Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Knew It Was Coming

Dan's view on Jim Rice and the counterarguments have been well hashed out on this site and others. Yesterday was a day for Dan to celebrate. And he managed a good column, capturing some of the factors at work and giving a little bit of color to Rice's career.

But he couldn't resist this one shot:
there was a backlash among new-age, basement-dwelling number crunchers who found flaws in Rice's résumé (always borderline by Cooperstown's lofty standards).

Two points:
1) If Rice's case for the Hall is borderline, then criticism of his career is legitimate, not the result of misguided stats geeks.

2) Rob Neyer doesn't need me to defend him, but I have to say this: Rob watches more baseball in a season than Dan has in the last 10 years. Rob has forgotten more baseball history than Dan remembers. To dismiss him out of hand is insulting and a sign of Dan's blissful ignorance of all things new.


Chris said...

Does Shaughnessy's ire over the Jim Ed Rice Kerfuffle (JERK) even remotely point to the MEDIA--his brethren--as THE place to lay blame? Why, of course not. He simply descends to discussions about people in basements as where the real blame ought to go. Dan is a very, very boorish sports media Ancient.

girlanachronism said...

I propose a moratorium on 'basement-dweller' to describe bloggers. There are many ways to malign bloggers. He needs to think of a new phrase. :)

Dave M said...

Amen DBVader

I am back from Jamaica and had a good trip. Again, I apologize for missing my turn this weekend


Chris said...

'Basement dweller' ought to be able to stay, or else I might be obligated to give up my pet phrase to describe Shaughnessy and those of his ilk: Sports Media Hacks. I can't be pressured to trade one for the other.

Anonymous said...

The Shank Incognito

Shankster tries a mind game in his article as he tries to disguise his true feelings about Rice.

To begin, the Shank admits that Rice “despised the media” which led to the “notion that scribes were punishing Rice for his lack of cooperation in his playing days” = (“embarrassingly” low votes during early Hall eligibility).

Then there is an epiphany by the veteran writers “the ones who supposedly didn't vote for him because he was a nasty interview” and Rice gains credibility as a HOF.

Shank continues his assault with “In the end, Rice was able to lurch across the finish line with the help of veteran Sox publicist Dick Bresciani, who carpet-bombed the electorate with data advocating the slugger's election.”


“Jim Ed was buoyed by the dearth of boffo names on the 2008 ballot.”

Meanwhile, Shank hides behind some superfluous positive strokes towards Rice only because it is now politically correct to do so since the Nation wants to build a better brand and Rice in the Hall means more dollars for the Sox.

Shank really “despises” Rice and he makes it clear why – “But to say he got in trouble by not talking dirt about his teammates is simply false. Rice was churlish more often than not. Not just with writers. Sometimes with his adoring public.”

When I read the Cafardo’s article and Rice was quoted regarding his rebuttal of comments such as made by Shank:

“More recently, as he snared more votes, there was a backlash among new-age, basement-dwelling number crunchers who found flaws in Rice's résumé (always borderline by Cooperstown's lofty standards). The stat geeks sniffed at Rice's pedestrian on-base percentage (.352) and charged that his numbers were skewed because half his games were in hitter-friendly Fenway Park.”

Rice replied:

If you're talking about on-base percentage when I played at the time, we did not worry about on-base percentage," said Rice. "We were about W's and L's.

"We worried about leaving guys on base. I want someone that can get me a ball in the outfield, get it in the gap. Forget about on-base percentage. Give me 3 for 10, .300. That's all I want. If you're power, you've got to give me 3 for 10 and give me some jacks behind it. That's my on-base percentage right there.

I was a witness to the “Rice” years and can relate to that.

Why can’t the Shank just say “Great job Jim. You deserved it.”

There is no need to hide behind the “shades” Shank.


Roger Bournival said...

Threadjack - could this be in the Globe's near future?

The Gannett Company, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, said on Wednesday that it would force thousands of its employees to take a week off without pay in an effort to avoid layoffs.

Gannett, which owns 85 daily newspapers across the United States including its flagship USA Today, said it could not say exactly how many people would be required to take time off, or how much money the company would save. But it said it would require unpaid leave for most of its 31,000 employees in this country.

Also on Wednesday, USA Today notified its staff of a one-year pay freeze for all employees.

“Most of our U.S. employees — including myself and all other top executives — will be furloughed for the equivalent of one week in the first quarter,” Craig A. Dubow, the chairman, president and chief executive, wrote in a memorandum to employees.

Hmmm. What about the other three quarters?

“We sincerely hope this minimizes the need for any layoffs going forward,” he added.

Minimize. Not eliminate, minimize. Anyone else buying that?

The company cannot impose the measure unilaterally on employees covered by a union contract, but Mr. Dubow said Gannett was asking unions to participate voluntarily. Tara Connell, a company spokeswoman, said about 12 percent of Gannett’s domestic employees were unionized.

Who will then be fired when they refuse to comply with this 'request'.

With the newspaper industry in increasingly dire financial straits, Gannett’s mandatory week off takes its place in a growing list of grave moves. Layoffs have been widespread, the newspapers in Detroit halted home delivery four days of the week, the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection and owners of The Rocky Mountain News and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer warned that those papers could shut down.

A second memo to Gannett employees says that some categories of “essential employees” will be exempted from the enforced time off, as will newly hired employees, but it adds, “there will be no individual hardship exceptions.” It also says that to comply with federal and state labor laws, a furloughed employee must strictly observe a no-work rule, not even “reading or responding to e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues.”

Gannett eliminated 3,500 jobs throughout the company in 2007, and a similar number last year, though it has not provided a final 2008 figure. The deepest round of cuts came last fall, when it laid off some 2,000 or more newspaper employees in little more than a month.

It's called a snowball...

Most of Gannett’s newspapers are small, but they include some major papers, including USA Today, The Detroit Free Press and The Arizona Republic. In this country, it also has hundreds of smaller, nondaily papers and 23 television stations.

In Britain, the company publishes 17 daily newspapers and hundreds of smaller publications.

In the face of exceedingly strong evidence that the newspaper industry across the country, without exception, is entering its death throes, a certain idiot commenter will nonetheless insist that 'the Globe ain't going anywhere'.

A paraphrased quote to the certain idiot commenter - when the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do?

Fine. Put your money where your mouth is. I hereby wager $100 (more, if you're feeling brave) to this certain board idiot that the Boston Globe's average 2009 circulation (entire year) will be 33 percent less than the 2008 average circulation.

Put up, or shut up...

ObjectiveBruce said...

Now is not the time to respond, Roger,I am in mourning over the passing of Theodore Haffenreffer as reported in today's Globe.

The first comment to the obit thanks Mr. Haffenreffer for the many bottles of Green Death consumed over the years.

A 16 oz. Amen to that.

In light of this, and speaking as one who could still do the puzzle under the cap of the fifth bottle, nothing else seems important.

Roger Bournival said...

I'll come back... when you're less bereaved.

/Dirty Harry, Sudden Impact

Chris said...

On-line readers of the Globe will now notice that the 'Business Section' falls beneath the 'Sports Section' as they scroll down through the roster of sections. Does this mean that sports is really, really, REALLY important now, or that Obama is totally clueless about fixing the economy and his 'Hope & Change' will crash and burn? My, those bailouts are sure helping things along...My, my. Yes indeed...push the Business Section further down the page so we won't pay any attention to the economy. Nice try.

Chris said...

50 'newsroom' people will get forced out at The Globe, the trusted Herald reported today. Somewhere, Jack Welch is laughing and smiling in the general direction of the New York Times right about now.

dbvader said...

Check out Bob Ryan's "Emptying Out The Desk Drawer Of The Sports Mind" to see how that type of column is done. Offering insights, not just repeating things he picked up around the net and talk about what happens on the field.

mike_b1 said...

The CHB never before seemed to think Rice's credentials were "borderline by Cooperstown's lofty standards." At least, not when he was submitting the same column several years in a row (complete with the same statistical error that the vaunted Globe copy desk never managed to catch).

Roger Bournival said...

In other industry news:

The Star Tribune, saddled with high debt and a sharp decline in print advertising, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Thursday night.

Minnesota's largest newspaper will try to use bankruptcy to restructure its debt and lower its labor costs.

Chris Harte, the paper's publisher, said the filing would have no impact on home delivery, advertising, newsgathering or any other aspects of the paper's operations.

"We intend to use the Chapter 11 process to make this great Twin Cities institution stronger, leaner and more efficient so that it is well positioned to benefit when economic conditions begin to improve," Harte said in a statement.

The filing, which was made with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the southern district of New York, had been expected for months. It follows several missed payments to the paper's lenders, and it comes less than two years after a private equity group, New York-based Avista Capital Partners, bought the paper for $530 million.

In its filing, the newspaper listed assets of $493.2 million and liabilities of $661.1 million.

Like most newspapers
(heh - ed.), the Star Tribune has experienced a sharp decline in print advertising. Its earnings before interest, taxes and debt payments were about $26 million in 2008, down from about $59 million in 2007 and $115 million in 2004.

The Star Tribune, with Sunday circulation of 552,000, is the 10th-largest Sunday newspaper in the U.S. Its daily circulation of 334,000 makes it the 15th-largest daily based on circulation. The paper's website,, averaged 76 million page views per month during the past six months, placing it among the top 10 newspaper websites in the nation.

It is the second major newspaper publisher to file for bankruptcy protection. The Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Time and Baltimore Sun among other publications and television stations, filed for bankruptcy in early December, burdened by $13 billion in debt and the same deteriorating advertising environment plaguing the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune may not be the last to go that route, said Alan Mutter, a Silicon Valley-based analyst and former newspaper executive.

"We're in a period of sustained pain for the newspaper business," Mutter said. "The employment ad business has been melting away since 2000. Automotive has been falling apart for the last couple of years. And I don't even have to explain about real estate."

Hearst Corp., owner of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, last week said it would close the 146-year-old paper if no buyer could be found in the coming months. Shares of the McClatchy Co., which sold the Star Tribune to Avista, have fallen 98 percent since the sale was announced, and the company has been trying to raise money by selling the land near the Miami Herald.

Total annual revenue at the Star Tribune peaked in 2000 at $400 million; by 2007 it was less than $300 million.

Over the past two years, Star Tribune management made several efforts to cut costs, mainly by reducing the workforce and renegotiating new cost-cutting contracts with its unions, which represent nearly two-thirds of the company's 1,405 full-time employee positions. Since 2007, the company said it had achieved cost reductions of $50 million through reduced news pages, attrition, layoffs, voluntary buyouts and other expense reductions. According to the company's filing, the workforce reduction amounts to 610 full-time employees.

In July, the Newspaper Guild, the union representing newsroom workers, agreed to a three-year contract that saved an estimated $2.5 million a year. But other unions refused to agree to new contracts.

In early December, however, Harte asked the unions for another $20 million in cost reductions and said he intended to impose $10 million in additional savings elsewhere in the company. Those negotiations resulted in no new agreements, however.

Graydon Royce, co-chair of the Star Tribune unit of the Newspaper Guild, said the union remained "committed to the future and the survival of the paper."

"It's unfortunate that a New York-based private equity company has put the Twin Cities largest source of news and information at risk," said Royce, a 29-year veteran and one of the newspaper's fine-arts writers.

Court documents indicate that two Avista investment funds own 96 percent of the equity in the Star Tribune, with Harte, through a family trust, owning the balance.

But that ownership structure is likely to change by the time the company emerges from bankruptcy. In a restructuring, a company's lenders often convert some or all of their debt to equity in the company. In that process, the existing owners often see their equity reduced or eliminated.

Bankruptcy protection is a calculated risk, experts say. If all the interested parties can find common ground, the company can survive. But sacrifices, from pay cuts to revised loan terms, are likely required.

"They need a new capital structure. They need a plan of how the company is going to pay off debts and obtain financing," said Gregory Duhl, a law professor who teaches bankruptcy at William Mitchell College of Law.

dbvader said...


What was the statistical error?

mike_b1 said...

He can't seem to count (bolds mine):

On Dec. 6, 2005, writing on Jim Rice: "Of the 17 players (who've been on the ballot) boasting at least 350 homers and a .290 average, all are in Cooperstown -- except for Rice and Dick Allen."

On Jan. 11, 2006: "Among 18 players who've been on the ballot with 350 homers and an average of .290, all are in the Hall except for Rice and Dick Allen."