Trust, But Verify

It was a favorite quote of former President Ronald Reagan who said about as often as our current President says, “At this moment.” It is also the guiding principle in everything I write about both here and in my fantasy responsibilities over at OwnersEdge. My wife will tell you – I watch way too many sporting events on television. If I miss a Rays game, it is either due to a flag football game or I am flying home from a business trip. Either way, I am watching the archive online or on the DVR at home. Additionally, despite how poorly they play each week, I do not miss a Washington Redskins game. I fill in the rest of the time with various college efforts such as watching my UCF Knights take down the 13th ranked Houston Cougars in person yesterday. I have quite the sunburn today and have no voice from screaming at the Cougars bench all game, but it was definitely worth it. When someone spends a lot of time watching sports, bias could creep while watching these events. One thing I make sure I do when watching games is to take notes about my observations and then go to the stat sheets and attempt to verify what I saw.

When I was a younger fan, I would just assume that any guy throwing 95+ was going to be a good pitcher – I was suckers for anyone that resembled Kyle Farnsworth on the mound. My first ever fantasy trade was trading Larry Walker away for Steve Trachsel after watching him throw a shutout on WGN earlier that day and looking at Larry Walker hurt on the team I had taken over the day before. Let’s just call that a lesson learned. Needless to say, I never take anything on the first run and look to verify everything as a valued second opinion before moving on. For instance, I was passed some very interesting news from a source related to the Milton Bradley earlier this week and I trust that source 120% – but I am not reporting it because I think it is more important to be right about something than it is to be out first with something.

I bring this up after coming across a tweet from Cork Gaines of RaysIndex and MLBTradeRumors fame who threw the BS flag on a post by the site NY Baseball Digest run by Mike Silva. Gaines quickly pointed out the most obvious error in the post on the NY site in that Crawford’s contract was done under former management so none of the present company was part of a group that may or may not have made a handshake deal years back. The other obvious error was Crawford being pissed beyond belief; anyone who watches Rays games knows Crawford shows about as much emotion as Eeyore in Winne the Pooh stories. Joe Smith from the St. Pete Times also spoke up, echoing what Gaines said.  As an outsider to the going-on’s at the NY Baseball Digest site, the only thing that gives the rumor credence for me is that the former management of the Rays would be dumb enough to promise to not pick up an affordable player option that would guarantee another 12 months of exclusive negotiations with Crawford.  Then again, that is just another thing that makes this story fail the sniff test because if the current management team knew about this handshake deal, one would think Smith or Marc Topkin would have reported about the Rays trying to work out a deal with Crawford and his agent anytime during the 2009 season but no such story ever came out because no attempt was made to negotiate a deal. That is why that final option is written in to contracts under club control – so they can exercise that option and gain the final season to work on the next contract with a player or at worst trade that player for players and prospects in that final season. Overall, I think this is an example of the author hearing something juicy from someone and rushing out to be first on the news rather than verifying it against the known facts of the entire story.  It is much like the current suggestion from Ken Rosenthal that the Tigers should trade Miguel Cabrera to the Red Sox for Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Lowell because it fills their closer need and gives them a replacement for Inge who is still hurting. That move makes as much sense as a club declining an affordable player option in order to honor a hand-shake deal they did not do.

What makes this whole situation worse is how the NY Baseball Digest site tried to spin their reporting. My initial reaction to it is the argument is it is never good business practice to blame your readership for creating the controversy. While I understand that the University of South Florida causes confusion with its name, Tampa is not in the southern part of the state so I really have no interest what a source in South Florida has to say about Carl Crawford because Crawford’s agent, Brian Peters, lives in Houston. The retort only got worse with this statement:

My point is that you, the reader, is accountable for actually comprehending this information.

Ironically, that is exactly what Gaines and Smith did in their response. They took the information from the initial article, inserted it into the known facts, and easily refuted it. It is a shame those who wrote and published the initial post did not do the same.  The final denouement to this comedy was this statement:

Finally, I think the outcry from Tampa reeks of the inferiority complex from the region to New York- especially the Yankees. It’s been a bad year for them as they underachieved and saw the Bombers takes home their 27th championship. I respect the Rays Index and their criticism, but these are the same guys that freaked out when Jay Sorgen suggested that David Price was sent down because of financial reasons so there is a history with us and Tampa.

Sure, the Rays fan-base has no love lost with the Yankees but it is not due to an inferiority complex but rather the majority of their fan base that carries themselves with a sense of entitlement even during their 8 year absence from the World Series; the same sense of entitlement that echoes from the response to the criticism of the initial article that started this entire maelstrom. For the record, Sorgen and the site were wrong in March too as the Rays were quite vocal about why they sent Price down and it was not for financial reasons but rather, development reasons. The front office repeatedly said Price needed to go down to work on his off-speed pitch and he was sent down with marching orders to throw them during starts despite the results and it was that change-up that came around as the season went on that helped Price close the season on a high note.

Trust, then verify. NY Daily Digest has the first part down pat but they are a big 0 for 2 on the second part when it comes to reporting on the Tampa Bay Rays.

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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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9 Responses to Trust, But Verify

  1. Good write Jason, Cork nailed it…same BS always from same writers

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  4. Roadhouse – the condemnation of the readers was just too much for me to hear and not say something. I think Gaines and Smith did an extremely good job of that with all of the readily available facts out there. Again, more important to be right than to be first on a story. If it comes out CC is indeed pissed, I’ll pen a mea culpa.

  5. Victor says:

    That was very well written. Go 2010 Rays!! Anyone else going to really miss Iwamura?

  6. thanks for the feedback, Victor. I too will miss Aki in 2010 and wish him the best in Pittsburgh.

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