LINK: The Power of PR

Screenshot 2014-07-30 00.42.11Josh Levin and Jeremy Stahl at Slate do some sleuthing about a website that has popped up that presents itself as the work of former Redskins players, but is actually (apparently) the work of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

Which is fine. I could list all of Burson-Marsteller’s heinous clients and former clients, as a way to cast doubt on this enterprise, but that’s the way PR works. Those who want to shape public opinion hire experts to create arguments that appeal to regular folks, whose regular voices resonate more widely than regular advertising or political graft might. Or give ideas authenticity, at least. And I’m sure BR also has some non-heinous and virtuous clients.

It is not unreasonable, of course, for people to question the veracity of claims made by those buying ad and airspace trying to shape public opinion. We all should. There’s no smoking gun here, no defining moment of cynicism, but rather an example of how far people who have money will sometimes go to try and sway the world to their opinion.

The story also links to a Washington Post story from last November about William “Lone Star” Dietz, the legendary coach for whom the team was named. If you’re interested in this issue it is a must read, since it clearly lays out the evidence about whether or not Dietz was actually a Sioux, as he claimed his entire adult life.

And it also raises the question of whether that matters. If Dietz was able to make everyone think he was a Native American (well, one fourth), and advocated for Indian rights and respect throughout his life, wasn’t it a sign of respect (as claimed) when team owner George Preston Marshall named the team in his honor?

Read the story to come to your own conclusion about that. Then we have to decide whether, even if that was the intent (then), that matters now.





Jay Jaffe’s Basement League Baseball: A remembrance

Screenshot 2014-01-20 10.37.41Who among us did not nurse a fevered infatuation with some form or forms of simulated baseball game while growing up? If not for that, would we be here today? I mean at Ask Rotoman, not in the larger existential sense.

My father introduced me to a dice baseball game he invented when he was in school when I was a boy, and I recreated the Mets’ early years and documented the simulated seasons just as enthusiastically as he had done the New York Giants of his youth. This involved cutting out the day’s box score and pasting it into a notebook beside the simulated scoresheet of the dice game. I know, crazy.

The baseball writer Jay Jaffe has a similar story, which he tells in this piece at Old Time Family Baseball. Charmingly.

Rob Neyer leaves ESPN

I started working for ESPN in 1995, when the newly launched ESPN Sportszone paid me for the baseball projections I’d put together for the book, “How to Win at Rotisserie Baseball.” The book wasn’t published that year because the publisher worried that the lockout, which killed the 1994 World Series, would kill the 1995 season. The ESPN Sportszone launched in April, shortly after the players and owners settled, and my projections became the first fantasy content on the fledgling website.

In 1996, ESPN paid me to go to Spring Training and report from the camps of Florida from a fantasy perspective, and somewhere in there Ask Rotoman was born. At some point that year, Rob Neyer became my editor. As he says in the fairwell note he posted on his blog at ESPN this week, he was an improbable fantasy baseball editor, and my recollection is that he pretty much left me alone. Now he’s moved on from ESPN, and good luck to him at what I hope proves to be a lively and successful tenure at SB Nation.

His first week there as National Baseball Editor has been energetic and promising. Rob is one of the most original and vibrant of modern baseball writers of the Internet era ( though not necessarily on the Internet). He’ll have a broader canvas to work on at SB Nation, and a chance to wrest some of the power away from the corporate giants. Go get ’em, Rob, for all of us.

Why Scott Boras Isnt As Evil As You Think He Is


One reads a lot of crap analysis about sports (well, and other stuff too), but this is totally on.

It doesn’t mean that Boras isn’t a problem in the context of organized MLB baseball, but why would us fans choose to side with the owners and their uncounted stores of money, rather than the players, who make the game we like to watch with their talent?