Murray Chass: Reality is not my friend

August 8th, 2006 → 11:00 am @ // 7 Comments

On those days in which Murray Chass isn’t whining about the fact that George Steinbrenner won’t talk to him, he’s apparently trying to see if anyone at The New York Times is paying attention to anything he writes.

Take today’s piece on the Red Sox. As far as I can tell, the point is that the Red Sox should have a “commanding” lead in the AL East. Why? Because the Yankees have been “bruised and bloodied,” while the Red Sox, “until catcher Jason Varitek had knee surgery last week, had not dealt with the extended absence of an everyday player.” Which is true…so long as you don’t count center and right fielders as everyday players: Coco Crisp landed on the DL on April 11, and Trot Nixon has been out of commission with a strained right bicep since late last month. (Wily Mo Pena, the team’s fourth outfielder, was also on the DL for about three weeks earlier this year.) Still, at least the Sox have had a healthy pitching staff…except for Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Lenny DiNardo, Tim Wakefield, David Wells, and Matt Clement, all of whom are on or have been on the DL. (Clement and DiNardo are both on the 60-day list, while Wells has been on the 15-day list three separate times already.) In fact, the Red Sox have put a player on the DL 15 times thus far this year, compared to 11 for the Yankees.

This kind of fact-challenged pique is Chass’s specialty. Almost exactly a year ago, he directed his whining toward Carlos Delgado, who had the nerve to sign with a team other than the Mets after the 2004 season; that piece was headlined “Delgado Gets an E-3 for Picking the Marlins.” “The man made a mistake,” Chass wrote. “It’s that simple. Carlos Delgado said in January that he signed with Florida rather than the Mets because he thought the Marlins had a better chance of going to the World Series. He thought wrong.” On September 15, about a month after Chass’s column ran, the Marlins were .5 games behind the wild-card leaders and 6.5 games ahead of the Mets. (A Marlins collapse in the season’s final two weeks meant the teams ended up with identical 83-79 records, 7 games back of the division-winning Braves and 5.5 games behind the wild-card winning Astros. Using WARP, Delgado was worth about three more wins than the collection of folks the Mets had manning first…which still wouldn’t have been enough to propel the Mets into the playoffs.)

Any columnist can state the obvious, so Chass shouldn’t be knocked for telling us that teams would be better with a a two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger winner closing in on 400 home runs than without him: “[Delgado’s] bat would have looked good in the middle of the Mets’ batting order. And with his bat absent from the Florida lineup, the Marlins might have had an offensive shortage.” And it’s a columnist’s perogative to ignore his pre-season predictions while chastising players for theirs. (Last year, Chass had the Twins winning the AL Central and the World Series-winning White Sox coming in third; he picked the wild-card winning, NL champion Astros to come in fourth in the NL Central. This year, he ranked the Detroit Tigers behind the Twins, White Sox, and Indians in the AL Central.)

Chass can, however, be knocked for ignoring reality. Columnists at the Times are given lots of latitude (most the time, anyway). At what point do columns that are contradicted by facts become an issue? Keep reading the paper’s sports section to find out…


Post Categories: Murray Chass & New York Times & Sports Reporters

7 Comments → “Murray Chass: Reality is not my friend”


  1. kml1258

    11 years ago

    Just like all things New York, they have a jaded idea of reality. Whether it’s baseball or their importance in society. What strikes me reading the article is who does any fact checking at that “rag”. Seriously, I live in Kansas City and think more of the Star’s sports section than the NYT.

    By the way, any Bostonians going to be in KC tonight?

    Reply

  2. zoowah

    11 years ago

    Kudos for again taking on Chass and his inanities. Someone has to, since his editors don’t. I also noticed the way Chass and his comrades were daily willing to take a hard-nosed look at Giambi’s steroid use until…well, until the day he started hitting better! How quickly the story was dropped. Call it what you will, but it’s not respectable journalism.

    But alas, Seth, you’re not sufficiently distracting us Sox fans. Sad, sad, sad weeks ahead. Can you tap dance? Offer a TV and radio buy back? Tell us warm tales of the Future?

    Reply

  3. gmschmidty

    11 years ago

    I will not be in KC tonight, although I was there last year for two August games (both hot, disappointing losses, if I recall correctly.) Let’s hope for a sweep to right this ship.

    Murray Chass- What can you really say about that article other than it appears, with last night’s off-day for the AL East powerhouses, Murray was looking to fill some column space by flinging some mud (and what better way to do that than to kick it up between the Red Sox and Yanks!) The problem with Chass’ assessment is that it is entirely self-defeating. The injuries the Yankees sustained last year, when the Red Sox took a small lead for the early months, were all inuries to the pitching staff. At that time there were a few inuries to the every day players on the Red Sox as well (Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, John Olerud, Gabe Kapler) but the general consensus among sportswriters, including Chass, was that Joe Torre could very well be considered Manger of the Year for keeping his team in the hunt without some starting pitchers, because this was a bigger loss than the everyday players who can be replaced with utility guys, etc. Now this year the tables have turned. The Sox are pitching with a weaker-than-advertised Josh Beckett, a healthy and effective Curt Schilling, and…well, and some guys I think they found at the airport on some of their road-trips. Yet, you don’t hear Chass calling for Tito to be Manager of the year, for piecing together the staff, and for motivating the masses.

    To say that it is the Red Sox fault for not pulling away from the Yankees while the Yanks were missing two of their big bats sort of ignores the fact that the Yankees still had five position players and two pitchers named to the All-Star team, doesn’t it? But to ignore that the Sox maintained first place with only TWO of their starting rotation pitchers, is downright stupid.

    Geoffrey

    Reply

  4. VincentD

    11 years ago

    Chass’s writing is moronic, and seems designed simply to provoke. It’s clear that writers in the NYTimes sports section get little scrutiny, if any. But Chass simply flings out dumbness; he’s the paper version of the sports radio shout-fest host—there was, for example, his series of articles a while ago complaining about Congress looking at steroid use in baseball, pooh-poohing the interest in the topic. He’s gone silent on that. There was, too, his quick dismissal of the Red Sox World Series victory in 2004. When confronted by email on it, he claimed he wasn’t a Yankees fan, or a fan of any team. Ho ho.

    Reply

  5. crimsonohsix

    11 years ago

    How much does an average NYTimes sports columnist make? Just curious…

    Reply

  6. Retire_Number_14

    11 years ago

    First, I take issue with any baseball column that uses the word “profligacy” in the third sentence. Especially when the author of said column writes about teams in New York City for a living. Point: One of the main definitions of “profligate,” the adjective, is “wildly extravagant.” What word better describes the spending habits of our favorite foils from the Bronx? Have the Sox “completely given up to dissipation” or have they shown “dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure” by not making a trading deadline deal? My, that’s harsh, and literally incorrect. But I digress.
    Chass’s command of the English language is second only to his complete ignorance of the fact that no team in baseball, even our beloved number-two-payroll Red Sox, can compete on the same financial playing field as the Bombers. Lose a right fielder? Take on Bobby Abreu’s salary at $16 mil per. No sweat. Just how many Yanks make more than $10 million a year now? Lose Matsui? Geez, looks like Giambi will actually have to play the field for a while. (BTW, Great post by zoowah, this is a story that is under-covered. Giambi gets the only free pass in the steroid mania for apologizing for, well, sucking.)
    To say that the Sox “should” be way ahead is ludicrous. To even be in the race with only one proven starter is more than you could ask for. Sure, our pitching stinks right now, but by my count the Sox have lost exactly eight games all season that they “should” have won. Unfortunately, four of those are within the last month, including the 19-inning marathon at the ballpark without a soul.
    SM, Thanks for providing the most intelligent Sox blog on the Web.

    Reply

  7. Ron

    11 years ago

    Most sophisticated baseball fans acknowledge the nonlinearity of baseball analysis, yet we struggle to disprove that. James’ Win Shares certainly comes as quantitatively close to doing that as anything I’ve seen, including the Total Player Rating (TPR) system.

    In medicine, we call the ‘qualitative’ decision-making algorithm the ‘Mother Rule’, as in ‘what would you do if it were your mother?’ The baseball corollary would be ‘who would you want up at the plate in the critical situation’ (presuming no alternative except pitching to the batter)?

    Every analysis becomes nuanced by our assignment of relative importance to what we value. I like to look at Sox’ players performance relative to their positional peers. Ortiz is slightly behind Hafner and Thome in OPS but ahead in runs created. Manny has an Olympian lead quantitatively over AL leftfielders. It’s Scylla or Charybdis not the Lady or the Tiger.

    Reply

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