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Why I call out guys like Murray Chass and T.J. Simers

Mar 24, 2011, 2:35 PM EDT


In the past couple of days I’ve blasted T.J. Simers and Murray Chass for writing pieces that, in my view, were low-rent, unprofessional hit jobs.  This is not new territory for me. I have a combative streak and, like a lot of blogger boys, I engage in a healthy amount of media criticism. And whenever I do, I usually get comments from readers, friends and peers to the effect of “hey, why don’t you just ignore the guy?  You’re just giving him attention, and that’s what he wants.”

It’s a valid point, and one I have wrestled with for a long time.  But it’s a notion that I simply can’t abide.

On a very basic level I can’t abide it because people who traffic in this nonsense do so for major daily publications read by thousands upon thousands of people. They shape people’s opinions by virtue of their presumed authority and station and, in the case of Hall of Fame and awards voting, actually shape news and history through their own words and deeds. Well, Chass doesn’t anymore, but his little blogging hobby is but a blip; his obituary will refer to him as “Noted New York Times columnist, Murray Chass.”  But Simers certainly does, as do the other guys I go after from time to time.  They are the professional sporting press, that still means something, and they can’t be dismissed like some crank on a message board.

More deeply, I can’t abide it because I simply don’t believe that ignorance and idiocy are best combated by silence. People generally take silence as tacit approval. The cranky, crusty out-of-touch columnist got that way because for years he isolated himself from dissenting voices, took drinks at the press club among friendly colleagues and only took notice of reader dissent if it was brought to his attention by the legal department (if he truly crossed a line) or the circulation desk (if someone threatened to cancel their subscription).  And it’s not just newspaper writers. It’s anyone. To those who consider themselves influential, no news is good news. Silence is golden.

It’s a different world now.  Everything is interactive. Readers have voices. The good reporters out there — which is most of them, thankfully —  engage with the audience and hold themselves accountable.  Those who don’t have even less of an excuse than they ever did before, and deserve to be called out.

Yes, we’re in a business where page views and circulation numbers matter. But, at the risk of sounding like a naive idealist, truth and integrity matter more.  I’ll gladly send Murray Chass or T.J. Simers a few thousand clicks if by doing so their baloney is exposed for what it is.

  1. cur68 - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM


  2. BC - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    I can answer the question in the title of this entry in two words:
    They’re chipwiches.

    • TomTom - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      Yes, but are they also scrappy with intangibles?

      • BC - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        They’re not ballplayers. And they’re definitely not in the best shape of their lives.

    • wickedworld123 - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      played out…

  3. pwf207 - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    agreed, debating an issue can only improve the general level of understanding.

  4. wstanley425 - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    This may have already been thought up, but can we just start referring to TJ as TJ Slimers

  5. Mike Luna - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    This is exactly how I feel about ESPN. They seem to spend a lot of time creating stories and bringing in their “Insiders” to perpetuate them.

    Being the only game in town, ESPN doesn’t ever seem to consider how much power they actually wield. There is no other channel that does what they do that is that well established and that should be considered when they make their decisions about how to go about their business.

    • Lukehart80 - Mar 24, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      ESPN’s new ombudsman wrote or quoted someone else there about how Obama didn’t get to insist that his mention of the tsunami relief charity be a part of his bracket filling piece, because ESPN doesn’t allow others to “dictate content” to them. Tell that to Lebron James.

      ESPN produces a good game, but their other programming/content just keeps getting worse and worse.

    • lanflfan - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      ESPN used to be a good place for sports news, before they forgot about teams west of the Mississippi and became focused more on money and headlines than actual, (semi-) serious reporting.

  6. youbeillin13 - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    I’d say that calling out guys like Chass and Simers advances the cause of intelligent baseball commentary. Look at Joe Morgan finally being let go by ESPN after the case had been built over many years.

    • lanflfan - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      Jon Miller was decent, but Joe Morgan’s act was too old. Baseball does not need a former player in the booth during games to discuss, ad nauseum, how he “played the game” and how “the game has changed” since he played. If one person can’t deal with describing the game and reading stats, perhaps he/she is not fit for broadcasting.

      Too many hacks, not enough Vin Scully.

      • umrguy42 - Mar 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        Haven’t listened to Vin, but as a Cards fan, I’d say, “…not enough Jack Buck”. (Jack, not Joe. And yes, I know he’s deceased – more’s the pity. RIP, Jack. Cardinal Nation misses you BIG TIME.)

  7. heyblueyoustink - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Maybe we need to call in some superhero help to keep these clowns in line :

    • cur68 - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:58 PM

      I vote for Mookie and her ray gun.

  8. Brian Murphy - Mar 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I appreciate this, Craig. After reading Simers’ attack on Thames a couple of days ago and sending it to some others in outrage, I felt as if I was doing Simers a service. But you’re right. Exposure of such ridiculous, unprovoked, malicious bullying helps the public realize how worthless Simers and others are to their profession.

  9. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    My biggest issue with sportswriters/bloggers is that they think they are journalists. Chass may have actually been a journalist back when Jesus was a boy, but that part of his brain was dissolved by alcohol sometime during the last century. Besides we have his use of other mind altering drugs, I can tell because he had acne as a kid.

  10. jayaresea - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    as long as FJM is dormant, your media criticisms are not only welcome but needed. for much of our sanity.

  11. wickedworld123 - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Right on. We’d be remiss to let B.S. of this caliber go un-checked.

  12. Dug - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Regarding T.J.Simers: Tongue in cheek, satire, grain of salt and all that. He is making a point using sarcasm and wit. You might not like it, some, judging by the comments in the Times, just don’t get it.

    T.J.’s “shtick” his style. Jim Murray used the same style from time to time. They both can make you laugh, think and cry.

    Along with you reading your posts everyday, Craig, I also read every Simers column. Like you, he hits way more than he misses.

    • Dug - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:55 PM

      erratum: T.J. “shtick” IS his style……

      Along with READING your posts…..

      I hate my own typos. Sorry.

    • lanflfan - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      Simers is a huge horse’s arse. He doesn’t have a “shtick”, he gives you the only thing he has: irrational and illogical anger. He needs a long “vacation” somewhere way down south, I’m thinking somewhere with penguins, and no internet access.

  13. wihalofan - Mar 24, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Fight them with comics:

  14. Matthew A. - Mar 24, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I’ll gladly send Murray Chass or T.J. Simers a few thousand clicks

    That seems a little high. Just because you want to masochistically subject yourself to their mindless blathering, that doesn’t mean we will as well.

  15. baseballstars - Mar 24, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    But those guys are in the best shape of their lives.

  16. dad2twins - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Craig, on links out to the idiocy that’s spewed by the likes of Chass and Simers should have the “rel=nofollow” attribute set on them so that the link is not used by search engines in calculated the ranking of the target site in their indices.
    Maybe there are edicts from your corporate masters to not use it, which I get, but maybe it’s worth some agitation to make an exception in cases like this.
    On the other hand, we should all work on ensuring that the first hit on google when you search for “chipwich” is TJ Simers.

  17. lanflfan - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Go right on calling out those two for being the giant horses arse they are. Intelligent sportswriters are becoming an endangered species, yet they control award voting and HOF access. I’d like to see that removed from their domain, and put in the hands of former players and other HOF members. That is far more appropriate than some douche who somehow manages to stay employed as a sportswriter by muckraking.

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