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Friday, March 14, 2008

Miami Herald: Bob Costas: Sports bloggers weave a tangled web

After 50 years…I bet the Red Dye No. 2 pollutant from the ‘58 Mickey Mantle attached to Bob Costas’ droopy ass has worked it’s way up to his amyloadosis-filled brain.

‘‘I understand with newspapers struggling and hoping to hold on to, or possibly expand their audiences, I understand why they do what they do,’’ Costas said. ‘But it’s one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother’s basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they’re a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard’s column or Bernie Miklasz’ column in St. Louis. That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.’‘

What bothers Costas—and he’s not alone—is Internet and talk radio commentary that ``confuses simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity with edginess. Just because I can call someone a name doesn’t mean I’m insightful or tough and edgy. It means I’m an idiot.

``It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men’s room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.’‘

Repoz Posted: March 14, 2008 at 07:53 PM | 154 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. 1k5v3L Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:27 PM (#2712978)
Bob Costas: "I’m an idiot."
   2. Robert S. Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:30 PM (#2712981)
It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men’s room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.

Yup, that sounds like sportswriting to me.
   3. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:31 PM (#2712982)
To elaborate on Levski's point:

What bothers Costas—and he’s not alone—is Internet and talk radio commentary that ``confuses simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity with edginess. Just because I can call someone a name doesn’t mean I’m insightful or tough and edgy. It means I’m an idiot.

‘But it’s one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother’s basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they’re a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard’s column or Bernie Miklasz’ column in St. Louis.

Does the author purposefully put these two comments so close together intentionally or is it a simple coincidence that is going to end up giving everyone who stops by this thread a quick chuckle?
   4. A triple short of the cycle Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:32 PM (#2712984)
Yep, idiot.
   5. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:33 PM (#2712985)
they’re a pathetic get-a-life loser

. . .

Just because I can call someone a name doesn’t mean I’m insightful or tough and edgy. It means I’m an idiot.

Yep, he's right.

edit: Damn, too slow.
   6. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:34 PM (#2712987)
since when are sports writers accountable or responsible .. what a joke.
   7. BDC Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:34 PM (#2712988)
''Today, I saw on ESPN a poll about which Western Conference teams would not make the playoffs,'' Costas said. ``Well, 46 percent said the Denver Nuggets, which has zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''


And later on I was at the mall, and I was like, who are they kidding, a whole store just for candles? Who would even stop and look at that kind of thing? And why would they tell anybody they did? And why would they tell somebody about it so it could be in the newspaper? And if it was, like, in the newspaper, why would you read about that?
   8. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:36 PM (#2712989)
``It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men’s room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.’’

Stop caring about your teams people! Bob Costas and Dan Le Batard will care for you!
   9. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:39 PM (#2712992)
No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''

The funny thing about this is that all the people who responded to the poll probably DO care about the NBA. I think Mr. Costas grossly underestimates how much time I have to waste on the internet when I'm supposed to be working.

Speaking of which. Thanks for another fun week you chimps. See y'all Monday!
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:40 PM (#2712995)
''Today, I saw on ESPN a poll about which Western Conference teams would not make the playoffs,'' Costas said. ``Well, 46 percent said the Denver Nuggets, which has zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''


Today at the bookstore I saw a book that this sports announcer had written about all his wonderful ideas to improve the game of baseball, and it had zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about MLB should care about it. Who has the time or the inclination to write this, even if your network lost the rights to baseball and your late night show got cancelled and you have lots of free time? Why would you weigh in with your ideas?
   11. 1k5v3L Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:41 PM (#2712997)
In fact, people, stop going to see the games at the ballparks, stop watching the games on television, stop listening to the games on the radio, stop thinking about the games, stop reading about the games on the internet... Bob Costas and Dan Le Batard will do ALL that for you.

All you gotta do it pick up the morning paper, smear some ink off the cheap ads on your fingers, thumb to your favorite Costas and Le Batard column, and wallow in it, like a pig in a cage on antibiotics (with all apologies to Thom Yorke)...
   12. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:45 PM (#2713002)
''Today, I saw on ESPN a poll about which Western Conference teams would not make the playoffs,'' Costas said. ``Well, 46 percent said the Denver Nuggets, which has zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''


This is really bizarre. I can see Costas' being grumpy about wiseass bloggers and trashtalking talk show hosts (ignoring for the moment that so many established media types are trash-talking wiseasses as well), but why would he bash a bunch of people responding to an innocuous internet poll? Also, there are a fair number of "reasonable" NBA fans who are interested in which good western team will miss the playoffs, since there are actually 9 pretty good teams in the west this year.
   13. caprules Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:46 PM (#2713003)
In the context of the article, I mostly agree with Costas. Certainly calling bloggers pathetic get-a-life loser was mean-spirited and idiotic, but I agree that every comment section of any MSM sites that I have seen has provided little value to me. It seems that the extra effort of going to a specific site filters out a good portion of the truly useless posters.
   14. 1k5v3L Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:51 PM (#2713008)
Today at the bookstore I saw a book that this sports announcer had written about all his wonderful ideas to improve the game of baseball, and it had zero percent influence on anything.
That link contains a book review by Doug Pappas. He called it "a lazy fly to left". The book sounds more like an Eric Byrnes pop-up to 2b to me...
   15. Vida Blew Over the Legal Limit Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:53 PM (#2713009)
What the fcuk is the NBA?
   16. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 14, 2008 at 08:59 PM (#2713014)
Just once I'd like to see someone talk about the difference between good blogs (of which there are many) and bad blogs (of which there are many, and probably even more) as opposed to paint with such a broad brush. He sounds like someone decrying "that rock and roll music" in the 50s without appreciating the difference between Buddy Holly and Pat Boone.
   17. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:00 PM (#2713015)
What the fcuk is the NBA?


Why would you weigh in with this? This post added no value to my BTF experience, and I am going to complain about it in public. I only want to read posters with some level of BTF accountability.
   18. Rich Rifkin I Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:01 PM (#2713016)
I'm no Dan Le Batard fan. However, this little stolen base nugget was in his last baseball column, an interview with Marlins' manager Fredi Gonzalez:
Le Batard: A baseball strategy you have changed your mind about?

Gonzalez: ``The stolen base. It doesn't equal runs. The risk is not worth the reward very often. An out is more valuable today than a single base. I've seen the stats, and I used to think that the stolen base was more important than it was. You have to pick your spots with it.''

Le Batard: How do you feel about Fidel Castro resigning?

Gonzalez:``It's great. We've got him out, finally. But nothing changes until you have an open-door policy. I'm a realist. It is going to be awhile for freedom. We're just a step closer. He may already be dead for all we know.''
In 2006, when the Marlins were managed by Spikes High Girardi, the fish attempted stealing 168 bases and were safe 65.5% of the time. In 2007, when Gonzalez had the reins, Florida tried to steal 139 times (17.3% less than in '06), making it safely 75.5% of the time. Considering that the break-even on steals is in the 70% neighborhood, it's likely that Gonzalez was a superior manager in this respect to Spikes High Girardi.
   19. Tricky Dick Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:01 PM (#2713017)
Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?''

It's just so time consuming to answer an internet poll. Wow, it must take all of five seconds. Get a life people!

That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.’

The horror of it!
   20. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:01 PM (#2713018)
Just once I'd like to see someone talk about the difference between good blogs (of which there are many) and bad blogs (of which there are many, and probably even more) as opposed to paint with such a broad brush


You've got an audience (I am a member of it--so it is at least me and Neyer) so maybe you could write an entry about this.
   21. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:02 PM (#2713020)
I don't think Costas even knows what a blog is - comments on newspaper sites have nothing to do with bloggers. While we all criticize mainstream media writing, we never point at a deranged hobo shouting about the government and say "See? This is what happens when journalists are part of a free press!"

Overall, while he's right that comment sections are generally useless on main sites, his distinction between Paid Sports Journalists and people expressing their own opinions is worthless. Any expertise Costas has in analysis stretches out no farther than the reasoning behind his analysis, just like any internet writer.
   22. Famous Original Joe C Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:02 PM (#2713021)
Bob Costas: "Get off my lawn!"

Fixed that for you.
   23. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:03 PM (#2713023)
at a deranged hobo shouting about the government and say "See? This is what happens when journalists are part of a free press!"


Leave Nieporent out of this.

>>>>comments on newspaper sites have nothing to do with bloggers

Good point
   24. AJMcCringleberry Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:05 PM (#2713025)
That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.’’

Wow, Costas really letting the sportswriters have it!

Oh wait...
   25. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:13 PM (#2713026)
You've got an audience (I am a member of it--so it is at least me and Neyer) so maybe you could write an entry about this.


Despite going pretty meta this week, I try to limit the whole navel-gazing thing. My view is that writing is writing is writing, and that the differences in medium only matter to the extent that it impacts the content (e.g. my complaint about Morrissey on Monday). It only seems to be the traditional media guys who want to disparage blogs for blogs' sake, and god knows we have enough "MSM is teh evil!" stuff being written on blogs. So while I noted the Costas thing, I'm probably going to take a Jeff Bagwell on it. Ultimately bloggers do better when they speak through their links and their blogroll as opposed to stepping outside of themselves and consciously reviewing other sites.

Point taken about this being more about newspaper commenters as opposed to bloggers, but it's the same argument. There are those who are credentialed and responsible who are worth our attention, and those who are not (always in the basements) who aren't. The only difference between a good commenter and good blogger is commitment. After all, look how many good bloggers/writers sprung from RSBB and BTF.
   26. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2713028)
He sounds like someone decrying "that rock and roll music" in the 50s without appreciating the difference between Buddy Holly and Pat Boone.

I'm way out of my element here, but didn't the people who decried rock and roll like Pat Boone?
   27. Vida Blew Over the Legal Limit Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:16 PM (#2713029)
What makes a short, annoying little white guy with a journalism degree think he can....oh wait, those are my exact qualifications as well.
   28. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:17 PM (#2713030)
while I noted the Costas thing, I'm probably going to take a Jeff Bagwell on it.


You're going to wait until a lot of people are reading, and it's really important, and then you're going to choke by writing the worst entry of your life?
   29. sardonic Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:18 PM (#2713031)
Just once I'd like to see someone talk about the difference between good blogs (of which there are many) and bad blogs (of which there are many, and probably even more) as opposed to paint with such a broad brush. He sounds like someone decrying "that rock and roll music" in the 50s without appreciating the difference between Buddy Holly and Pat Boone.


Thank you. Calling out bloggers using random newspaper comment posters is like calling out the MSM by using a crappy high school newspaper's sports column.
   30. sardonic Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:18 PM (#2713032)
Just once I'd like to see someone talk about the difference between good blogs (of which there are many) and bad blogs (of which there are many, and probably even more) as opposed to paint with such a broad brush. He sounds like someone decrying "that rock and roll music" in the 50s without appreciating the difference between Buddy Holly and Pat Boone.


Thank you. Calling out bloggers using random newspaper comment posters is like calling out the MSM by using a crappy high school newspaper's sports column.
   31. rfloh Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:22 PM (#2713036)
Well, 46 percent said the Denver Nuggets, which has zero percent influence on anything. No reasonable person who cares about the NBA should care about that. Who has the time or the inclination to do this, even if you're sitting on your computer? Why would you weigh in on it?


Who cares? You do. Le Batard does. David Stern does. If no one cared, if all sports fan(atic)s did not care about the sports they love, none of you would have a professional job in sports.
   32. rfloh Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:23 PM (#2713037)
"In the context of the article, I mostly agree with Costas. Certainly calling bloggers pathetic get-a-life loser was mean-spirited and idiotic, but I agree that every comment section of any MSM sites that I have seen has provided little value to me. It seems that the extra effort of going to a specific site filters out a good portion of the truly useless posters."


And if those sites provide a way for teams and athletes do reach out to fans, fans who buy tickets, merchandise and overpriced beer? If Chipper Jones makes an appearance on a mainstream blog, on the AJC, and hangs around to talk and answer questions, has that no positive effect on the fanbase?
   33. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:24 PM (#2713039)
NBC/HBO's Bob Costas wondered this week about the wisdom of offering a wider forum to fans who can say whatever they wish without being held accountable.


Since when are MSM columnists "held accountable" for anything? As long as they don't offend a protected class, they can say or write whatever the hell they want -- insult any player they want -- no matter how vile or wrong-headed it is.

As if the level of discourse on talk radio or in a standard Mike Lupica column rises above the elementary school recess level.
   34. Maury Brown Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:48 PM (#2713049)
Also, there are a fair number of "reasonable" NBA fans who are interested in which good western team will miss the playoffs, since there are actually 9 pretty good teams in the west this year.
So much for Rip City returning this year... Ah... at least Oden worked out with the team yesteday. Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.
   35. shoewizard Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:50 PM (#2713051)
I seldom if ever find Costas' opinions and comments on TV to be of much value or worth. I almost completely tune him out nowadays anyway.
   36. rr Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:52 PM (#2713052)
So much for Rip City returning this year... Ah... at least Oden worked out with the team yesterday.


They are a little too far back for this year. But they will be coming strong in the next 2-3 years.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:57 PM (#2713055)
I don't think Costas even knows what a blog is - comments on newspaper sites have nothing to do with bloggers.

I think Costas is decrying newspapers now having their writers run "blogs" and subjecting upstanding, god-fearing Americans like LeBatard and Miklasz to the rabble. More accurately, what I think he's saying is that it's one thing for pathetic losers to set up their own blogs and post their idiocy, but it's dumb for newspapers to set up "blogs" that give these same idiots a high-profile platform on which to post (via comments).

And one does wonder what good it does a newspaper to have open comments on a sports article. Presumably it "engages" their readers or something, but I think most of us would agree it doesn't exactly lift the discourse.

What makes a short, annoying little white guy with a journalism degree think he can....oh wait, those are my exact qualifications as well.

Well, you'll be glad to know (from Wikipedia):

Following high school, [Costas] attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, though he left school before graduating to begin his professional career.

Granted, this makes one wonder why you bothered finishing your degree. :-)
   38. caprules Posted: March 14, 2008 at 09:59 PM (#2713056)
And if those sites provide a way for teams and athletes do reach out to fans, fans who buy tickets, merchandise and overpriced beer? If Chipper Jones makes an appearance on a mainstream blog, on the AJC, and hangs around to talk and answer questions, has that no positive effect on the fanbase?


I'm not sure what my post has to do with your response. I said that those sites provide little value to me. And although I wasn't specific about which of the Costas comments I agreed with, it is the comments that have this aspect: "That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective."

You seem to think that I am implying that these sites shouldn't exist. I'm not sure how you got there, but that is not my opinion. I am saying that my experience with MSM comments sections has led me to believe that I shouldn't spend more of my time seeking them out.
   39. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 14, 2008 at 10:09 PM (#2713059)
I don't know why people get so vituperative over blogs, when sports-talk radio has been around a lot longer and provides any random idiot with a much bigger audience than a blog could provide. I don't know how many hits your blog gets, Craig, but 75 is a good day for me if I don't get linked anywhere. Meanwhile, I could call into a sports-talk radio station and have 100 or even 1000 times as many people hear what I have to say. But I have literally never heard of anyone like Costas decrying the fact that sports-talk radio has given the great unwashed a platform.
   40. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 14, 2008 at 10:13 PM (#2713061)
This is perfectly consistent with Costas' abhorrence of fantasy sports, touchdown dances, and anything else that offends his sense of what sports and fandom used to be like. What an asshat. Good thing he's irrelevant.
   41. scareduck Posted: March 14, 2008 at 10:28 PM (#2713068)
All you gotta do it pick up the morning paper, smear some ink off the cheap ads on your fingers, thumb to your favorite Costas and Le Batard column, and wallow in it, like a pig in a cage on antibiotics (with all apologies to Thom Yorke)...

All we need to complete the industrial farm metaphor is a way to work in a reference to downer cattle.
   42. scareduck Posted: March 14, 2008 at 10:29 PM (#2713070)
And one does wonder what good it does a newspaper to have open comments on a sports article. Presumably it "engages" their readers or something, but I think most of us would agree it doesn't exactly lift the discourse.

Two words: Bill Plaschke.
   43. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: March 14, 2008 at 11:24 PM (#2713083)
Bob Costas is so articulate. He has that going for him.
   44. baudib Posted: March 14, 2008 at 11:37 PM (#2713088)
Sportswriters don't make very good bloggers.
   45. Harry Balsagne, anti-Centaur hate crime division Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:14 AM (#2713099)
It's obvious that the vitriol from established sports writers and "traditional" baseball thinkers is a result of fear. There's a whole new universe out there that they have no control over and little influence in, and they feel threatened. If it doesn't matter and isn't worth shite why let it bother you so much?

Costas is obviously protecting his ego here--if we're all just a bunch of booger-eating mama's boys, and he and his TV star sports scholar colleagues are the final word, what could possibly inspire so much rage?
   46. Delicious Cake Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:21 AM (#2713101)
Wait a minute. Bob Costas is implying that any anonymous scrub with a sports blog can receive "access", which doesn't sound likely. My impression was that most of the bloggers who DO have access are connected to a highly visible company or organization (BP, FOXSports, ESPN, et al). Am I right, or am I a few forms away from locker room access?
   47. pkb33 Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:29 AM (#2713105)
That...grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility

This seems to describe Dan Shaughnessy quite well.
   48. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:43 AM (#2713109)
I generally like Costas but, yeah, this was not a good idea. Sure there's a lot of crappy, uninformed writing on the internet. Who cares.
   49. caprules Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:43 AM (#2713110)
Bob Costas is implying that any anonymous scrub with a sports blog can receive "access"


I'm not seeing that. He seems to be bothered that fans are allowed to express their idiocy in a forum that is attached to the work of media.

Costas is an oak, and can't understand why the maples aren't happy in their shade.
   50. 1k5v3L Posted: March 15, 2008 at 12:52 AM (#2713111)
There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 01:04 AM (#2713116)
What bothers Costas -- and he's not alone -- is Internet and talk radio commentary that ``confuses simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity with edginess. Just because I can call someone a name doesn't mean I'm insightful or tough and edgy. It means I'm an idiot.

``It's just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men's room walls in gas stations. That doesn't mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.''


The tone of any forum---whether it's BTF or a blog or a mainstream website's comments section or talk radio---is the "editor" or man at the mike who sets the ground rules. I agree that many blogs are far better than many of the mainstream commentators. But even talk radio has its bright spots. Maybe we're just lucky in DC, but I'll put John Thompson's call-in show on WTEM up against any commentary in any format. It's informal, funny and serious at the same time, because unlike most radio jocks (and jocksniffers) who are filled with nothing but opinions, Thompson has the brains and the knowledge to back his opinions up. And his listeners who call in respect that.

The worst (by far) of all the internet forums are the Comments section attached to many internet news articles. Out of pure masochism (there's no defensible reason) I visit the Washington Post to read some of these, and it's hard to believe that the Post finds anything useful about the neverending stream of sheer hatred and stupidity, complete with serial misspellings and incoherent sentences. They could eliminate 90% of this garbage by requiring posters to furnish a real name and traceable address, but since that would scare off the idiots who jack up their web meters, they won't think of it. It's amazing how the lowest common denominator drives such a high percentage of internet forums. BTF is a fairly uncommon exception.
   52. bads85 Posted: March 15, 2008 at 01:18 AM (#2713117)
``It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies, or on men’s room walls in gas stations.


Quite a feat from their mothers' basement.
   53. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:21 AM (#2713140)
Wait, Bob Costas is complaining about simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity by people discussing sports? He's calling out people as idiots because they're name-calling? The same Bob Costas that hosts the god-awful excuse for a Sunday night football highlights show that has basically become a bunch of guys making snide and insulting remarks about bad teams or poor performances? The show that decided it didn't have enough name-calling and obnoxious insults so it had to bring in Keith Olbermann to make even more snarky remarks? Look in a freaking mirror.
   54. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:49 AM (#2713145)
Since when are MSM columnists "held accountable" for anything? As long as they don't offend a protected class, they can say or write whatever the hell they want -- insult any player they want -- no matter how vile or wrong-headed it is.

Up to a point, but any MSM types can get fired for any controversial racial/ethnic/gender comments or for profanity. They can be wrong-headed as all get out, but there's a couple areas they have to be careful with vileness. Blogs? Not so much.

I don't know why people get so vituperative over blogs, when sports-talk radio has been around a lot longer and provides any random idiot with a much bigger audience than a blog could provide.

The rabble don't run the show. They can run their own blogs. The gatekeepers are breaking down.
   55. 1k5v3L Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:50 AM (#2713146)
Look in a freaking mirror.
He can't; he's too busy making Christmas toys.
   56. Howie Menckel Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:23 AM (#2713163)
Pat Boone used to sing the muted white-boy versions of great songs, so yes, he would not be the target of 1950s critics of 'rock' music. He was the last, pathetic attempt to try to make the real songs banal enough to stop kids from getting excited about it.
   57. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 15, 2008 at 05:14 AM (#2713176)
Since when are MSM columnists "held accountable" for anything? As long as they don't offend a protected class, they can say or write whatever the hell they want -- insult any player they want -- no matter how vile or wrong-headed it is.

Up to a point, but any MSM types can get fired for any controversial racial/ethnic/gender comments or for profanity.


Right; that was my point. (I didn't mention the profanity, but that's rather obvious.)
   58. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 15, 2008 at 05:24 AM (#2713182)
OK, I completely missed the protected class thing, which is pretty stupid since it was in the part I quoted.

So in other words, eh, nevermind.
   59. bads85 Posted: March 15, 2008 at 06:34 AM (#2713195)
He can't; he's too busy making Christmas toys.


Definite Primey. I am extremely drunk, but that is one of the funniest things I have read on this site.
   60. Belfry Bob Posted: March 15, 2008 at 06:52 AM (#2713198)
That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.’

Heck, when I was kid, reading Dick Young's TSN column supplied me with an entire's week's supply of ignorance and invictive!
   61. BDC Posted: March 15, 2008 at 01:05 PM (#2713230)
The worst (by far) of all the internet forums are the Comments section attached to many internet news articles

Agreed. And just to state the obvious, newspapers have been getting, and printing, inane letters to the editor for a couple of centuries now. Plus ça change ...
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 01:44 PM (#2713243)
The worst (by far) of all the internet forums are the Comments section attached to many internet news articles

Agreed. And just to state the obvious, newspapers have been getting, and printing, inane letters to the editor for a couple of centuries now. Plus ça change ...


But they're not the same thing at all, at least in the case of most mainstream newspapers. I'll stick with the Washington Post, which is fairly typical in its policies.

If you want to send a letter to the editor for publication in the print edition of the Post, you need to (a) use your real name; (b) have a verifiable address; and (c) provide a daytime and an evening phone number, so that if they're considering your letter for publication, they know that the name attached to "your" letter is really you.

Whereas on these internet Comments sections, all you need is an e-mail address, period. No name required other than a "Username." And since the comments get posted instantly, it's hard to believe that even the e-mail address has to be yours. It's total anonymity, and you can see the results.

You're right that there's no question that inane letters get published in newspapers all the time. But few people who post the sort of vituperative drivel that you see on the sort of internet forums I'm referring to would ever want the world to know their identities---for good reason. And all you're doing by enabling this sort of crap is to drive off the people who want an intelligent discussion. The bad drives out the good.

There are two ways of addressing this. One is the Furtado method, which is to allow anonymous posting but have strictly enforced guidelines and rules about over-the-top personal attacks and comments. Since Jim monitors the site, he knows the difference between the mock screaming matches between (for instance) Kevin and Nieporent and the sort of crap I'm referring to that you can read on the Washington Post site. In the case of BTF it works out OK, since Jim does a good job, but IMO it's too dependent on one person's judgment.

The other method, which I'm in favor of, is to have no screening of content beyond certain N-words, F-words, B-words, etc. But each person has to first undergo the same sort of screening standards that the print edition uses for identity verification, and all postings are under people's real names.

I guarantee that this would cut down on 95% of the inflammatory BS you see on those sites, with little if any loss to real spontaneity. The one problem is that of people posting in work environments where they're afraid of their boss or supervisor finding out that they're goofing off on company time. So perhaps the better answer is the Furtado method, labor intensive as that likely is. The point of my comments is not to scare off business hour slackers.

But as for those f ucking morons who think that this is a question of "free speech," when all they really mean is "I want to be able to spread anonymous hate and lies from under my hidden rock," let them go back to talk radio where they belong. Why respectable internet sites put up with them---and encourage them---is beyond me. Maybe it is just the desperation of these websites to attract numbers, no matter what. But whatever it is, it's pathetic.
   63. BDC Posted: March 15, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#2713250)
Excellent points, Andy.
   64. StHendu Posted: March 15, 2008 at 02:18 PM (#2713253)
It's total anonymity, and you can see the results.

The result is freedom of speech, and all it entails, including some speech that is considered offensive. That means people can freely criticize powerful or dangerous groups, like governments, corporations; and groups like PETA, anti-abortion, and Rice for Hall. The range of quality of anonymous posting is huge, with many of much higher quality than what is seen on TV (see Iraq war and telecommunication immunity for examples). Some highly educated people post anonymously so they will not lose their jobs. Posting anonymously forces people to deal with what you say, rather than who you are. If Bill James posted anonymously, so he could write about confidential Red Sox info - how would it be received by the public?
What it has to do with hate and lies and quality is beyond me. You and Costas both used hateful speech. In fact, you used the same word that you claimed should be screened out. I guess Andy is a pseudonym.
Doesn't the Washington Post use 'anonymous sources'?
   65. Hector Moreda & The Generalissimo Posted: March 15, 2008 at 02:51 PM (#2713259)
Doesn't the Washington Post use 'anonymous sources'?


Anonymous to the public, yes; and sometimes, I'd wager, even to the editorial staff. But we rely on the idea that the reporter has done some vetting of the identity and veracity of the source. They don't print random statements left on a 'tip line'.
   66. johnny_mostil Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:14 PM (#2713267)
"...confuses simple mean-spiritedness and stupidity with edginess"

As opposed to responsible mainstream journalism, like Jay Mariotti in Chicago?

I'm surprised nobody called Costas on his bogus premise that being paid by big media confers professionalism.
   67. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2713268)
StHendu,

Of course the Washington Post uses anonymous sources, which is a practice it's frequently under fire for. But at least in that case somebody knows the source's true identity, and in the end, at least someone (the Post itself) is responsible for what's written. That's not the case in the forums in question here.

As for me, if you're really dying to know, I'll spare you the trouble of what you could have discovered with three clicks of your mouse, beginning with my name above my post. I'm one of the more transparent people you'll ever find on any forum. I'll be glad to sell you a poster if you want.

And BTW, the F-word I referred to ends with t, not k.

Beyond those trivial issues, I already addressed the substance of your comments, if you would bother to read them. Your most substantive point is this:

Some highly educated people post anonymously so they will not lose their jobs.

Apparently you missed this:

The other method, which I'm in favor of, is to have no screening of content beyond certain N-words, F-words, B-words, etc. But each person has to first undergo the same sort of screening standards that the print edition uses for identity verification, and all postings are under people's real names.

I guarantee that this would cut down on 95% of the inflammatory BS you see on those sites, with little if any loss to real spontaneity. The one problem is that of people posting in work environments where they're afraid of their boss or supervisor finding out that they're goofing off on company time. So perhaps the better answer is the Furtado method, labor intensive as that likely is. The point of my comments is not to scare off business hour slackers.


Of course there's a wide range of quality from anonymous quotes. But here's one typical string of comments in today's Washington Post, all totally anonymous. You tell me how you'd evaluate the overall level of discussion there, and say with a straight face that the Post's policy of encouraging anonymity does anything but lower the tone:

Outspoken Minister Out Of The Obama Campaign

Tell me that anyone reading through these quotes would ever learn anything at all, beyond that political operatives and their camp followers have a lot of time on their hands. As I said, when you encourage this sort of crap, the bad drives out the good.

I guess that if your idea of "free speech" consists of "forums" that essntially come down to "yo' momma" vs. "no, yo' momma", then this is the best of all possible worlds. Of course we can avoid it if we wish, as I do in nearly every case. And of course it's not the end of the world, either. But I still wonder what the hell the editors of the Post are thinking when they read through that sort of drivel, if indeed they ever do.
   68. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:30 PM (#2713275)
But as for those f ucking morons who think that this is a question of "free speech," when all they really mean is "I want to be able to spread anonymous hate and lies from under my hidden rock," let them go back to talk radio where they belong. Why respectable internet sites put up with them---and encourage them---is beyond me. Maybe it is just the desperation of these websites to attract numbers, no matter what. But whatever it is, it's pathetic.

I don't understand why these comments bother you so much.
   69. BDC Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:36 PM (#2713280)
Posting anonymously forces people to deal with what you say, rather than who you are

That's a fair point, though so much of what is posted anonymously on forums or in comments takes the form of vacuity, or even actual fighting words. The worst offender I've seen lately is something called JuicyCampus, which amounts to a virtual bathroom wall.

There is excellent anonymous commentary on some blogs, especially Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog for Washington Monthly. No registration is required there, and while there is some trolling and mudslinging, you often get a fascinating range of information from the comments. But many political and sport sites just attract the bathroom-wall writers. Free speech on bathroom walls is fine, but I'm with Costas here, why would you spend much time reading it.

Like Andy's (and many others here), incidentally, my real identity is all of three clicks away. I go by Dernier on BTF because I really like the GGC type of handle.
   70. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2713284)
I don't understand why these comments bother you so much.

Because they make real discussion nearly impossible. Because papers like the Post should do better. Because a forum in the Washington Post shouldn't be that hard to distinguish from Little Green Footballs. Sorry if that POV seems to bother you.
   71. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:46 PM (#2713288)
The key, I suppose, is to create a big enough barrier to where someone has to think a bit before posting, but not so big that you scare them away. I like it around here best. Some people like me use their real (and easily Googleable) names. Some people don't. The simple act of registering and not being able to simply switch personas keeps out the trolls. Works well.

Of course BTF is dealing with a pretty specialized and, for the most part, highly educated and downrigtht decent group of readers/posters, so it's kind of self policing. Still, I don't see why newspapers can't make even a modicum of a barrier to screen out the laziest trolls.

Ultimately though, it's so easy to ignore commenters, that I'm not sure why Costas cares.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:53 PM (#2713291)
There is excellent anonymous commentary on some blogs, especially Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog for Washington Monthly. No registration is required there, and while there is some trolling and mudslinging, you often get a fascinating range of information from the comments.

That's true on that site, just as it's true here on BTF. But that's largely due to the fact that BTF and the WM are boutique sites that the usual suspects don't bother with. Which is why my original comments were more directed at the Post and other mainstream websites.

And it's interesting to note that on the Post itself, you often get lots of good give and take. But that's much more the case on their formal discussion forums, which also allow anonymous posting, but have someone screening the comments and questions. As a result, you get a much higher level of discussion than you do elsewhere on the Post website, since the sort of repetitive and nasty personal attacks are simply not posted. This quaint practice is called "editing."
   73. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:54 PM (#2713292)
The key, I suppose, is to create a big enough barrier to where someone has to think a bit before posting, but not so big that you scare them away. I like it around here best.

I totally agree. Although I do avoid the Lounge.
   74. StHendu Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2713293)
As for me, if you're really dying to know,

Of course, I don't care who you are. My point, I thought was obvious, was that you are not anonymous yet your post was very hate-filled, the type you claim is caused by being anonymous.
There are many people who spout hateful ignorant speech that use their real name: Rush L, Ozzie G, Bush, Dickie V or many people on ESPN. If you want to get rid of that type of speech, encourage logic, science and education over war and PR.
My point about the people with jobs, wasn't the same as yours. Mine was that people can and do post highly educated writings from within their field that they couldn't if they had to use their real name, due to their jobs. They would not be able to make these posts, if they could not do so anonymously: which brings down the intelligence level of internet posts, and censors speech that is necessary (e.g., whistleblowing). I am less concerned with getting rid of the stupid hateful quotes, than keeping the intelligent and needed ones.
   75. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 15, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2713295)
Because they make real discussion nearly impossible. Because papers like the Post should do better. Because a forum in the Washington Post shouldn't be that hard to distinguish from Little Green Footballs. Sorry if that POV seems to bother you.

Stop projecting. I just asked you a question.
   76. StHendu Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:10 PM (#2713297)
I think what is bothering Costas is that internet bloggers are his competition. This is like gambling casinos criticizing online poker sites. Plus, when Costas was starting out, TV people had a much bigger audience and respect as experts, than the public. Now that the rules have changed on him, he isn't happy, and feels he has to separate himself from others. I think he is really saying "I am the expert. See how the public are all idiots. If you want an expert opinion, see me."
Hey Costas... Yo Mama!
   77. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:27 PM (#2713304)
I agree, Hendu. Though Costas will always be safe because of he's a known personality, an amiable TV host, etc. etc., there are a lot of columnist types and lesser talking heads who obviously feel threatened that they no longer have a monopoly on opinion. In a lot of ways I feel for them in that, yeah, the game did change. I feel bad for autoworkers in Flint, MI. I feel bad for Mom and Pop farmers. I feel bad for HD-DVD purchasers. Even if change is inevitable, it kind of sucks when things change unexpectedly.

There are two ways to deal with it, though. You can adapt or you can rage against things. And really, there are a lot of ink writers adapting. Doing blogs or at least engaging them. Sharpening their commentary or stressing their access (which is still a good thing to have no matter what Leitch says) in order to differentiate themselves and stay relevant in the new world.

Then you have all of the others who sound like the guy in Office Space. "Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god d*mn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?!"
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:29 PM (#2713306)
Of course, I don't care who you are. My point, I thought was obvious, was that you are not anonymous yet your post was very hate-filled, the type you claim is caused by being anonymous.
There are many people who spout hateful ignorant speech that use their real name: Rush L, Ozzie G, Bush, Dickie V or many people on ESPN. If you want to get rid of that type of speech, encourage logic, science and education over war and PR.


What, exactly, was "hateful" about my post? Was it the "f ucking morons"? Read some of the comments I linked to and then tell me if I'm being "hateful" or merely descriptive.

My point about the people with jobs, wasn't the same as yours. Mine was that people can and do post highly educated writings from within their field that they couldn't if they had to use their real name, due to their jobs. They would not be able to make these posts, if they could not do so anonymously.

That's fine, but as long as they're anonymous, how is anyone to establish their credibility? Anyone can claim to be dishing dirt from inside the bowels of the government or a big corporation, and how do you distinguish between the real ones and the fakes? By crystal ball? By whether they reinforce your own particular point of view?

I don't understand why these comments bother you so much.

Because they make real discussion nearly impossible. Because papers like the Post should do better. Because a forum in the Washington Post shouldn't be that hard to distinguish from Little Green Footballs. Sorry if that POV seems to bother you.

Stop projecting. I just asked you a question.


And I answered it in the first three sentences. The last sentence was merely a rhetorical reflection of your own rhetorical comment.
   79. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:35 PM (#2713308)
I agree, Hendu. Though Costas will always be safe because of he's a known personality, an amiable TV host, etc. etc., there are a lot of columnist types and lesser talking heads who obviously feel threatened that they no longer have a monopoly on opinion.

BTW just to be clear, I'm not defending MSM writers or yakkers in general, nor am I attacking bloggers per se. In fact as a class, I'd say that the best bloggers are far, far better than all but the top handful of MSM types. I've always liked Costas, but I'm not really defending everything he says here.
   80. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:40 PM (#2713312)
Tell me that anyone reading through these quotes would ever learn anything at all, beyond that political operatives and their camp followers have a lot of time on their hands. As I said, when you encourage this sort of crap, the bad drives out the good.


I hope people remember this statement from Andy next time they say "I'm still mad about BTF registration!"
   81. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 04:48 PM (#2713315)
Dan, the only thing that bugs me about BTF registration is that you don't throw in a replica of the Ecko ball.
   82. Gaelan Posted: March 15, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2713327)
I'm pretty surprised that people are defending the internet, and blogs, as avenues of free speech. I thought we all knew that the internet, and blogs, are sinkholes of mindless stupidity. What makes BTF great is that it is so different from everything the internet represents.
   83. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: March 15, 2008 at 05:57 PM (#2713340)
"Weak Links in American Navy."

awesome read. thanks for sharing
   84. baudib Posted: March 15, 2008 at 06:40 PM (#2713346)
What makes BTF great is that it is so different from everything the internet represents.


Well, we have kevin.
   85. baudib Posted: March 15, 2008 at 06:54 PM (#2713350)
True.
   86. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 07:21 PM (#2713357)
Kevin, if you'd only get over your reactionary opposition to steroids, we could bulk you and Nieporent up and start a rasslin' tour that would make Hulk Hogan green with envy.

"Weak Links in American Navy."

awesome read. thanks for sharing


Thanks, Rent. You should check out the rest of that website sometime. That Pearl Harbor poster is only one of more than 600.
   87. bunyon Posted: March 15, 2008 at 07:30 PM (#2713360)
http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/


I'd put this forward as what a good blog is. It provides an inside view of the sportswriting profession and brings POVs from people in the game as well as pertinent comments from readers. Not that a good blogger has to be a MSM type, there are plenty of other examples. But I think that is what is so frustrating about all the crap on the internet. It CAN be such a great resource for information and discourse that when f ucking morons, as Andy calls them, stick their mouths in, it really sucks.
   88. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 08:08 PM (#2713370)
I'll do a Chase Beebe on Nieporent, Andy.

My free for all hero has always been a military book collector friend of mine who used to double as a bouncer at the infamous Good Guys club in Georgetown. One of the grossest sights I've ever seen (and smelled) was one hot August day when he came into my shop, removed three layers of sweatsox, and started cleaning his toenails with his pocket knife. Just before I turned away in disgust I noticed that his big toe was permanently crossed over the next one, as a result of "a little tussle down at the Good Guys," where he tried to kick a biker but kicked the brick wall instead. Good times. And if you want, I'll put you in touch with him and his broken bottle collection....
   89. walt williams bobblehead Posted: March 15, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2713378)
You are overlooking the people who may have something interesting to say about baseball but just happened to have a few outstanding warrants against them. Shouldn't they have a voice?
   90. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 15, 2008 at 10:18 PM (#2713433)
Hey, man, don't get personal about this.
   91. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:16 PM (#2713459)
I'd like to hear more about the reasoning behind anonymous posting. I'm not writing this to be a wise guy, but to find out why: what kinds of professions are people coming from that they have to hide their real names? What are some examples? Are some of the posters from within the baseball industry itself?

Also, how much is the need for anonymous posting based on the need to hide their identity during times they're at work--and presumably doing something other than being on the internet? Is that a big motivational factor in hiding identity?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
   92. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:26 PM (#2713461)
The need to be anonymous while posting from work is probably the most important motivator, but I'm not a sociologist. A number of us are teachers of various kinds, or lawyers, which could be a motivating factor as well. Then, too, threads on this particular site often feature political discussion that those of us with unpopular opinions may wish to keep anonymous.

But more important than any of that is that we have a right to be anonymous. Anonymity has the drawback of making people less likely to trust in the supposed truth of our statements and claims, but it has the advantage of allowing discourse that is free from interpersonal political motivation. We can choose as individuals whether we prefer the advantage of anonymity or prefer to avoid its disadvantage, but if we were to lose that right, it would be a Bad Thing, just as the loss of any personal right would be.
   93. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:30 PM (#2713465)
My real name is shared by someone famous, so I choose not to use it.
   94. shoewizard Posted: March 15, 2008 at 11:42 PM (#2713470)
As someone who has been the victim of a stalker as a direct result of interactions on a baseball forum, I prefer to pick and choose with who, where and when I give up my anonymity. But I understand the points being raised by Andy and others as well.
   95. Robert S. Posted: March 16, 2008 at 12:03 AM (#2713477)
I'd like to hear more about the reasoning behind anonymous posting. I'm not writing this to be a wise guy, but to find out why: what kinds of professions are people coming from that they have to hide their real names? What are some examples? Are some of the posters from within the baseball industry itself?

What's the utility of non-anonymous posting for most people?
   96. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: March 16, 2008 at 12:10 AM (#2713485)
Any thoughts would be appreciated.

My identity is two clicks away from this screen, but I use a screen name because I don't like the idea of having a more-than-temporary record of every stupid thing I post here attached to my name.

There's no real life equivalent of that, where something you say may offend somebody months or years down the road because a third party cited the date, time and location.
   97. bunyon Posted: March 16, 2008 at 12:31 AM (#2713497)
I'd echo almost exactly what PH says. You can find out who I am, easily enough, but the idea of putting my actual name in bright lights on a message board that anyone in the world could read doesn't make me comfortable. If the only people who could read this were registered users, i might use my name. As it is, I've logged in with the same username here since the beginning and anyone who has known me in the real world in the last 15 years would instantly recognize me.
   98. walt williams bobblehead Posted: March 16, 2008 at 12:42 AM (#2713502)
My real name is Joe Bivens, but that was already taken.
   99. Boots Day Posted: March 16, 2008 at 01:02 AM (#2713508)
My anonymity here is pretty much the direct result of having to deal with Roger Maynard on rsbb. No one here rises (or stoops) to that level of psychopathy, thankfully, but I really do not want to let anyone else like that know any personal information about me.
   100. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 16, 2008 at 01:18 AM (#2713509)
It's amusing when an internet handle/nickname winds up becoming the name under which you have to work. I just recently worked it out with my bank so if someone suddenly decided to send a large check to 'Voros McCracken,' I'd be able to deposit it. Unfortunately I haven't had to test it out yet.
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