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
No Place for Anonymity
2008-02-06 21:28
by Scott Long

I was happy to see that one of the best sports blogs, FireJoeMorgan, has lifted the veil by exposing who its main writers at the site are. I am a real purist on the subject of how writers should be transparent at their sites. If you are going to rip either the rich and famous or the 4th estate, it is only fair that the reader should have some background on why the blogger might come up with their particular spin. Transparency is for pussies. Maybe I should produce a bumper sticker with that line.

It disgusts me that so many of the sleaze merchant gossip sites on the web are written by anonymous snipers. It isn't much better when I read baseball bloggers who torch someone, but aren't willing to come out of the blogger protection program. As someone who gets reviewed in almost everything I do, I know how rough it can be to have someone tell you that you suck. Having said this, I can accept it if my critic leaves their actual name and doesn't have a duplicitous reason for their hatred of my work. I expect even more if the critic has their own site. If you are out in the open about who you are, it makes it harder to slam someone, as you might face a little shrapnel yourself. Having to take some responsibility for your words makes for fairer criticism. I know some will argue that if you aren't getting paid for blogging, you shouldn't have to out yourself. Bullshit.

The blogosphere continues to cut into the power that mainstream media possesses, as it has brought new voices to the conversation. It will be an overall negative, though, if these bloggers don't have to have any accountability.

So I welcome FireJoeMorgan bloggers more honest approach. From what I can tell from my research on them, they are TV writers who went to Harvard. What are the odds of that happening? In the Hollywood comedy writing scene, I don't know...let's say a 75 percent chance. From my time reading what they offer up at FJM and their day job credits, they are really talented guys. It actually makes me want to read them more.


2008-02-06 23:08:34
1.   Ken Arneson
One of 'em writes for FrankTV. Surprised you didn't know (of) him already.
2008-02-06 23:24:43
2.   El Lay Dave
What about us mere commenters? Do I need to change my handle to a full name, put a family alongside that "Dave"? (There are literally thousands of men in the U.S. with my first/last name combination, so there are still plenty of suspects.) Honestly, I'm just a guy . Not in the media, no sports connection, no hidden agendas. Lord have mercy!

Really, knowing the FJM folk are professional writers takes some of the guilty out of the pleasure.

No Place for Anonymity made me think "No Country for Anonymous Bloggers" and "There Will Be Blogs".

2008-02-06 23:29:09
3.   Scott Long
I wasn't part of FrankTV, so I don't know him. Being a standup comic first, I have kind of worked on the periphery of the Hollywood scene for quite awhile. I think it is cool that a few TV comedy writers also happen to be sabermetrical-oriented baseball bloggers, as well. I think it has to do with the nerd-factor which is generally involved in being able to come up with funny material.
2008-02-06 23:33:17
4.   Scott Long
Here is the specific point I made to the subject you brought up, Dave.

"Having said this, I can accept it if my critic leaves their actual name and doesn't have a duplicitous reason for their hatred of my work."--- Most everyone who contributes here has at least been open about themselves in a personal email to me. That is good enough for me.

Now if it is your own blog, here is how I feel. "I expect even more if the critic has their own site. If you are out in the open about who you are, it makes it harder to slam someone, as you might face a little shrapnel yourself."

2008-02-07 00:53:30
5.   joejoejoe
The quality of the work should be the only thing that matters.

'Publius' wrote the Federalist Papers, Foreign Affairs published 'The Sources of Soviet Conduct' in 1947 by an anonymous author, an article that formed much of the basis for US policy during the Cold War, and (now former) CIA agent Michael Scheuer wrote two widely read books about terrorism as 'Anonymous'. All of these people (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton & John Jay were 'Publius') didn't reveal their name for a good reasons. If what they wrote had an agenda (everyone has an agenda) it was revealed in their writing more so then their identity.

You're a professional comedian so the bounds of what you can write under your own name are almost limitless. That's not the case for an accountant at Wal-Mart who wants to write about his love of porn and hatred of Joe Buck. That guy may get called into the office on Monday by writing as Joe Smith, CPA. And for what? To possibly make it easier for the reader to assess the credibility of his arguments about Joe Buck sucking ass? Either the argument stands up or it doesn't. Maybe it's Troy Aikmen writing, maybe it's Troy from Dairy Queen writing it -- what matters is whether what is written is supported, interesting, and makes a worthwhile point.

Here's a quote from one of my favorite political writers: "...anti-pseudonym campaigners simply have no confidence in their own reading ability. That is, they apparently lack all confidence they could distinguish a crappy argument from a good one without the crutch of a real name--or that they could refute a crappy argument when faced with one."

That's how I feel about using real names. It's a problem for readers, more than writers.

2008-02-07 07:23:22
6.   Bruce Markusen
If it's a problem for readers, then it's a problem. After all, isn't the intent of any article to reach a base of readers?

Scott, you are absolutely right. It is so easy to take shots at someone from behind a wall--with no accountability whatsoever and no fear of someone responding DIRECTLY to your criticism. Any good writer should be willing to attach his name to what he strongly believes in--without having to rely on the crutch of some cutesy nickname.

2008-02-07 08:26:07
7.   Mike J
Holy crap. "Ken Tremendous" is Michael Schur, the writer who also plays "Mose" on The Office. At least that's what IMDB says.


2008-02-07 09:32:13
8.   jgpyke
"Transparency is for pussies."

Ummm, don't you mean the opposite? (e.g., "anonymity is for pussies")

2008-02-07 11:09:31
9.   Yankee Fan In Boston
8 that's easy for you to say, nobody knows who you are. you've got some nerve.


2008-02-07 11:27:05
10.   joejoejoe
6 I don't think any writer gets more than a subset of readers. The subset who don't like anonymous or pseudonymous (they're different) writing may be offset by the subset that likes to take the writing at face value apart from the identity of the author.

Take Stephen Hawking as an example. Did he have a best selling book because people love reading about quantum gravity or because it's cooler to hear science from somebody who has a computer-generated voice because of his battle with ALS? What about John Kennedy writing Profiles in Courage? Is it cooler to think a young heroic Naval Commander is writing about courage than egghead Nebraska lawyer Ted Sorenson? The question of identity and writing is an issue for every reader in a variety of ways and it's up to the reader to make a judgement about what is and isn't for them.

I don't know Alex Belth from Talex Elf but since I'm a regular reader and his stuff is regularly excellent I find him credible either way.

2008-02-07 15:03:34
11.   scareduck
8 - I agree with what he wrote, not what he (probably) meant.
2008-02-07 16:02:33
12.   gpellamjr
Dear Scott,

You suck.

Greg Pellam

2008-02-07 19:06:45
13.   Suffering Bruin
Dear Scott,

You rock.

It's a compliment so I guess I have to remain anonymous.



2008-02-08 05:40:11
14.   jgpyke
11. "I agree with what he wrote, not what he (probably) meant."

You mean, you agree that NOT hiding behind a mask is for the faint-of-heart? That doesn't make any sense.

2008-02-08 17:08:44
15.   Scott Long
Fortunately I didn't put that sticker on my car, as I meant to write non-transparency, which I'm not sure is even a word. Sometimes it would be less embarrassing if I wouldn't have my name on this blog.

I'm all for writers quoting unnamed sources, as long as they are solid and are backed by an editor. When this is done, the writer of the piece still has his name on it, so he has to take the brunt of criticism if he is proven wrong.

I hear the whole I could get in trouble for what I write at my job if I don't hide behind a pseudonym. If this is the case, then you shouldn't probably write it in the first place, as there is a good chance you will be outed eventually. My guess is this might be part of the reason the FJM guys decided to open up.

If you write fiction, I have no problem with you using a pseudonym, but if you are commenting on actual people, I think you are not working on a level playing field if you don't have a true byline. I actually wish I knew more about what each individual mainstream journalist is like, as it would help inform me about how they might have come to the write each story the way they did. I studied journalism in college and understand the idea of unbiased writing, but we all know that this is an impossible procedure, as our biases always inform our decisions.

2008-02-08 23:18:22
16.   joejoejoe
15 I hear what you are saying about biases but I think some people use pseudonyms because the aren't 'credentialed' and want to comment on whatever they feel like. I had several uncles that were WWII vets. One was a mechanic and one stayed in government and worked in DC. Sometimes they would discuss politics on the holidays and I always found myself agreeing with the mechanic uncle, not the DC uncle. Sometimes the DC uncle would get dismissive of mechanic uncle but to me it was because when DC uncle didn't want to engage the argument he could always dismiss his brother as a mechanic -- what does a mechanic know about politics?

Now say both uncles have pseudonymous blogs. Both will gain audience based on the merit of their arguments alone. As soon as you add identities there will be some people who gravitate to the credentialed blog because they feel safer quoting somebody who was a supposed expert instead of just some guy with an opinion. And they'll do it not because of the quality of the argument but because of their weak critical ability and desire to only hold 'respectable' views.

It has to suck getting anonymous or pseudonymous criticism but if it's over-the-top or unfounded I think you have to trust people to see it's somebody with an ax to grind. Will some people buy pure BS? Sure they will, with or without a name attached. The problem is with people having crap critical thinking skills, not with authorship.

2008-02-08 23:49:36
17.   David Arnott
Many months ago, I decided to give up some of my internet anonymity on a trial basis, starting with my comments on blogs and such, and then on the site I was helping write at the time. It stuck. Now, even if I have a handle, I tend to add my name and, if possible, a link you can follow to see who I am.

I am, essentially, a nobody. A couple people in the sports blogosphere might recognize my name, but that's the extent of my fame. If you Google just my name, you'll get a bunch of other David Arnotts. However a little detective work and narrowing of your searches will tell you where I live, where I work, and how to contact me.

I'm okay with all that. It makes me accountable. After I decided to attach my name to stuff I was posting online, I realized that I had to believe in my posts before sending them out to the world.

5 Worrying about being killed for truthful allegations is one thing. Hiding behind anonymity in order to bash shoddy sports analysis is another. I hope we can agree on that. Keep in mind that no matter how small FJM's impact may be, I guarantee there's an impact that columnists they target feel. When Joe Schmoe in Partridge, KS, writes a totally out-of-his-ass column about how David Eckstein is scrappy, and FJM lambasts it, I'm pretty sure that dude gets loads of emails about it. As writers, Ken Tremendous, dak, et al, should know that reputation and credibility mean something tangible. For Joe Schmoe in Partridge, they were chipping away at his reputation, his livelihood, and Schmoe couldn't respond with a reasonable assurance of good faith on their part because it's a closed forum and they were pseudonymous.

If they truly believe that they're doing good by tearing apart bad baseball writing and making everyone laugh at it, bringing others' actual reputations into question, then fair play would seem to dictate that they stake their actual reputations on the soundness of their arguments, not their online pseudonyms' reputations. Up 'til now, if they ever had to, they could have abandoned the site with pretty much no repercussions in their professional lives, whereas there is no such option for the people they've attacked. If their arguments are sound, then what repercussions do they fear?

2008-02-09 10:00:21
18.   Scott Long
I'm not trying to throw you under the bus, but I don't think your reasoning holds up versus my POV. (Hopefully your mechanic uncle can fix the bus, though.)

David does a great job of backing me up, as he explores even deeper what I had offered up. I've written a couple things here that were wrong and I was taken out behind the woodshed for these transgressions. I didn't enjoy it, but it was fair. I'm a contrarian, so I often take on subjects where I know I will be in the minority. I believe I would still try to be fair in the way I would present stuff if I went under some pseudonym, but I guarantee you that sometimes I have to weigh if I'm being fair, especially knowing that I open myself to attack.

2008-02-09 13:03:54
19.   gophersw
Scott ---

first time back at the Juice in a long while. Good stuff lately. I'll be hopping on and ordering one of those DVDs soon...


2008-02-09 13:13:33
20.   Scott Long
Thanks for the feedback. The past few months have been a bit sparse on the posts by myself, but I do think there has been some interesting stuff discussed.
2008-02-09 13:59:54
21.   Suffering Bruin
17 Nice read.

I thought about doing what you do now but I've kind of become attached to "Suffering Bruin." One day, I'll go to "Clay Landon" but not now.

2008-02-09 14:52:13
22.   Scott Long
I think monikers are cool, as long as readers know who you you are, as well. It doesn't matter besides that. Check out the piece on David Simon (of the Wire) in the January issue of Atlantic Magazine. The biases that Simon brings to the table are numerous and even though he writes a "fictional" show, it is very pointed in realism. By him having his name on the show, we understand the biases he comes in with. Of course, Simon has been very open about what these are, which I think is even better.

2008-02-09 18:02:58
23.   vockins
I would post with my first name, too, but I can count the number of Vockins in North America on one hand, so it's sort of redundant.

I use this log in name everywhere. The lack of anonymity has made my life better.

2008-02-09 22:06:07
24.   Scott Long
Once again let me make clear that I don't think it is absolutely necessary to out yourself if you are just a commenter at a site. Now when you are consistently ripping others, that is when you should out yourself.

The Ethicist.

2008-02-10 13:37:35
25.   overkill94
So Scott, you doing the Top 30 tracks of 2007 discussion this year? I need an excuse to go back through all the music I listened to last year and make up my own list.

BTW, I'm only 3 songs into Destroyer's upcoming album and I can tell it will be in my top 10 list at the end of the year. Destroyer's Rubies was great, but there was a little too much meandering which seems to have been remedied.

2008-02-10 18:37:54
26.   Suffering Bruin
25 If you haven't done so already, I think Scott posted his fave tracks after the New Year. I could be wrong.
2008-02-10 22:18:40
27.   Scott Long
I did post my top 15 albums, but didn't do singles. (wow do those terms date me.) I just don't have the time this year. I've had to prioritize my time more, as my life has to be more focused on the pursuit of money. I wish this place would provide that, but blogs which talk about everything under the sun aren't the best business models.
2008-02-11 12:25:14
28.   Schteeve
27 No but there's gold in ironically incorrect bumper stickers!
2008-02-16 16:20:26
29.   TFD
hey.... I still read this blog. some angel once said something about freedom and nothing left to lose. I'll explain later... O/U, TFD

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