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A young blogger admits a mistake and apologizes

Mar 20, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

Lesson

Yesterday I highlighted and sharply criticized a blog post that appeared on the Rays Colored Glasses blog. The post was by a writer named Robbie Knopf, and it was about Rays reliever Josh Lueke, who was charged with rape and subsequently pleaded guilty to a count of “false imprisonment with violence.” The regrettable upshot: if Lueke achieves baseball glory, all will be forgotten and (maybe? It was hard to tell) forgiven.

Since yesterday the post has been taken down and replaced with an apology. I believe it to be a good, heartfelt apology and I think it’s worth reading. Which you can read in its entirety here. In part:

As a young writer, I made a series of mistakes in my recent article about pitcher Josh Lueke. I touched on a very sensitive topic in his arrest for rape, and how it all relates to his future in major league baseball. As a writer, it is my responsibility to clearly present my thoughts and analysis to the reader … In exploring this issue, I did not exhibit nearly enough care, talking far too much about baseball and far too little about consequences. It is entirely my fault that the article took the tone that it did.

It is worth noting that Robbie is 17 years-old. That doesn’t excuse him, as anyone with a platform is responsible for the words he or she writes regardless of how old they are. But it does help to explain how a sensitive and volatile topic like this was mishandled. Even professional writers with decades of experience are prone to mishandling such things. And, as the weekend’s coverage of the Stubenville rape case made clear, so too are entire cable news networks who damn well should know better.

It is also worth noting that, in the past, other professional writers have made errors in judgment just as bad if not worse than what young Mr. Knopf did. I’m immediately reminded of Mark Whicker’s odious column in the OC Register a few years back in which he used the horrifying case of Jaycee Dugard as a vehicle for lame sports riffs, with a closing line — “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard” — which was perhaps the most callous and insensitive thing I’ve ever seen written in a sports column. Note: the column still appears on the OC Register’s website. Whicker apologized for it, but (a) it wasn’t all that great an apology in my view; and (b) there are reasons to believe it wasn’t all that genuine an apology.

I don’t feel that way about Robbie, who seems genuinely shaken by his mistake and who seems genuinely contrite. There’s no question that he’ll learn from it, even if it’s regrettable that he had learn in this particular way.  For my part, I hope the entire experience doesn’t sour him on writing, dull his instincts or deter him from taking bold stances when he feels them warranted.

  1. nolanwiffle - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    The blog in question reaked of 17 year old fanboy. Who knew the fanboy was actually a boy?

  2. mybrunoblog - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    He’s 17 year old blogger? Sounds cool and all but maybe he should spend less time in his room blogging and more time out hanging with his buddies, playing sports, trying to date some girl in his algebra class and worrying about if his dad realized he stole that case of beer from the garage.
    And by the way. ” False imprisonment with violence” ??? Maybe it wiould be better if this guys never sees a big league roster.

    • manute - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Yeah, he’s like writing and stuff. And preparing for a possible career. What a loser.

  3. jessethegreat - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Big props for him understanding why and how many of us were displeased with the tone and seeming stance of his article.

    You also are due a tip of the cap for giving the kid credit for owning his choice of words in your space.

  4. randygnyc - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I stopped reading and posted when I saw he was 17. Surely, this is how most young people learn, absent first hand experiences. Ignorance is not knowing the facts. It can be corrected for those that remain teachable. That he issued an apology and has hopefully been reading the criticisms, I can see how he has an opportunity to grow from this. I accept his apology.

    • blacksables - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Why does he need to apologize to you? He did you no harm. All you did was read some words he wrote that you found out about here. You didn’t have to read what he wrote, but you did in order to be offended, when you had the chance to ignore it. You chose the path, not him.

      He’s apologized to the people he offended. It’s up to them to accept it. They only he offense to you was your self-important sense of right and wrong.

  5. indaburg - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    17 years old? He’s literally still a kid. I wish some adults were able to recognize their mistakes and take responsibility for them as well as he did.

  6. shanabartels - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Full disclosure: I didn’t read the full linked article yesterday because Craig’s synthesis of it was about as much as my stomach could handle. But I did read the apology just now, and I got the impression that the website’s senior staff probably influenced a lot of the language in it and encouraged (or forced) the apology to come out. I’m not saying it’s completely insincere, but the final paragraph and last sentence in particular pretty obviously didn’t come directly from a 17-year-old. At the very least, he had some help writing this, because parts of it almost look like a press release from a PR hack.

    I just hope the kid will learn from this. Just like Craig always goes off on MLB sweeping the issue of intoxicated driving under the rug, as a female baseball fan I will tell you that I look at the rapists and wife-beating pieces of shit in the league differently from other guys. I can’t get past it. Ten out of ten times that Miguel Cabrera or Russell Branyan appears on my television, my first thought is, “Hey look, there’s a guy who likes to beat his wife. That’s great.”

  7. randygnyc - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Shana- you’re not alone here. You’ll find most baseball fans, and HBT posters in particular, to be very civilized. There will always be an aberration, but by and large, this entire community condemns the behaviors of rapists, women beaters, drunk drivers etc.

    • shanabartels - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      Right. So the thumbs down on my comment are pretty amusing.

      • professormaddog31 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Perhaps the thumbs down are for the first part and not necessarily the second part. I happened to look at a few of young Robbie’s posts at that site and all of them are as professionally written as the apology post was. Also, the sidebar clearly states that he is the Senior Editor of the blog, so I would think that he would be the one doing the PR moves, not someone else.

      • shanabartels - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        Fair enough, but since his blog is affiliated with a larger network, I meant he probably heard something from the higher-ups wanting to be disassociated with that article. It is possible that he wrote it himself.

      • cur68 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Yeah, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, I think. When I was 17 I don’t believe I could have carried it off at all. I’m more disappointed in the grown people who blamed the victim. This kid never did that and went out of his way to retract his article.

      • shanabartels - Mar 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM

        Oh there were people doing that? I guess I’m not surprised but ugh humanity.

      • sportsdrenched - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        It’s a Fansided site. He’s probably the guy. If there is a corrdinator over him he doesn’t have much control. These sites are pretty much voluntary and from looking at his other stuff, I agree he probably wrote the apology.

      • shanabartels - Mar 20, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        I had never heard of Fansided until today. If that means I’m a snob about which baseball blogs I deem worth reading, then… well, yeah. I guess I am pretty picky.

  8. deathmonkey41 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Maybe he’s innocent and OJ’s going to look for the real rapist as soon as he gets out of prison!

  9. deathmonkey41 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    BTW, if you click on Craig’s one link about why he doesn’t feel Mark Whicker’s apology is authentic- there is a link to this article with a picture and headline on the right hand side.

    http://www.sportsbybrooks.com/penn-st-tv-sanduskys-touching-tribute-to-kids-29981

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Holy crap!

    • nukeladouche - Mar 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      ““We reach out and touch, through these nine programs, well over 100,000 children.”

      Ouch.

  10. tfbuckfutter - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    If anyone has trouble identifying Lueke, just look for the windowless van parked in the Player’s Lot outside Tropicana.

  11. jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I expect an apology from Craig when Loria and the Marlins win a World Series before the Braves do

  12. illcomm - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Craig. lol. coming from you who did make fun od my dead mother. your a joke Craig. where’s your apology.

    • cur68 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      I recall the incident you repeatedly bring up, ‘comm. You started it by saying shit about his wife and family. You’ve never apologized either. So get lost.

      • yahmule - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        And since when are dead mother jokes out of bounds?

  13. thon - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Nice to see someone is out there meting out justice to a 17 year-old blogger on a website no one reads. The annals will surely remember the day that guy really let that kid from “Rays Colored Glasses” have it.

  14. bh192012 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    I thought we were supposed to move on after people serve their time. Guess Craig is for no tolerence now?

    • professormaddog31 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      …if you want to call a slap on the wrist “serving time”…

    • tfbuckfutter - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      The government is supposed to move on.

      The public has no obligation to do so.

  15. butchhuskey - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I really wish I had known he was 17 when I wrote a very critical comment about sportswriters yesterday. Of course, being 17 doesn’t absolve him of all responsibility but I would have understood that the mistake he was made was one of naivety rather than pure insensitivity.

    But although what he said yesterday was inappropriate, I do applaud the kid for writing his own blog and owning up to his mistake.

  16. a125125125 - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Calcaterra giving out writing advice? That’s rich.

  17. amandamartino - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Good for him. I don’t think being 17 excuses his glossing over the fact that a girl was raped and his article said “well as long as Josh gets people out we’ll all move on” but it does provide a bit of context for the original article, at least. I’m just glad he realized how poorly he came across and acknowledged it…I’m sure we can all think of sportswriters who are at least three times Robbie’s age and completely incapable of such a realization.

  18. buckybadger - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    I didn’t see the full original article and where it is awful to think that all will be forgiven as long as he makes a major league roster performs but doesn’t it strike a bit of truth to it? Haven’t we seen time and time again a professional athlete do something this horrendous and as long as they win they are forgiven in the public eye? I understand why people are upset as it sounds as though he minimized the incident but what angers me is that it is basically true. You can talk all “Holy than thou” but in the end if he performs on the field it will be forgotten. I think he should be tossed in jail for years but they don’t let me reside on such matters.

  19. amandamartino - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    @buckybadger – Yes, sadly, you’re probably right. If he performs well on the field, all will be forgiven (or at least forgotten) by the people who cheer either for him or for the Rays. That doesn’t mean we should just ignore it.

  20. stercuilus65 - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Boo-hoo. Free speech, deal with it.

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