The "acceptance" of sports bloggers took a nasty nosedive yesterday afternoon when Jerod Morris of Midwest Sports Fans was thrown into the Outside The Lines sausage maker for a little mainstream media, Inc. beat down.
Morris, if you don't know, wrote the blog post which intimated that Raul Ibanez's incredible production so far this season could be artificially enhanced. Ibanez did everything expected of a man wrongly accused, even offering to open a vein or poop in a cup, to prove that his lofty numbers through June are legit.
The OTL segment yesterday afternoon trotted out the blogger in question (Morris), Philly Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez, and baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal for a little on-air tryptich window debate about the expanding roles of media and a sports blogger's place in this dynamic hierarchy, and the outcome was predictable: Morris was made the reckless fool, Gonzalez the literal and figurative middleman, and Rosenthal played the Bill Donahue role of Captain Angry Pants.
First: Did anyone actually read Morris' post? It was far from accusatory or gossipy in its hypothetical rundown of Ibanez's power surge. It was a blog post — a wonky, fantasy baseball-centric breakdown with an added personal flourish by including an email quote from one of his buddy's dashed-off observations that ended with "I thought they were testing?" And Morris, God bless him, took it upon himself to disprove his friend's theory by trotting out all sorts of career splits, stadium breakdowns, lunar calendar power output, etc. to see if there was any reason to believe the barroom speculation about Ibanez juicing. You know, just for fun, because that's what this is supposed to be most of the time. Of course it was inconclusive because, well, HOW COULD HE POSSIBLY KNOW IF IBANEZ IS ON STEROIDS BY TRACKING STATISTICS. Look at this ridiculously long list of mediocrity and start tracking their stats. Tell me what you come up with.
Second: John Gonzalez's initial column was not as mean-and-nasty as everyone thinks it is. In fact, Gonzalez is one of the good guys in this equation because he actually reads blogs and was simply shining on a light on the new media landscape we live in and how these things can turn into bigger deals (ahem) if they're not approached carefully. He was right. (Full disclosure: he's a buddy of mine, I called him for an explanation, and to be honest he seems very, very annoyed by how out of control this thing has become. Because he's Mexican.)
Plus, Gonzalez wasn't the person who decided to ask Ibanez in the locker room about what he thinks of the Midwest Sports Fan's "accusations." Yeah, that was Inquirer beat reporter Jim Salisbury. He should do a follow-up story tonight, bedpan in hand, to take Ibanez up on his offer.
Third: Ken Rosenthal doesn't have a fucking clue. Not in life, or in his baseball knowledge, but in the execution of his whole pointless attack, going borderline Albom-esque ("I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!") on poor Jerod over a perfectly reasonable post that didn't deserve to get the national lambasting it did. Partially this is ESPN's fault for orchestrating this whole segment as some sort of poor man's "Costas Now," hoping they could re-open this tired debate again to confuse all the old, out of work people flipping through the channels yesterday afternoon. What is this scary thing you call "blog"?
Fourth: Jerod Morris has to go outside. Seriously, son, you're making us all look bad if you don't spray tan yourself before you go on national television to get yelled at. Learn from the professionals about how to best prepare for these definitive media moments.