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Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci slams a blogger, but I heartily approve

Dec 8, 2010, 8:50 AM EDT

Murray Chass

This is kinda insidey, but it had everyone at the Winter Meetings dying laughing in the bar last night, so it’s worth passing along.

When the vote for the Veteran’s Committee choices from the Hall of Fame came down on Monday, a lot of people in the media room started to speculate about who failed to support Marvin Miller. It was a fun game while it lasted, but everyone’s busy so people moved on.

Not former New York Times columnist Murray Chass. He spoke with Miller. Miller told him that he believed that Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci voted against him, and then Chass proceeded to rip Verducci, not just for his presumed vote against Miller, but saying that he wasn’t a good reporter and being a general jerk about it.  This seemed like an old grudge against a fellow former New York writer being revived.

Last night Verducci set the record straight saying he did vote for Marvin Miller, and related word that Miller, when informed of his error, apologized for passing Chass misinformation. Verducci also cited one of my previous posts about how Miller had walked back his comments about Jim Palmer the last time he spoke about the Veteran’s Committee, suggesting  that, hey, maybe Miller isn’t the most trustworthy source on all of this.

But it was so much more delicious than that.  Because in so doing, Verducci constantly refers to Chass as “the blogger.”  People who really follow the baseball media know that this is a giant insult to Chass, who has stridently said that he is not a blogger, because bloggers are irresponsible vermin. He says to right on his, um, blog, which he insists is not actually a blog even though it clearly is. So basically, each time Verducci says “the blogger,” you can and should read it as “the idiotically irresponsible Murray Chass,” because that’s what he really means.

It’s not often that you see guys with the knives out for each other like this in the baseball writing world.  And when you do, it’s pretty darn tasty actually.

  1. sdelmonte - Dec 8, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    I used to like Chass’ columns in the Times. I guess either he’s all bitter now that he’s not there anymore, or there is value to a good editor.

    • okobojicat - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:10 AM

      Actually, he’s had a couple of pretty sweet posts, in particular he tracked down a bunch of Ex-GM’s and talked to them about their current job and their desire to be the big boy again. I think Craig linked to it.

      But he def failed on the Miller/Verducci/Palmer reporting because he didn’t take the time and didn’t utilize his resources to find out all the facts. Sounds kind of like a young blogger just trying to make his name in the world.

  2. proudlycanadian - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    I like Verducci and found it interesting that he dumped on “the blogger”. Verducci is normally even handed.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM

      This was certainly not an instance of Verducci being against “bloggers.” This was a particular slam on Chass, with the term “blogger” being used specifically to get his goat.

      Verducci was totally in the right here given what Chass and Miller were spreading.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:11 AM

        Agreed!

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:28 AM

        Craig, quoting you from yesterday.

        “The conventional reaction is for people to wring their hands and talk about irresponsible reporting and how back when they were riding dinosaurs to the newsroom, people did not play so fast and loose with such matters. I’m not a fan of this reaction.”

        I suppose you can have it both ways. Verducci has a right to be upset. Chass, like the rest of you gossip columnists, just throw stuff against the wall and sees what sticks. Reputations and livelihoods be damned. Hey, it is, “great fun”.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:36 AM

        Pancho: if you quoted my entire comment about that rather than just the part that served your purposes, people would see the clear exception I made for personal matters and things that talk about someone’s integrity.

        There is a big difference between a blind item trade rumor on the one hand and saying that Verducci did something he did not do (and slamming his skills as a reporter to boot) without bothering to check.

        If you don’t see the difference between those things, well, we just don’t see eye to eye.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM

        So, let me get this straight. It is okay to post lies, but not damn lies. A blind trade rumor does no harm? I’m not sure I agree with that. The one for Fielder certainly put the Brewers’ FO in a bad light and did probably more harm to their reputation than Chass’s piece did to Verducci as Chass is an idiot and the world knows it.

        The only differences between the two, is that one slams a member of the press and the other slams the Brewers’ FO. One was probably done as grudge (of course, you offer no proof) and other was done either to intentionally embarrass the Brewers or because the blogger was too lazy to work for a living.

        I don’t believe I quoted you out of context. Here’s the link and the readers can judge for themselves.

        The whole story

        We don’t really know how Verducci voted, do we? Of course, we have his word which is probably better than Chass’s source, but we know for a fact that the trade was false. Perhaps other members of the committee will confirm Verducci’s version or perhaps they won’t. Did you attempt to get confirmation from other committee members?

        In the final analysis, a journalist’s reputation rests on his ability to be trusted to get stuff right. If a journalist is often wrong in the small stuff, how can he be believed in the big stuff?

        The real problem in both cases is that the basics of journalism were tossed out the window. Ask for a comment/confirmation/denial from the people involved. Even “our call was not immediately returned” shows a professional attempt to make sure the story is right. And, yes, good journalists do get things wrong. We can cut them some lack when they do their homework. When they don’t , they aren’t good journalist.

        If you don’t see how those things are same, I guess we don’t see eye to eye on what professional journalism is.

        But, hey, as I said before, it is great fun to bash reputations on hearsay. What else is the web for?

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    I consider myself, quite proudly, the “king of petty” and even this made me think “that’s pretty petty of Verducci.” Oh well…to each his or her own I guess.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:37 AM

      How is this petty? Chass wrote a clear lie about him. Didn’t check it first, and then used the opportunity to criticize Verducci’s skills as a reporter. How could he let that lie?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM

        Yeah, I guess I should have actually READ the article Verducci wrote LOL. I assumed he didn’t name Chass directly in his article, and instead ONLY referred to him as “the blogger”, which to me would have been petty. Instead, he called him “the blogger, Murray Chass”, which is entirely different.

        See, I told you I am the king of petty…even when I am calling someone out for being petty, I, myself, am being quite petty. Petty. Petty.

  4. Jonny 5 - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    Suuuuhweet! I love it. This is what we need when there’s no baseball. I say we get Charlie Manuel to ref the cage match between these two. Then we can figure out others who want a pc of each other. McCourt vs. his Lawyer, Jeter vs. Cashman, And every week Scott Boras can take on a different GM.. Awesome!

    • sportsdrenched - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM

      Only if it includes Craig Sager vs a WWE Costume Designer.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:05 AM

        I think everyone loves Sager though. Maybe not in an announcer kinda way, more like how people love puppies, and big dumb licky dogs…

  5. Kevin S. - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Verducci’s the man. I just might forgive him for “The Yankee Years” now.

  6. pbannard - Dec 8, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Missed the “blogger” needling on my first read through (linked from Neyer) – that’s hilarious. However, I think it’s a little irresponsible of Verducci not to mention that Miller claims he was misquoted about Palmer (as you published), especially given that the point of the article is to correct mistaken information (about himself).

  7. dondbaseball - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    Craig,
    As I read through the links and comments that you provided (all great stuff as usual), I ended up at Joe Morgan’s unsurprised dumping by ESPN on Nov 11 by you. I thought is ironic as both Chass and Morgan are negative old school guys that refuse to accept progressive thoughts in analysis (sabermetrics) and the rights of people to say one thing but be respectful of those with different opinions (Palmer being anti-union but supporting Miller and Verducci who maybe doesn’t trust Miller but respects what he contributed to the game).

    Great theatre for us to see but also very sad that guys like Miller, Chass and Morgan are bitter against a game that provided their vocation at what ONCE made them great but sad to say, very small now.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 8, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    I grew up reading Murray Chass and I really like the guy. What he’s become in the recent years has left me feeling more than sad. So bitter and angry towards the machine that made him.

    His anti-blogger stance is as comical as it is sad.

    Verducci took him to the toolshed and rightfully so. Chass has got to lick his wounds and put the integrity back in his word… which is what we bloggers strive to do daily anyways.

  9. stuckonwords - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    In the interest of full disclosure…

    We don’t really know that Verducci voted for Miller. We only know he said he did. Well seriously…is it so impossible to consider that, because of what is clearly a poor relationship with Chass, that he only said he did because he got ripped so badly over not voting for him? There is absolutely no way anyone could ever prove otherwise. After all, the ballots are secret for a reason.

    It is not unusual for someone to defend himself against an accusation when he knows full well there is no way anyone could ever prove otherwise. That’s a natural human inclination. But bear in mind that we don’t actually know anything more today than we did before Verducci’s response. All we know is that he didn’t like being lambasted in public over something nobody could prove.

    Chass and Miller couldn’t prove a thing, and should’ve never opened their mouths. But Verducci can’t prove he voted for Miller, either, and while we may feel inclined to take his side (because he didn’t start this mess) it’s still true that we have no idea whether he actually voted for Miller or not. This all becomes a matter of personal opinion as to what we believe, but nothing’s actually provable.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:54 AM

      This is not so: The vote was not secret ballot. It took place during a meeting of the VC here in Orlando on Sunday afternoon, after there was open debate about each candidate.

      While I have yet to see someone actually confirm Verucci’s yes vote, there are many people in that group — including media guys — who could debunk Verducci’s claim here and they haven’t yet (they would have done the same to debunk Chass if Verducci hasn’t first).

      • stuckonwords - Dec 8, 2010 at 11:58 PM

        Well fair enough, then…I stand corrected. I wasn’t aware there was ever any kind of open vote like that. Thanks for clarifying that for me. If I could retract my post, I would. Thanks, Craig.

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