Thursday, June 11, 2009

On the blogger who threw Ibanez under the bus, and its fallout

This is as close as you'll ever get to a Mission Statement from Astros County.

By now surely you've seen the controversy surrounding the Midwest Sports Fans blog post by JRod speculating on the secrets of Raul Ibanez' career year.

Whether or not the mainstream media likes it, blogging is now mainstream. Any idiot (like me) can get a free account through Blogger and go to town on whatever they want. But with that comes a responsibility. The first time Astros County came to broad prominence was on January 28 when I wrote a post entitled "Have I Mentioned How Disastrous It Would Be If the Cubs Traded For Jake Peavy." There was a link to it on MLB Trade Rumors, and Astros County had its first 1000+ hit day.

An excerpt:
That said. Peavy owns the Astros, but he didn't play Us that often. Two games in 2008 (1-0, with a 2.77 ERA). However, if the Cubs rotation becomes Peavy, Zambrano, Harden, Dempster and Lilly? That would suck. Especially if, in an ideal scenario (a 5-game set), we see Peavy-Oswalt, Zambrano-Wandy, Harden-Hampton, Dempster-Moehler, Lilly-Backe. Maybe - MAYBE - the Astros take two of those games. And only the second if Lance decides he's going to eat Zambrano's face during the game.

Of course, everyone latched on to the last line. Someone on MLBTR asked whether or not "middle school let out early that day." Obviously the purpose of the post was to talk about how good the Cubs' rotation would be, instead it created - briefly - a storm of swirling cow feces. My feelings were hurt, because I consider myself to be a pretty funny guy (the one about how, technically, Tejada is three years older than he was last year; I found that particularly funny), but it illustrated to me how quickly a blog can go from being of regional, or team-centered, interest to being featured on Outside the Lines, where a player is responding to it publicly, and where it is referred to on the Bottom Line.

What MSF did was irresponsible, partially because - amateur or not - you can't do stuff like that. A few things I hope you've noticed about Astros County:

1. Every note of speculation is cited with a link to the one doing the speculation.
2. If I take it upon myself to comment on something, it's going to be personnel-related, trades, lineups, coaching decisions, etc. Speculation is centered on the playing field, and not what the Astros are doing off of it.
3. Astros County will never engage in anything slanderous. In short, I don't want to be on Outside the Lines.
4. There is an issue of respect and accountability that I want to preserve on Astros County. Sure, we'll make fun of anal fissures and Cecil Cooper as Hugo Chavez, but the goal of Astros County is to be the Astros fan's one-stop shop for news, trade rumors, and commentary. You won't need a slide rule to figure out the statistics, but it will be intelligent.
5. Astros County will never write anything in all caps. That demeans your intelligence.
6. I have a job, really I do, that does not include covering the Astros; so while I took some time off for draft day, it's simply fun to talk about the Astros. And Astros County will not lose sight of that.

Any thoughts, comments, or remarks are always welcome.


jphelps said...


Ryan Sides said...

I read all of the original article and his defense, and I have to say, while he was ON the line, I'm not sure he crossed it. He makes a very good point in that the mainstream media (including Bill Simmons, one of my favorites) speculates on players all the time in a similar manner and don't end up on Outside the Lines. Again, as always, just my two cents :)

Seth said...

Keep up the good work fella!

The Constable. said...

I'll tentatively agree, but I don't think that finding other people who may be irresponsible in the same ways makes it responsible. I'm actually very surprised that Simmons' article after the Manny Thing didn't cause as much of an uproar, though I think that has more to do with Simmons himself.

I do think what we're seeing is a struggle between "Journalists" and "Bloggers" at a tipping point. Astros County produces about 10x as many posts as Jose de Jesus Ortiz - on a slow day. But nobody from the Astros is checking with Astros County, or responding to interview requests, or giving AC a heads-up on breaking news.

It still doesn't mean that journalists aren't threatened by bloggers, or will be entirely comfortable with blogging.

Ty said...

"Astros County produces about 10x as many posts as Jose de Jesus Ortiz - on a slow day."

Uh-oh, TC...You're not on BED's (Blogger Enhancing Drugs, obviously), are you? Wouldn't want to speculate...