The Nub

‘Fearless’ Journalism vs. the Self-Promotion Game

On MLB Now the other day, case the subject was Josh Hamilton and his return to the Rangers: how would he do, canada decease back with the team he said it was a “mistake” to leave? Guest panelist Steve Wulf, remedy of ESPN, thought the better story was Angels owner Arte Moreno. “I like that Moreno considered Hamilton a bad influence,” Wulf said, “ and was willing to eat some of the millions he owed Josh to get him off the team.” Moreno deserves credit for his principles, Wulf added. What followed was a strained silence until Dan Plesac went back to Hamilton’s “new beginning,” something host Dan Kenny and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal were only too happy to discuss.

On the broadcast of the Royals-Yankees game that night, WFAN play-by-play man John Sterling took Alex Rodriguez’s side in the cheating scandal: “There were 750 major league players when A-Rod was suspended for using PEDs,” Sterling said. “Maybe 250, 300 were doing the same thing but weren’t caught.”

We were struck by the back-to-back non-controversial spin on the game and its players. It was a double reminder of what we know and willingly accept. Baseball is a private business enterprise dedicated to self-promotion and a valuable advertising source for newspapers, magazines, various forms of electronic media. Accentuating the positive is the financial name of the game.

Less noted is a similar predictability on a field that desperately needs a new beginning of its own, that of journalism. Owing to cuts in budget and staff, the news media have cut back drastically on first-hand reporting. The game now is to rewrite accounts from freelancers and other part-timers on the scene who are considered reliable. When first-hand reportages is in short supply, opinion or analysis pieces , often based on government handouts – serve as pinch-hitters. Predictablility comes into play when stories – mostly negative – are about China, Russia, Venezuela, etc., foreign national teams not playing ball with Team Obama.

“Democracy needs (diligent) journalists,” Bill Moyers reminded us in a recent speech at an event honoring several of the craft’s prize-winners, “but it takes money to support them.” Journalism has become (like Baseball) a private promotional enterprise. If the “fearless” variety is to survive, Moyers warns, “it will require a steady stream of independent income.” Either that, or less likely, perhaps, a miraculous national reawakening. Something that, for the moment, we believe only a long-shot Bernie Sanders can make happen.

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Changeovers: Giants, with a 4-2 win over the Braves, replace the Dodgers, 3-0 losers to Cardinals, atop the NL West (by a half-game); Royals retake sole possession of AL Central lead, beating Cubs 8-4, while Twins lose 6-4 to Blue Jays, falling a game behind KC.

Dividing Up the Losses: “Everybody’s losing,” said Yankees’ radio color announcer Suzyn Waldman, while updating the AL scoreboard for listeners the other night. The Yanks’ division, the AL East has had a remarkable run the first two months of the season. On the brink of June, it boasts, on the one hand, just one winning team – the NYYs – and on the other, the closest race by far of the six divisions: three games separating the first-place Yankees and last- place Red Sox.. Chances of a wild card team emerging from the division – from not good to nil.

Streakers: Cardinals +5, Giants +5, Tampa Bay -6, Brewers -6, Phillies -5

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(More of The Nub, a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey, can be found at perfectpitcher.org)

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.