The Old Man And The Internet-Based Sea

“There isn’t anything on earth as depressing as an old sportswriter.” – Ring Lardner

Generally, I like staying out of the pissing wars between print journalists and my sports blogging brothers and sisters; it’s like watching two sides scream into the ether — one yelling the usual “Get off our lawns!” and the other whining that Mom and Dad just don’t understand. However, I make an exception for the emergence of former New York Times baseball columnist Murray Chass online, complete with his “this is not a blog” manifesto in his “About” page, not to pillory him (The Big Lead and Fire Joe Morgan have already done an effective job of pointing out certain absurdities), but to offer a few thoughts as to why this obnoxiousness about the new and old media formats seems to plague baseball more than anything else.

(Side note: I’m not gonna take Chass on too much on nomenclature. Like I’ve written before, Bissinger has a point that got obscured in, ironically, vulgarity — and others have written that if the big sports bloggers were really completely committed to the journalistic end, hiding behind the “we’re just bloggers” defense doesn’t wash; internet sites covering politics frequently refer to themselves as “independent media,” with all the traditional ethics and standards implied.)

Let me preface that the comments below are not necessarily about Chass’ writings in and of themselves; he’s written good, mediocre, and bad columns, just like everyone else. They’re just generic trends I’ve noticed, reading columns about baseball over the years.

The Old Guard’s resistance against the Invasion of the Geeks and their statistical analysis has always struck me as perfectly ironic: no sport vehemently defends the sanctity of its statistical records like baseball, with the aid of said Old Guard, who is nothing if not fervent about protecting the old records from the ravages of both proven drug cheats and pillorying those not proven with suspicion or poorly sourced material without a second thought of innocence or guilt. (This defense of the old, hallowed records is also done with a slight bit of sleight-of-keyboard regarding the official discrimination policies of MLB, but don’t let that fuck you up. Whoops, I swore; Chass ain’t gonna like that. Anyway.)

Continue reading