Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
Frozen Toast
Google Search
The Juice

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09 

Personally On the Juice
Scott Takes On Society
Comedy 101
Kick Out the Jams (Music Pieces)
Even Baseball Stories Here
Link to Scott's NSFW Sports Site
Risberg's Shadow
2005-05-27 17:28
by Will Carroll

It's said that genius is the ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time. If I've done that, it's likely simple confusion or lack of caffeine. I have however increasingly found myself at an interesting crossroads. Since Arnold Rothstein, gambling has been the third rail of baseball. Add in the complexity of the money line bets and it takes a serious bettor to play baseball much. Of course, the occasional sucker throws money down on games, making sure that Vegas continues to pay the neon bill and keeping Bobby Baldwin's pockets well lined with green.

I get, on average, about 250 emails a day in response to my columns or with questions that deal with injuries. I don't ask who people are or even whether they're BP subscribers, but I know that a number of them are gamblers. Injuries can give people an edge, especially if my analysis is different than the mainstream or if they get the information before it hits the streets. I deal with it by not asking questions. Instead of this being an "ostrich defense", I'm leveling the playing field. Anyone gets access.

There's really only three kinds of people that spend this much time on baseball – journalists, front office personnel, and gamblers. The amount of time and its monetary value – time really is money – force this type of behavior. Some serious fantasy players probably venture into the 'gambler' category despite the normal lack of payoff. As I've said before, we all are looking for something and for those, winning is more important than cash.

I fell into the journalist path, not by any normal career, but by tripping into an underserved niche. However, as I've developed both credibility and readership, I haven't been given any more access. Very early in the UTK process, I started calling people. I had an "in" at the start and continued developing sources and racking up long distance bills. (Seriously, without long distance included cell minutes, there'd be no UTK.) Without sounding more egotistical than I am, I've got four years in on this column, control this space, and have earned some respect.

However, when it comes to baseball teams and more specifically, team media relations personnel, there's little difference between Baseball Prospectus and Bobby Joe's Bravez Blog. There's the notable exception given to, but other than that, web sites and writers are either ignored, rejected, or given gift access. As far as I know, there is no web site that's been given season credentials for any team.

This isn't that I think I deserve access by some right. No, it's a privilege, one that writers not only have to earn, but have to keep earning. Then there's idiots in the clubhouse, working for papers that don't have the circulation that BP, Toaster, or Sportsblogs have. They have ink backing them rather than pixels, yet former BBWAA president Drew Olson once said "we all write for the web now," realizing that the Internets have often overtaken the paper as the way people access their local news and sports.

I've made some overtures of starting something like the BBWAA for the web, but those efforts have failed due to both lack of interest and my odd status as lightning rod. Someone like Rich Lederer, a guy with ink in his veins that also understands the web, could do something if he ever decided he really wanted to, but Lederer - one of the breakout writers of the last year in any format - also epitomizes the problem. He's not a writer; he's someone with a day job who also writes. Moreover, he can do his job without access.

The outsider perspective is interesting and challenging. Does someone like Tyler Bleszinski and his SportsBlogs change things? It's possible. His blog has been more "insider" than any other that I've seen. Add in the funding and credibility that his organization is building and his "30 beat writer army" might have the right mix to force change. Maybe. He also has the right mix to get MLB to make their walls against the web stronger.

So the question becomes – will this change? Will I be forced to beg for press passes for the next ten years or does baseball want to force me out of the business? The recent launch of MLBlogs tells me that baseball likes the idea of blogs as promotion, but wants some level of control over them as well. What I don't think baseball realizes is that when they force people away from journalism and when there's no chance of a front office position, there's only one option left. We're all blogging in Risberg's shadow.

2005-05-30 09:51:40
1.   Smed
Baseball will have to come around, but I bet they won't be the first sport to do so. They'll probably be the last one to give credentials to web site and 'serious' bloggers.

Oh, and Will - gambling has been a third wheel of baseball since the NY Mutuals and other clubs in the 1860's. They were Boss Tweeds' club, and in the first year of the National Association in 1871 it was rumoured that Tweed made more off his club throwing games than he paid for them to begin with.

The NL dealt with the Louisville issue firmly (fairly....hmmm...but firmly for sure) in 1877, but gambling never went away and it's always been the gorilla in the room with a lampshade on the head.

I'm not surprised you get emails from people wanting an edge. I do think the ultra-serious fantasy players are gamblers just like high-stakes poker players. Me, I'm in three free leagues because I don't gots the caysh, nor need the worries, that pay fantasy leagues require.

2005-05-30 18:50:48
2.   SteveP
Baseball seems to always be dragged kicking and screaming to the inevitable - stubbornly trying shoot itself in the foot along the way.

One of the difficulties is that in the mainstream blogs and the electronic media are taking over because the papers are opening their eyes (and perhaps beginning to understand the traffic numbers and advertising numbers from the blunt reports of their accountants), but more importantly, top rate print jounralists are increasingly embracing the medium in one format or another. The sports (and particularly baseball) media have been resistant and to be completely frank, although there are many fine baseball writers, the on-line world is still populated largely by marginalia or the sports center types.

But, it will come and for the simple reason there is no way to stop it. Eventually many of the standard print guys will come over and for while the line between the two will be blurred and eventually it will become pointless to even make the distinction and Bud or his successors will sit there saying "huh?" and then thrash around they way they did this season with trying to corner the fantasy market and in the past years trying to put the cat back in the bag on online audio and video (saved by lack of necessary technology and broadband technology from falling to far behind on the latter), and as they are attempting to do now with their blogging program.

Exhibit #563 in baseball not seeing what is already around the corner and striding past them.....

2005-05-31 08:46:50
3.   Marc Normandin
You know my thoughts on a BBWAA for the web, that'd be excellent. You could even have HoF votes that make the real BBWAA look silly...
2005-05-31 13:17:56
4.   Blez
Will, that's an excellent idea. There has to ultimately be some cohesion showing the baseball powers that be, that the Internet is something that can only help their fanbase. I think they just visit message boards, see the verbal fisticuffs there and then decide the entire Internet is like that. To them, there would be too much effort involved in sorting through the noise to see the legitimate efforts at a respectable site. It's much easier to lump us all in together.
2005-05-31 13:19:38
5.   Blez
The other thing is that it takes someone with a progressive nature like Billy Beane and the likes to start to allow the Web more access. Hopefully some of the more new school GMs realize there is power in cyberspace.
2005-05-31 13:22:44
6.   Al Yellon
Here's my vote for a BBWAA for the Web as well.

How could we accomplish this?

2005-06-01 10:41:01
7.   Jeremy Reed
It's all great and fun to talk about this stuff, but this stuff always gets bandied about and nothing is ever done.

There is a semantics issue:
- what is a blog?
- what is a webpage?
- what is a website?
- what is a message board?
- what is a media outlet?

And there are further questions, are ads or pop-up windows 'unethical' on a blog - are there such things as professional blogs?

Isn't that like an 'amateur' porn star?

Who cares about the numbers of hits? Isn't the message in itself enough?

The difficulty comes when site/page/blogs/message boards start using deceptive practices to pump up their hits and traffic for profit and greed. Hubris is fine, the internet wouldn't be the internet without it.

A hit is a hit, but when you go to a page, hit refresh, post a comment, read a comment, hit refresh - 20 minutes later you have added 25-30 'hits' and driven up the counter. It doesn't mean 20 different readers have come in.

There are software tools used for checking websites that can create virtual users and populations. The tools are used to check accessibility and server limitations, but you could have 500 'virtual people' accessing the site/page/blog/message board 24/7/. You could alter the number of hits or traffic to start a deluge of income based on an agreement with an advertiser. You can claim you get twenty thousand hits a day...and only have 30-40 living breathing people actually going to the site/page/blog/message board.

Sooner or later the ads will be pulled and the fountain of cash will dry up. Not to mention a call to the District Attorney and interstate wire fraud charges levied.

If a site/page/blog/message board has the same access as a media outlet - aren't these "exclusive" interviews and insights just a blatant way of using the sheep and fodder of a 'fan base'?

When will the access be held above the head of someone not "in the biz" unless they, too, toe the party line of the organization's public message.

There are very few interviews from any MLB front office whether granted to a grade school newspaper or Newsweek or a cheesy, glorified message board that isn't an outlet for the organization to use as a mouthpiece.

Do we learn anything, or is this basically a six-month collection of sound bites in long, drawn out, boring form?

It's always the later.

What a waste of access.

If there was an online community for the original baseball blogs that were started with guys like Gleeman and Pinto with the ability to piece together some good content with additional access, cool.

But, I doubt access on the level of a large circulated newspaper would provide much more than a few good quotes from players and better insight on how, "not so bright" a lot of these players really are.

And how quickly the blabbermouth Assistant GM shuts his mouth when he realizes he is on the record.

It's about the message and the writing. The rest is just fashion.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.