05.30.05

Olney’s Journalism Tips For Sabean

Posted in Baseball at 12:23 am by

ESPN’s Buster Olney on Brian Sabean and the Giants GM’s complaints about recent media scrutiny of Barry Bonds.

On Friday, he told reporters that the coverage of Bonds has been “absurd” and “National Enquirer-type” over the past few months, taking aim specifically at MLB.com and ESPN. “I understand why, but the frustrating thing is there’s a season going on and other storylines,” said Sabean. “It’s reached an all-time low — it’s not journalism in any form. We’re all having to respond to non-stories and non-issues that are fabricated, contrived, you can paint whatever picture you want ¦ The absurdity is that all this attention is being paid to someone not in uniform.”

Too bad. Because now we know Brian Sabean could never be a good news editor. See, you have to have some degree of toughness to do that job.

If Sabean was tougher, he wouldn’t whine about the messengers. He’d take his beef about specific stories right to the source of some of the information: Barry Bonds. The reason why MLB.com, in particular, has had some Bonds stories is that Barry Bonds trusts the reporter, Barry Bloom. If Sabean has a problem with some of the information going through MLB.com, he could simply confront Bonds. The guess here is that he won’t be doing that any time soon.

If Sabean was tough, he wouldn’t go after Bloom, a reporter who is just doing his job; Sabean would go after the guy who ultimately oversees the company for which Bloom works. Sabean might’ve heard of him: His name is Bud Selig. The guess here is that Sabean won’t be doing that any time soon.

I attended the winter meeting when ESPN discussed the idea of assigning a reporter to Bonds daily this season. There was no discussion of knee infections or IV bags or crutches at the time. It was all about chronicling Bonds’ pursuit of Aaron’s record. The estimate was that he would probably break the record in May of 2006. We talked about interviewing peers, rivals, and retired players about Bonds. And we talked about steroids, of course; that’s now a part of the story that will follow Bonds right into history.

Since then, the story has taken a right-hand turn. The story didn’t end; it veered. Pedro Gomez continues to report, aggressively. And because the Giants haven’t had control of Bonds’ regimen — for years, actually — it’s gotten inconvenient for Sabean and other club executives. That’s why he is attacking the messenger and has become a news editor.

Maybe they didn’t teach Sabean the meaning of the word ‘fabrication’ in the ombudsman classes he apparently took: To concoct, in order to deceive.

That’s a pretty strong accusation, and it’s absurd. He is suggesting that Gomez is simply generating stories with his imagination, based on no factual information. That would be like saying that Sabean’s failure to sufficiently stock the Giants’ bullpen last year was because of some secret desire for the Dodgers’ to win. Ridiculous, and irresponsible, and he should know better. Sabean’s claim that stories have been fabricated is a fabrication, in itself.

The guess here is that Bonds will be back, reporters will once again flock to Giants’ games, ticket sales will increase — Ka-Ching — and Sabean won’t complain about the buzz swirling around his team.

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