Bitterness and Bad Journalism

Perhaps The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes and I should switch jobs. He’s clearly not happy in his, and he seems like he’d rather be writing a blog where he can post his opinions anywhere than writing for a newspaper when you have to be somewhat objective.

But apparently Hoynsie doesn’t believe the rules of journalism apply to him. Here’s his lead for the story on last night’s 9-3 loss (which admittedly, was pretty ugly):

This is a season for missing things. Such as a healthy Grady Sizemore and the old Travis Hafner. Don’t forget the two departed Cy Young winners. Take your pick between CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Throw in 15-game winner Carl Pavano if you feel like it.

Yet out of all the things the Indians have lost from seasons past, who would have thought that one of the biggest voids would be created by the departure of Jhonny Peralta’s glove at third base?

Peralta made five errors in 91 games at third before being traded to Detroit on July 28. Since then the hot corner has turned into a block of Swiss cheese. In Saturday night’s 9-3 thumping by Seattle, Andy Marte made two errors in succession to set in motion Josh Bard’s game-breaking fifth-inning grand slam.
-Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer

There are so many things wrong with this lead I don’t know where to start. For those of you who don’t know, leads are supposed to be short – 25 words or less as I learned for a normal news story. For features or special reports there is more leeway with the leads, but really, what’s so special about a mid-August loss to the Seattle Mariners?

This lead is 112 words – in reality, the article doesn’t start until “In Saturday night’s 9-3 thumping by Seattle …” The rest is just Hoynes taking potshots at the organization. Grady Sizemore hasn’t played in like two months. Travis Hafner hasn’t looked like Pronk in like 4 years. What the hell does any of this have to with the August 14th, 2010 game? Absolutely nothing. Ditto for rubbing salt in that the Indians have lost 2 Cy Young winners in two years (neither of which the Indians had any realistic chance of signing, by the way). And Carl Pavano? Please. He was signed as a one-shot low risk, high-reward deal to a team that thought it was contending (but obviously wasn’t). Really, what Indians fan goes to the games and says, “Man, I really miss Carl Pavano”?

All of this I could have ignored, much like I usually do with what Hoynes writes. But the fact that he insinuated that the Indians actually would be better off with Jhonny Peralta again at third base is just plain ignorant. Andy Marte, Jayson Nix, and Luis Valbuena have all struggled at third base. But to try and pass it off that Peralta was playing good defense by citing his number of errors is lying to your readers, Paul. Without getting too deep into why errors are a bad stat, let me just point out that they are purely subjective – there is a guy up in the press box (the official scorer) and HE decides whether a play is a hit or an error. It often favors the home team, and tells you nothing about what kind of range a player has (players rarely get errors on plays they don’t get to).

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from El Gato, Andy Marte, IN THE SAME PAUL HOYNES ARTICLE:

“I don’t know why the first one was called an error,” said Marte. “It thought it was a tough ground ball. … I want to make every play out there. I want to catch every ground ball I see. That’s what I’m trying to do out there.”

Please, if there was a question in your mind about whether Peralta was a good defender or not, let me answer it: he wasn’t. Hoynes’s faulty memory and bitterness is doing fans no favors. No, it’s not Hoynes’s job to defend or protect the Indians organization. I would be disappointed if Hoynes was a homer for the team. But this is ridiculous and just plain wrong. You can’t just lie to people in a major newspaper. It’s not professional, and I for one, am sick of it.

(I’d like to take this opportunity to point out the excellent work that Anthony Castrovince does at Indians.com. If you’re looking for an everyday authority on everything Indians, I encourage you to read his work instead, like I do. Castrovince doesn’t sugarcoat things, but he doesn’t take cheap shots either. Can’t say enough good things about his work.)

Paul, if you’re tired of your current job, I know a 26 year-old service industry worker who would be thrilled to have it. Don’t bring your bitterness to work.

/rant

Tags: Andy Marte Carl Pavano CC Sabathia Cliff Lee Grady Sizemore Jhonny Peralta Travis Hafner

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