Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shut up about the Red Sox already

Two major writers took the time to discuss the Boston Red Sox clubhouse and skewered the team. In both cases, the writers used innuendo and vagueness in their reporting. That is not journalism. That is rumor-mongering. If you are a journalist and make such declarative statements, then back it up. First there was Buster Olney, a writer that is appreciated here because he delivers day after day, even on weekends. But he was clearly in the wrong in this piece. And then another respected writer, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, wrote this article basically stating the same things. Back it up, or shut up.

Olney says the unhappiness of the players and staff are "multi-layered." But then does nothing to tell us what those layers are. If you are not going to risk your access to the team by stating what the problems are, then the reporting should not happen at all. And that is what this is about here. Olney and Brown simply do not want to upset the Red Sox enough to lose access to the players and the manager. But that is chicken-journalism. If you want to protect your access enough so you do not report what you are reporting, then don't report it. Brown tells us that there are petty-feuds and cliques but then holds back on who are involved and what those problems are and then hides behind the old, "Reports are that..."

The result of such poor journalism is to put it in people's minds that there are great problems and then let the average fan, bloggers and even television personalities speculate on who the bad guys are. The conclusions are that Josh Beckett and especially, Kevin Youkilis, are the ones wearing the black hats here. Youkilis is unhappy about not playing. Wouldn't you expect that when a player has been a main cast member for years and suddenly has lost a job to a rookie? He wants to play and still feels he can play. There is no more natural reaction than that.

And yet, Mitch Williams of the MLB Network declares that Kevin Youkilis must be traded because he has jumped to the conclusion that based on reports by Olney and Brown that Youkilis is one of the cancers to the situation. Is that fair? Perhaps Youkilis is the bad guy here. But unless we have that information reported to us directly, such speculation is unfair and the natural result of being vague in the reporting. And you can tell that Williams is basing his statements on these journalists because he does not make a persuasive argument on why Youkilis should be traded. In fact, he made no argument whatsoever.

Without further facts, Youkilis being traded should be reported based on him being a surplus player right now that could bring back something that could help the Red Sox. Any other way of reporting it is not right unless you reveal more than what has been revealed thus far.

Of course, Youkilis did not help his case by disputing what Valentine said about talking to the player about benching him. But that is Valentine's fault for being duplicitous. Valentine had to backtrack because he lied. Plain and simple. Perhaps Valentine is the problem. His communication certainly seems to be directed to the press more than to the players and he has been called out by the players on at least three occasions this season. That is terrible management skills if you ask this humble observer.

Where is the front office in this situation? Why haven't they brought the players and manager together and read them the riot act? Perhaps they have. But that doesn't seem to be the case. David Ortiz is right. The place is a sh** hole right now. And writers like Olney and Brown stirring up the pot without revealing the contents of that pot does not do service to the situation. Instead, their chicken journalism leads to innuendos and causing people to take sides when we do not even know what the sides are. At least one thing is for certain: Somebody is going to get rich writing a book about all this stuff.

Despite all of this, the Red Sox are still a viable contender in the American League East and in the wild card race. If they manage to grab a playoff spot, it might be the most against-all-odds story of the season.


John Green said...

These are all valid points. The Olney piece was bogus and just stirred up a bunch of crap without revealing anything. I respect his journalism on most occasions, but this was just plan bad reporting.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Thanks, John. I agree.