Power to the People, or We Don’t Need This Crap

My recent re-commitment to peace, love and happiness in all things internet has really reduced my stress level, but it hasn’t deactivated my BS meter. And the meter got pegged in the red this week with the “story” of Jeff Samardzija, Jed Hoyer and pitch counts.

In case you missed it, on Monday Samardzija threw 126 pitches over 9 innings in an eventual 12 inning loss to the White Sox. On Tuesday, there were quotes from Ricky Renteria about how he gambled letting Samardzija throw that many pitches and that it wasn’t something that would happen regularly. Samardzija’s reaction was that he hoped it earned him some trust to go deep into games – regardless of anything else you can say about Shark, he’s super-competitive and a guy who never wants to come out of a game. This was all very reasonable.

However, on Wednesday, the pitcher was asked a bunch of “what-ifs” about the front office imposing pitch counts or having a problem with his workload. And his answers were exactly what you would expect from a hyper-competitive athlete – he thinks those decisions should be made by the personnel on the field and based on his performance during games. Keep in mind, these were hypothetical questions, the only quote I could find from Jed Hoyer on the topic at that point was this:

“You don’t like to see a guy get [his pitch count] up that high,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday. “That said, I also think pitch counts, in general, are a number. And we don’t have enough knowledge to know at what number things turn into danger and when they don’t. So, because of that, we focus a lot on pitch stress.”

Focus on what is being said there – their philosophy is not to impose strict pitch limits, but rather to monitor a pitcher based on the stress of the situations those pitches are thrown in and how the pitcher looks. In the same story, Samardzija says this:

“Do I want to go out and throw 120 pitches every time?” he asked. “Absolutely not. Hell no. I do not. But there are times when it calls for it. There are times when it needs to get done, and someone has to do it.”

Again, sounds like everyone is on the same page there, right? But, do you know what the headline of that story was?

Jeff Samardzija doesn’t get pitch-count fuss

I’m using the ESPN.com article for my points here (ironically, the eighth paragraph of that article starts with, “Samardzija gets it…” – look, I know the writers don’t write the headlines, but could the headline writers at least read the article?), but the same thing was written by all of the mainstream media outlets, all twisted into Samardzija “firing back” at “second guessing” by the front office. Check out this gem from CSNChicago.com:

“Samardzija took aim at Theo Epstein’s front office, exposing the behind-the-scenes tension…”

Now, go back up and read the quotes from Samardzija and Hoyer again. I don’t think I’m crazy, they’re basically saying the same thing, right? But, you have reporters asking questions about things that have not happened, to elicit a quote, and then twisting that quote into a narrative, one that I suspect was predetermined. From that same CSNChicago.com article:

“Samardzija said he hadn’t paid much attention to what’s now a three-day story…”

Of course he hadn’t – because it wasn’t a real story. But, for three days reporters – not “bloggers,” but “real” reporters, the ones that hypothetically deal in facts, churned this story, writing as many outrage inducing articles as they could.

It’s pathetic. It’s yellow journalism. It shouldn’t have any place in “real” reporting. Yesterday, Jed Hoyer said it’s a non-story that should probably die, but in reality it’s a non-story that never should have existed.

There are good sources of real reporting on the Cubs out there, sources that focus on facts, research and – gasp – real reporting. These include John Arguello and the Cubs Den website, Brett Taylor and Sahadev Sharma at Bleacher Nation, and the Chicago Cubs Online website. There are others, if you dig deep enough into the twitter-verse and blog-osphere, but, off the top of my head, those are my most trusted sources for Cubs news. I encourage anyone reading this to frequent their sites and give them preference to any of the large news outlets. If you find particular reporting or opinions too odious, I encourage you to boycott them (I haven’t given Jon Greenberg, among others, a single page click in over two years). Because that’s what this yellow journalism is all about, generating pixels and page clicks. So, give those clicks to the people who deserve them and withhold them from those that don’t. It’s the free market at it’s best, it’s your power as the consumer. Use it.

Dylan Steele

About Dylan Steele

A Louisiana native, Dylan Steele now lives in Halethorpe, Maryland. A web developer by day, he is also an occasional musician, frequent dog walker and sometimes hoopster. And now he blogs, too.
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