a story, you asked if there was one.

Subtle differences, maybe, but well within the rights of bloggers.

Aaron Moreno
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Aaron Moreno

I read the “secret to the cutter” line, and considered it a sensationalist throwaway line. Didn’t consider for a second that you might believe it. Then again, I deal with lawyers more often than anyone should.

Kevin S.
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Kevin S.

Another Yankee fan here.  I had absolutely no problem with how you treated it, Craig.  I didn’t think you were ‘prosecuting’ Rivera at all.  You consistently qualified your statements to reflect the inconclusiveness of what was there while giving your impressions on it.  Well handled on your part, I believe.

Mode:Theif and Lair
Guest
Mode:Theif and Lair
Don, Yes, I would be surprised to find out that Rivera is cheating.  This is the same “one pitch” that he’s been using since around 1997. This is what I don’t like. Don is proving why wrongly accusing someone cannot be entirely “fixed” by giving evidence later that totally contradicts the earlier accusation. First of all, Rivera has never been accused of cheating.  But after this optical illusion which put “spitball” and “Rivera” in the same sentence, and by inference (or implication whichever word is correct here) “cheating”, Don has a forum to question Rivera. If Don had made the… Read more »
BillG
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BillG

Aside from the “working for the prosecution” angle which you only seemed to do more casually than with intent, I feel that you reported this incident with the highest degree of accuracy and professionalism.  And even with the fact that you do seem to argue (IMO, seemingly unintentionally) that he did doctor the ball that is a very minor infraction anyway.

As for the low-life that threatened your well being, that’s just a disgusting low life that probably has the IQ of 4 year old who’s parent just took his favorite toy away.

Keep up the good work Craig.

AdrianK
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AdrianK

Mother Theresa had been known to employ a corked bat, so damage would have likely been minimal, 5 day suspension maximun

Jim Casey
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Jim Casey

Death threat eh? I wonder how much he bet on this Series. Lots of cheaters in the Hall, spitballers, guys who beat up cripples in the stands, etc. I don’t think any pro athlete would be afraid to cheat, especially if he or she is pretty sure they won’t get caught. Especially since so many of them have strong feelings of entitlement, and the religious freaks think God wants them tow in, so whatever they do to help themselves win is ok.

AdrianK
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AdrianK

Mother Theresa had been known to employ a corked bat, so damage would have likely been minimal, 5-day suspension maximum.

John Willumsen
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John Willumsen
In my opinion, there was nothing wrong or unusual about the post, nothing inappropriate or unreasonable. However, I would still consider it ill-advised for one simple reason. Given the thousands of cameras, the millions of eyes, and the countless means and motivations for manipulating an image, it is eminently doable for almost anyone to find/cook up an image like this one that implies some kind of misdeed. Not too long ago we had that video of Joe Mauer “blatantly” tipping pitches to (I think) Jason Kubel. Then there was the Rogers thing, and I’m sure there are others that just… Read more »
Josh
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Josh

That’s really terrible to receive a death threat.  Just know that you have many, many fans who appreciate your work.

MooseinOhio
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MooseinOhio
Craig, I concur with the majority of posts that support your position and believe that it was both legitimate and acceptable for you to question the video and whether it may be a random event (as it appears to be) or the first bit of evidence of cheating behaviors (Mitchell Report naming names).  I agree with Jack in that many cheaters and unethical folks are often viewed as positive role models and stand up people until the wall that hid their misdeeds begins to crumble.  For example, I am bothered more by Clemens’ relationship with a teenage singer than his… Read more »
Bob S
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Bob S
I love your snarky blog, and have been a loyal Shyster reader. However, as a former college pitcher, I thought that the Rivera blog was not your best work. First, spitballers don’t actually spit on the ball – they scuff it, put pine tar on it, use vaseline, etc. Second, Rivera’s cutter doesn’t behave like a spitter – it’s too consistent in its break, whereas spitters break in all directions (which is what makes them dangerous to throw, and the reason they were banned). Most serious fans (and I count you among them) should know this. Finally, the video was… Read more »
tbliggins
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tbliggins

In this day and age, what people have to take into account is the tone of the blog they are reading.  Craig likes to have fun here, and that is how I read the piece.  There are times when he gets serious, but you can immediately tell by the subject/writing style.  Continue on as/is, Craig.

I think Keith Hernandez would disagree w/ JackisBack – this is not the most analyzed spit in the history of saliva.

Also, I don’t understand the death threats – the man already lives in Ohio.

Kevin
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Kevin

Nothing wrong with bringing it up…but I don’t think this was a particularly believable story, not because it was Mariano but because I really don’t think anybody would throw a spitball by spitting on the ball…baseball players spit all the time, and there are way easier ways to put something on the ball.  This was a non-story from the start.

Jack Marshall
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Jack Marshall

Michael: SOME players “will try anything.” Not all. Important distinction, too often ignored.

Moose: Glad to know your real name. I’m sympathetic with your thinking, but f everyone had to post their genuine name, you know, there wouldn’t be any anonymous death threats on the web. Overall, I think it would be best for everyone if we took responsibility for our comments, and required others to do the same.

J. McCann
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J. McCann

I think Craig handled it perfectly and I hope NBC appreciated the huge uptick in traffic too.

I think we can all agree that many Yankee fans are thin skinned, close minded idiots.

But the people that post at the hardball times (even the Yankee fans) are more civil that the much of the NBC crowd.

BillyBeaneismyHero
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BillyBeaneismyHero

I’m all about protecting the first amendment, but death threats are ridiculous.  I hope NBC is going to take an action—certainly far more serious action than removing a comment or banning him/her from posting comments.  I’d like to say that I’m not surprised that a Yankee fan did this (and I’m not), there are crazy fans from every fan base.

Look on the bright side though Craig.  Just imagine if you’d linked to a video that showed Jeter corking his bat.  It would’ve been far worse…

Patrick
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Patrick

Craig,

For what it’s worth, I agree with the comment that the post was a bit sensationalist, a little Selena Roberts-esque.  You were bringing up a legitimate question – And then stirring the pot a bit as well.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was probably too touchy of a subject to do that with.

Anyway, I think you’ve covered all that.  And remember what someone said – Your job isn’t always to be even handed.  You write well and it’s fun to read.  The Mo thing made me wince because there was just no way it wouldn’t get ugly.

RP
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RP
I’m someone who rarely makes a substantive comment but regularly throws in some snark.  In this case, let me echo the general consensus—Craig, I have no problem with your article.  You asked questions that needed to be asked, based on the evidence that was available. You dealt with the issue fairly, and when it was shown that Mo had not cheated, you updated the story.  Just because some subset of Yankee fans are inane morons does not mean you’re wrong. Now, if we can back to proving that Jeter and Mo were deeply involved in the ACORN scandals, we’d all… Read more »
Kevin S.
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Kevin S.

I heard John Henry offered ACORN his private jet so they could fly employees around for prostitution seminars.

DSFC
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DSFC
Another Yankees fan here, and I also am a big fan of ShysterBall…..that said, I think you overplayed this based on pretty much nothing.  The rantings of a poorly written Angels blog is barely noteworthy.  Of particular silliness is the notion that Mo was looking around to see if anyone is looking. First of all, as he knows, millions of people are looking.  Second of all, by turning away from the plate, he gives all of the umpires save the home plate umpire a better look at what he’s doing. And on top of everything else, has any pitcher since… Read more »
MooseinOhio
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MooseinOhio
Jack – I have internal debates about using my name as I wholeheartedly agree with you that if everyone had to use their real names and be accountable for their words then a great deal of the foolishness, verbal attacks, slander and threats would cease.  However since there is no universal/mandatory requirement to posting on the vast majority of web sites then I struggle with the it for the reasons I state above as well as several more. From an education perspective I can see the value in anonymous posting as it may give someone a sense of his/her own… Read more »
rob
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rob
craig—i think your work is great and i read you daily.  i find the best bloggers are those that ask interesting questions and share unfiltered points-of-view, which is what i get in pretty heavy does when reading the shyster.  but i’d say the question about whether it was proper to post the story and link to the video about mo rivera has a lot to do with what kind of blogger (or journalist?) you want to be.  you are saber-friendly and seem to get peeved when people draw conclusions without lifting a finger to do some basic research (how hard… Read more »
The Rabbit
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The Rabbit
@Jack My comment of yesterday was based on personal experiences which is why I also use a pseudonym.  I understand MooseinOhio’s concern all too well. Long before I moved to the Ozarks, I was elected to public office and was also an activist. Because I was unique for the era, I received considerable ongoing media coverage and received “death” threats (and worse, as a female) from the loony element. There is nothing that I say here or anywhere for which I would not take responsibility. I am also willing to learn from those who have opposing opinions. I believe you… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

As far as the “story isn’t believable because players don’t do XYZ,” I can’t believe anyone who’s followed baseball in the ‘00s hasn’t seen that players will try ANYTHING.

Kepros
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Kepros
Craig, I used to work for many years at an alternative newspaper, which despite being ostensibly a newspaper, is often expected to straddle the same infopiniontaintment line as a good blog (yes, that second t is intentional). I know you’re fond of wading into the comment trenches to engage with the worst sort of eggs, and my bosses used to encourage me to do the same, but I could never bring myself to do it. And despite the fact that I respect your lawyerly urge to do so, I can’t help but feel that it probably makes the animosity between… Read more »
The Rabbit
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The Rabbit
Craig, as I’ve said about once a week, this is my favorite website and you are my favorite writer. The Rivera video was well within the bounds of discussion.  Clearly, you weren’t the only person to ask what you were viewing, otherwise MLB wouldn’t have felt the need to make a statement. It would still have been perfectly acceptable if you had been the only one asking the question. It’s one of the many reasons I enjoy Shysterball. I presume that the purpose of a blog is to stimulate discussion and to engage others to express ideas. The only reason… Read more »
scatterbrian
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scatterbrian
Wow, Craig, that is pretty nuts. I’ve recently made an effort to limit my comment-reading on a lot of sites, but for whatever reason I have been sucked in to the NBC comments. Some are funny, some are just fanboy ridiculousness. But they do entertain. The more we learn about pro athletes—through the Mitchell Report and PED suspensions, the police blotter, cell phone cameras, Twitter posts, etc.—the more I realize these guys are fallible human beings who are not morally or ethically better than “normal” people. I think I’ve always known this, this recent phenomenon backs that up. What this… Read more »
Chris Purvis
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Chris Purvis

I appreciate your willingness to admit that perhaps the headline was Roberts-esque and that you were sort of being a jackass.  That takes real humility and introspection, and I think more highly of you because of it.

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