Examples in Bad Sportswriting: The Illustrious Dan Barnes

Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009 03:12PM

faceless-pajamas

Most of the blogs that cover the Oilers have definite opinions on the various mainstream journalists who cover the team. Terry Jones is invariably disliked, while someone like Robin Brownlee, despite the amount of flack he’s taken since signing up to write at OilersNation is regarded with respect. Dan Barnes is over at the Brownlee end of the spectrum.

That’s probably why his latest offering bothers me so much. Let’s go through it line by line, Fire Joe Morgan-style.

Liam Reddox doesn't have to please you or me, the leather- lungs in the nosebleeds, the corporate suits in the golds, the talking heads on TV and radio, faceless, pajama-clad bloggers or know-it-all message board posters.

Liam Reddox: Not a pleaser. Not worth the risk. Anyways, if you were wondering how Dan Barnes viewed the Oilers fanbase, he’s conveniently divided it up for us:

  1. Him
  2. Loud people who sit up high in the arena
  3. Rich people who sit low in the arena (note on the last two: we here at OilersNation don’t’ judge you by your seat location)
  4. Pundits
  5. Bloggers – strange creatures without faces who invariably wear their pajamas day and night, and likely live in their mothers’ respective basements. They’re pictured above (and no, that isn’t me – it’s from Wikipedia).
  6. Smug, self-important types who chime in here or at HFBoards

And the 23-year-old sure as heck doesn't have to apologize to anyone for living his unlikely National Hockey League dream, be that as a first-line left winger, fourth-line centre or any point in-between.

So all of you demanding an apology retract your demand forthwith! He’s just living his dream, guys, leave him in peace.

So while his very presence in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room seems to offend the loud, predictable and tireless backers of Rob Schremp, and those are people who really need a new idea, Reddox's solid though unspectacular play on the ice continues to impress the only critic whose opinion matters in this case, Craig MacTavish.

Strawman (noun): a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted.

Also, since I’m indulging myself in petty criticism, I’m fairly sure that the GM’s opinion is somewhat important as well. Moving on.

"He executes. He's a foot soldier and he executes. He makes the right play," said the head coach. "He's bought himself a lot of rope in the way he plays. He's reliable. I can play him in the last minute of games. I'm completely comfortable."

That has been obvious, even painfully so at times. Reddox has played 25 games and contributed five points on three goals and two assists. They are numbers that rightly suggest he's at best a third-liner at this point in his development. So, too, does his 10:30 average ice time.

In point of fact, among NHL forwards with more than 20 games played, Reddox’s offensive numbers (1.22 PTS/60 minutes EV icetime) rank 328th overall, and his point total (5) ranks 12th among Oilers forwards. That would suggest he’s actually a fourth liner. Ditto for his average ice-time, which ranks 13th among Oilers forwards and 393rd overall among league forwards. Fourth liner.

But that apparent synergy doesn't appease the anti-Reddox movement, whose members erupt with venomous references to Marty Reasoner or Toby Peterson (sic) every time MacTavish does the unthinkable and elevates their whipping boy to the first or second line.

Synergy (noun): the working together of two things to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. What synergy is Barnes referring to here? Is it the synergy between Reddox being a foot soldier and Reddox executing? Feel free to chime in below with your suggestions.

As for references to Reasoner and Petersen, maybe and yes. Some folks out there remain convinced that Reasoner was a problem, but I think blogs and pundits on the whole have been fairly consistent in evaluating Reasoner as a useful veteran player. Still, at least he’s right in suggesting Toby Petersen as a comparable.

It happened again Friday when Dustin Penner was benched against Minnesota and Reddox jumped into his left wing slot on the top line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. He is, in fact, MacTavish's default position player.

I can’t argue with that – MacTavish does play him at any position. Still, maybe I’m off track here but does it seem odd that the guy Barnes listed as “ at best a third-liner” (actually a 4th-liner) is MacTavish’s default fill-in?

Though Reddox claims he hasn't heard any of the vitriol, it wouldn't bother him if he did.

"It's understandable," he said after Saturday's practice.

After all, he's been stung with variations of the criticism forever, and the constant assault contributed to lowered expectations on his draft weekend in Raleigh, N.C.

Liam Reddox: Immune to your disdain.

"I'd had a pretty good year in junior, led my team in scoring. But I was told I was too small and wouldn't be able to play that way at the next level. Edmonton took a chance. They took me in the fourth round."

That was five years ago and he is just now making good on their modest investment. He is doing it wisely too, playing safe, sound hockey that will get him another game, adopting a defence-first approach and attention to detail that doesn't change even when his line assignment does. He won't win the Oilers many games, but he won't lose any.

Since Reddox won’t win games, and won’t lose games, is he playing for the tie? Because, if that’s the case, someone should let him know that the NHL no longer allows games to end in a tie. Again, perhaps I’m on the wrong track here, but does it sound like Reddox is a non-factor, albeit a wise non-factor?

He has also scored three times, against Minnesota, Colorado and Ottawa. Despite the fact he's only five foot 11, 180 pounds, he wins enough physical battles down low to whack home a loose puck now and then. He's had chances for several more, but there are obvious limitations to his game.

Given that Reddox has been on the ice for seven goals for and eleven goals against, it’s probably a fair argument that he loses enough physical battles to have a goal scored against now and then. The fact that he’s one of the worst Oilers on the team by shots for/shots against would seem to indicate that his opposition has had chances for several more goals as well.

He will kill penalties, see the truly odd shift on the power play, and survive because of his versatility and reliability. While Schremp has to digest harsh and unnecessary comments from MacTavish about his lack of foot speed and Gilbert Brule seems victimized by the fact he's a few games away from needing to clear waivers the next time he comes up, Reddox sits in the catbird seat. If that means he's a target for fans who don't like his game or abhor MacTavish's fondness for grinders, fire away.

It’s actually quite sad how rarely the phrase “catbird seat” is used in modern writing. The National Association of Words Not Commonly Used (NAWNCU) commends you for your efforts, Dan. By the way, the best point in this whole article is that Reddox comes out ahead of Brule by virtue of waiver eligibility. It’s just a shame that the strongest argument in Barnes’ article is an off-hand reference 15 or so paragraphs in.

He knows what and who he is and how hard he had to work in Peterborough, Stockton and Springfield to get here. He's a 23-year-old rookie who has played 26 games, including one last season, and he doesn't think it's fair to suggest he'll never get any better.

I’m sure that Reddox knowing who and what he is will come in handy down the line. I mean, it has for me – just watch:

Who: Liam Reddox

What: 4th line forward

Out of curiosity, has anyone suggested that Reddox has peaked as a player, or does this fall into the category of strawmen again?

Oh yes, he'll get more time. Because MacTavish doesn't have to please you or me, the leather-lungs, the suits, the bloggers, the posters or the critics. He has to make the playoffs. And he thinks Reddox will help him do exactly that.

Two notes:

  1. The now openly recognized goal of the team is a playoff spot.
  2. Liam Reddox, who rather improbably neither wins nor loses games, will help MacTavish get this team to the playoffs.

The ironic thing here is that if the premise is that Liam Reddox is a decent call-up, I’d agree. I might argue the following points:

  1. Gilbert Brule is running out of waiver eligibility.
  2. Liam Reddox is averaging just over ten minutes a game, so despite some of the odd situational use, on average he really isn’t being run out there more than a garden variety fourth-line hockey player.
  3. Because the first line of Penner, Hemsky and Horcoff faces tough opponents, when Hemsky was injured they needed a defensively reliable forward at RW. It didn’t make sense to put Cole there, because of his chemistry with Gagner, and Pisani was hurt which limited the coach’s options.
  4. Liam Reddox was a goal-scorer in junior and has been close to a point per game pace in the minors, despite being used against the opposing team’s best players. Based on his play in Springfield, he’s clearly ahead of everyone other than Ryan Potulny and Gilbert Brule, and is likely better suited to a defensive role than either of those two. Then again, I am a pajama-clad faceless monster, so what do I know?
74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 03:24PM
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You need to contribute to this site, out from behind the curtain, a little more there OZ.

I like.

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#2 BUCK75
February 03 2009, 03:52PM
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Nice Article - I agree with TD. Gie yourself a pat on the back!

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#3 bingofuel
February 03 2009, 03:59PM
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No no no, friends, I just pull switches. This is J Willis' brainchild. I forgot to change the author tag.

WILLIS!

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#4 jeanshorts
February 03 2009, 04:03PM
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"Because MacTavish doesn’t have to please you or me, the leather-lungs, the suits, the bloggers, the posters or the critics. He has to make the playoffs."

Umm, wouldn't making the playoffs more or less please said people?

And I love how Barnes makes it out to be an Anit-Reddox movement. I don't think anyone has anything against Reddox the person, or the player really. He just happens to fall in line with yet another head scratching move by management and MacT when it comes to choosing someone to fill a void in the roster. There are other guys in the system that the majority feel should be in Reddox's spot before him.

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#5 Wanye Gretz
February 03 2009, 04:03PM
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HAHAHAHAHAHA I read that and thought "Since when does BingoFuel know all this stuff about Reddox??" and then I thought "Why doesn't this guy write instead of edit??"

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

*cough*

Seriously though. Reddox is a nerd.

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#6 bingofuel
February 03 2009, 04:06PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: You know the only things I like to write about are the way the Oilers manage their public image (read: poorly), and how Daryl Katz is richer than the entire roster of Norse and Greek Gods.

All I know about hockey is ice. and stick. and beer.

Now let's get back to the real discussion: Reddox. And Barnes.

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#7 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 04:12PM
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HAHA get back behind that curtain boy!

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#8 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 04:13PM
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@ jeanshorts:

Well said...

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#9 BUCK75
February 03 2009, 04:14PM
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@ bingofuel:

I guess you can only write in 140 characters or less...

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#10 RobinB
February 03 2009, 04:15PM
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Jon: With all the questionable things written out there, you want to take on Dan Barnes, eh?I'd think twice about that.

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#11 Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009, 04:21PM
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@ RobinB:

There's no doubt in my mind that Dan Barnes is in the upper echelon of hockey writers, but this particular piece just got under my skin. Between the gratuitous shots at critics and the "you're either for Schremp or Reddox" tone, I was irked.

Probably just an off-day, but it isn't like he particularly cares what I think anyway, as I lounge around in my PJ's.

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#12 Wanye Gretz
February 03 2009, 04:22PM
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While I am at it and I read the Barnes piece and I have some other thoughts which I will present as an open letter to a guy who will never read it.

Kind of like a letter to Santa, but more hockey related.

Hey Barnes -

Want to pump the tire of a prospect who should be getting a shot with the Oil? A guy who has worked tirelessly on becoming more physical, playing whatever role asked of him by the club and yet still gets treated like dirt despite being a very able bodied player and a former first round draft pick to boot?

His name is Ladislav Smid. Start there if you want to pump the tire of a guy not getting his due. Or if the aim of the article is to stangely draw a line in the sand against the bulk of Oilers Fans - pick an issue with a bit more zip.

And I don't wear pyjamas all day long Mr. Barnes. I wear your (wife/girlfriend/mistress/daughter/whoever you find the most insulting)'s negligee around for most of the day.

mmmmm silky.

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#13 smytty777
February 03 2009, 04:32PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I have to give Barnes the benefit of the doubt on this one. I see your point as I didn't think it was a particularly good article either, but Barnes is generally a very solid writer so I don't think it's a big deal if he doesn't strike gold everytime.

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#14 RBK
February 03 2009, 04:33PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

hahaha nice try Wayne. I remember you saying that you like Barnes best awhile back.

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#15 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 04:35PM
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GET HIM!!

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#16 Wanye Gretz
February 03 2009, 04:35PM
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@ RBK:

That may be the case but that is before he inferred that I wear pyjamas about all day. I am more interested in getting him to talk up Smid and I took my shot in my imaginary letter.

BAH Damn you and your memory RBK

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#17 Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009, 04:50PM
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smytty777 wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: I have to give Barnes the benefit of the doubt on this one. I see your point as I didn’t think it was a particularly good article either, but Barnes is generally a very solid writer so I don’t think it’s a big deal if he doesn’t strike gold everytime.

Normally, I'd agree, but outside of the use of words like vitriol, venemous, and catbird seat, you could put Terry Jones' name at the top of the article and I wouldn't even think twice.

It's a big drop from his usual level of quality.

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#18 Rick
February 03 2009, 04:53PM
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So Barnes is generally regarded as a pretty decent read because is prepared to go contrary to the common perceptions, right?

So what's the point of calling him out when he goes against YOUR common perception?

It was bound to happen sooner or later because that is why he is regarded as a decent read in the first place.

If it doesn't happen then he is just another media lacky that you guys tend to rail against. The only difference being that he is your lacky as opposed to the Oilers (as is generally the common claim).

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#19 RobinB
February 03 2009, 04:53PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Nice photo, Wanye. Are those the Chihuahua skin slippers your friend Juan from the Remand Centre gave you on your anniversary?

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#20 Fiveandagame
February 03 2009, 05:02PM
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Reddox would probably look great out there with Brodziak and (insert fellow for fisticuffs here).

The flak Reddox gets is undeserved just as it was for Toby Peterson. BUT those player should have never been put in the positions they were in. Peterson on the powerplay? Reddox on the first line.

This all goes back to the retarded machinations of MacT's mind. Square pegs in round holes, 2+2 is 5 ect. MacT is a good coach, but his arrogance in how he positions his players is unbelievable. His fondness for his MacTavish clones is nauseating.

Can anybody tell me why in the hell he had Visnovsky, Souray and Gilbert all out on the first power play unit? WTF? Seriously has anybody heard an explanation for that?

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#21 Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009, 05:03PM
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@ Rick:

Which perception is that, exactly?

1) Liam Reddox, hard-working dream-living utility forward, deserves a spot in the lineup. 2) Bloggers live in their PJ's. 3) You love Rob Schremp or you love Liam Reddox: that's the line in the sand.

Because if it's 1) I actually agree with him, and if it's 2) or 3) than I don't see how he could be right.

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#22 Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009, 05:07PM
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Rick wrote:

If it doesn’t happen then he is just another media lacky that you guys tend to rail against. The only difference being that he is your lacky as opposed to the Oilers (as is generally the common claim).

Since you're talking to me, I'll take issue with this. I think Edmonton has a pretty decent media crew; the only guy I have a real problem with is Terry Jones. I've said that repeatedly in places where it isn't a popular thought.

I disagree plenty with Barnes, Brownlee, Gregor, Ireland, Van Diest, Staples... whoever. I certainly don't think that they're lackies for the Oilers.

Besides, this isn't about railing against Barnes, it's about taking some light-hearted shots at a guy who just did the same to folks like us (and you, if you remember).

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#23 mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca
February 03 2009, 07:05PM
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JW: I don't think it's smart of you to take on any of the professionals. They are there each and every day collecting quotes and you should be seen and not heard but always read;)

BTW, I love me some FJM send-up. You know that one of those guys is one of the head writers on The Office, right?

I'm sorta torn on the whole Barnes thing from the other day. Though I am a MacT guy I read that treatment on Reddox and I winced a little. But I keep giving Dan the benefit of a doubt because when 94 was dealt and every wag was busy burying their heads up Lowe's *** instead of twisting him in knots over all the double-talk, Barnes wrote a couple of columns where he basically threw up his hands and wondered just what the shag was going on.

I have a hard time forgetting that and that's why I'll cut him some slack.

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#24 Colin
February 04 2009, 08:15AM
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mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca wrote:

JW: I don’t think it’s smart of you to take on any of the professionals. They are there each and every day collecting quotes and you should be seen and not heard but always read;) BTW, I love me some FJM send-up. You know that one of those guys is one of the head writers on The Office, right? I’m sorta torn on the whole Barnes thing from the other day. Though I am a MacT guy I read that treatment on Reddox and I winced a little. But I keep giving Dan the benefit of a doubt because when 94 was dealt and every wag was busy burying their heads up Lowe’s *** instead of twisting him in knots over all the double-talk, Barnes wrote a couple of columns where he basically threw up his hands and wondered just what the shag was going on. I have a hard time forgetting that and that’s why I’ll cut him some slack.

Why people still think Smyth was hot shit I'll never know. He always seemed like a turnover machine, never put up a point per game season (80+games) and has hit the toilet since he left. He was at best a 2nd line player who got way too many top line minutes on some bad Oiler teams.

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#25 Rick
February 04 2009, 08:31AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Since you’re talking to me, I’ll take issue with this.

In actuality I was speaking more towards the subject than I was you specifically. It just happened that you started the topic.

In looking around the blogs and forums this subject is often brought up but the big difference is that it is usually broached as some sort of drive by comment and always seems to have the same undertone.

What it always boils down to is that the guy making the comment is pissed off because the poster either disagrees with what has been said or is unhappy because the columnist isn't concentrating on the so called correct subject matter.

The guy that posted right below the comment I am replying to is a perfect example. The comment contains a nice smear of the media in general and "forgives" Barnes for this article as if Barnes wrote something that was incorrect.

It's stupid and I fail to see why a guy like Barnes who is held in high regard by some people for breaking formation needs to be forgiven because he broke formation with the same people that originally praised him for doing so. What are these people looking for? Is it the so called honest voice in the media or is it a media guy that speaks for them? There is a significant difference.

As for his article on Reddox I took it as nothing more than Reddox not needing to apologize for getting to where he is at and the points made are accurate. I seriously doubt the comments about the bloggers, posters and Rob Schremp were pointed at you specifically so I don't know why you would take offence to it.

At the same time, it is easy to figure out that there is a population of bloggers and fans that it applies to directly on target. If a blogger or poster wants to keep on trotting out that the media has their head up Kevin Lowes ass then why isn't it fair game to use the pajama stereo type in a dig back?

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#26 RobinB
February 04 2009, 11:08AM
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@ Rick: That's what Dennis does. He holds most of the MSM guys in very low regard, particularly me, as anybody can see if you go through his posts.

His default schtick is we're Lowe-MacTavish ass-kissers, bought and paid for by the Oilers. He's thrown that dig at me so many times -- despite evidence to the contrary being posted -- he's been told to lay off.

Now, Dennis just generalizes about the "wags" in this town. It drives him nuts not to mention me by name when he'd rather go that route, but he understands, in no uncertain terms, that if he does it the posts will be zapped. I suspect you've noticed the change in name line from plain, old DENNIS to the e-mail address topping his comments now.

And you make a good point about the constant digs MSM guys get from people like Dennis, who believe they are smarter and more perceptive than we are -- do people like Dennis not expect a shot back when we constantly read what dummies and fartcatchers we are?

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#27 mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca
February 04 2009, 03:01PM
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Robin: there was a change in my name tag because I was looking after my sister's kid; so, I couldn't post with my usual name.

Also, I didn't realize that any critical posts would be 'zapped' but if that's the way WG or anyone else wants to run things, then I guess that's his deal. I would hope that decree doesn't come from any kind of suggestion from yourself because if so, it makes you look petty and weak. Then again, you really are more disdainful of posters than I am of journos so if Wayne's giving you this cover it allows you to run your Grizzly Bear act to full effect.

So, you've got that going for you:)

Seriously, though, I've seen enough poor moves from Lowe that it begged or begs for a bigger treatment and because I haven't seen that, then, yeah, of course I'm gonna wonder what's up and I'm gonna jump to my own conclusions. If you were a fan of a team and you read all the papers and the team was medicore for a long stretch and no one took a run at the guy making the decisions, wouldn't you wonder the very same thing?

Zap?

Zap, Zap?:)

Rick: I don't think it's stupid at all that I gave Barnes a pass for sorta using a soapbox for Reddox. You've got a whole corps who'll at the very most paddycake around Lowe's moves and considering that Barnes had the nuts to come the closest to being a critic, I'll give him some slack for some independent thought.

I don't want anyone to cater to my own thoughts on the club as much as I want them to be critical of all things. 27's getting the hose now and his salary means he's got to take it. But who cut him that deal?

CHED is directly in bed with the Oilers so while I don't like it, I'll give them a pass for their propaganda because I know in other cases guys like Steve Stone have tried to be critical of the Cubs while working for WGN and they lost their job for it.

But what's everyone else's excuse?

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#28 Rick
February 04 2009, 03:20PM
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mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca wrote:

Rick: I don’t think it’s stupid at all that I gave Barnes a pass for sorta using a soapbox for Reddox. You’ve got a whole corps who’ll at the very most paddycake around Lowe’s moves and considering that Barnes had the nuts to come the closest to being a critic, I’ll give him some slack for some independent thought.

I wasn't suggesting that it was stupid that you gave him a pass. I was suggesting that it was stupid that you felt the article warranted the need for a pass.

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#29 RobinB
February 04 2009, 03:56PM
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@ mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca: Give it a rest . . . Comments zapped? I didn't know this . . . my sister's kid. Whatever.

Critical? By critical do you mean personal attacks on me? I'm not going to find and run past posts of yours AGAIN doing exactly that because I'm done wasting my time.

You've implied more than once I give MacTavish a free pass. So, I post items I've written that are critical of MacTavish. You say, "Sure, but what about Lowe? You kiss his ass." I post an item critical of Lowe. You say, "Oh, I never saw that. My mistake." A week later, you're back trotting out the same argument again.

And cut this crap, like the latest post where you ALMOST sound reasonable -- Robin, why so worked up, I'm just questioning perfectly legit issues, what's the big deal? -- when you'll be back spewing the same insulting stuff again in a week.

Petty and weak? This isn't your forum, Dennis. Save your spew for your own website (even if nobody will read it).

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#30 Dennis
February 04 2009, 04:53PM
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RB: my name and opinions are out there and have been a for a long time so make of them what you will but I'd have no reason to put up a name other than my own if I didn't have to. It's too bad WG can't check IP addresses - or can he? - because he'd see I posted those comments from a different locale. Seriously, dude, you're not special enough to the point where I'd post under different names so that you'd still answer me. Also, I had no idea that WG was doing any kind of Big Brother-ing on your behalf.

In any case, like I said, one station's reporters have a reason to toe the party line and everyone else doesn't and I always throw you in with everyone else that doesn't.

And the fact that you get to interview the players doesn't mean that you know any more about this club than I do or any other hardcore fan for that matter.

If that ever comes to you via a burning bush or some other revelatory forum, maybe you'll just stop being so angry and/or confrontational.

And if that does or doesn't happen, well, it won't change the way I view how and why the media reports certain things about certain people and lets others off the hook.

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#31 RobinB
February 04 2009, 05:36PM
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Dennis wrote:

In any case, like I said, one station’s reporters have a reason to toe the party line and everyone else doesn’t and I always throw you in with everyone else that doesn’t. And the fact that you get to interview the players doesn’t mean that you know any more about this club than I do or any other hardcore fan for that matter. If that ever comes to you via a burning bush or some other revelatory forum, maybe you’ll just stop being so angry and/or confrontational.

Yes, you do throw me in with everyone else, despite evidence to the contrary. So keep sticking with it, even if it's not so.

Access gives me a lot more information than you have and, thus, I do know more about the team than you do. That really bothers you, doesn't it?

Angry and confrontational? Funny how that happens when somebody like you -- a coward hiding in another city -- makes a point of questioning my integrity and qualifications every chance he gets. I write what I write and say what I say and then I go and look the people I write about in the eye. If they don't like it, they get a chance to have their say. You spit your smug spew and try to sound smart, and I have no doubt you'll continue to do so without ever having the backbone to do the same and look me in the eye. That, smart guy, would go very badly for you. I don't need Big Brother to handle you.

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#32 Dennis
February 04 2009, 10:18PM
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I think you know more about the players personal lives than I do but I doubt if you know more about the club.

I'm not gonna really get into how big or small I am or if I am or ever was a brawler:) but that seems to be the way you're going so I guess I'll just let you ramble on down that path:) I'll just say I grew out of that stuff a long time ago; though I never was a guy who needed any help, let's put it that way:)

BTW, I never questioned your qualifications but you're a journo who's accessible and damn right I'm going to wonder why you or anyone else has never taken or took a run at Lowe's record.

That is what bothers me more than anything and it's not just directed towards you; you just get the brunt because you're out here in the wild:)

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#33 MikeP
February 04 2009, 10:21PM
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Robin, with all due respect, that's walking the line of threats, and while I understand where you're coming from, it's pretty uncool.

That being said, I'm with Willis on this one: why a fairly well-respected sportswriter like Dan Barnes needs to resort to strawmen and appeals to authority is beyond me. Of course, I'm not a real journalist and therefore my opinions don't matter, as most real journalists seem keen to remind me; ditto for JW. Seems to me like Barnes fired the first shots anyway.

I do actually happen to be writing this in my pajamas, although last time I checked a mirror, I had a face.

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#34 RobinB
February 04 2009, 10:51PM
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@ MikeP: First, no threats. It's just a lot easier to talk about the virtius of always writing the truth and telling it like it is (or as you perceive it) when you're doing it anonymously. It's also easier to sit back and take shots at MSM writers the same way. I doubt Dennis has enough conviction in what he claims to think to say it to my face. He's a coward (with just the right touches of playing the victim and the passive good guy in his last couple of posts).

Second, I'll debate any hockey issue because I enjoy that part of it, but you obviously haven't followed the running potshots Dennis has taken at me -- nor do I expect you'd know or care -- but if you want to talk about uncool, his ongoing attempts to get under my skin are it. I don't apologize for have zero patience for him.

Know the history before you judge.

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#35 Smokin' Ray
February 04 2009, 11:04PM
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It just seems to me like Barnes needed/wanted to write something "fresh". Something out of "left field". It worked. It has seemed to intrigue all of us enough to read it. I don't agree with his article and that's ok. I just don't like Reddox. But a story like that sells papers and gets attention. I'm sure that's his goal.

And just for kicks... if I had to choose between Schremp and Reddox? Schremp.

*ducks for cover*

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#36 Dennis
February 04 2009, 11:25PM
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RB: I can assure you I'm no coward:) And it's not like I'm calling you a murderer or anything!:) I'm just saying that you're like the rest: Lowe has given you plenty of ammo but you choose not to use it.

So, why would I be afraid to say these things to your face? It's not like I'm 5-4 and 120 pounds and I'm guessing you're not 6-6 and 275. And if you were, there's just not that many guys who are strong AND quick;)

But, as I said, I gave that stuff up a long time ago.

Anyway, while it's no secret that I do like to rankle;) it's also no secret that NO ONE has ever given Lowe a rough ride in the press. That just seems wrong given how long this team's been mediocre.

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#37 RobinB
February 05 2009, 07:52AM
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Dennis wrote:

So, why would I be afraid to say these things to your face? It’s not like I’m 5-4 and 120 pounds and I’m guessing you’re not 6-6 and 275. And if you were, there’s just not that many guys who are strong AND quick;) But, as I said, I gave that stuff up a long time ago.

Then stop bringing it up.

Dennis wrote:

Lowe has given you plenty of ammo but you choose not to use it.

This "free pass" for Lowe fantasy you have, for posters like Mike P who wonder why I go after you, is a lie and a lie you repeat time after time knowing that's not the case. Clearly, you read what you want to read and hear what you want to hear, so carry on. Stop wasting my time.

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#38 mwhite.dking@nf.sympatico.ca
February 05 2009, 08:27AM
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RB: If you write or ever wrote something that skewers or skewered Lowe for the moves he`s made, then I`d stop thinking that you don`t have the courage to do so:)

Also, I said I stopped brawling awhile ago but don`t think for a second that you can intimidate me:) You can `go after me`:) all you like but until you wonder in print about Lowe`s moves, I`ll always have the trump card.

I`m just asking for a critical media, nothing more.

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#39 Rick
February 05 2009, 09:21AM
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Dennis wrote:

... I doubt if you know more about the club.

This has really piqued my interest.

If you would, please explain.

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#40 David S
February 05 2009, 04:39PM
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Dennis wrote:

And the fact that you get to interview the players doesn’t mean that you know any more about this club than I do or any other hardcore fan for that matter.

Yeah. Yeah. Another internet tough guy.

Dennis, I realy admire the work you do on your site. And the inferences you draw are often quite remarkable. But this ^ statement is the textbook definition of hubris. There's no way you could even come close to making this claim without having been a player on the team, or having held a job at head ofice. Saying this makes you come across as the ultimate wannabee. In effect, you've basically removed any credibility you may have gained with the rest of your argument (s).

Being a "hardcore fan" doesn't give you the insight of overhearing dressing room comments, or seeing a player nursing an undisclosed injury, or seeing the look on their faces after a devastating loss, or watching and listening to an NHL coach conduct a practice at ice level, or, well, you get the point.

Bashing a member of the press for not asking the questions you want him to ask is really stretching it. How long do you think they'd have their credentials if they ripped into the hand that feeds them? Is it perfect? No. But that's the way it is. And what do you think Lowe would say if he were challenged in the manner you suggest? He'd probably deflect the question anyways. If you listen to the Tambellini interview on Gregor's site, you'd know they are asking some pretty straight questions, right to the limit of what they can get away with.

For you to suggest that any MSM writer should put his neck on the line for your personal pleasure borders on arrogance. They're not in business to speak for you. They're supposed to report on the situation they see from a stance that's as objective as possible. Is it truly objective? Probably not nearly as much as you like. But you already know that. So why rail against something you know isn't going to change - no matter how much a FAN thinks it should be so.

A guy thinks he knows as much about the team as somebody who's right there every day and has been for years.

That's rich.

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#41 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 05 2009, 06:28PM
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David S:

I like you. You're obviously bright.

Nonetheless, everything you wrote is either incorrect or irrelevant.

1. RB might know who's happy on the team, who's limping, who's friends with who, etc. But this doesn't mean he knows anything about hockey, i.e. about who's playing well, which prospects are improving, systems play etc. (Analogously, outsiders using stats clearly know more about baseball than some ex-players and some writers.) Of course, I do think RB knows his stuff, but that has nothing to do with his "access." 2. Edmonton sports journalists don't give us many inside scoops anyway. We still don't know much about what happened with Garon, for example. Thus, it seems to me the players really say much to RB or JG, or if they do, we never here about it. Thus, there isn't much value to JG and RB's vaunted "access." 3. Most of the info about injuries and line ups gets posted on oilers.nhl.com, anyway. RB and JG merely give it to us a bit early. 4. Sports journalists are paid by newspapers, not the clubs they're covering. If the team says 'no access for critical reporters' the reporters need to stand up, get their editors behind them, and go to war. If they don't, sports fans need to write emails encouraging them to do so, and if that doesn't work we need to berate them for not doing so. Moreover, if beat writers started complaining about Lowe, or about the Oil manipulating the media, the papers would win that battle hands down.(Real, political journalists do this, BTW. If they didn't, we'd be living in tyranny.)

All that said, I like what RB and JG write and I read it.

I just wish they'd quit pretending that "access" makes what they say about hockey, -i.e. about who should be traded, or what lines should be out, or whether coaching is a problem, or about who is pulling their weight offensively and defensively- more reliable because they sometimes chat with the players. If I was pals with Reddox and Horcoff, would you be more willing to believe my argument that we shouldn't trade for Lecavalier? I doubt it.

In the end, political journalists have had to catch up with the on-line revolution. In the U.S., Drudge, Kos, and HuffPo sometimes do better than NBC or CNN. And sometimes JW and Dennis will do better than JG or RB. That's the new world. Adapt or go extinct.

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#42 David S
February 05 2009, 07:38PM
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I get it. I do.

Don't get me wrong. I really like Dennis' and crew and their take on the game. But the insinuation that they know more about the team than someone who is embedded is simply wishful thinking, which I daresay manifests itself as jealousy.

Dennis' point of view is more indicative of the modern era, where fans have access to more information than they ever have before. Problem is, there are some who make the leap from having information to having knowledge. I would invite you to visit some of Plato's works for a discussion on information versus knowledge. But the idea that one who has unlimited information also has unlimited knowledge is patently false.

The thing that turns information into knowledge is context. And I hate to say it, but in this case access is what gives you context.

I'd wager more than one MSM guy knows the deal with Garon. And Pronger and Comrie and Torres et al. That they can't give us that context isn't their fault. This is something that has been around since the dawn of sports reporting. The fact that it's more obvious in Edmonton is a direct result of our obsession with the team and management's obsession with presenting a squeeky clean image (pretty much like every other pro sports team). It's this image they sell as much as the performance of it's athletes. In this light, pro sports is as much (or more) an entertainment industry as it is "sport".

Bottom line - It doesn't matter if it's politics or sports. The information you get is only that which you have been allowed. Context is and always will be controlled. Without that context, you cannot reasonably make the statement that "you know more about the team". It's impossible.

Or put another way - I could spend the next twenty years researching the JFK assassination. I could become the world authority on the subject, but more than likely I never know why he was killed or who killed him until somebody who KNOWS steps forward.

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#43 Yakman
February 06 2009, 12:23AM
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Dennis is kinda annoying... Great points David S... I give the win to you!

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#44 RobinB
February 06 2009, 06:42AM
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@ David S: Couldn't say it better myself, so I won't even try. Guaranteed Dennis has read this, but, until now, has chosen not to reply. After all, really, what could he say?

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#45 Darren
February 06 2009, 08:16AM
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Man you internet dudes are tough!

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#46 Rick
February 06 2009, 09:27AM
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@ David S:

That's a very lucid post. Well done.

Maybe the wording Dennis used was clumsy on his part by stating that he knows more about the club as opposed to trying to say he know more about the game. It's the only reasonable assumption.

Even at that it's all opinion based on how you see the game and not necessarily knowledge so that doesn't make sense either. There is always room for more than one view on things and all of them can be right in their own way.

It's curious that Dennis would throw it out there that he knows more than anyone else and yet instead of expanding on it, the only place he has been seen since is at Lowetide's site where he is harping on Brownlee's threatening tone.

I would think if anything it could make for an interesting discussion but perhaps the conviction on his part isn't really there.

As a final thought, in general I find there is much more legitimacy in there being a third party consensus in how knowledgeable someone is than there is in referring to yourself the most knowledgeable.

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#47 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 06 2009, 10:56AM
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David S:

1. You're understanding of Plato is apparently a bit superficial. The distinction Plato makes in Book VII of the Republic, for example, is not between "information" and "knowledge." It's more like the difference between believing that X and understanding why X is true. (For a brief exegesis see Routledge's introduction to the Republic, or use JSTOR to find some articles on "the divided line"

In Theaetetus, Plato introduces a different distinction: put crudely,the distinction between knowledge and mere opinion. At any rate, Plato would never have have gone in for your remark about "context." Knowledge for Plato is understanding the forms, and the forms are unchanging, i.e. not dependent on context. (But nice job mentioning Plato in a sports blog.)

BTW, mentioning Plato in a post where you defend a guy who argues that he's right because he is an expert is very ironic. Socrates would've hit Brownlee harder than Dennis. You remember Socrates, the guy who went after all the people who were supposed experts, who all turned out to be know nothing blowhards?

I suppose I disagree with your recent post even more than the first. You seem content with the fact that RB and JG can't tell us what they know, but we should believe what they say because of theses secrets they know, This is unfortunate, but if you're happy with it, I'll accept that. You obviously have a philosophy background, yet you're clearly not seeing the fallacy here; RB's continual claim that "access equals understanding" is a whopping, fallacious argument from authority, (The fact that you accept that political journalism should work this way too is frightening.)

RB:

A serious question: What do you know about the team that we don't that makes you're claims about the game of hockey more reliable than ours? Try to be specific. If you have a good answer, I'll be impressed. And please don't think I'm being snarky or facetious. I do like your columns, I just question in what ways you are an expert.

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#48 RobinB
February 06 2009, 11:08AM
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Rick wrote:

It’s curious that Dennis would throw it out there that he knows more than anyone else and yet instead of expanding on it, the only place he has been seen since is at Lowetide’s site where he is harping on Brownlee’s threatening tone. I would think if anything it could make for an interesting discussion but perhaps the conviction on his part isn’t really there.

Conviction or the ability to argue what was said in a couple of well-worded posts that were more eloquent than the awkward swats I took at him.

Let's get one thing straight. While the "Brownlee wants to fight me" angle Dennis is pitching over at Lowetide's might play better, I have no interest in getting physical with whoever he is. Never said it. Never thought it. I said that in these comments right after he suggested that's what I meant -- didn't stop him from trying to stir it up at LT's.

My point, and I thought it would be evident, is it's a helluva lot easier to play the scathing critic in e-mails and internet forums/comment sections than it is to say the same things to somebody's face. That's why I referred to facing the people I write about. Am I worried Kevin Lowe is going to get physical with me? No. But I always have to be aware that he might pull me aside and say, "What you wrote is BS and here's why . . ." I don't get that chance with Dennis. I don't get to say, "Wait a second . . . ." And yes, I think it would go very badly for him.

Anyway, Dennis is playing a bit of the victim here. After taking several verbal runs at me -- I have them, but I'll not bore you by posting them -- and looking for a reaction, he got it. It's a bit like the kid who pokes repeatedly at a dog with a stick. When the reaction comes, as you expect it would at some point, he runs away crying. Of course, the dog is the bad guy.

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#49 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 06 2009, 11:12AM
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Ah! I keep writing "you're" when I mean "your."

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#50 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 06 2009, 11:25AM
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RB: We get that you have to face Lowe, which must be uncomfortable. (And yes, Dennis doesn't have to face you.)

But there's a difference: you get paid to write. Don't you have a responsibility to the people who read the paper you write for to tell the whole truth? I get paid, and some of the people I have to criticize as part of my job get very angry at me, but I do it because it's my job. Sometimes you have to do uncomfortable stuff to earn your pay.

Is the real worry that you will lose your job if Lowe disagrees with you? If so, I understand your hesitation to criticize Lowe, but if this is the case, you really need to fight the organization. Get other writers and some editors on your side, get some non-sports reporters to do stories on the Oil suppressing stories. You'll win this fight because the Oil need good PR with the impending arena.

But if you don't even try to fight, you're not living up to the professional responsibilities you have as a journalist. Readers don't buy the paper to read what Kevin Lowe thinks is acceptable to say. They buy the paper to hear the truth and your uncoerced, unbiased analysis.

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