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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Murray Chass On Baseball: BLOGGERS’ TROUBLE WITH ENGLISH AND MATH

When blogging non-bloggers attack!

When you were in school, did you ever flunk both English and math in the same year? If you did, did you do it publicly, not just for your teacher and your parents to see?

I have come upon a whole organization that gets a failing grade in English and math. And I am not picking on it because it is an organization of bloggers. But if I didn’t already dislike blogs, this would do it.

I recently received a news release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), a recently formed organization that unabashedly acknowledges that it is copying the Baseball Writers Association (BBWAA). Except it’s for bloggers, not newspaper reporters. Before the Hall of Fame announcement last week, the BBA surveyed its members in an “election” that copied the BBWAA election. It was meaningless, of course, but the group was just looking to get some publicity. It wasn’t the kind of publicity, however, that I would want for my organization.

On the English side of the ledger, the release mixed singular subjects with plural predicates and singular subjects with subsequent plural pronouns. We writers care about that sort of thing. The release said Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, the leading votegetters, “both received 35 of the 47 votes.” But they each got 35 votes; if they both received 35 votes, they would not have been the leading votegetters because their combined total would have been 35.

But the BBA saved its worst for its math exploits. Noting that the percentages for Alomar and Blyleven were 74.468, the release said the two players would make the Hall of Fame because their percentages would be rounded to 75.

Wrong. If the BBA is trying to imitate the BBWAA, it should get the rules right. The BBWAA does not round up to 75. A player has to get a pure 75 percent or more to be elected. In this year’s election, 539 votes were cast, and 75 percent of that total is 404.25. But 404 votes would not have put a candidate in the Hall. He needed 405.

But the BBA also fails simple math, something that two of my grandchildren, Jake and Josh, said they learned in first grade. The fraction .468 is not rounded to the next number. A fraction has to be half (.5) or more to round to the next whole number. If 74.468 is rounded, it becomes 74, not 75. So in the BBA survey, no one received enough votes to be elected. But that’s not what the release said.

The error-infested release only reinforces my feeling about blogs and bloggers. It becomes Exhibit A. If a person can’t write basic English correctly and doesn’t know basic math in a sport filled with numbers, what business does he have writing anything for public consumption?

Repoz Posted: January 10, 2010 at 01:38 PM | 149 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:05 PM (#3433236)
the leading votegetters, “both received 35 of the 47 votes.” But they each got 35 votes; if they both received 35 votes, they would not have been the leading votegetters because their combined total would have been 35.

Is Chass serious? I'll admit that even though I teach college English I occasionally mess up a grammatical rule here and there (who doesn't), but IF using both is wrong in this particular instance strictly according to Hoyle, it is a rule that is so often ignored in usage as to be meaningless: as grammatical "rules" go it's not even on the split infinitive level of significance.

The Phantom Menace and Spiderman both grossed over $400 million.

The Yankees and Red Sox both won 95 games in 2005.


Who would bat an eye? I bet I could find half a dozen worse grammatical errors in the newspaper every day.
   2. McCoy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:06 PM (#3433237)
The perfect storm.

Chass, grammar, internet bashing, and baseball.

Behold
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:18 PM (#3433239)
The Phantom Menace and Spiderman both grossed over $400 million.

The Yankees and Red Sox both won 95 games in 2005.


Who would bat an eye? I bet I could find half a dozen worse grammatical errors in the newspaper every day.


Exactly, WJ. Anybody reading the BBA release would have known exactly what the author of it was trying to say. Chass is being extremely vindictive and petty here, which has become norm for him in recent years.
   4. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:20 PM (#3433240)
It took me 30 seconds reading Chass's page to, indeed, find a worse error:

"Last season, according to Bob Waterman of Elias Sports Bureau, the Mariners became the 16th team in the last decade to improve their record by 20 or more wins"

Uh oh spaghettios!!! Someone has a big flat glaring agreement error.


God, there is NOTHING more grating or annoying than the ####### grammar police. Chass is a shitbag of the first order.
   5. bothedog Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:29 PM (#3433241)
Mr. Chass writes in the same article...

I felt once we got him there playing for Tony,” Jocketty continued, refering to manager Tony La Russa, also McGwire’s manager in Oakland, “and Barry Weinberg was the trainer in Oakland, with the fans in St. Louis, he fell in love with the place and probably signed for less than he could have.”

Mr. Chass misspells "referring". He also uses "votegetters" twice, which is not a word.

I guess BBWAA writers have problems with English as well as bloggers.
   6. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:47 PM (#3433245)
Nice of Chass to admit he has trouble with English and math.
   7. Blackadder Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3433246)
Can't Chass get his insults right? I thought the problem with bloggers is that they are a bunch of nerds sitting at computers in their mothers' basements who have never seen a damn game in their life; now he's claiming the problem is that they aren't good enough at math?

Of course, if we are going to throw out ad hominems, I doubt Chass could pass a standard seventh grade algebra test.
   8. Marc Sully's not booin'. He's Youkin'. Posted: January 10, 2010 at 02:59 PM (#3433251)
Isn't Murray's only medium a blog these days?
   9. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:00 PM (#3433253)
Arrogance in such a naked form is ugly. It seems rather foolhardy to insult someone else about typos in writing when you will surely make your own in the process.

I suspect Chass's blog is riddled with errors of every type. He likely forgets he doesn't have an editor to help him out anymore.
   10. Textbook Editor Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:06 PM (#3433255)
But can you imagine what a sad, bitter man Chass will be if he reaches 90 and is still lucid enough to type up his blog? That will be pure comedy gold!
   11. Cuban X Senators Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:17 PM (#3433261)
Well, I do wish English speakers would learn the distinction between both & each. It's minor; as WJ notes, it's usually discernable what a writer/speaker intends, but every few months I am left to wonder, guess or ask for clarification. As this distinction leaves the language (and our thought), our language becomes less facile rather than more.

Each of Wj's sentences is a better sentence with "each" in place of "both". Nothing is lost by using "each", but precision is gained. The risk in using "each" is that one will fail to remember to use the singular verb with "each". I suspect this is what has caused "each" to receed from common usage -- students repeatedly having essays red-marked each time they used "each" decided to avoid the word altogether.

And, of course, none of this has any bearing on the validity of bloggers or the BBA's vote vs. ex-newspapermen or the BBWAA's election.
   12. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:28 PM (#3433267)
There are also a few sentence fragments, incompetent use of a semicolon, endless use of the passive voice, and overuse of "But" and "And" to start sentences.
   13. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:31 PM (#3433269)
As this distinction leaves the language (and our thought), our language becomes less facile rather than more.


Facility has little to do with linguistic evolution. The fact that our language no longer employs the second person singular pronouns certainly makes the language less facile, as does the loss of inflections altogether. Languages seem to evolve towards more simplicity, not more facility or versatility. If a failure to distinguish between each and both causes confusion once in a blue moon, and I don't deny that it does, it doesn't nearly as often as our lack of second person singular/plural pronouns. But, you're right, Cuban X Senators, it IS a mistake and there's nothing wrong with correcting it in certain contexts...like, say if you're editing a newspaper or proofreading your doctoral dissertation. But Chass is just being a git.

I used to get annoyed when I heard people say "often" with a "t" sound. The funny thing is that they usually say it in situations where they are trying to speak more formally, like presentations and television interviews. But I've given that one up and now accept that in 100 years everyone is going to say "off-tuhn" except for Shakespearean actors.
   14. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:32 PM (#3433270)
endless use of the passive voice

Not to defend Chass but there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
   15. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:36 PM (#3433272)
But Dan, I DO want to know about the semicolons. I'm compiling a big e-mail full of mistakes to send Chass because I have absolutely nothing better to do on a Sunday before football starts.
   16. My Name is Neo (Mr. Anderson) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:45 PM (#3433276)
I'm still trying to figure out what Chass is so angry about. Every week it gets worse.
   17. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:51 PM (#3433278)
Not to defend Chass but there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

There's nothing wrong with using the passive voice, but Chass uses it in practically every sentence!

For the semicolon, it just seems awkward as the first part makes a really stupid-sounding independent clause. Then again, I haven't picked up my CMS in years.

If you do a write-up on grammar and put in some criticisms of Chass's behavior, I'll make it an actual entry and post it as a response to Chass (and pass around the link). Such assholery should be #####-slapped.
   18. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:16 PM (#3433285)
Actually, I think Chass is using the passive-aggressive voice.
   19. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:16 PM (#3433286)
Chass just wrote back to me and told me that "their" in the sentence above is not a mistake:

"As for the alleged error you say I made, "their" refers to 16 teams."

Is he serious? The antecedent of "their" can't possibly be "16 teams" because 16 teams appears nowhere in the sentence. The antecedent of "their" is "sixteenth team" not "sixteen teams." What a #########.
   20. bjhanke Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:17 PM (#3433287)
In this usage, "both" becomes an idiom, because there are other established words that cover both possible ends of meaning unambiguously. "They each..." would certainly mean that each of them has done whatever it is. "They together..." or "Together they..." means that you have to sum up the total of the two achievements to get the sum. "They both..." is left in a sort of limbo, where its usage will vary over time as idiomatic fashion turns. Right now, the idiomatic fashion is that "both" can be used either way. If you can't figure it out from the context, the meaning is taken to be "each". In this instance, the context pretty clearly says "each." But linguistic fashion will change over time. Perhaps the AP style sheet goes into detail on this subject; I don't have a copy to check (I use Chicago at my job and default to it in social usage; AP is meant for newspaper journalists). But absent that, Chass is wrong.
- Brock Hanke (professional proofreader when there's work, which doesn't imply that I get everything posted here right)
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:29 PM (#3433292)
I suspect Chass's blog is riddled with errors of every type. He likely forgets he doesn't have an editor to help him out anymore.

Chass reminds me of a disinherited son who can't come to grips with the fact that he's now on his own, and that his daddy isn't going to be there to bail him out when he goes on one of his binges. I get the strong feeling that he thinks that his dismissal from the Times is just a bad dream.
   22. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:32 PM (#3433294)
Thank God he's a blogger

(I never read blogs)
   23. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:53 PM (#3433298)
But the BBA also fails simple math, something that two of my grandchildren, Jake and Josh, said they learned in first grade. The fraction .468 is not rounded to the next number. A fraction has to be half (.5) or more to round to the next whole number. If 74.468 is rounded, it becomes 74, not 75. So in the BBA survey, no one received enough votes to be elected. But that’s not what the release said.


I call BS. First grade?! No way. (and I have taught elementary school)
   24. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 04:55 PM (#3433301)
I used to get annoyed when I heard people say "often" with a "t" sound.


Now, now -- I pronounce the "t," so by definition doing so is correct. (To be honest, I'm not really sure why it's not. The "t" in "oft" is pronounced, no?)

Does anyone on earth pronounce "forte" as "fort"? That is, I believe, correct, but it certainly sounds stupid.
   25. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:00 PM (#3433304)
No, forte is "for-tay.". The term comes to englis from italian musical terminology, not french. Thus, "for-tay."
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:03 PM (#3433306)
Yeah, then how do you pronounce Egbert Sousè? Huh? Huh?
   27. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:07 PM (#3433308)
I propose that it is possible that both Murray Chass and an "organization of bloggers" that model themselves after the worthless and anachronistic BBWAA are unworthy of considered comment.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:10 PM (#3433312)
Per No. 11: It's "recede" not "receed."
   29. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:14 PM (#3433313)
Webster's New World Dictionary gives the pronunciation of "forte" -- "a thing that a person does particularly well," etc. -- as "fort." Supposedly it comes from Middle English, rather than one of the Romance languages.

"For-tay" is given for the music term -- a separate entry.
   30. McCoy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:23 PM (#3433315)
The thing I care about is caramel being pronounced caramel instead of carmel. Well, maybe cavalry being pronounced cavalry instead of calvary.



Then of course we have primer=primmer
   31. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:25 PM (#3433316)
Wow. Fascinating. Comes from french through ME. Thanks gef, I stand corrected.
   32. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:29 PM (#3433317)
Dunno about you, WJ, but I'm going to keep on saying "for-tay," regardless.

And "of-ten," most likely -- four-plus decades of habit would be awfully hard to break.

Now, if I can figure out why (contrary to the same Webster's; I just looked it up), certain allegedly cultured types say "pome" (or so it sounds to my ears) instead of "po-em" ...
   33. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:33 PM (#3433319)
Po-em vs. Pome is, I think, a bit more understandable. Dipthongs and whatnot. I usually say "pome" in conversation, or, at least, when I say it fast enough that it sounds like "pome."
   34. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:33 PM (#3433320)
I used to get annoyed when I heard people say "often" with a "t" sound. The funny thing is that they usually say it in situations where they are trying to speak more formally, like presentations and television interviews. But I've given that one up and now accept that in 100 years everyone is going to say "off-tuhn" except for Shakespearean actors.

I say it without the 't' sound but I don't even remember why. I think I heard it somewhere that it's more correct at some point. Plus, it takes less effort to say it without the 't' sound!
   35. McCoy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:36 PM (#3433321)
   36. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:40 PM (#3433322)
I assume my mom said "often" with a "t," & I picked it up. I know that's why I say "either" & "neither" with a long I; I'm positive the long E pronunciation was far more common where I grew up.
   37. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:42 PM (#3433323)
A funny thing about that cool whip bit as it relates to the evolution of the English language. Originally, all "wh" words were spelled "hw" and the h was pronounced audibly before the W; Here are the Old English (pre 1066) words for some common "wh" words:

whale: hwael (ae is actually the ash, the conjoined ae that is pronounced like the a in "ash")

what: hwaet (first word of Beowulf)

where: hwaer

to whistle: hwistlian

etc.
   38. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:43 PM (#3433324)
I prefer to pronounce it "Nomar" but I know "Nomah" has become common usage.

Here's one thing I've been wondering. When I was just a boy in the 1980's, early 90's, I learned that "disinterested" meant "impartial, objective," and definitely not "uninterested." And these days, whenever anyone uses it, it seems to mean "uninterested". What's up with that? Did I learn wrong?
   39. Cuban X Senators Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:44 PM (#3433325)
The "t" in "oft" is pronounced, no?

As is the "t" in "fast", but rarely in the States does one hear a "t" in "fasten".

I'll say "often" and "offen" pretty much as WJ breaks it down.

It's "recede" not "receed."

Touche.

Which I believe is pronounced as in the French, and not to rhyme with a word to describe Murray (and other meticulous grammarians).
   40. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3433326)
Touche.

As a former New Jersey all-state fencer I can confirm that it is "toosh," not too-shay.
   41. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:47 PM (#3433327)
I am not picking on it because it is an organization of bloggers.


You lie!
   42. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:49 PM (#3433328)
As is the "t" in "fast", but rarely in the States does one hear a "t" in "fasten".


Damn you & your unassailable logic!
   43. sister cristian guzman Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:53 PM (#3433330)
Linguistic nitpicking aside, Murray's point about the percentage calculations is a fair one. It may not be a first grade mistake, but rounding isn't exactly multivariate calculus. Of course, anyone who would devote an entire "column" to the subject is undeniably an asshat.
   44. greenback likes millwall Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:57 PM (#3433332)
As a former New Jersey all-state fencer I can confirm that it is "toosh," not too-shay.

You really are a touche-bag today.
   45. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:58 PM (#3433333)
Yeah, then how do you pronounce Egbert Sousè? Huh? Huh?

That's "Egbert Sousè, accent grave over the e" to you
   46. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:59 PM (#3433335)
I'm pretty sure that I pronounce "often" without the "t" the vast majority of the time, but there have been some instances where I have pronounced the "t" in that word. Depends on whether or not which pronunciation sounds best at that particular time.
   47. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 10, 2010 at 05:59 PM (#3433336)
I'm going to pronounce it "tush" from now on. I'm also going to smack my tush while I say it.
   48. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:00 PM (#3433337)
Linguistic nitpicking aside, Murray's point about the percentage calculations is a fair one. It may not be a first grade mistake, but rounding isn't exactly multivariate calculus. Of course, anyone who would devote an entire "column" to the subject is undeniably an asshat.


Ditto on both counts.
   49. Morty Causa Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:15 PM (#3433349)
Let's chip in and give the nudnik a copy of Pinker's The Language Instinct. Or mail the f^cktard this link:

Language Mavens

Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English at all periods, including Shakespeare and most of the mavens themselves, have been among the flagrant flouters. The rules conform neither to logic nor to tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:16 PM (#3433350)
That's "Egbert Sousè, accent grave over the e" to you

Gee, I'd like to have a nose like that full of nickels!
   51. CFiJ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:18 PM (#3433351)
Here's one thing I've been wondering. When I was just a boy in the 1980's, early 90's, I learned that "disinterested" meant "impartial, objective," and definitely not "uninterested." And these days, whenever anyone uses it, it seems to mean "uninterested". What's up with that? Did I learn wrong?
Self-appointed grammar police will say you learned it correctly and everyone else is using it wrong. In actuality, those two words have been used interchangeably since they were coined, and originally it was "uninterested" that mean "impartial" and "disinterested" that meant "not interested".

Linky

Another linky
   52. Cuban X Senators Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:41 PM (#3433360)
Originally, all "wh" words were spelled "hw" and the h was pronounced audibly before the W;

This pronunciation was still considered "correct" at least into the 1950s.
   53. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:44 PM (#3433362)
As a former New Jersey all-state fencer I can confirm that it is "toosh," not too-shay.


Mmmmn... "toosh"

"I been bad, I been good
Dallas, Texas, Hollywood.
I ain't asking for much.
I said, Lord, take me downtown,
I'm just lookin' for some tush."

I am in no way a disinterested student. I appreciate all the lessons in the English language - your efforts to slow the tide of language devolution are commendable. But living languages are at the mercy of any damn fool who can speak them.

I admit to having some small sympathy for Chass. I also have a certain fascination towards such a bold display of asshattery. It must be a blow to his ego to be relegated to blogging after so many years in the Big Leagues of sports journalism. Getting sent back down to the minors must surely be a bitter pill for Chass and his venom is the product of his demotion.

It's too bad he can't try and help out or encourage younger, aspiring sports journalists to "see the light" rather than insulting and dismissing them.
   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:47 PM (#3433364)
Hopefully someone will scrutinize every one of Chass's nonblog entries and point out all spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. I know they're there.
   55. tshipman Posted: January 10, 2010 at 06:51 PM (#3433369)
I assume my mom said "often" with a "t," & I picked it up. I know that's why I say "either" & "neither" with a long I; I'm positive the long E pronunciation was far more common where I grew up.


I can't help you with Either/Neither, but "often" is actually very interesting. It's an example of shifting language. Ask anyone over the age of 55 to pronounce the word. 90% will pronounce it off-en (the technically correct pronunciation).

In the 35-55 age range, pronunciation is varied, with probably 60% pronouncing it "off-en".

In the younger than 35 age range, "Oft-ten" is much more common, probably 70% or so. This is all from around 3 years ago when I wrote a paper on it in a linguistics class.

In 20 years, much like Gay Marriage, Oft-ten will be the default pronunciation. I'm not sure which of those two statements terrifies your grandparents more.

To stay on topic: Murray Chass is a #########.
   56. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3433378)
our language no longer employs the second person singular pronouns

Verily, thou doth jest.
   57. CFiJ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:14 PM (#3433379)
"thou dost jest", you rube.
   58. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:20 PM (#3433383)
Zounds!
   59. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:30 PM (#3433388)
Odds bodkins!
   60. Seamhead1967 Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:33 PM (#3433391)
I'm a member of the BBA, which was founded by a friend last year. He admits he made an error by not allowing the rest of us to review the press release before it went public. Having said that, I have two books and hundreds of articles under my belt and I'm not convinced that I would have caught most of the grammatical errors either. Perhaps I need a refresher course. I most definitely would have informed him that anything below .500 isn't rounded up and I'm sure one of us would have double checked the rule regarding the 75% threshold.

We all read Chass's response to the alliance's founder, and I found it ironic and hilarious that his e-mail about the mistakes Daniel made in the press release was riddled with typos and spelling errors. Chass is a tool. He very easily could have made that a teaching moment and helped those of us who are passionate about baseball improve our contributions to the Internet, but instead he dished out a cyber spanking and proved how petty he is. On the other hand, we'll be more careful in the future, so I guess he did teach us something after all.
   61. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:33 PM (#3433392)
if a person can’t write basic English correctly
   62. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:44 PM (#3433399)
Roy Blount Jr. once penned an article called "How to Sportswrite Good"
   63. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: January 10, 2010 at 07:46 PM (#3433400)
The irony is that Chass is doing exactly what we sometimes do around here; albeit more poorly. He is really a rung down from a competent blogger--more of a commenter really--nitpicking people for minor problems and often looks like a douche when he's not only nitpicking, but also wrong.

The unforgivable statement is here:
The error-infested release only reinforces my feeling about blogs and bloggers. It becomes Exhibit A. If a person can’t write basic English correctly and doesn’t know basic math in a sport filled with numbers, what business does he have writing anything for public consumption?


The problem with the society is the lack of sharing for public consumption. Much of our public opinion is driven by financial interests that subvert EDIT: free and honest exchange of ideas. While sometimes the ideas that are shared are half-baked and unhelpful, that's still a great trade-off.
   64. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:15 PM (#3433430)
I had an English teacher insist on "the pronunciation "pwem"

from scientific talks:

NUCyular

phage (pronounced f-a-a-a-jh)

protein pronounced as "protean"

no-MEN-clature

(#2 & 4 are standard limey pronunciations)
   65. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:18 PM (#3433433)
NUCyular

My high school chemistry did this, as well as "nuculus." Bothered me to no end.
   66. thebaseballfish Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:22 PM (#3433438)
Like Seamhead1967, I am a member of the BBA. While we ignored the intent and malice behind his response to our founder, it did result in some positive discussion within our organization. Chass is less talented than a lot of bloggers publishing content for public consumption and clearly can't let that fact go. It is one thing to respond privately to our founder about the errors in the release. It is another thing entirely to publicly nitpick and point out the grammatical flaws in that release.

Fortunately for the BBA, Chass' public mention of the release and HOF voting just brings more attention to our organization. While the press release may have been a little rough, much of the work done by members on the BBA site (and on our own sites) is excellent. People who check us out because of his criticism will find that out quickly, and make him look like an even bigger dousche than he already does. I call that a win-win.
   67. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:27 PM (#3433440)
like an even bigger dousche than he already does


pronounced like "Duchy", I presume
   68. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:37 PM (#3433448)
Dipthongs and whatnot.
'

Since this is the grammar correction folder, it's spelled "diphthong." And it should be pronounced "Dif-thong" not "Dip-thong"
   69. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:40 PM (#3433452)
...what business does he have writing anything for public consumption?


I went to a funeral of an old family friend. The son of the deceased gave a short speech he wrote about his father. The son is the farthest thing from an articulate, thoughtful speaker you could imagine. But the heartfelt words he shared about his dad yielded one of the most moving, eloquent tributes I had ever heard anyone give.

Off-entimes it's best to try to forgive the errors in execution if the result is a labor of passion for the topic.

While sometimes the ideas that are shared are half-baked and unhelpful, that's still a great trade-off.
Like sex education promotes unbridled promiscuity, this theory will only serve to further encourage me to "contribute" more nonsense to BTF.
   70. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:44 PM (#3433456)
is nuc-yu-lar really easier to say than nuc-lee-er?

re: #69 a list of 'phth" words
   71. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:52 PM (#3433460)
I want to bring back Ye into common parlance.
   72. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:55 PM (#3433464)
"Dip-thong"

I like dip-thong because it can credibly sound like an insult. "Don't you know how to pronounce things you Dip-thong!?"
   73. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:57 PM (#3433467)
I want to bring back Ye into common parlance.

but, soft!
   74. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 08:58 PM (#3433469)
Ray Rice is sick. Is there a catch-all NFL chatter thread?
   75. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:03 PM (#3433472)
how many syllables do you use to pronounce "orange"?

in Ohio, we said "ornj" (1 syllable)

when I moved to the east, many people said "AH-rinje"
   76. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:05 PM (#3433474)
Actually, I think Chass is using the passive-aggressive voice.

I laughed out loud at this.
   77. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:12 PM (#3433480)
in Ohio, we said "ornj" (1 syllable)

when I moved to the east, many people said "AH-rinje"


My wife is from western Michigan and I'm from NJ, we make fun of each other for this kind of stuff all the time.

She pronounces Mayonnaise as two syllables= MAN-aze.

She makes fun of the way I say Orange, Florida, and Donkey Kong.

When she says the words marry, Mary, and merry, they all sound the same.
   78. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:14 PM (#3433484)
When she says the words marry, Mary, and merry, they all sound the same.

amazing!! 35 years ago I had that same discussion with an old girlfriend, who was from Long Island

(NOT pronounced lon-GUYland, BTW)

I pronounced them all the same and she didn't

(that's not why we broke up, though)
   79. Tricky Dick Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:38 PM (#3433495)
f 74.468 is rounded, it becomes 74, not 75. So in the BBA survey, no one received enough votes to be elected. But that’s not what the release said.


I stumbled on this point for a few minutes. He is right that the "rule," as I had been taught, is that the number to the right of the number which is rounded up must be 5 or more. However, I had this feeling that I had seen a number like 74.468 rounded up many times by people who are accountants and economists. Then I went to my excel spreadsheet and entered .74468 and then formatted for percentage (%). The excel spreadsheet rounded 74% to 75%.

I would add that I consider the issue of rounding to be convention; it's not a mathematical law or fact.
   80. villageidiom Posted: January 10, 2010 at 09:47 PM (#3433501)
It took me 30 seconds reading Chass's page to, indeed, find a worse error:
Was it a split infinitive?
   81. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 10, 2010 at 10:04 PM (#3433504)
I had this feeling that I had seen a number like 74.468 rounded up many times by people who are accountants and economists. Then I went to my excel spreadsheet and entered .74468 and then formatted for percentage (%). The excel spreadsheet rounded 74% to 75%.


I am an economist, and I too have seen this. Apparently, there's a school of thought that the way to round is to round off each digit - so first you round 74.468 to 74.47, then you round that to 74.5, and then, lo and behold, 74.5 rounds to 75%. Having majored in math in college, I have to say that this drives me insane. That's wrong, dammit!

I would add that I consider the issue of rounding to be convention; it's not a mathematical law or fact.


I understand what you're saying, but the number 74.468 is, in fact, closer in value to 74 than it is 75.

Also, my version of Excel (Excel 2007) correctly rounds 0.74468 to 74%.
   82. Jesus Melendez Posted: January 10, 2010 at 10:08 PM (#3433506)
My favorite part is this:

Before the Hall of Fame announcement last week, the BBA surveyed its members in an “election” that copied the BBWAA election. It was meaningless, of course, but the group was just looking to get some publicity.


Sure, the BBA was conducting their own vote in hopes of getting some publicity. But let's not forget the COUNTLESS BBWAA who made their votes public on their own sites OR the five dolts that left their ballots blank and talked about it. Better yet, let's not forget the blogger that attacks a 100+ member strong blogging alliance.

I mean, if someone is out there looking for publicity...let's start there.
   83. Tricky Dick Posted: January 10, 2010 at 10:13 PM (#3433509)
Also, my version of Excel (Excel 2007) correctly rounds 0.74468 to 74%.


Sorry, I made a typographic error, and when I corrected it, the rounding was correct. (That's a stupid mistake.) However, as I said, I have seen some people who work with numbers, and should know better, round incorrectly.
   84. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: January 10, 2010 at 10:13 PM (#3433510)
However, I had this feeling that I had seen a number like 74.468 rounded up many times by people who are accountants and economists. Then I went to my excel spreadsheet and entered .74468 and then formatted for percentage (%). The excel spreadsheet rounded 74% to 75%.

My Excel doesn't do that. It says 74%. On the other hand, if you round it to one decimal, it's 74.5%. If someone rounded to the tenths place, then distributed the numbers, someone else might round the numbers again and get 75%. But of course, there's the issue of significant digits as well.
   85. Blackadder Posted: January 10, 2010 at 11:13 PM (#3433522)
Having majored in math in college, I have to say that this drives me insane. That's wrong, dammit!


Hmm, I also majored in math in college, and I don't recall ever having to round a number :)
   86. Zac Schmitt Posted: January 10, 2010 at 11:35 PM (#3433534)
I would just like to say that I learned to round each digit all the way up through high school. And in the very small amount of college math I took I never remember having to round anything past one decimal.
   87. Rich Rifkin Posted: January 10, 2010 at 11:48 PM (#3433541)
#5. He also uses "votegetters" twice, which is not a word.

Dictionaries agree with you. The preferred term is "vote getter." However, new compound words arise in our lexicon when influential writers or editors decide a concept makes more sense as a new word. I don't think that has happened with "votegetter." I searched the term on Google books, which includes magazine articles, and could not find an example of "votegetter" as a single word. It is either hyphenated or used as two words.
   88. base ball chick Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:41 AM (#3433673)
Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 10, 2010 at 03:14 PM (#3433484)

When she says the words marry, Mary, and merry, they all sound the same.


- well of COURSE they do. how else would they sound???


amazing!! 35 years ago I had that same discussion with an old girlfriend, who was from Long Island

(NOT pronounced lon-GUYland, BTW)


of course not

it is pronounced lawng ah-linn. if it really WAS a GUYland, i might could need to check it out
   89. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:58 AM (#3433681)
- well of COURSE they do. how else would they sound???


If you pronounce them all differently, it goes like this:

Mary - the a sound is similar to ones found in hair, flail. In other words, ai.

Merry - the e sound is the one found in den, wet.

Marry - the a sound is the one found in cat, has. My own dealings with the Mary, Merry, Mary conunudrum suggests that it's quite possible that your tongue won't allow you to say that particular a sound in front of the letter r.

I was born in an area where pronouncing them separately was the rule, and moved where folks might pronounce Mary and Merry differently, but don't make any distinction between Mary and Marry. And having been here 20-plus years, I have to catch myself from making the ai sound in words like Marry.
   90. Cardinal70 Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:04 AM (#3433682)
I am the founder of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and, sadly, the author of the much maligned press release.

As someone above indicated, I rounded each digit. I was sure that I'd seen that done before and even asked one of my coworkers about it. If I'd looked at the bigger picture, maybe I'd have realized my mistake.

I still contend, as most of you have indicated, that Mr. Chass could have been, shall we say, much more diplomatic in his corrections. Especially when he misspelled numerous words in his response to us. That said, he was correct in his points, if not his tone, and we've taken some steps to hopefully not have that happen again.

But, in the vein of "there is no bad publicity", we are always looking for new members. Check out our web site (www.baseballbloggersalliance.com) and drop us an e-mail. Assuming you can handle having such a doofus as an organizer.
   91. Howie Menckel Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:07 AM (#3433685)
I don't care if someone pronounces all three of those words the same way - as long as they don't proclaim that limitation as superior. How could it be?

"Different strokes for different folks" is fine, says a guy married/merried/maryed to a woman who pronounces all three the same way,
   92. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:21 AM (#3433696)
Chass:

Wrong. If the BBA is trying to imitate the BBWAA, it should get the rules right. The BBWAA does not round up to 75. A player has to get a pure 75 percent or more to be elected.


Note that it was not "The BBWAA" that decided not to round up to 75, but was the Board of Directors of the Hall. Chass still doesn't seem to understand that the BBWAA couldn't blow its nose with a ballot if the Board of Directors didn't give it permission. All of the BBWAA election rules, and all of the powers of the BBWAA in connection with the election, are set out by the Board of Directors.
   93. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:07 AM (#3433732)
When she says the words marry, Mary, and merry, they all sound the same.

- well of COURSE they do. how else would they sound???


Normal?

I went out with a girl who made fun of the way I said mozzarella.
   94. BFFB Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:42 AM (#3433747)

This pronunciation was still considered "correct" at least into the 1950s.


And is still used by the braying horsey/country house/slone ranger set in the UK
   95. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM (#3433762)
I went out with a girl who made fun of the way I said mozzarella.


Was she Italian? Many Italian-Americans (I'm half) tend to pronounce it Italiano style. Ricotta is another word that gets criticized for its pronunciation.
   96. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2010 at 01:08 PM (#3433764)
When she says the words marry, Mary, and merry, they all sound the same.


I was raised on Long Island and pronounce the first two the same, but not the last one.

amazing!! 35 years ago I had that same discussion with an old girlfriend, who was from Long Island

(NOT pronounced lon-GUYland, BTW)


I don't think anybody pronounces it that way in my family, though I do recall many people who did and still do.
   97. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 11, 2010 at 01:29 PM (#3433766)
(NOT pronounced lon-GUYland, BTW)

Hey, does mean that east of Manhattan they don't call those cute little rodents skWUHH-rels any more?
   98. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:16 PM (#3433782)
Was she Italian? Many Italian-Americans (I'm half) tend to pronounce it Italiano style


That irritates the hell out of me. You're having a simple conversation with someone and suddenly they have to act like they're in downtown Rome. Just call it Mozzarella for cryin' out loud.
   99. BFFB Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:22 PM (#3433786)
Mozzarella di Buffala is the greatest thing ever and so simple to do!
   100. sunnyday2 Posted: January 11, 2010 at 02:47 PM (#3433796)
It seems to me there's a certain irony to Chass making a BFD of the rounding of 74.468 to 74 versus 75. It must be rounded down,he says.

Just above that, in the previous paragraph, he says that if 75 percent of 539 votes cast is 404.25. And, so, in order to be elected, a player must get 405 votes.

I get the difference. Everything is rounded conservatively. Sometimes it's down, sometimes it's up. No loopholes. But, still, to say that rounding follows some immutable, God-given mathematical rule is clearly BS. So if it is some sort of special facility with math that you're looking for, Chass is not your guy.
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