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Friday, December 08, 2006

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"I ain't 'fraid of no Sox!"

I'm not fan of Chass, but he's a better reporter than an analyst. If he writes that numerous execs believe the Sox are skirting the rules, then it's a legit story, and it's not "sliming." Did the Sox have some backchannel conversations regarding Drew before he opted out? Entirely possible. If Colletti is thinking about a grievance, that IS news. And the whole DM negotiation is raising eyebrows, justifiably. Innocent until proven guilty, for sure, but that doesn't mean journos can't ask questions. They should. This was not a sliming, IMHO.

By today's journalistic standards it is not sliming. Innuendo, unnamed sources, rumors, yep, that sounds like the NY Times. Just don't wonder why their (and other papers) readership is shrinking so fast.

Take the first two letters off Chass's name and you get an accurate description of his character.

This is a guy who wasted an entire column complaining that Manny Ramirez hadn't made a charitable donation to his NYC high school.

Come on, YF. The sourcing of the complaints is so vague to as almost be comical.

"other people in baseball now seem to view the Red Sox as a team that feels it can operate outside the rules"

"Other people in baseball"? Wow, now there's some serious specificity. I mean, that could be anyone. And an "executive" could be a lower level peon in the FO of any team, for that matter. Remember how Scooter Libby asked to be identified in one of Judy Miller's stories? As a "former Hill staffer", which was true (he worked on the Hill once), but totally deceptive. This "executive" could be anyone, frankly. It could be Brian Cashman, who is interested in sabotaging a reputation. Or, it could be a Brian Cashman flunky. Or it could be an Orioles lower-down. It could be almost anyone, in other words, and someone with absolutely no first-hand knowledge of what has gone down, someone who wants to gain a competitive edge on the Sox or who wants to hurt the Sox' reputation. Chass' story is so anonymized (is that a word?), so light in it's sourcing, so predictable for him as a writer, that it can only be looked at with some serious skepticism. And we won't even get into the no-brainer that was Drew's opt-out, which is perhaps the biggest indictment against this story. Boras explains it clearly. If it turns out that the Dodgers don't file a grievance, then Chass has done his job: he's created doubt about the integrity of the Red Sox on behalf of anonymous sources with no case. That's terrible, and that's what I suspect is going on here. If the Dodgers file a grievance and it doesn't get anywhere, then there's a minor story. If the Dodgers file a grievance and win, then I will humbly eat crow.

And by the way, how would Chass get a credible, corroborating witness that Ned Coletti wouldn't even return Theo's phone calls? Was someone tailing Coletti everywhere? Did they follow him into the bathrooms to make sure he wasn't calling Theo surreptitiously? Did someone get access to Theo's cell phone, and check the "calls received" screen?

I don't doubt that lots of teams make contact with agents in very vague terms, terms that one may never be able to prove as "tampering". But this story does a terribly unconvincing job of proving anything, and it feels more like a typical Chass anti-Sox screed. This story is about as well sourced as some of the stuff in US Magazine, as far as I can tell.

An example of the lengths to which Chass has to go to make his case:

>>>"At various times last season, Drew displayed what appeared to be positive feelings about playing in Los Angeles, and uniformed members of the Dodgers told people in the front office that Drew had told them he intended to stay with the team.<<<

Excuse me, but doesn't this describe just about every player who eventually abandons his team? 99.5% of the time, players say they are happy and not going anywhere. Otherwise, the fan base and local media will eat them for lunch. (Exception: Manny Ramirez, who understands that the media will tear him apart no matter what he does.)

For example, I'd like to see Chass research what Judas Damon was saying about Boston in 2005... about his love of the team and intentions to stay.

Re: Damon

I think he may have used the term "never", when talking about playing for the Yankees.

TAMPERERS!!!!

It's not well sourced. It's Chass. It's not a model of journalism. But it's still not fair to completely dismiss it. I'm not a fan of anonymous sourcing, but that doesn't mean it should never happen. The pendulum shouldn't swing that far. MLB execs are always going to be reluctant to go on record about another gm, because the business is so small, and everyone needs everyone.

It's pretty believable that the Dodgers think they've been screwed. Knowing the Dodgers, they probably screwed themselves. My feeling about the Sox FO is that it is very aggressive and very creative and i'm sure willing to push the boundaries of the rules to their own advantage—which is entirely reasonable, and to be expected, and more power to 'em if they can get away with it. That's just good business. On the other hand, I'm glad the league (and the press) is going to keep them honest.

Tempest meet teapot.


Ok, nothing much to disagree with there, YF. I believe in skepticism with stories like this, particularly considering the source (and the weak sourcing). Again, this seems to me like Chass acting as mouthpiece for someone who wants to make the Sox look bad, and not someone with any serious proof of tampering. I think if that turns out to be the case, then Chass should be ashamed of himself, that he is either so easy to manipulate or, worse, complicit.

The human idealist in me hopes I am wrong about Chass, that he wouldn't do this, but the realist in me who has read his work for years tells me I am not.

...you guys will be thrilled to hear that i'll refrain from comment on this, until we get more facts...
...nice job closing the other thread sf...we were wearing it out...

I didn't know about Millar though. Ah well.

The obvious difference between Damon and Drew is that Damon was an actual free agent.. but not the point. I wasn't following the signings that closely, as I was hoping for someone with a shorter contract, but ah well.

I wasn't comparing their contract status, Lar.

I was pointing out that almost all players say they are staying put... right up to the moment they leave.

To do otherwise would be counter-productive, frankly, because all it does is annoy your teammates, your fans, and the press.

Drew was a free agent when he opted out. Of course, he wasn't a free agent before he was a free agent. The same with Damon.

Does anyone think that players' agents don't telegraph interest to teams even while their players are still locked in to contracts? Does anyone think Arn Tellem didn't get ANY signal that the Yankees would be "interested" in Damon once he hit free agency? Or that the Sox didn't know that Drew was potentially going to opt out, and that there would be an opportunity there?

Tampering is a pretty beefy charge, especially when you involve someone, even by association, as powerful and smart as Scott Boras. That's why there are very few charges. I bet there is plenty of contact between agents and teams of all colors and stripes (not just the "aggressive" Red Sox) that goes un-charged, for good reason. It's probably impossible to prove and common for almost every team. I am not naive about this. In the Drew case, you have some pretty obvious conditions that would make provable or brazen, overt tampering less likely: 1) Drew was signed for less than "market", as the wily and intelligent Boras figured, so opting-out was likely, no matter what, 2) Boras tried to extend Drew with LA before opting out (or so he says), 3) the outfield free agent class this year was pretty weak, boosting Drew's value - next year he'd have been free in a much stronger class, and 4) several monied teams were looking for outfield help. A perfect storm for Drew to leave LA without knowing anything specific about the interest in his services, it seems. Drew and Boras didn't go on a kamikaze mission by opting out, which is what the tampering charge implies.

Certainly that's a reasonable view, SF, and I'm guessing if Colletti files a grievance he won't win because it would be awfully difficult to prove that your scenario didn't occur (although who knows? With the Patriot Act and spying technology so advanced, the Dodgers might have access to a cell phone exchange between Theo and Boras). However, the context of this latest issue should be expanded to include the Devil Rays-Sox conflict in the fall of 2006. The Rays thought the Sox had been tampering with Lugo during the season and were none too happy about it. The Javy Lopez trade thus had to be completed this off-season because of the Rays' refusal to comply with unspoken rules of the waiver-trade agreement. That's to say, that this is the second instance in a few months in which the Sox have been perceived as tampering by two teams. Why are the Sox being targeted? Is it jealousy? Possibly. Or maybe there is something to the smoke.

and then again, maybe there's nothing to this latest rumor put out by Chass.

'Does anyone think Arn Tellem didn't get ANY signal that the Yankees would be "interested" in Damon once he hit free agency?'

anybody who watched bernie play CF that year could have told you that the yankees were going to seriously consider signing johnny damon if he was out there.

what could possibly be presented as proof of tampering short of a recording or intercepted email? i doubt a grievance will be filed, because it is nearly impossible to prove and opening the door to an fruitless investigation would only hurt the finger-pointer.

I'm in the extreme position on this one. I think that the Sox are as guilty as Chass suggests in his article, BUT...I think that the way they are operating is actually standard practice in the sports world. I cannot imagine that tampering doesn't go on all the time. Strikes me that the only reason that Chass is coming out with this story is because someone had an ax to grind with the Sox in this particular instance. Reading between the lines, I'd say that someone was Colletti, who gave him one on the record quote and then fed him the rest on background.

Either way, it's not something that bothers me. If I was an SF (shudder) I'd like to think that Theo would do whatever it takes to make my team better.

With the Patriot Act and spying technology so advanced, the Dodgers might have access to a cell phone exchange between Theo and Boras).


HAHAHAH. Nice, Nick. Imagine how funny that would be.

It sounds to me like the Dodgers are angry -- mostly at themselves -- and trying very hard to cover their tracks.

It is entirely possible the Sox had communication with Boras before Drew opted out of his contract, but what could they have said? They wouldn't have discussed specifics without destroying their bargaining power, so they would have had to say something like, "We think Drew could get *significantly* more if he opted out, *cough cough*" depending on whether you think $3M per year is "significantly" more money. Otherwise, they might have just said Drew could get more money than $11M per year and more years than just three. If Boras couldn't have figured that out himself, he's not the agent everyone thinks he is.

The main problem with Chass' story is that he does a cursory job of getting both sides, but doesn't ask the all-important question of why the Red Sox would have needed to do this? Just because the Dodgers are clueless about the upcoming market doesn't mean Boras is. And if Boras is telling the truth -- a big "if," but his story should be confirmable -- the Dodgers should have been expecting such a move after they turned down an extension request.

It's typical Chass, typical NYT sports coverage, and sadly, typical NYT coverage in general. Take what is said at face value, don't ask hard questions, don't dig deeper -- and, in Chass' case, smear the Red Sox at all costs.

Sam, it would follow by your logic that if the Sox are as guilty as Chass says, but everyone else does it too, then Chass is writing this article because it targets the Sox. Otherwise he would have investigated other scenarios and written about them, like a responsible journalist. But then, those (hypothetical tampering instances) don't involve the Sox, who he clearly dislikes.

It's typical Chass, typical NYT sports coverage, and sadly, typical NYT coverage in general.

Paul, I disagree with the second and third statements. Chass is an outlier at the Times' sports section. I find it generally superb. The Times has had issues with similarly sourced investigative pieces over the last few years, but it's a great paper, never mind Judy Miller and some of their problematic White House beat fluffers.

Sam, the Devil Rays and Sox have an on-field history that is none-too complimentary, and I think both teams have been frustrated with each other over trade talks, as well. "Tampering" is a nice word to throw around when you're mad a team and want to make life difficult. It seems a bit desperate and immature.

The fact that the two teams in question have not been competently run at times in recent years should be taken into account.

Hey Hudson, just pointing the obvious, but yes, your point is spot on.

Paul - that sounds likely. After all, the Dodgers now has something to say to their fans.

I don't remember a recent case of tempering in any sports in general.. I guess they don't want to burn any bridges. I mean, the Dodgers and RS were still talking about Manny not too long ago, so they know it's just business..

That and there are always usually vague comments like "I'll love to have him on my team, :wink: :wink:"..

The Times had some issues recently with their coverage of Glavine's "decision" between the Mets and the Braves, even though the Braves had never made him an offer. That's mostly to what I was referring. And the Judy Miller stuff was the main thrust of my other point, although their mangling of the Kerry joke coverage and the subsequent book-length correction was equally comical. The Times, although a good paper that I enjoy reading, has fallen far behind The Washington Post when it comes to political reporting and commentary.

Shouldn't the apologies be to Huey Lewis?

"Shouldn't the apologies be to Huey Lewis?"

oooooooo... nice one.

Tampering charge is over the top. But I would bet that Boras talked to the red sox, as well as other teams before advising his client to opt out. This stuff happens in all sports and to think it doesn't is crazy. As long it was not something blatant, say Drew taking a vaction on John Henrys Jet, then deciding to opt out, this is just silly. The dodgers know this.

>>> "Strikes me that the only reason that Chass is coming out with this story is because someone had an ax to grind with the Sox in this particular instance". <<<

Whoever had the axe to grind went to Chass because:

(A) Chass is an idiot, and therefore willing to print such tripe;

(B) The Sox have made a lot of news lately, while the Yankees have not -- so Chass is eager to throw out a nasty, gristly bone for New York fans to chew on until Cashman pulls out his own billfold.

I'd agree with SF and Hudson that Chass is just doing a hatchet man's job. But hey, that's journalism. 99% of all leaks and scoops and off the record news is because someone has an ax to grind and wants to make someone else look bad/stupid/whatever.

I'm not defending Chass or the article. I've said many times on this site that I think the NYT is an awful, awful newspaper that is living on past glories and is a shadow of its former self.

Until money changes hands, all the writing about the winter meetings is just rumor. So you can’t fault Chass for that. He’s just playing the game – the same game the GMs and agents play. For ex., if a writer plugs a newly picked-up player, they can gain favor with the management, and end up hearing something first. See: Gammons. I’d guess Chass was emptyhanded after the meetings. The Sox were generating the most print, but they don’t work with him. So, he’s going after them a bit. Now, maybe he’ll get in good with all the other teams. But I doubt it.

I guess I liked the article. But somebody explain to me what Shaughnessy and Ryan were trying to accomplish when they mouthed off on NESN. Like, when Ryan called Drew a “slug.” Compared to them, Chass is a prince.

I agree that the tampering charge is silly, however it will be interesting to see how the Matsuzaka/ Posting fee issue plays out. I've heard lots of rumblings about how the sox were not really going to pay all 51M to Seibu.

I thought this was interesting:

http://redsox.bostonherald.com/redSox/view.bg?articleid=171063

But he's going to sign.

By the way, I haven't been following Clemens all that much lately.. I thought he hated the RS, how is he even considering them nowadays? Does he need a new ranch for 20 mil or something?

I would love to know what makes Massarotti feel that " In 2007, there is every chance Clemens would be just as good, if not better."

Please. The guy is 44 - it can't go on forever.
That being said, he could certainly be at least decent next year. Here's hoping he makes his mid-year appearance as a Yankee.

Gordon Edes, in Saturday's Globe:

"Through a Dodgers spokesman, Colletti also refuted Chass's allegation that there was a rift between Colletti and Epstein, and that he refused to take Epstein's phone calls in Orlando. "They probably talked about 20 times last week," said spokesman Josh Rawitch. Indeed, when Colletti arrived at the meetings late last Sunday night from the Dominican Republic, one of his first orders of business was to conduct an hourlong face-to-face meeting with Epstein on a possible deal for Manny Ramírez."

Well done, Murray. Who was your source? When they lie to you, they don't deserve anonymity. Unless, of course, you don't care that they lied to you, or you are an ardent proponent of the lie.

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