Rob Neyer, a columnist for ESPN, wrote a story Sunday ominously entitled "Santana eases worries.... for now." I've linked to the story, but I'll spare you the burden of slogging through the tedium by summarizing it for you: Santana hit a rough patch in his season and Neyer, clearly a sports media shark circling the waters of the floundering Mets, enthusiastically jumps into the fray in an attempt to identify another serious flaw with the team that nobody has yet identified. It is your basic, cheap "Doom and Gloom" story with which we NY fans (of both teams) are bombarded almost daily and it can be summarized as follows: Johan pitched well yesterday, but I, sage sportswriter Robert Neyer, have serious reservations about his ability to do that again. Ever.
As if this wasn't maddening enough, Neyer doesn't even bother to get the basics correct. The following paragraph incomprehensibly made it into his story - which I saw on Monday afternoon. It has since been corrected, with the blatantly false information removed - as you will see if you click through the link above - but I assure you that the final paragraph of the story, as late as Monday, May 13th at 5PM, read as follows:
Yeah? What's the big deal? ... He's talking about Johan's start on Saturday. I'm not sure if Neyer knows what "getaway day" means, but the Reds played another game at New Shea on Sunday. They weren't going anywhere Saturday night - and it's actually completely inconceivable to me why anyone - let alone a "sportswriter" - would think that they would be. Since when is Saturday a travel day? Since when is Sunday an off day? (the Reds were anxious to "Begin their vacations," by playing on Sunday?) I'm pretty sure that every team in Major League Baseball played on Sunday, and I'm pretty sure that's standard procedure for a Sunday. Not only that, it was a night game. Not only that, but he knows it was a night game - as he quotes another blogger/journalist/whatever earlier in his story saying as much. Baffling. Truly unbelievable.
Two things are clear: 1) Neyer has a very fragile grasp of the game of baseball and 2) He wrote this story without watching or doing a modicum of research about this particular game. Why do I say both are true? How could anyone think a Saturday night game is a getaway day? Why would it ever even occur to anyone to assume it was? And if you were to assume it was (say it was a mid-week day game) - you would AT LEAST check to see if they were traveling that night before incorporating the fact that the game was a getaway day into your argument, wouldn't you? He's identifying the possibility that the Reds were just giving at bats away as an explanation for his argument that we should still be worried about Johan despite his positive performance. But it's just a false premise. Talk about a breakdown of journalism at every level.
It wouldn't bother me if guys like this were relegated to backwoods blogs somewhere that nobody ever read. But this is ESPN. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of Sports Journalism. Right? We'll let the reader decide who has a better record of faithful coverage of the events as they actually occur.