Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can the Post-Gazette Writers Get It Right?

I realize not every writer is going to get every fact right and that editors will occasionally miss things as well. I'm sure I'm sure I have incorrectly stated more than one thing in this blog, but I pay close attention when I cite numbers and I try to use fact-based logic when arguing my opinions (the I'm sure I'm sure was a joke--before you jack me up in the comments). That all seems to have gone out of style at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over the past 48 hours. Each of these alone might appear to be nitpicking, but when four different writers make multiple factual errors, it starts to add up, particularly when I have to pay to read most of them.

1.) "Q & A with Dave Molinari--Nov. 2" PG+ (subscription)

Dave is the Penguins beat writer and has been for a long time. He is excellent and is well respected throughout the league by both his peers and players. Thus, I was surprised when, in response to a question about Brent Johnson, he wrote, "Sensational as Brent Johnson has been through the early part of the season, there's a reason he wasn't deluged with seven-figure contract offers when he qualified for unrestricted free agency this summer."

The reality is the Penguins re-signed Johnson on April 13 of last year before the season ended. He never was an unrestricted free agent and thus never solicited or received any contract offers. I pointed this out to Dave and he was exceedingly gracious and apologetic and thanked me for pointing it out. This morning he printed a correction in today's Q & A.

2.) "Hurdle Candidate for Pirates' Job" Nov. 3, by Bill Brink

Bill is new to the Pirates beat. I have no idea how much experience he has in the industry. The regular beat writer Dejan Kovacevic is on vacation. I am not sure what the situation is with Chuck Finder, the other writer who covers the Pirates.

Brink was discussing the process of the Pirates managerial search and looked at some teams who had also recently gone through the process, one of which was the Atlanta Braves. Brink writes, "The interview process varies. [Atlanta GM Frank] Wren and his staff created a comprehensive list of questions that they felt gleaned information about every duty a major league manager has, then asked each candidate the same questions so they had comparable answers."

The problem is, earlier in the article Brink wrote, "The Braves interviewed one man, Gonzalez," who they ended up hiring. And it's not like the Braves go through this process every year--Bobby Cox has been their manager since 1990. I'm not sure I'm using the Braves, who have apparently interviewed one man for a managerial opening in the last twenty years as my go-to source when analyzing the Pirates managerial search. There is a huge disconnect in what he wrote. (To Bill's credit he did respond to my email and point me to some other links.)

3.) "Ed: Is Gibson Next Dwaine Board?" Nov. 3, by Ed Bouchette PG+ (subscription)

Ed Bouchette, is the dean of the Steelers beat writers, covering the team since the Super Bowl days in the '70s. Like Dave Molinari, Ed is respected by his peers. He's having a bad week. From the article above, "The fact the Steelers lost should not be surprising, the fact the final odds favored them by 3 1/2 points should be." It sure as hell surprised me. If I bet the Steelers under Ed's scenario and they won by three points there would be a problem.

Ed missed this one badly. Unless he's calling his local tavern and asking the bartender who sets his own line based on the local clientele, I have no idea where Ed got his -3.5 number. The line opened at "pick" and went to the Saints favored by 1 or 1.5 at game time, depending on where you looked. This article on headlined "Saints by 1 and more NFL lines" by Chad Millman on Friday might have been one place to start doing research. You can't open a piece with that and get it so dramatically wrong.

4.) "Ed Bouchette's Steelers chat: 11.2.10" PG+ (subscription)

More Ed. I realize chats are a live forum and thus more susceptible to errors and misstatements and the chatters are looking for opinions. Got it. The monitor also gets to pick and choose the questions to answer and really isn't held accountable. Ed butchered this.

Nate: Ed, how were they [Steelers] not prepared for the noise. Did you see the freaks in the stands? That is a poor excuse from the team. They have to expect that environment!

Ed Bouchette: I agree. I also was told they pump noise into that place, too.

This is a pretty bold statement by Ed. I don't doubt that somebody may have told him that they pump noise into the Superdome, but that would be a blatant violation of NFL rules. I also have no doubt if it were true that the NFL would not ignore it. I'm sure the Saints would be heavily fined and possibly lose a draft pick. That shouldn't be a throwaway line to toss out there. He is accusing the Saints of cheating. He may not look at it as a big deal, but the League would. The question gets followed right up by this:

Mesto: Is adding noise a legal thing to do in terms of the NFL?

Ed Bouchette: No, but they do not really care that much, not unless it becomes a PR issue.

Well this is idiotic. The only way it becomes a "PR issue" is if someone is actually doing it and it becomes known. You're damn right the League cares. A ton. The League is all about PR and if someone is doing this it is a MASSIVE PR issue because they are cheating. Look what the League did to the Patriots when they were caught taping the Jets on the sideline of a game. A $500,000 fine and loss of a first round draft pick was the penalty. Come on Ed.

5.) "Gerry Dulac's Steelers chat transcript: 11.3.10" PG+ (subscription)

Again we're in a chat, I get it.

Tprod: Gerry, What's with Randel El? He and Roethlisberger missed connecting with a couple of bad underthrows including missing an opportunity to take a pass interference call in the end zone........

Gerry Dulac: .....I thought there could have been pass interference on the under throw to El in the end zone, but, after watching the replay, the defensive back did not try to face guard or interfere with the flight of the ball, which would have been a penalty. All he tried to do was get there in time to hit El if he caught the ball, which, I presume is not a penalty.

Where to start. 1.) Face guarding is not a penalty in the NFL (or college, for that matter). Rule book 101. 2.) The defensive back did not try to "interfere with the flight of the ball, which would have been a penalty." What? That's what defensive backs are paid to do, interfere with the flight of the ball. No, it is not a penalty, it is called breaking up a pass. 3.) You are correct, hitting a receiver that catches the ball is not a penalty. It is called tackling.


Guest: Does Pouncey have a chance at rookie of the year?

Gerry Dulac: In the AFC, maybe, but not likely. Sam Bradford or Dez Bryant will win easily in the NFC. Tough for centers to get noticed. But he is good, and I wouldn't be surprised if he somehow made it to the Pro Bowl. Not at all.

Definitely not likely in the such award exists. There is one AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and one AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. There is not one for each conference. Also, if you feel compelled to mention two guys as competing for your fictional NFC Rookie of the Year Award, it is doubtful either will "win easily."

In a chat, the moderator picks the questions. Don't get the facts wrong.

Again, one or two of these, no big deal. But, I got tired of noting them (and there are more). And, as you can see, most of these come from PG+ which is the Post-Gazette's subscription area. The articles and chats are only available to people paying a fee to see them on the internet. If they are going to charge a fee and this is what one can expect, how can they possibly justify it?


KWD said...

Nice work Hammer. Seriously-the PG had a very bad week.

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