No more Fangraphs for me

Posted By on February 27, 2009 8:22 pm

As you should know by now, one of the nation’s best newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News, printed its final edition today, forced out of business by a bad economy and a world in which so much information is free on the internet. That prompted Dave Cameron of Fangraphs to write how great all of this is for the baseball fan. And he got an atta-boy from Rob Neyer, a highly respected writer who is now a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cameron writes that it’s good that the baseball media is being whittled down to where there is less room for the professionals and more room for the bloggers.

Much like the open source movement in software, there’s been a revolution in the baseball community. The best content available isn’t being written in books or newspapers, or even behind subscription walls that require payments to access – the best knowledge available is free to everyone who wants it.

Really?

I’d like them to do an experiment. For one week, don’t read a single word produced by a member of the hated “mainstream media.” Don’t read anything written by someone who was paid to write it.

I don’t think it would take a week to realize just misguided Cameron’s opinion is. I’ll agree that the best work in “statistical analysis” is done by people working for free on the internet, but that represents a mere sliver of what there is to be written about baseball.

What about, oh, everything else? The features. The news stories. The injury reports. The investigative stories when Dominicans lie about their age. The trade rumors. The steroid stories. I’ll bet if Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci hadn’t written about Ken Caminiti’s steroid use in 2002, we still would not have any steroid testing in the majors.

A media of experienced professionals is vital. If you don’t believe it, go check out one of those blogs and click on some links and see where they take you.

I can tell you one link you will not see on this blog ever again: Fangraphs.

Comments

20 Responses to “No more Fangraphs for me”

  1. Charles King says:

    Have you read what Dave’s written about the media at USSMariner?

    On Feb 16th, he wrote “We cannot fill the role of a beat writer. We don’t want to, nor are we trying to. It is in all of our best interests that the Times not only survives, but flourishes. Through their better coverage, everyone wins.”

    So he apparently agrees with what you’re writing, and I didn’t interpret his Fangraphs post in the same way that you did.

  2. Justin says:

    You’re way out of line to characterize Cameron’s post the way you did. I feel fairly confident in saying that Cameron is much much more interested in the statistical analysis a paper isn’t needed for than he is in something like an investigative steroid story. He’s entitled to his opinion.

    He never said the demise of newspapers was a good thing. Quite the opposite actually. Hopefully with some time to think it over, you will realize your error and own up to it.

  3. Sanity's Brother says:

    I had never popped over to this blog, and am happy to say that I won’t have a reason to do so again. I’m the last person that would be a Cameron apologist, but here I am doing so. This poor blog post seems to exemplify why you should read something twice before weighing in on it in print. Terrible.

  4. I think that you have severely misinterpreted Dave Cameron’s post at FanGraphs. He is most certainly not arguing that the death of print media is good for baseball fans. There are two narrative threads in his post, the first is on the fall of print media and the second is on the quality of online baseball analysis. This provides a contrast, but nowhere does he praise the first as “great” for baseball fans. Elsewhere, in fact, he has made it very clear that he believes losing good beat writers is bad for baseball fandom.

  5. giantsrainman says:

    Jeff,

    What if I decided to stop reading you because I disagreed with you? This reaction by you is silly. Get over it. There is way too much value at Fangraphs to ignore it just becuase they have a different opinion then you on the future of main stram media.

    By the way, I agree with you that there is still plenty of value to be gained from reading the main stream media and likely always will be. As many of the above responders have said I think Dave Cameron agrees with you too but you failed to understand this. I will continue to read both with no plans to ever stop. Choosing one over the other no matter which one you choose is wrong. Reading both and enjoying the advantage of having both perspectives is clearly to most enlightened approach.

  6. Ben Fleming says:

    “I’ll bet if Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci hadn’t written about Ken Caminiti’s steroid use in 2002, we still would not have any steroid testing in the majors.”

    You’d lose.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/balco-timeline.htm

  7. Idaho Nick says:

    I think you are all wrong. Commenters may be right that Cameron was not overtly hostile to the print media, but Jeff is right that he was pretty damned triumphant about his own work. I’d be annoyed too, if I were a writer. Excuse me…a real writer.

  8. Idaho Nick says:

    And Neyer’s add one was just idiotic. Not out of character for him to blow it when he enters the real world for a moment or two.

  9. Ross says:

    “What about, oh, everything else? The features. The news stories. The injury reports. The investigative stories when Dominicans lie about their age. The trade rumors. The steroid stories. I’ll bet if Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci hadn’t written about Ken Caminiti’s steroid use in 2002, we still would not have any steroid testing in the majors.”

    Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.

    As much as I hate Peter Abraham, the LoHud Yankees blog is the new wave of mainstream media baseball news. He is essentially a beat blogger that gives occasional opinions. If every team had a couple of guys like Abraham – one focusing on feature stores and one on beat duties, the type of news you described above would flourish. Traditional newspaper columnists like the Mike Lupicas of the world are TOAST.

    People care about the game of baseball, not the stupid steroid accusations, age coverups, etc. That is the sensational stuff that the media WANTS to shove down the throats of the general public. Fortunately, it looks like baseball fans have wised up and seek their information from sources that cut out the sensational crap.

    Kudos to Fangraphs for addressing the 800 pound gorilla in the room and kudos to Rob Neyer for recognizing the truth in it.
    I should have known when I clicked to this website and the header had something about a “real writer” that I was in for a frustrating lack of insight. You didn’t disappoint me.

  10. Idaho Nick says:

    Looks like the gates have been stormed, Jeff. I’m with you. Anyone who thinks Cameron and Neyer were anything less that chest-thumping triumphalists is just seeing what they want to see.

    When all we have is opinion blogs and stat sites, not only our baseball lives but but life in general will be impoverished.

    What would all you Neyer-ites do if you only had a bunch of numbers and, say, Andrew Sullivan to work with?

    Don’t answer. You have no clue.

  11. Brian Cartwright says:

    Cameron rightly points out that the vast majority of internet users have come to expect a world’s worth of content, and to get it for no additional charge beyond what they pay their ISP. Baseball blogs are just a tiny portion of that. The business model has changed. In a world where no ones wants to pay, how does someone run a newspaper, on paper or online? Cameron said the explosion of knowledge freely available online was a good thing, but he never said that the demise of newspapers was, although the first inevitably leads to the second. The media needs to adapt to a changing world.

  12. Anonymous says:

    boy, way to mischaracterize what cameron actually said.

  13. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Upon further review, I have probably misinterpreted what Cameron meant by his piece. It was only after going to read an article of his on an entirely different blog, though, that I could come to the conclusion that he did not mean the death of the mainstream media was good. Upon reading the above linked article, I actually believe that Cameron has the proper perspective. The baseball world needs the work of bloggers who analyze the numbers and reporters who are on the scene.

    I apologize to Cameron for misinterpreting what he said (although I feel it’s a natural conclusion to draw based solely on the Fangraphs article and not his other work).

    Although Cameron seems to have the proper perspective, sadly I feel that some of the commenters (both on this thread and the Fangraphs article) do not. Those people have no idea what they will be missing if the mainstream media continues to die.

    By the way, Ben Fleming, I can’t believe you are using BALCO as an argument against the value of the mainstream media. I’m pretty sure the federal government didn’t post on its web site: “We just raided the home of Barry Bonds’ trainer and found a bunch of steroids.”

  14. JE says:

    Here is Cameron’s conclusion:

    “And, while it’s sad to watch newspapers fold and business models fail, it’s exciting to be living in an age where anyone who wants to educate themselves on the game can do so.”

    I cannot fathom why you blew a gasket, Jeff.

    By the way, as much as I enjoy Ken Davidoff’s Newsday column and blog, I cannot see myself paying for access. And, let’s be clear: Newsday ain’t The Wall Street Journal.

  15. [...] it’s clear that many of the people who have commented on his story and mine do not feel that way. Many of them — and feel free to ignore this if you aren’t in this [...]

  16. Idaho Nick says:

    You can’t fathom why, JE? Maybe because Cameron was crying crocodile tears and none of you guys are willing to acknowledge it?

  17. Ben Fleming says:

    “By the way, Ben Fleming, I can’t believe you are using BALCO as an argument against the value of the mainstream media.”

    Who the hell is doing that? I’m using it as an argument against the insane notion that but for Verducci’s SI piece, MLB wouldn’t have steroid testing. To be sure, it caused quite a stir when it came out. It was an important article. That doesn’t place it within a million miles of being the cause of drug testing. (Which is what you wrote).

  18. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Ben, what I should have written was “if not for the mainstream media, MLB would not have steroid testing.” I used Verducci’s article simply because it sparked the immediate rush of attention to the problem just before the players agreed to testing in August 2002.

    You can quibble that Verducci alone didn’t cause it, but I submit that the media as a whole did.

  19. [...] Bridge Baseball goes after Fangraph’s Dave Cameron, and in the process, seems to have not read what Cameron had to say (or for that matter, what Rob [...]

  20. Jo says:

    In retrospect, Dave Cameron crowing about the “revolution” and how the best baseball knowledge is free and not behind pay-walls is ironic as Fangraph’s deal with ESPN now puts his blogs behind a pay-wall on ESPN.com and you have to buy their stupid book on Fangraphs before you are allowed to read the Bonus Blogs. Way to carry the torch for the revolution. #6org.

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