Thursday, December 18, 2014

What's All The Shouting About?

Go away for one lousy week and all hell breaks loose without Post Patterns to keep things orderly around here.

What's All The Shouting About?

Go away for one lousy week and all hell breaks loose without Post Patterns to keep things orderly around here.

When the staff and I returned -- leaving out the lesser details about that nasty hound dog from U.S. Customs at Philly Int'l that had an issue with one small item in one small piece of luggage -- it seems that it was a busy week here.

In no particular order, we learned that: the Sixers got a shooting guard, the Flyers got a goaltender, Donovan McNabb was paid $6 million for being benched in that second half in Baltimore, Brad Lidge went on the disabled list, and the entire field of journalism (such as it is) was rendered asunder by John Gonzalez and some fantasy league geek in Peoria.

Not wanting to waste a minute before diving back into the fray, Post Patterns went to the Phillies game in Citi Field on Thursday and found the entire baseball press corps (such as they are) still in lather-and-repeat mode about Gonzo's Inquirer column in which he downplayed internet rumors of PED use by Raul Ibanez by writing a big story about it.

I like John, I like Ibanez, I like the baseball writers and I had a fine time in Peoria once when the Sixers played an exhibition game there because they thought Hersey Hawkins would be a big draw at his former college arena. (Harold Katz had a lot of ideas like that, but that's a story for another day.)

But everyone is very upset about the whole thing, except perhaps the fantasy league guy who ended up on "Outside The Lines," when he'd never even been outside of Iowa before. (It's entirely possible I have the guy's location wrong, by the way. I know he's from the midwest, though. But, hey, it's a blog post. I'm just kind of winging it here.)

Ibanez was the most upset, and understandably so, taking his word for the fact that his prodigious production this season has been the result of innate talent and hard work. Gonzo was upset, too, although he got some ESPN face time as well -- which must have done wonders for their ratings.

As for the core issue, no one knows for sure, of course, but we live in an innocent-until-proven society, Ibanez has never tested positive for any prohibited substance, and there is some history to what he is doing. That was laid out nicely in respected KC writer Joe Posnanski's blog, although Joe did admit that when Ibanez played for the Royals he and Ibanez used to exchange gifts for their children, so on the impartiality scale of 1-to-10, Joe probably isn't a 10.

The journalism issue is knottier. If something is "out there," buzzing around the internet, even if it is posted by someone with no professional standards binding him or her, with no actual reportorial knowledge of a situation and just kind of wondering out loud, is it fair game for the mainstream media to seize upon it as, well, information?

Unfortunately, the answer is: It depends. That's the fuzzy world in which we live at the moment and it should also be noted that the mainstream media -- where the streams are ebbing rapidly and drying up in spots -- isn't the bellweather of propriety it once was, either.

So, who to trust? Again: It depends. But we do live in a place where the distribution of ideas, opinions and information is not overtly controlled by the government. (The hound dog in the airport notwithstanding.) We make great fun of places that operate in that manner. Our system, despite its byproducts, is preferable. Raul Ibanez might not think so at the moment, but he works in a profession that has been tainted by his fellow professionals and comes along at a time when people are going to wonder the kind of stuff that the guy in Peoria wondered about. There are going to be things in blogs that are wrong and regrettable -- like the previous sentence, for instance, which ended in a preposition -- or this one, which is running on and on without any reasonable hope of a satisfactory termination. Whew.

 It's a new era, and some of the rules are still being figured out. (Preposition, again.) Twenty years ago there were no blogs. Now everyone has one. Murphy, the ball writer from the Daily News, yelled across the press box Thursday night, "Hey, I'm ripping your boy in my blog." I like Murphy, although he's not nearly as good a basketball player as he believes, and he has a right to criticize Gonzo in his blog. I'm in a glass house on that one since I took a little shot at Les Bowen a while back after he took a little shot at me. We got over it and have gone back to talking about Darden Smith and Joe Ely again, instead of what weasels we are. (I gotta stop that.)

Anyway, it's great to be back. Glad I didn't miss anything important.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Bob Ford has been writing about Philadelphia sports since 1981, and is still trying to figure it all out. A former beat writer covering the Phillies and the 76ers, Ford became a general sports columnist for the Inquirer in 2003, following in and occasionally falling in the deep footsteps of Bill Lyon, Frank Dolson and many distinguished others. He comes to the Philly.com blogosphere after award-winning success as designer/editor of the fabulous Pen & Pencil Club softball blog. Likes: Palestra, inside-the-park home runs, sunny days. Dislikes: phony people, cloudy days, rewrites. Reach Bob at bford@phillynews.com.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
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