Examples in Bad Sportswriting: The Illustrious Dan Barnes

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?
  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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:)

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    @ 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.

  • Hippy

    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*

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    @ 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?

  • Hippy

    @ 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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    RobinB wrote:

    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.

    In all honesty when I first read it I didn't take it as a physical threat either. That said after reading the harping that followed I guess I was able to see how it could be taken that way. There was some room for interpretation in the original wording.

    Really in my opinion at this point it's here nor there. If the clarification didn't suffice at the time I doubt the guys over at Lowetide's that jumped on the wagon will see it differently now.

    I do find some irony in that the point you were trying to make about having to be accountable in person to the people you write about is different than commenting near anonymously with the immunity provided by a blog has pretty much been proven by Dennis not even willing to explain himself here – nevermind the face to face situation you describe – but instead has sent him back to more comfortable surroundings at Lowetide's.

    I am not trying to call him out by it, I am just pointing out an observation.

  • Hippy

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    RB’s continual claim that “access equals understanding” is a whopping, fallacious argument from authority,

    That's not my continual claim.
    Access is just one means of gathering information. I laughed out loud when Dennis said he knows as much or more than I do about the Oilers. Is that arrogance on my part? You can interpret it that way if you choose. I don't think so. It's arrogance on his part.

    We can both watch the game. We can both draw our own conclusions. Those conclusions can be based on not only what we see, but by dissecting what's seen by using statistics. I get that.
    I use statistics more than I let on — hell, I covered the Trappers of the PCL for six seasons and baseball is a game with statistics for everything. They're useful. I get it.

    What I've said is that in addition to watching the game and breaking it down based on stats I choose to use, just as Dennis or anybody else can watch the game and break it down applying stats they see as useful, I have access to players, coaches, GMs etc and the insight they can provide.

    If Dennis thinks he knows as much or more than I do, even without the benefits of access, he's welcome to that opinion.
    Access doesn't mean "understanding." It means I have additional sources of information. Like it or not, that's a fact.

  • Hippy

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    They buy the paper to hear the truth and your uncoerced, unbiased analysis.

    No offence to Robin but what elevates his analysis above anyone elses?

    I agree that readers want the truth and as much inside information as possible but everyone is capable of their own analysis if the facts are presented.

  • Hippy

    I'm sorry but this anonymity discussion is very stupid.

    If Dennis posted his picture, address, and phone number, I don't see how that would change anything.

    Is RB going to come and threaten him, risking jail time? Will he give him a sound verbal thrashing over the phone? Will Dennis be so frightened he won't be able to hang up or lock his door? And if RB did confront Dennis "eye to eye" I doubt that would change anything, except create more vitriol in the comments section.

    Anonymity on the internet is a fact of life, and discussion of it here is a red herring, plain and simple. I don't see anybody else giving out their info either, and well they shouldn't. RB is already a public figure, and I assume he has taken minimal steps to protect himself: unlisted home number, identity theft protection, employers who won't be fooled by anonymous "prank" complaints, etc. The rest of us haven't taken such protections and so we shouldn't be giving out our info too freely. That's internet 101.

  • Hippy

    @ Tencer's Brain Cell:
    Your last two posts show how little you know about me and the reality of the business I'm in. I'm not functioning within the textbook version of how you think "it should be." I've got better things to do than to try to change that.
    Carry on.

  • Hippy

    RobinB wrote:

    Tencer’s Brain Cell wrote:

    RB’s continual claim that “access equals understanding” is a whopping, fallacious argument from authority,
    That’s not my continual claim.
    Access is just one means of gathering information. I laughed out loud when Dennis said he knows as much or more than I do about the Oilers. Is that arrogance on my part? You can interpret it that way if you choose. I don’t think so. It’s arrogance on his part.
    We can both watch the game. We can both draw our own conclusions. Those conclusions can be based on not only what we see, but by dissecting what’s seen by using statistics. I get that.
    I use statistics more than I let on — hell, I covered the Trappers of the PCL for six seasons and baseball is a game with statistics for everything. They’re useful. I get it.
    What I’ve said is that in addition to watching the game and breaking it down based on stats I choose to use, just as Dennis or anybody else can watch the game and break it down applying stats they see as useful, I have access to players, coaches, GMs etc and the insight they can provide.
    If Dennis thinks he knows as much or more than I do, even without the benefits of access, he’s welcome to that opinion.
    Access doesn’t mean “understanding.” It means I have additional sources of information. Like it or not, that’s a fact.

    That's all well and good and I get your position. There's no need to quibble over the meaning of information, understanding, and knowledge. (We'll leave that to Plato.)

    But again, a serious question: What, specifically, do you know as a result of your access?

    If it's personal stuff about the players lives, I don't see how that would help you with the game of hockey. Granted, knowing what's going on in players lives would help you explain what's causing, say Torres,' sometimes crappy play, but we all saw that he sometimes played poorly, anyway, so I don't see how knowing the players helps you make predictions about who will play well, which prospects are the best, etc. I'm sure the wives of the players know more than you about the personal stuff, but that "information" wouldn't help them at all with the game of hockey.

    If it's injury and line up stuff, we all end up knowing that soon enough anyway. So that can't be what you mean.

    I think the information must be lessons on hockey -strategy, systems play, notes on players- from conversations with the coaching staff, then you should be able to explain what you know to us when you argue about hockey. That is, you should be able to convince us that you are right by using what you know in your articles instead of asking us to accept what you say, because you just know things that we don't or that you have info that we don't.

    In the end, I like reading your stuff, but you don't come across as knowing more about hockey than the bloggers here and at Lowetide. Maybe you know as much. But if you know more, you need to tell me what you know, because I don't see it.

  • Hippy

    @ RobinB:

    Okay Robin I get it. But that's not a good life lesson: don't try to make the world the way it should be, just accept it the way it is.

    I know you don't mean that.

    Listen, I don't mean to be too critical. I appreciate that you write here and talk to us when you've got better things to do. You need to do what you need to do to pay the bills and you're right, I shouldn't judge without knowing more about how the media works.

    I can only ask and hope that you'll try to shake things up a bit. Good luck and best of wishes. I hope I haven't offended you.

  • Hippy

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    I’m sorry but this anonymity discussion is very stupid.
    If Dennis posted his picture, address, and phone number, I don’t see how that would change anything.

    I think you're looking at it too literally.

    In the job Brownlee does he has no choice in being front and center to the people he is writing about.

    That is not the case on the internet. I doubt anyone would truly expect personal, face to face, accountability from a poster in a comment section like this. However, you have to admit that in a case like this when the best that can be expected is a superficial accounting by yourself in the way of an explanation for what you said and a guy chooses to not even do that, it rings a little hollow for that same guy to continually try to hold a member of the media to an even stricter standard.

    As of yet, who knows maybe it is still coming, Dennis' own accountability has been left wanting. That doesn't say much when the worse thing that can come from it is some typed out response that disagrees with him.

  • Hippy

    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.

    I'll take you at your word that you didn't intend this to be a physical threat but Dennis isn't the only guy who read that as you basically saying that you could kick his ass. Other people above thought it was too. I'd think that the written arena SHOULD be the arena in which you've got the biggest edge on the guy, given that you're a professional writer and he's not. We all word things a bit inelegantly from time to time and to say that Dennis was crazy in reading that as you saying you could kick his ass is a bit much.

    FWIW, I've heard Dennis call into Gregor's show back in the day and give him the gears over stuff, so I doubt that he'd have much of a problem making the same comments if he was face to face with you. Maybe I'm wrong, who knows, but the guy doesn't exactly seem to lack balls.

    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.

    Sure you do. You can write it right here. If Dennis says something that's obviously stupid and you want to nuke him by pointing out how asinine it is, you can shove his point up his ass in front of everyone who's read it. When Kevin Lowe pulls you aside and explains to you why you're wrong, he doesn't get the benefit of having everyone who read the comment know why, unless he calls a press conference or something and turns it into a big story, like he did when he went on the radio and said that Strachan was making up that story about Pronger wanting out.

    Also, having observed Dennis for five or six, I expect that you would only have to email him and he'd provide you his phone number, if you felt the need to have the conversation by way of voice. If you wanted, I'm sure he'd give you a call during your segment with Gregor and get into it with you. I don't know what it would prove, because, even though it seems to me that Lowe's work tends to be outside of your general area, which I perceive as being more focused on what goes on on the ice, you've probably written something critical at least a couple of itmes in the past ten years, so you've got some defence but he's definitely right about the media, by and large, rolling over for Lowe post-Smyth so the whole thing would probably be unsatisfying.

    FWIW, I think that he's chasing the wrong guy on the Lowe issue – that's more a columnist thing, IMO, but his point is absolutely valid. I don't know how Lowe could say that the Smyth deal wasn't about money and follow that up with an admission that he didn't know where the cap was going and not get crucified.

    For those suggesting that Dennis is anonymous, he's been around Oilers forums in one way or another for about ten years. To the extent that he's anonymous, he's not very anonmyous. He also doesn't run away from fights with people about points so I would assume that he'll come back to this post at some point and defend his position.

    To the point about access meaning better analysis. I'm generally of the view that the more information, the better. I question the extent of Robin's edge though, when so much stuff is posted on the internet by the team as for as PC's and such.

    He certainly has an edge as far as being able to talk to scouts, coaches, players et al. off the record…the question is really how much better that makes his analysis, which is what I think Dennis was driving at. I'm not convinced that it does make it a whole ton better myself, mostly because I suspect that there's a pretty high noise:signal ratio at play with that sort of information.

  • Hippy

    Rick: I really don't know what it is you want from me; a personal text message;)? What do I need to give you in order to be accountable and what do I need to be accountable for?

    I already posted on this and I believe it should've been Message #40 because I typed a reply right after yours and then i was surprised to see David had that number message when I just checked the site. So, this thread really blew up this morning and I haven't checked in anywhere until just now. I commented over LT's place in the meantime because that's where the action was during the game thread.

    Anyway, I was catching up on some work today and I was late to the dance but here I am now to fill up yours and RB's card and whomever else wants to take a little spin:)

    So, let's go:)!

    I think it's a bit late for Robin to come in and say he didn't toe the line of threatening physical violence; if not lumbering over the line. Now, the Bear doesn't have to be worried because I didn't alert anyone to this misstep or I didn't write a letter in case any harm came to my person:) All the same, when someone tells you that if you said something face to face, it wouldn't end well, then how else is someone supposed to take that other than the guy intends to throw down with you? Like I told the guy, there was a time I didn't shy away from that stuff and I could go back to that place if need be:) But it looks like RB re-thought his original position and now he's backpeddling like, well, a bear who's been clapped at and had his bluff called.

    The bottom line is I know this team, maybe not the franchise or organization, and I'm not a alone in that regard. I didn't write The Oil Kings and I didn't have access to Cal Nichols but there's a lot of bright people who watch all the games and put critical thinking to the outcomes. Now, I might not know Brodziak's favorite cereal but I know his tendencies and the teams etc etc so that's why I won't be bullied by anyone who covers the club; even if they think they could pound or shout me down in an eye-to-eye. And let's not forget that he once again said that "it would go badly for him." I don't post that to sulk, I post that to show what the guy will resort to and maybe we can get into why he posts that:)

    Now, considering Rick's got a huger boner to flick and he wants to get all historical, let me just say I never asked Brownlee to go all Martin Luther and nail any documents on the door of Kevin Lowe's office. What I did ask was why Lowe gets a free pass and every time someone wonders what went wrong or what's going wrong with this club, I always come back to who built it. Now, if it's because Brownlee thinks he did a great job – and that's an out that Georges St. Brownlee can always take if he wants – then we can get about debating that. But if he never did it because he's a kiss can or he's generally afraid of questioning authority, then maybe I was right in the first place.

    BTW, thanks for helping me out, Tencer's Brain Cell:)