Archive for the ‘Man in White’ Category

Remember the Man in White thing? Amy Nelson sure does. She (co)wrote it and, as she’s in town for Blogs With Balls Five, I tracked her down and talked to her about the story that developed a life all its own.

There is a non-zero chance this will change your mind about the Man in White saga but it is interesting, at the very least, to hear that other teams and players surreptitiously heard similar things about not only Toronto but other ballparks around the league. Nobody has clean has, thus the reluctance to go on the record.

Or whatever. Circumstantial evidence gonna circumstance.

With apologies to Justin Verlander and Jose “I’m sure as hell not the same at home after that ESPN Mag sign-stealing story” Bautista, Jennings has been the best player in either league since Tampa brought him up. – Bill Simmons in his latest MLB mail bag back-and-forth with Jonah Keri at Grantland.

Oh yes, Bill. Smile your smug fucking shit-eating grin as you attempt, through sheer force of bloated ego, to run full-steam three weeks late– presumably to maintain the hilarious charade of your credibility as a non-company man– into the horseshit ESPN wagon-circling around Amy K. Nelson and Peter Keating’s shittiest cheaters ever story– you know, the one with a statistical argument more full of holes than the dead corpses of pop culture references that you fuck the shit out of constantly as the foundation of your tired shtick– with a salvo so fucking asinine it would make a Bleacher Report writer blanch.

The story was published on August 10th. In the first four games after it, all at home, Bautista hit .308/.500/.538 with a home run, good for a 1.038 OPS. He then went on the road and put up a line of .471/.667/1.000/1.667 in six games, with a pair of home runs– because I guess now that the jig is up at Rogers Centre he only gets his super special extra secret help on the road, right???

Oh, but then we have smoking gun! After the Jays came back from Seattle and Oakland, Bautista hit a measly 208/.345/.542/.886 with two more home runs– an OPS around that of what Albert Pujols, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Stanton have each put up on the season. WHY HAVEN’T THEY KICKED THIS FUCKING OBVIOUS CHEATER’S SORRY ASS OUT OF BASEBALL ALREADY, EH DICKHEAD?

I know, I know, judging by its tone the piece is clearly attempt at some kind of a hackneyed lighthearted larf of a zany goof. But even so, people believe this horseshit. One imagines that they might even assume that the most famous working sportswriter in the fucking world would actually take the two seconds necessary to see if the numbers backed up his off-hand agreement with an article that pushed right up to the line of calling the best hitter in baseball a cheater, then backed off like a cheap shit high school essay test answer. It’s kind of astoundingly goddamned lazy and ridiculous– and therefore, I think, an exquisitely worthy entry into The Book Of Moron.

Hat tip to friend of the blog– well… some of us– @Chris_Hamm for the link.

ESPN’s Amy K. Nelson– who, it needs to be remembered, is only the co-author of yesterday’s controversial piece (of shit) about sign stealing (“The Article Which Shall Not Be Linked,” as Parkes has deemed)– is being painted in some corners today as a dogged reporter, generally very well-liked among writers in the game, who has been deluged by people “personally attacking someone for their gender,” as fellow ESPNer Molly Knight says, or by people “confusing ‘bad journalism’ with ‘I don’t like your conclusions,’ ” as Keith Law claims.

[I, on the other hand, would paint her as the clown who wrote the absurdly soft Luke Scott profile that Deadspin brilliantly and rightly savaged earlier this season-- which I totally didn't remember she did until it was pointed out by @HumAndChuck.]

“Check out the sexist shit has to hear tonight, and tell me that female sportswriters are treated equally,” says Esquire and Grantland (and Canadian!) writer Chris Jones (aka @MySecondEmpire). “Fucking shameful,” he adds.

And he’s right. And I guess I’ve been guilty of it too– not so much, at least in my mind, because of anything profane or intentionally over-the-top (that’s just what we do around here), but I do concede that yesterday she was more the focus of my ire than co-author Peter Keating (and definitely the focus of commenters and fans who I quoted and retweeted, and maybe shouldn’t have), and if I’m being honest, it’s probably because she’s an easier target.

I’d like to think that also partly it’s because she’s more visible (I mean, like… who the fuck is Peter Keating?), but either way, that’s completely unfair: Keating, too, needs to be called out for the shoddy work on display in the article.

And make no mistake, I think Law is wrong. [Note to Assholes: write that down] There is plenty to pick on here, the absolute least of which is one of the authors’ gender.

The next least of which is the use of anonymous sources. Sure, they may have offered little-to-nothing of value– I mean, we’ve all heard allegations like these around the Jays before, we all couldn’t have been so naïve as to not raise an eyebrow over tales of Cito Gaston’s vaunted ability to pick up pitchers’ “tells,” and we all probably can completely agree with Ozzie Guillen when he bluntly says that “if you have stolen signs, you have a dumb catcher”– but anonymous sources are vitally important to journalism. If ESPN thinks sign stealing from outside the lines is a big enough story to investigate, there’s absolutely nothing wrong or journalistically out-of-bounds with getting information from Chicago White Sox relievers (or ex-White Sox relievers *cough* Bobby Jenks *cough*) who are too chickenshit to come forward.

Where things get problematic, as I thought I’d managed to convey somewhere within yesterday’s pissy shitstain-calling rant, is the way that Nelson and Keating have tried to amateurishly corroborate the stories they’ve been told by giving a misleading and incomplete statistical picture of what’s been going on. They’ve padded the story with anecdotes from this season when the data they used was from 2010; they’ve not used other teams’ stats to provide context; they’ve completely failed to mention that only some players experienced the extreme home-road splits they cite; and they’ve done zero accounting for the potential of statistical outliers beyond their vague covering-our-backs conclusion paragraph, of the kind that would make a high school English teacher blanch. [On that last point, I mean, for fuck sakes, as @awlang points out, in the graph they use right in the goddamn article there's as big a spike in the Jays' mysti-fucking-fying HR rate on contact in 2006 as there was in 2010. So... are those the only years they cheated in, or is the 2010 number maybe just a reasonably normal fucking fluctuation????]

“By themselves, these numbers are circumstantial evidence,” they write. “Unsupported by data, the four players’ accounts might describe a scheme of uncertain impact. And without proper context, the Yankees’ decision to mask their signs could be chalked up to paranoia. But together, the numbers, the stories and the actions indicate one certainty: Every pitch to a Blue Jay in Toronto is worth watching.”

Toronto Blue Jays Baseball: Come Watch Us Suck At Cheating!

No, but seriously, that’s great… except that the statistical element they’ve given us is completely incoherent. Y’know, unless you suspend your massive disbelief about the absurd, papered-over core narrative of the story: that the Jays started a form of cheating (according to the data) in 2010 (even though, as Tom Tango points out, “2005-2008 is where Rogers was the huge advantage for the [Jays'] hitters, averaging 96 points of OPS advantage. … 2009-2011? Nothing in comparison.”), which did nothing to help them in the standings, so then they stopped (according to the data) in 2011. Um… unless they didn’t (as the 2009 and 2011 anecdotes imply).

And since the thumbnail image on the video at the top of the story is of baseball’s out-of-nowhere best hitter, Jose Bautista, since he’s also pictured farther down in the piece (the only image of a Jays player in it), and since a key part of the story involves him being chirped for stealing signs, it doesn’t take an Amy K. Nelson and Peter Keating to understand what the implication here is. Unfortunately, that’ll require more suspension of disbelief, too: Bautista has hit more home runs on the road this year than at home, and has a 1.030 OPS outside Rogers Centre. Plus, while he did have some extreme home-road splits in 2010, he was still very good on the road (.879 OPS).

Attempting to make this story about anything bigger than the anonymous accusations from White Sox relievers is misleading, irresponsible and unfair– and judging by the hand-washing that goes on in the final paragraph, the authors know this– as is the selective use of stats to support the relievers’ story, at the exclusion of a bigger picture of data that would have completely muddied things.

Of course, the story would have fallen in on itself, and probably not been worth writing at all, had the authors better acknowledged the fact that the data doesn’t really bear out the conclusion they’re attempting to lead us to. Because of that, I’d say that journalistically, by any definition you want to use, they’ve cut corners here in a manner that’s completely unacceptable. In other words, the article is a turd sandwich of a hackneyed piece of shit snowjob. [Note: How's that for a vague conclusion?]

The kind of sign stealing I think we all can get behind.

So this awesome joke pulled by Yankee (or perchaps Red Sox) relievers on Amy K. Nelson preposterous ESPN The Magazine story about how the Jays supposedly stole signs using a man in white in the Rogers Centre outfield, totally got away with it, then either stopped or got really bad at it, is making some serious waves around the internet. As I write this, it’s the top story on ESPN.com.

And while I’m sure we’re all busy buying white shirts and tickets in centrefield for the next Yankees series at Rogers Centre (no, seriously… do it!), and rushing out to start Twitter accounts for the man in white– like @JaysFanInWhite or @TheManInWhite1– let’s take a few moments to enjoy how the part of the internet that isn’t me has responded to this preposterous horseshit.

Dustin Parkes His Ass Above Amy Nelson’s Face and Shits Down Her Throat

OK, so the pun I’ve used for the heading here might be slightly over-the-top, but over at Getting Blanked our friend Dustin Parkes has his own epic take-down of the most ridiculous article I’ve ever seen (this week). And when he turns his hat around, it’s like a switch.

“It’s pretty hard to use a single season’s worth of data to prove very much at all. It becomes even more difficult to take the supposed findings of an article seriously when the data that’s being provided is being manipulated with words to the degree that it is in this piece,” Parkes concludes. “As we read through the anecdotes that begin the article, which range from the words of an angry reliever in the bullpen to broadcasters noticing the use of multiple signs, it reads to me as though the writers heard the anecdotes first and then went to the data to back up what was being suggested.”

Please Never Trade JP Arencibia

It’s absolutely impossible not to love the way that JP Arencibia came out guns a-blazin’ on Twitter– you can follow him at @jparencibia9. Personally, I have a soft spot for his multiple use of the #clowns hash tag, though I’m pretty sure the rest of the country is going to find his last one the most endearing– and for damn good reason. Nails!

Just read the dumbest article on ESPN about us getting signs? I’m hitting 200 and we get signs at home, that makes sense?

Teams/pitchers need to accept when we kick their ass in the rogers centre n not give excuses… Looks like we had verlanders signs

What’s next? Man on CN Tower edge walk was seen relaying signs to bluejay hitters..

That’s y I love hockey… Say or do something stupid

Dirty Fucking Tweeters (and Commenters)

Some more gold from Twitter:

“Yankee players recall seeing the same man in the same Rogers Centre seat multiple times — in sports we call that ‘a season ticket holder.’ ” – @RGriffinStar

“Have all the jays batters come out to The Sign by Ace of Bass” – @JustinCNS

“John Buck: Slugs 43 pts higher on the road, 33 pts of Avg. Guess they don’t flash signs to potential FAs.” – @TaoOfStieb

“The Jays stealing signs? Oh no! How unfair for an AL East team to have an advantage other than being able to just buy all the best players!” – @DownGoesBrown

“Oh baby when you talk like that You make a woman go mad So be wise and keep on Reading the signs of my body” – @SHAKITA_T … Wait, what?

“If the Jays really wanted to hide a guy in the outfield to steal signs you’d think they’d disguise him as an empty seat.” – @DHSpeedwagon

And from the comments on the post below:

“Signs of trouble around Amy Nelson?: An in-depth analysis… Look, I’m not saying that a hack like Amy Nelson had sex with her superiors at ESPN to get this job. I’m not. I would never make such a bold accusation. But it appears that a lot of unnamed sources around baseball believe this might be the case. Not only that, but if you look at the stats – based on previous hack journalists who cherry-pick stats to fit pre-determined conclusions – a statistically significant number of them slept their way to the top of the journalism world. Am I saying for sure that I know Amy Nelson did? All I’m saying is, there are signs of trouble around Amy Nelson based on prior statistical analysis of shitty journalism trends, and a lot of vague unnamed sources are telling me a lot of things that I can’t divulge, but absent of any proof let’s just float that suspicion out there: Amy Nelson may or may not be being accused of fucking half of the ESPN office in Bristol, CT. She couldn’t be reached for comment, but one unnamed source said it was ‘probable’. ” – Matt English (@Mattomic)

“Kevin Gregg, Vernon Wells, John Buck, Lyle Overbay, Scott Downs, Alex Gonzalez, Fred Lewis, Shaun Marcum, Jeremy Accardo and Dewayne Wise unavailable for comment. ” – James [And don't forget AJ Burnett and Marco Scutaro!]

The next day, the players who had seen the man in white headed to the field early. One stood in the batter’s box while another stood on the mound. From the batter’s box, it was clear the man in white had been perfectly positioned just above the pitcher’s head so that the batter would not need to move his own head, or even alter his gaze, in order to see his signal. ‘It’s premeditated,’ said one of the AL players, “as if the guy was a sniper trying to find the best position to make a shot.

“This is fucking bullshit. The spot above the pitcher’s head is occupied by 2 fucking closed off black tarp sections. It’s not possible for the batter to receive these so-called signs without having to ‘even alter his gaze’.” – @NorthYorkJays

And Now, A One Act Play Submitted By Commenter “Amy Nelson’s Dad”…

ESPN Editing Room

“Amy, says here you submitted a story about a MLB team stealing signs to hit more HRs”

“Yes, sir that’s correct.”

“Do you have ANY conclusive evidence to support these wild accusations?”

“Well, uh…you see–”

“Does it slander the RedSox, Phillies or Yankees?”

“Oh. Why actually, no, it doesn’t.”

“Ok then, run the story. And while I have you here, how ’bout a quick blowjob?”

Aaaaaaaand… scene!

Late Additions:



- One: Have a listen for the article’s co-author Peter Keating this afternoon at 4 PM ET on @timandsid. You can listen live here.

- Two: Parkes is compiling notes from the Alex Anthopoulos “this whole thing is stupid” media scrum that is going on as I type. Check it out at Getting Blanked.