Apologies for going to the well yet again with this SpyDome story (aka Shittiest Cheaters Ever-gate), but something still irks me about the response to it– and, while it could be, it’s not my being called out for posting a reader’s comment that paralleled and satirized The Article Which Shall Not Be Linked, as though I endorsed what it said, as opposed to its very obvious underlying point: that the words were horribly unfair and the devices used shady and completely uncompelling, just as they were in the piece.
No, what bothers me is what I think is a fundamental misunderstanding of basic journalism that’s been casually slipped through a couple times in the post-hoc defense of the piece: first, when co-author Peter Keating defended himself on Tim and Sid: Uncut, saying that “we hear stuff from other GMs and other players, but if I could tell you what they were saying on the record I’d put it in the story.” Also, Keith Law told his readers in yesterday’s chat at ESPN that “in general” he buys the story because “I also know more of the background info than appeared in the article, too.”
I don’t at all doubt that either of them is telling the truth, but I’m sorry, saying “we also know a lot more than we said but we can’t say what it is or how we know it, just trust us” is not journalism, and is not an adequate defense of bad journalism, or incomplete journalism. [I'm pretty sure that's what Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren meant when they coined the phrase "burden of proof"-- because it's a pain in the ass to lay out evidence in a compelling-enough way as to make an allegation believable.*]
And let’s be clear about a few things here: I believe the White Sox think they saw something fishy happening with the Man in White, I believe Steal Of Home has shown that whoever it is was there during the game in question, I believe the allegations on their own are newsworthy, and I believe it’s certainly possible that the Jays have been stealing signs, or at least trying to steal signs.
The reaction here isn’t simply a “how dare you say this about my team!” kind of thing– if someone could actually lay out for me how the fuck a fourth place, thirteenth-best-in-baseball team was cheating (and maybe get precise about when the fuck they were supposedly doing it), I’d be all ears. It’s just… they haven’t.
ESPN’s article offered a completely incoherent timeline and nothing in the way of compelling statistical evidence in what was, ultimately, a poorly-researched and intentionally misleading report. Let’s not lose sight of that.
* This aside may include some inaccuracies.