Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday A.M. Quickie:
Jail Time and Girardi!

There are a couple of items on here that may get individual-post blow-out treatment later this morning...

"Game of Shadows" authors jailed: Technically, they are breaking the law by not complying with the subpoena – thus, jail is technically appropriate, if lamentable.

There's nothing to be done for the "G.O.S." guys other than to hope their time in the pokey is more "Club Fed" than "Oz." (The actual sentence is currently pending appeal.)

But maybe their story can inspire reform to the law that creates a federal "shield" law, which will help investigative journalists do their jobs without fear of jail.

Now, all that said, my one problem with the martyrdom of the G.O.S. guys is that we're talking about breaking the Barry Bonds story. It ain't Abu Ghraib.

(This is a story where the media gate-keepers are hardly objective observers; I'd like to see any polling of what fans think of this. I'm sure it'll be more conservative than the media's p.o.v.)

Could they have broken the story as effectively by using different sources of reporting, rather than using illegally obtained sealed grand-jury records?

But that's not really the point. They did, and the meaty issue is whether they should be paying the price of their freedom in exchange for ostensibly doing good through their reporting.

Joe Girardi: Out?! It's not exactly shocking news, but the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel says he's gone after the season. Now, this is interesting on a couple of levels:

Girardi has arguably done the best job of managing in the last decade – and he's certainly a contender for best rookie manager of all time. (This is all if you believe that baseball managers impact their teams.)

So what next? For the Marlins, it's to find a manager who can take this talented young team to the Wild Card next season. That's what fans' expectations should be after this surprising year.

(Please don't throw "regression to the mean" -- one of my favorite sports-stat theories -- back at me. The Marlins were mis-judged from the start.)

For Girardi, all conventional wisdom points to his return to the North Side of Chicago to manage the Cubs. The only question is how quickly the Marlins drop Girardi – and how quickly the Cubs pick him up. (Though don't necessarily expect a Cubs resurgence in '07; they aren't nearly as talented as Florida.)

By extension, that means that Dusty Baker will be looking for a new job as early as the season's end a week from now.

I remain baffled that the Marlins owners and executives are so foolish that they'd let Girardi go after this one amazingly overachieving season from the team.

Ryder Cup: Record-setting bet! Some fool has bet $465,000 on the US to win the Ryder Cup. The claim is that it's the largest single bet ever on golf.

(I'm betting Phil Mickelson or Michael Jordan might have a little something to say about that.)

"Free the Birds!" This protest by O's fans (nearly 1,000 walked out of Camden Yards last night) is not just the best MLB fan protest in recent memory, but they actually pulled it off (unlike the "Fire Isiah" protest march). They are right up there with the "Fire Millen" phenomenon. Well done, O's fans. The rest of us stand with you in solidarity.

Papi hits HR No. 51 and 52! That might make him the most prolific single-season slugger in Red Sox history, but it still doesn't make him AL MVP.

CJ for Heisman! If the Heisman was truly given to the most talented player in college football, Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson would be at the top of the list. (I made the same argument about Pitt WR Larry Fitzgerald a few years ago.) CJ's 2 TDs and career-best 165 yards last night in a national-TV whupping of UVA should put him right in the mix.

Hoffman: 1 Save from Smith! On top of that, right now I'd give Hoffman the NL Cy Young Award, considering his NL-leading 41 saves this season (at his age!) are a huge reason the Padres remain .5 games ahead of the Dodgers in the suddenly winner-take-all NL West.

USA Hoops loses...again! Turns out that the women's USA hoops team is just as disappointing as the men, losing to Russia in the semis of the World Championships. Double-bronze! Feel the excitement! (In any other sport, this kind of systemic failure would result in the top management of USA Basketball getting canned.)

Bobby Knight pisses on Oklahoma's party (so to speak): Knight correctly pointed out that in 2003, Oklahoma, its athletic department, its administrators and its fans had NO problem accepting a win based on faulty officiating (in this case, clock-timing).

Knight asked OU to strike the game from the record books – precisely the same thing OU asked of the Big 12 and Oregon – and Oklahoma effectively told him where he could stick his complaint. Knight gets the last word:

"Now I guess the duck is swimming in the other pond."

Coming later today:
*College Football Preview!
*NFL Week 3 Preview!

-- D.S.


Gary said...

Dan, I think you'll be suprised how many people HATE journalists of any kind. The public would just as soon see a journalist sit in jail for the rest of their life...not for using an "illegal" source, but just because journalists are immoral, shifty, dishonest and sneaky.

Now, I have a major in journalism, and occasionally work in the field.

I remember not too long ago a TV reporter from RI was threatened jail time because he protected a source in the Buddy Cianci (corrupt former Mayor of Providence).

The reporter had a medical condition (I can't remember exactly what) but doctors claimed that if he went to jail, he could possibly die, despite that, people were calling for him to rot in jail for protecting a source.

Luckily the judge in the case used his best discretion and gave him house arrest so he woldn't die in jail, but the fact that people think the journalists are the criminals when they protect an illegal source says to me that our (journalists) views are not with the general public.

Maybe if people went through a journalism ethics class and understood that the number one rule is no matter what you do not disclose a protected source (no matter how vile that source is) no matter what. I think more journalists need to think about the types of people they are protecting before guaranteeing them anonimity in a ground-breaking story.

I would go to jail for a source, Dan, I'm sure you agree, but I would try not to use a soucre that would send me to jail if I could help it. Some journalists are too lazy they depend on those sources too much, but for every journalist there comes a time where that is your only option.

Wow, I wrote a lot, sorry everybody, I am just passionate about this topic

Joe Asheville said...

Maybe the “Marlins were mis-judged from the start”. If so, how could Girardi be responsible for “this one amazingly overachieving season from the team”. If they were initially misjudged, they are simply playing to their talent level. A new coach may motivate them to actually overachieve.

mattie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mattie said...

This is a story where the media gate-keepers are hardly objective observers; I'd like to see any polling of what fans think of this. I'm sure it'll be more conservative than the media's p.o.v.

ESPN has a poll for site visitors to vote in, here, It's early (there's only a few thousand votes), but...49% think the two should give up their source(s), 70% think that some kind of legal punishment is appropriate for journalists who won't reveal their sources, 46% think the 18-month sentence is just right or not long enough...and, most people don't care who actually leaked the testimony, nearly everyone thinks Bonds perjured himself, but no one thinks he'll be charged.

So I think you're right...I see this as potentially turning into yet another story where ESPN and the rest of the media/sports media thinks it's a HUGE deal and is outraged and covers it way too much, and at the end of the day, most of their audience isn't too concerned or disagrees with the premise of the coverage/outrage anyway.

The USA women losing is more surprising than the men losing...what happened to them?

Big D said...

Two things here Dan:

1) On the G.O.S. authors. Isn't it only illegal to leak Grand Jury records if you're not a party to the allegations? I'm not a lawyer or even a law student, but I thought that if you were a party to the case (Say... Victor Conte) that you could talk about the records to your heart's content. Just a thought.

2) On Trevor Hoffman. I can't imagine a more under-the-radar guy to break one of baseball's most under-the-radar records. Seems like a perfect fit. Not that Jeff Reardon or Lee Smith were really all that "out in the open" when they both surpassed the record, but Hoffman just kind of personifies the workman like appraoch it takes to be a marquis closer for long enough to even approach this number. I started paying attention to the Padres about 12-13 years ago (at the same time that I found out a distant relative owned a majority share in the team - he now owns a minority share in my beloved Red Sox. Wish he wasn't so distant...) and I was always impressed at the way Hoffman was just a steady, 30-40 saves a year guy. Never eye-popping numbers, but like Hank Aaron, you don't need to shatter the yearly numbers to rack up the career stats.

Looking forward to the afternoon thought on Girardi. Has a manager ever won "Manager of the Year" and been fired simultaneously? Maybe the Marlins could tie it up in one neat press conference, to save more money.

Brian in Oxford said...

Here's another theory for Girardi. What if the Yanks win it much longer will Torre want to manage? Instead of jumping quickly to the Cubs, he may want to see who's in line for THAT spot instead, should it open up.

Hiding your sources is akin to "freedom of speech....freedom of ANONYMOUS speech" which just smells of rights without responsibilities...the American way, huh?

Jon said...

I'm glad those GOS guys are going to prison and it'd be nice if they wound up at Oz instead Club Fed. These guys are the ultimate journalist scum bags even with the story revolving around Barry. Maybe they should have tried writing about something important.

That's rough for Girardi to get fired after a season like that, but I guess it's better that it happens after this season instead of the middle of next. The egos there were way too big to fix any problems.

Who made the bet on the US team? Barkley or Daly?

Bob Knight is right. The Sooners did get screwed, but they aren't the first and won't be the last. Just move on.

Unknown said...

The two lawyers are no different than Anderson. Both are protecting criminals...both are in jail.
This wasn't an altruistic search for truth, it was a road to an easy pay day.
If a journalist wants to use illegally obtained information to break a story..fine..but he/she should be more than willing to pay the price for it (at a federal f* you in the arse prison).
Journalists can't have their cake AND eat it. Report with honest sources, or use illegal sources and pay the price.

Oh, and Bobby Knight is hilarious.

Unknown said...

oops..two lawyers = two journalists

different kinds of scum. sorry.

Kurt said...

I'm one of those people Gary above was talking about who just dislikes journalists in general. Although I dont think the Game of Shadows authors should do major time, they should be punished with jail time. There's a reason the Grand Jury testimony is sealed and whoever leaked it deserves worse than Bonds. Leaking this closed door testimony undermines the system and is unacceptable.

As for David Ortiz hitting 51 and 52 last night, good for him, he's the only reason Boston fans are even going to the park these days. I'll give David his 55 homeruns every year to see the Red Sox choke this bad.

Unknown said...

Since I'm obviously fired up about this...
A clarification:
This isn't just about these two journalists. A good majority of the public will support jail time because these two represent what's wrong with the media.
Journalists who would break the law or leave ethics behind to report stories of little importance just to get more limelight or money.
These guys are in the same family tree as paparazzi, ambulance chasing lawyers, and telemarketers. They weren't doing anything useful to society, just trying to be the first in line to stomp on a few people to try to get higher up the pyramid.

As a journalist, I know you probably disagree, Dan. But no sympathy for these two.

T-Mill said...

Loria is simply a dickhead of an owner. He ruined the Expos who had a great fan base, and he's trying to do the same with the Marlins. He is simply mad Girardi had the gall to go out and be competitive instead of lose bad enough to move the team. He represents all that is wrong in ownership. If i win powerball Saturday night, I am investing the money until Ihave enough to buy the Marlins and make them stay in South Florida, just to make my wife, an original Marlins fan from 1993 (went to game 1) happy

MP said...

Regarding the journalists, I must say that the law is the law, and if there is any grounds for exonerating and releasing the two authors, it will come out in time. For the moment, the judge did only thing he could do. Even though a law may be silly and unfair, it must be enforced, barring its overturning by a State or the U.S. Supreme Court. All Free Speech issues will be addressed there.

Also, I'm shocked that these words are coming out of my mouth but...Bob Knight is right. (shudder) I hope I never have to say that again.

Jeffrey Loria is a terrible owner, it's true, but I'm surprised that you made no mention of Orioles fans walking out of a game yesterday, in protest of their owner. More perplexing was Angelos's response, which roughly equated to, "We're in the AL East, what the heck do you want me to do about it?"

Personally, I'm torn between agreeing with Angelos (and that a serious spending cap needs to be imposed on the Yankees and Red Sox especially, but everybody else as well), and cynically responding, "The Blue Jays did it, why the hell can't you?"


Gary said...

Dan, I'd really like to hear your personal take on what you would do in the same shoes.

Also, people, don't forget, the reporters did nothing illegal except for being in contempt of court. The person who leaked the testiomony committed the crime, the journalists just reported it.

The thing I don't get is, that these judges keep sending journalists away to prison, but no matter how much jail time they threaten, the journalist won't give up their source, also, going to jail to protect a source is like an automatic promotion in the journalistic world. Not to mention endless respect from collegaues.

Matt Hooper Presents said...

I work for a paper and I graduated from the University of Alabama as a journalism major. Obviously, I feel pretty stongly about the 'G.O.S' case.

It's true the public's perception of journalists has taken a nose dive over the past few years, what with the actions of Dan Rahter, Jason Blair, Rick Bragg and other unscrupulus news people. But most journalists spend every day simply trying to do their jobs, reporting the news (truthfully!), informing the masses, thereby contiuing our democratic lifestyle.

Sometimes, you just can't break stories without unnamed sources (especially now that the Bush administration wants to lower whistleblower's protection rights). The classic example is Watergate. Woodward and Burnstein had to use some, eh..."borderline tactics" in pursuit of breaking a story that (1) couldn't be broken otherwise and (2) was critically inportant for the country to know.

Now, is it critically important for the country to know about Barry's artificial biceps? Possibly. It is for me and most of the people who keep up with this board. We are sports fans. We deserve to know whats going on with our beloved "role models." Plus, non-prescription anabolic steriods are illegial in this country. So we are talking about a criminal act.

That being said, I dont think you can send two journalists to jail for using the tactics that they used in order to break this story. That is getting dangerously close to abandoning the crucial "freedom of the press" jargon found in your Constitution. A land without a free press is a land without freedom. No blogs like this one would be allow to exist.

Now, this is not to say that these gentlemen shouldn't be punished for breaking the law by publishing grand jury testimony. But suspend them, dock their pay...just don't send them to jail. That seems less like America, more like Yugoslavia.

Dan Shanoff said...

This is really interesting, everyone. I'm going to have a G.O.S.-only post in a few minutes where we can continue this debate.

Mega said...

Can you imagine if Trever Hoffman played in NY or Boston? There would be books written about him. ESPN and SI would have daily "Hoffman Watches" tracking his progress to break the overall saves record.

Brian said...

I have to agree with Al and Dave. This is part of the media's role as watchdog. I don't think it's fair to accuse the 'GOS' guys of lacking ethics, particularly when they're choosing not to speak in order to keep promises they've made. And putting them at the level of ambulance-chasers suggests that they made up a story where none existed, which has proven not to be the case. The best news for the 'GOS' guys is that their incarceration won't begin until after a Ninth Circuit ruling on the matter which won't come for months.

As for Girardi, how many different job offers do you think he'll have the minute after the press conference ends in Miami? Marlins ownership proves its stupidity one more time.

CorrND said...

Ok, I know you haven't had a chance to comment on the Ryder cup yet, but I just came across this priceless Tiger quote and had to share:

"I was struggling," Woods said. "I didn't warm up particularly well. Starting off on the first hole, I snapped one in the water. It was nice to have a steady partner like Jim. He was in just about every hole."

Trent said...

Its not an actual 18-month sentence. Calling it an 18-month sentence presumes that the writers will never give up their sources. They are free to leave prison whenever they want to testify fully.

The reason it is being labeled an 18-month sentence is because that is the length of a federal grand jury. When the grand jury is dismissed after these 18 months, the journalists will be released. Then, they get to look forward to another subpoena to testify and another 18 months in jail when the next grand jury convenes. There is no end to this cycle...its like an elaborate staring game.

Mikepcfl said...

A good poll question would be "What journalist would you most like to send to jail?" One answer could be the entire Around the Horn crew. Of course, Steven A. Smith might be a runaway winner as well.

Ed Lamb said...

I can't even begin to understand the unadulterated hatred I'm seeing reflected in several of these comments. I mean, if the posters do despise news writers so much, why are they even reading Shanoff's blog in the first place. There is no news without news reporting. And you certainly can't accept the message without giving some credence/respect to the messenger.

Irony aside, the Game of Shadows reporters do not deserve 18 months of jail time for illegally reading and quoting federal grand jury testimony. They do deserve some criminal punishment for breaking a federal law that is essential to ensuring the proper functioning of the court system. If grand jury testimony wasn't sealed, no one would testify for fear of recriminations by the alledged lawbreakers being investigated.

The other aspect to this G.O.S. case, as Dan astutely noted, is that a journalist's decision to use illegally obtained or inflammatory source materials in a report needs to be balanced against the potential good that can be expected from making that material public. In the BALCO case, the only good to be served by quoting the grand jury testimony was the furthering of the reporters' careers.

Go to jail for not revealing sources in the Watergate investigation. Don't even risk jail time for a "Well, no duh!" story like Barry Bonds used steroids.


Lew said...

In respose to danmega:

Imagine if Hoffman played for the Chicago Cubs, he would be on the dl

jhawkjjm said...

The only thing Hoffman will be remembered for this year (if he doesn't break Smith's record this year) will be blowing the save in the All-Star game to give the EE home field in the WS.

I'll save G.O.S opinions till that post.

Kurt said...

"This is about the role of the press to be a watch-dog, to investigate, to inform and protect us from those who seek to lie to and take advantage of the people." - Dave

And the press doesnt lie and take advantage of people? They are like hounddogs. They stick together and when they find someone who dislikes them or someone they see as an easy target, they maul the living shit out of them. 95% of the NFL press wakes up every morning with a hard-on for T.O., licking their chops at the chance to get him to say or do something stupid.

Anyone who thinks they are staying informed by watching Fox News or reading their local newspaper is sadly mistaken.

These G.O.S. authors aren't doing it for the people, they are doing it to see Barry Bonds suffer and for money and fame. If it really was about the people theyd be reporting on something actually significant in the world today like the 400,000 dead in Darfur, instead of whether Barry Bonds took steroids or not.

Hox said...

Why are some surprised that Marlins ownership is willing to let Girardi go? It's obvious that Jeffrey Loria is really Rachel Phelps in drag. I won't be surprised if the Marlins payroll is trimmed from the monstrous $14 million to $5 million next season, giving Loria another reason to move the team.

Unknown said...

Being a football official myself, it is easy to miss something like that if you are down on the field. As easy as it is to see on TV, its very difficult when you are up close.
However, the official up in the booth should not have missed that one. If everyone with a TV sees the same angles he sees, and they all see the could he not?