Damn Manipulative Media!

As a former and quasi-current member of the media, I always pay attention not only to what is reported, but how it is reported. So often reporters manipulate or exaggerate facts and figures to help them support their point of view. Sometimes it is just nonsense, other times it is purposely misleading.

I started thinking about this during Game 1 of this year’s ALCS. Joe Buck was shocked, just shocked that this was the first meeting in the post season between the Tigers and Red Sox in the 113 years of their respective existences. Pretty impressive, until you realize that between 1901 and 1968, they could not have possibly met in the playoffs because there were no playoffs — the league champions went directly to the World Series.

Okay, so still, they haven’t met in 46 years. That’s still a lot, right?. Well, the Tigers and Red Sox were in the same division from 1969-1993 and with no Wild Card, once again they could not have possibly met in the post season.

In fact, the first time they could have played each other in the playoffs was 1995 (1994 was canceled by the strike). So in reality, these two teams have not met in the post season in 19 years. That’s a far cry from 113 years, and thus, a bunch of nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, we often hear things like, “John Smith is the only player in baseball with 25 homers, 20 steals, 30 doubles and 85 RBIs.” Yeah, so? Lower it to 80 RBIs or 25 doubles and there might be a dozen players who qualify, making it not so special. These combination stats are usually meaningless because you can pick any random number for any random stat you’d like.

Statistics are often unfairly manipulated to suit the situation. A couple of years ago a reporter for ESPN.com wrote an article to disparage Alex Rodriguez, specifically claiming A-Rod was a player in decline. He wrote that Rodriguez “Has not hit more than 30 homers since 2008.” Technically that was true, but what the writer did not say was that A-Rod hit exactly 30 home runs in 2009 and 2010. This report was not fair because the reader could walk away thinking Rodriguez was no longer slugging home runs at a high rate, when in fact he still was. The writer was being purposely deceptive.

Full disclosure — you’re old pal here at Blogging Mets has done that, too. In a recent article advocating signing Jhonny Peralta (when I still thought he could be had for a reasonable price) and not Nelson Cruz, I wrote that “(Peralta) is still only 31… Cruz turns 34 during the 2014 season.” I was not lying, but Peralta turn will 32 during the 2014 season. I was implying that there was a three-year difference in their ages, when actually it is fewer than two years. I was playing around with the truth to make my argument. In the words of Bart Simpson, “I can’t promise I’ll try (not do that again), but I promise I’ll try to try.”

The media likes to use “since” a lot. “This is the first time a player has hit four home runs in a game since…” This type of statement should only be used for achievements if they have not happened in a long time. But if it is “the first time since April…” and we are in June, well, then, it might not be so uncommon.

“Since” is another word that can easily be manipulated. When denigrating by beloved Cowboys, reporters like to say, “The Cowboys have won one playoff game since 1996.” Once again, this is technically true, but that victory came in 2009. It is much more fair to say, “The Cowboys have won one playoff game since 2009.” Before that win, it was perfectly appropriate to point out the lack of victories since 1996.  But once the streak is broken, that should be the end of it. It is only used to make the franchise look worse.

My point is be wary of things like this that you hear in the media; it is likely someone just playing around with the truth to prove their point.

4 thoughts on “Damn Manipulative Media!

  • November 26, 2013 at 5:59 am
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    Joe Buck has spent so many years at the side of Tim McFartbag that he is beginning to sound like the old blowhard. Those absurd “first player to hit this combination since….” sounds like a McFartbagism, as well. I recall hearing lots of those bogus stats on Fox. It’s one thing when it is a lifetime achievement – doubles/homers/stolen bases or something like that – but otherwise really trivial. What it does, however, is show you how KNOWLEDGEABLE the speaker is on the topic of baseball. Whoo! Hey, I can look that stuff up if I have an online version of Bill James sitting in front of me, too.

  • November 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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    I know a lot of people don’t like Joe Buck, but I have never had a problem with him. As far as McCarver, he definitely could be a bit overbearing (especially in his later years), but he was still one of the best in the business. He changed the dynamic of the Mets broadcast booth when he joined it. And to fire him for Tim Seaver, who was a terrible broadcaster despite being a Mets icon, was just asinine.

  • November 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm
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    I was hoping you would tell me what you think about my pitching proposal. I’ve made a few adjustments over the last couple of days, and see this as our best chance to contend this year. All of our resources can be spent on offense with this staff.

    Gee, 100 pitches( Parnell-9th, Black 8th, German 7th, J. Walters and Edgin)
    Noah 80 pitches + Mejia 70 pitches, will end in 9 half the time
    Wheeler 90 pitches( Parnell-9th, Black 8th, German 7th, J. Walters and Edgin)
    Montero 80 pitches+ Tores 70 pitches will end in 9 half the time
    Niese 100 pitches( Parnell-9th, Black 8th, German 7th, J. Walters and Edgin)
    Day off.

    I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. That was done 10 some odd years ago when pitching counts became gospel. All I’m doing is stategizing with that being the case. Conventionally, you have 6 pitchers designed for 5 roles. 5 starters and 1 long relief guy makes up a rotation. In the above plan 7 pitchers design these 5 roles. 5 starters and 2 long relief pitchers. The biggest difference being, my long relief guys have there appearences scheduled. 1000 IP from these 7 pitchers is likely.

    A) Our top 3 starters will have the best rested bullpen in MLB
    B) Thor’s got a 130 IP limit, and not a one will be wasted in Vegas.
    C) Each of our blue chips will be handled with care, like ROY Alex Fernandez
    D) If we contend, the combos roles can be reversed, if needed, to save IP for PS
    E) Showcasing 7 starting pitchers while setting them up for optimum MLB success exponentially raises the value of the commodities that shine. It also gives the organization a better idea of who Harvey will take with to the promise land in the years to come. Lastly, normally 5 IP guys wrench your pen, in this scenario they rest the pen.

    I am searching for a winner and see one built around our pitching richness. As of now all pitchers are reportedly healthy, we should take advantage of this and make a run. If the plan, Montero in April and Noah in july, is in effect, than the only negative $$$ thing is starting the clock on Noah 3 months earlier than scheduled.

  • November 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm
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    I like the idea of Syndergaard and Montero starting the season in the rotation instead of Las Vegas, as long as they are ready. There is no reason that every pitcher has to throw the same number of minor league innings, as the Mets seem to insist.

    If I understand your proposal, you would have them on strict pitch counts, with a designated pitcher to relieve them once they reach that limit. I really don’t like that idea. Colorado tried it in 2012 and it didn’t work.

    Pitchers need to pitch; they cannot get used to throwing only 70 or 80 pitches or they will never learn to throw more than 100, as they should. I (and many baseball observers) think the coddling of pitchers that begins in the minor leagues is leading to all of these young pitchers needing Tommy John surgery. Once they get to the majors and have to really extend themselves, their arms are not used to it and they get injured.

    But I like that you are thinking out of the box. It would be nice if the team’s GM could do that!

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