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A reporter questions his objectivity regarding the Lucas Duda vs. Ike Davis battle

Aug 5, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

New York Mets Lucas Duda reacts after he hit to get winning run against New York Yankees in New York

This is a fascinating story. It’s from Andy Martino of the Daily News and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen from a baseball writer who works the beat or writes a column for a major media outlet. It’s about the Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda battle for the Mets first base job. But it’s mostly about Martino examining his role as a reporter and questioning whether he got things right.

Actually, he admits he got things wrong in preferring that the Mets keep Ike Davis and ship out Duda. The Mets did the opposite and the results have been great for them. Duda has thrived at first base for them. Martino wonders why he was so convinced that was the wrong choice.

Specifically, he wonders if his comfort with interviewing Davis, which he far preferred to interviewing Duda, and their significant personality differences made him think Davis was the better choice:

On a subconscious level, did I convince myself that Davis was a better choice because he was a better quote, a friendlier guy, one for whom I came to feel genuine affection as a person? . . . Davis was interesting to talk to, sympathetic and likeable; did that up-close knowledge render me incapable of drawing an objective conclusion, and presenting it to readers? And to overstate Duda’s problems, which he seems to have since overcome?

Those are a couple of rare and brutally honest questions for a baseball writer to ask himself. In my personal experience of interacting with baseball writers there is a near-religious belief that players with personalities like Daivis’ can cut it in New York and players with personalities like Duda’s can’t. There is an even more prevalent belief that a good quote is a good person and that a good person is a good baseball player. If you doubt this, criticize a favorite but flawed baseball player on a given team and see how many steps of argument it takes for the beat guy for that team to defend with some variation of “but he’s a good guy” or “his makeup is off the charts” or whatever. Sometimes that’s the team’s view of the matter. More often than we realize, I believe, that’s the writer’s view.

Really interesting stuff from Martino. I’d be curious to know how many other baseball writers ask themselves these questions, even if they do it in private instead of in print like Martino does here.

  1. nolanwiffle - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    “Fascinating” might be a bit of an overstatement. I read this, and my first thought was that Martino was likely short on material to write about. He then, essentially, wrote about himself.

    • Bryz - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      It’s a million times better than one of those “What would George Steinbrenner do?” hack columns that he could have written.

  2. Bryz - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I wish more reporters would do this, where they reflect on their own writing and personal biases and identify why they exist. Instead, we’re treated to people that constantly use the eye test to determine whether a player is good or bad.

  3. sdbunting - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    It’s something a lot of reporters don’t like to think about: how much a given subject making it easier for us to do our jobs influences our coverage. I don’t cover baseball, but on the TV beat, I was and remained fonder of the actors who made an effort — laughed at my opening joke, gave good quote, didn’t mumble/weren’t a nightmare to transcribe, were on-time pros. It’s not the worst thing to give, say, Mark McGrath the benefit of more doubt because he was an engaged, quotable dude who took the interview seriously, and I do, because he was. But I also put that right out there in my coverage.

    So I respect that Martino did the same, though what I think is interesting transparency is perhaps also the navel-gazing nolanwiffle mentions. I’m also kind of more interested in who could have possibly thought Davis could stay, after everything, and have a chance to do well, but that’s another story. One that we’ll probably hear more about when Alvarez has to take his job.

  4. drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Neat. Anyone who wants to improve themselves by taking a hard look is okay in my book.

  5. cheeks9441 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Surprise, surprise. Craig likes a story where the writer makes it about himself.

    Kidding – I think Martino is doing a good thing here.

  6. bisonaudit - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Odds we’re ever going to get that kind of self reflection out of any of the Mauer hating Twins press corps? Zero.

  7. chill1184 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Even broken clocks are right twice a day, he’s still an a-hole.

  8. bleested - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    This comes approx. a week after Mets TV PBP’er called out those in the media who demanded the Mets deal for any of several available SS’s in the spring…all who have subsequently suffered thru lousy seasons, asking if any have written a mea culpa column. A bit of media accountability would be nice to see. Good start by Martino, but I doubt we’ll see it from many others.

  9. lukedunphysscienceproject - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Of course writers give preferential treatment to players they like. Look at the cheaters. Arod is the devil, Jason Giambi is a saint. Ryan Braun is the anti-christ, Melky Cabrera is a feel good story of redemption.

    • kyzslew77 - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      I agree with you in principle, but I’m not sure anyone is pumping Cabrera’s tires.

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