Are internet writers held to a lower standard of integrity and accountability? There's an obvious hierarchy in the reach and popularity of internet writers. There are the writers who have national exposure from ESPN, CBSsports, USAToday, etc., followed by the lesser known regional writers from the print media. The next tier could then include established writers from respected websites (such as SBN), and then blogs run by fans as a hobby. However, throughout the internet hierarchy each level typically stresses the importance of accuracy, integrity, knowledge, and accountability. Regardless of how much traffic a site receives, if the writers of a site continually disregard the use of facts or maintain a lower level of truth, the site will lose its credibility.
The Angels official website on MLB.com has lost its credibility to me. It's probably my fault as I thought the site reported news in an unbiased and truthful manner, yet I've repeatedly read items on the site that are full of errors and bold-faced lies. I was unaware the site was just a marketing tool used by Major League Baseball employing hucksters touting the amazing powers of their latest tonic. Fortunately, I'm a knowledgeable enough fan who knows when someone is trying to sell rather than inform. But what about the casual fan who has a life other than baseball and visits the site for "news"? They are being sold a useless patent medicine.
I have nothing against Lyle Spencer. I don't know him, never met him, know nothing about him. But I find it offensive when someone in his position repeatedly broadcasts inaccuracies. It would be one thing if he were to preface his reporting with, "In my opinion...", instead of spewing his thoughts as facts. In his latest article on the MLB website, Spencer answers questions submitted by fans about the upcoming Angels season. One of the questions Spencer takes a stab at was this one:
What do you think will happen with the catching situation? Will someone get traded, and if so, who?
-- Abel G., La Puente, Calif.
And here is part of Spencer's answer...
Manager Mike Scioscia will work diligently to bring Napoli and Jeff Mathis back to their former performance levels defensively. Napoli, moving between catcher and first base last year after Morales' injury, was inconsistent defensively. Mathis -- ranked the best defensive catcher in the Majors by stat guru Bill James after the 2009 season -- developed some bad habits as he tried to come back from a fractured right wrist suffered two weeks into the season.
Jeff Mathis = "The best defensive catcher in the Majors" in 2009? Yadier Molina says "hi". However, this isn't another Mathis bashing article, but really? Where did Bill James publish a list of the best defensive catchers with Mathis at the top? (Update: HERE is where Spencer got the Bill James ranking...thanks to OCR's Sam Miller for the link). Mathis was not the best defensive catcher in the major leagues in 2009, but because Lyle Spencer wrote it, people will start to believe it. Here is part of a comment following Spencer's article where someone using the name "Angelsupstream" is debating the value of adding another catcher:
BTW Mathis was the best catcher in the league in 09..his wrist injury cause him to slip there last year...
From reading some of the other comments, "Angelsupstream" doesn't appear to be the most knowledgeable Angels fan, but one of the "loudest". Get a few more fans buying into Spencer's opinionated "facts", and it's not hard to see where real facts can get lost in the discussion.
MLB.com is a great site. It's easy to use, has many great features, and tons of information, but if they continue to misinterpret the facts, it'll become nothing more than a infomercial.