I love baseball pundits. These are generally men somewhere in their 40s who like to talk and be heard. Much like politicos who you see and hear in all of the roundtable shows that cover Obama and Hillary and Bush the whatever and McCain, these guys like to be guests and they like to be hosts and they like to have their views heard over everyone else's. It's their job to be confident, pompous, arrogant. It's their job to be part of the landscape. They share the spotlight with the players and they love it.
You can tell I'm a little down on them right now. Sure, there are great, great guys who cover baseball, both locally and nationally. There are guys who really know their stuff. Some of them even still play semi-pro ball in their free time. But in my experience, those guys are few and far between. To be in the 21st century sports media, you need to be a certain type of person. You need to be aggressive. You need to be creative. (How is it possible to make someone read your column if you're writing about a last place team that's been in last place for a decade?) You need to be able to make relationships with front office people. You need to get scoops.
I have to see the media every day. There's radio, TV, internet, and print. In New York, we have loads of papers: the Bergen Record, the Star Ledger, the Daily Record, the Journal News, Newsday, the NY Post, the NY Daily News, the NY Sun, the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal (sometimes). We have our team website, the National Baseball League website, CBS Sportsline, Fox Online, ESPN.com, and a bunch more I can't think of. On TV, we have ESPN, our own network, NYS, plus national and local networks: FOX, TBS, WCBS, WNBC, WABC, the CW, My9, NY-1, News 12 NJ and more. There's national print too. Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News. So right there, I've added up 29 different organizations from this paragraph, and that doesn't include the AP, Baseball America, Yahoo! Sports and the 75-100 members of the Japanese media here to watch Kai Goto. This means, before and after every game, a whole lot of people get the opportunity to see me naked. Even worse, they also want to talk to me.
I've been good. I've kept my promise. I haven't spoken on the record to the media since January. I'm so great.
That doesn't mean they haven't quoted me, or quoted others quoting me. You've seen me quoted without my knowledge. Such is the life of a sports superstar. Or a guy like me.
My goal in writing this blog has been for the media to take my quotes from here. They do occasionally. I've read stories in various publications that are based upon the stuff I put here. That's good. It means my plan has worked at times.
But it's backfired more often than not.
I mentioned above the characteristics of a successful 21st century sports media person. I also mentioned how they need scoops. In this particular case, they get angry with me because I've had a couple of scoops they didn't have (it helps to be the only person on the scene willing to write about whatever is happening at the time, like all of my woes with the front office). They're even more upset because they're seeing that I'm now interviewing players and uploading the interviews, unedited, here in this space. I put up my first podcast two days ago. The crowd of media instantly went Hisssssssss. Very upset that I'm stepping a little bit more on their turf. One guy even said, and this sounds straight out of a black & white 1940s film, "Leave the reporting to us."
It's funny. Did this guy, a print person, say that to the Internet crowd 10 years ago when that revolution started? Did he say that about Chris Rock when Chris reported from the Republican convention in 1996? Does he say it about The Daily Show?
C'mon, man. Lighten up. When I quipped something back to him, you know what he said in return? Here it is: "You don't see me on the mound throwing fastballs." No, I don't. And he doesn't see me making a living from writing a blog. Yet, I'm treading on his water. I'm wearing the pants in his baseball family.
He's insecure. And he's not the only one. There are others who are literally afraid that I'm going to start a revolution; that every athlete is going to start doing this, taking organized journalism out of the equation.
That's not going to happen. Most athletes don't want to write their names on a bad contract, much less attach them to something like this. In fact most athletes can't write at all. Sure, we have name power. But power of the pen? Not for the vast majority of us. Other guys blog. It's fun sometimes. But it becomes a hassle too. Once you start, you either have to keep going or quit. I don't want to quit because:
a) I'd be embarrassed
b) I don't want to hear all the world say, "I told you so."
c) All of the above
There was an interesting exchange a few weeks ago between Deadspin's Will Leitch and author Buzz Bissinger. Go here to see it: http://deadspin.com/385770/bissinger-vs-leitch
Bissinger hates bloggers. He thinks they're bad and will bring down journalism.
I'm here today to tell you that is not my goal. I don't want to take away jobs. I don't want to hurt people's feelings. I don't want to outscoop the scoopers. I just want to be heard. Just like the guys who would like me to be silenced.
I won't be silenced, only because you can't make me. But don't worry. If you ever need a story, you can come right here and see what I wrote that day. Maybe you can steal some ideas from me.