May 16, 2000
The Daily Prospectus
I've been fortunate to be involved with BP from its inception, and have written for every edition of the book and for the Web site since we launched it. I'm also the managing editor of both the site and the book, and I understand how difficult it is to achieve 100% accuracy in the millions of words that we publish annually.
That said, I think it's important to work towards the goal of 100%, especially when it comes to the information itself. Typos are going to happen, HTML tagging is going to go awry, grammar is going to be mangled, but if we're not factually accurate, I feel I'm not doing my job. And when I see things that are clearly and utterly wrong, it grates at me.
This little diatribe is inspired by something that appeared in a column by a well-known, and often-ridiculed, baseball writer for a national publication (emphasis added):
"Montreal is using ace Dustin Hermanson as closer, a job he once had in San Diego, for 4-6 weeks while Ugueth Urbina recovers from elbow surgery Tuesday."
Uh, when was that, Rod? Hermanson tossed 45 1/3 innings with the Padres in 1995 and 1996, picking up zero saves in zero opportunities. Yes, Hermanson closed at Las Vegas during that time, but that's a far cry from having the closer job in San Diego.
This isn't the only example. It's almost impossible to watch a baseball game without hearing something completely counterfactual. On Sunday's Braves/Phillies broadcast, one of the announcers said that Greg Vaughn was off to a slow start. As of Sunday, he was hitting .301/.364/.575, so unless Tampa Bay has been relocated to Mercury, he's doing just fine. Last week on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight", Harold Reynolds talked up Tony Womack as one of the few National League leadoff hitters doing a good job, a statement that would have seemed sarcastic if he hadn't looked so darned earnest.
These things are all fiction. They're wrong, either factually or by dint of being so off-base analytically that they can be ignored.
No matter what you read, no matter where you read it, think about it critically. Mistakes are published all the time, and while I'm picking on outside sources today because I feel their errors are egregious, you'll find them here as well. Last Friday's Daily Prospectus mentioned the Cubs' Daniel Garibay bunting as a pinch-hitter. Well, he did bunt, and he did pinch-hit, but he did those two things in separate plate appearances.
Follow the game, watch the game, enjoy the game, learn the game. Then question everything you read about the game, because that's the way the coverage, and eventually the game itself, gets better.
Joe Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.