Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “bad reporting”

From the editor’s notebook …

pettine and farmer

It is starting to sound more and more likely that the rest of the country will get an insider’s look at the Cleveland Browns as Cleveland’s undisputed No. 1 team is reportedly HBO’s top choice for this summer’s edition of Hard Knocks.

Well, ain’t that going to be a party?

In actuality, it may not be all that bad, as the show will give everyone some glamour shots of Cleveland, some really good Mike Pettine moments, and some pretty decent story lines, including:

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A La Canfora hatchet job on the Browns? We’re shocked!

We were understandably a bit dismayed this afternoon when we stopped by Twitter and saw people freaking out about a “bombshell” from Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports about the Cleveland Browns.

You can imagine our trepidation as we clicked on the link to La Canfora’s “bombshell.” In a week that has already seen quarterback Johnny Manziel check himself into rehab, and wide receiver Josh Gordon be suspended by the NFL for a year for repeated violations of the NFL’s drug and alcohol policy, what could La Canfora be writing that had so many so dismayed?

So you can envision our surprise as we read the article and found that … there really wasn’t anything there that Browns fans hadn’t already heard about in recent weeks. It was really more Christmas cracker than “bombshell” and left us wondering what everyone was getting worked up about.

We read it again, certain that we must have missed something, but … nope. Still nothing.

Make no mistake, La Canfora made sure to hit all the appropriate squares on the Dysfunctional and Toxic Browns bingo card, including:

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The Johnny Manziel media obsession hits a new low

johnny-manziel-golf-digestEvery time we think we’ve finally hit the bottom of the media’s obsession with Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, the media finds a way to drain a little more water out of that pool.

It’s one thing when Manziel appears on the cover of Golf Digest, that’s in some ways a commercial endorsement (albeit a rather unexpected one), so we get it.

But we were totally unexpected to see this “report” from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Manziel Tweeting out a phone number over the weekend was all a prank on a friend.

We’re not sure which is more unsettling, the fact that one of ESPN’s top NFL reporters felt the need to make this into a story, or that Mortensen had to resort to unnamed sources to “confirm” the existence of the prank.

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Beware the anonymous, single-source story, Browns fans

heckert-draft-10-jgjpg-b455db635d3c46beAnother day, another round of rumors surrounding the future of Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert.

First off comes Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk, who writes that a “league source” told him that if the Browns fire Heckert it will be because he was not willing to mortgage the team’s future in a pre-draft trade for Robert Griffin III.

So, if this “report” is to be believed, Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner will hold Heckert responsible for something that occurred before they were even involved with the team and with having no knowledge about any of the discussions the Browns had about a potential trade.

We guess, since they can only fire Mike Holmgren once, they need someone else to kick around.

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Book it: Browns will not finish 1-15 in 2012

It has been open season on the Cleveland Browns ever since the end of the 2011 NFL Season.

It started with the team being criticized for not getting into an unwinnable bidding war with Washington to move up in the draft to select quarterback Robert Griffin III.

It moved to the NFL Draft, where the Browns were criticized for trading up one spot to select running back Trent Richardson and then “reaching” to draft quarterback Brandon Weeden.

It continued with the media-created “controversy” over what Jim Brown thinks of Richardson. And the cries that the Browns must do something immediately with Colt McCoy.

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America’s Love Affair with Uncle Drew

America has fallen in love with Uncle Drew.

During the NBA finals, more than 11.7 million people went online to find out that Uncle Drew, a character in a Pepsi Max ad campaign, is really the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving, according to The New York Times:

The video was filmed at Clark’s Pond Court in Bloomfield, N.J., which is close to where Irving’s father lives. Local players were gathered and told that Pepsi Max was filming a documentary on a character named Kevin who they claimed was a youth basketball coach. Other than Irving, Kevin and the player whose injury leads to Uncle Drew entering the game, no one on the court knew that it was actually Irving under the makeup.

The video was posted two days after Irving was officially announced as the rookie of the year. With no media behind it, the video garnered 10 million views. With 80 percent of the viewers watching four minutes into the five-minute video, and the key target demographic of males from 25 to 54 accounting for most of those views, Pepsi Max decided to create a series of trailers to the video to be shown during the N.B.A. finals, representing a significant advertising purchase. Even so, the decision was made to stay true to the viral roots of the video by not giving away anything in the 30-second spots.

The paper reports that the ads received a 98 percent like-rate on YouTube and made the front page of Reddit. During Game 5 of the finals, Irving was trending worldwide on Twitter, under both his name and Uncle Drew’s name.

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Time to take it easy, champ

Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown, with the help of the local media, continued to grind his axe against Mike Holmgren on Thursday.

ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi gave Brown the opportunity to continue to talk down the team’s top pick, running back Trent Richardson.

“I haven’t heard anyone say anything special about (Richardson). Have you?” Brown said. “I think Richardson is a fine young man. I think he’s a good all-around football player. But from my standpoint, that’s ordinary. You talk about someone that’s going to move or light up the franchise or create a certain kind of thing, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not trying to be mean. There are certain people you look at and there’s something special about them. I don’t see it.

“When you think of greatness and the great backs, they all had some individual traits that you can identify – quickness, balance, power, speed,” Brown said. “I think the kid is a good working back, and if you’ve got everything else around him he can play his role. But when it comes to outstanding, I don’t see anything outstanding about him. It’s not said in a cruel manner. He’s very efficient, and that’s what you want.”

Like everyone else, Brown is entitled to his opinion. While it’s not clear what the end game is to his comments, we have a pretty good idea about his motivation.

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Cleveland’s No. 1 newspaper, everyone

We were excited when we saw that Kent State beat St. Mary’s on the road last night in their opening game of the NIT.

But then we read the game article on The Plain Dealer‘s website.

The area’s largest newspaper couldn’t be bothered to send a beat writer to cover a local team playing in a national tournament (well, the NIT, but still) because, well we’re not sure why. Instead, they relied on the Associated Press for its coverage from the game at St. Mary’s McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.

We were surprised to find out, according to the article, that Kent State lost to Akron in the Horizon League title game and the Golden Flashes are apparently coached by someone named Geno Gord.

Give it up for Cleveland’s No. 1 newspaper folks!

It’s bad enough that someone from the AP couldn’t take 30 seconds to check the game notes to find out how to spell Gino Ford’s name correctly. But shouldn’t the PD have, we don’t know, an editor look at the story before it’s published? Especially since Kent State is a local team.

Maybe everyone on Superior Avenue is so tired from bashing The Cleveland Clinic, writing about themselves and chasing the ghost of Eric Mangini to actually care about getting the details right.

It’s clear, though, that at The Plain Dealer, God does not reside in the details. Jay Spry would be very, very disappointed.

Thankfully The Beacon Journal had its act together, as beat reporter Stephanie Storm put together an actual game story with the right names and everything.

Imagine that.

***

Do you have plans for the weekend? Grady Sizemore does.

Sizemore, the Tribe’s Gold Glove center fielder, could play in his first game in 10 months on Sunday.

“If everything continues to go well, and it’s going well, there’s a chance that Grady can start participating in games on March 20,” manager Manny Acta told The Plain Dealer. “I saw him [Tuesday] working on fundamentals, cutoffs, relays, chasing balls around in the outfield during batting practice like it was nothing. It was very encouraging.”

***

Bad day for sociopaths, as NFL vice president Ray Anderson said in a conference call Wednesday that the league will be even more stern in disciplining players next season, especially repeat offenders.

Bad news for the Steelers, who may now have to play football rather than playing to intentionally injure someone.

According to Anderson, many of those big hits that resulted in fines and personal fouls could lead to suspensions in 2011, which would hurt Pittsburgh in subsequent games.

We don’t see how that’s a problem. Do you?

***

Interesting response from Grant Hill, who didn’t hold back, to some of the comments Jalen Rose made in The Fab Five, a documentary shown Sunday night on ESPN.

We watched the program and thought Rose was pretty clear that his feelings about the type of black players that Duke recruits were how he felt as a freshman on the Michigan team – not how he feels now.

Apparently not everyone took the message that way.

It’s right vs. wrong, not new vs. old

Dan Le Batard at The Miami Herald apparently doesn’t get it.

In his latest column, he cries that “new” journalism is ruining it for everyone else.

He takes Deadspin to task for its recent story on Mark Sanchez, but somehow lets The New York Post off the hook for doing something far worse (bolding is us):

“What Deadspin.com did this week was wrong by all the previous measurements, although those measurements mummify more every day. It wasn’t news to report that a 17-year-old girl had maybe slept with Sanchez. That age is legal in New York. It wasn’t news that she had photographed proof of Sanchez’s bedroom. (This is what The Kardashian Generation has wrought; the famous get screwed, and the screwed get famous.)

“The girl wanted it published, then didn’t, but Deadspin published it anyway — and traffic soared. And you know what happened next, right? The New York Post followed by publishing the girl’s name and picture for her high school classmates — something even Deadspin avoided. This is how it happened with Favre and Rex Ryan’s wife, too — old media deciding to follow what everyone was talking about because that’s where the money, eyes and marketplace were.”

You can argue how close Deadspin got to crossing the mythical ethical line that journalists and newspapers deal with on a daily basis, but how can you even try to defend what the Post did? You just don’t publish the name of a minor, especially one who didn’t do anything wrong. That’s sleazy, no matter where you fall on the journalism age line.

But apparently that’s OK because the Post is “old” journalism and they are just trying to keep up. So rather than take the high road and do the right thing, it’s OK for the Post to trash a high school girl because Deadspin opened the door, the Post had no choice in the matter, they just had to follow.

Le Batard also misses the point in regard to Tiger Woods:

“There appears to be a fascinating sexual tension growing between old journalism and new journalism. A startled and exposed Tiger Woods discovered this the hard way, when both journalisms barged into his bedroom together with a kind of zeal that had no precedent in American sports.

“There is the feeling that a divorced and broken Tiger Woods should have been more discrete, should have known better. But he couldn’t have. The rules changed on him, and for all sports figures, while he was getting undressed.”

The only thing that Tiger Woods discovered is that he can’t do anything he wants without repercussions.

If you’re married you don’t cheat on your spouse.

We’re pretty sure that rule predates the creation of both “new” and “old” journalism.

***

From UniWatch comes this link to Hoopism, a site with several sophisticated and interactive NBA-centric infographics.

The best one shows word clouds for every NBA team based on who played the most minutes for each team. The one for the Cavs is pretty sweet.

***

Sure, when the Indians lost Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome and C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee and on and on that’s just the way it goes.

But now that Albert Pujols might leave St. Louis, suddenly it’s a problem?

Please.

***

Would the Browns consider bringing Braylon Edwards back in free agency?

Someone at Bleacher Report thinks it’s a good idea:

“Bringing Edwards back might allow him to mentor younger receivers such as Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, both of whom struggled in only their second seasons. It would also give Colt McCoy a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

“Fans need to forgive and forget when it comes to Braylon Edwards. Sure, he dropped passes, but there is not a receiver in the league worth his salt who hasn’t.

“The only thing Cleveland fans need to worry about is whether adding Braylon Edwards will make the team significantly better.

“And the obvious answer is yes, it will.”

We’re going to go out on a limb and say that’s never going to happen.

Think Before You Write

While our primary focus is on Cleveland sports hear at Red Right 88 headquarters, we occasionally offer insight and opinion on European football, most notably over the summer with the World Cup and, when time permits, our favorite English team, Liverpool.

There’s much we love about the beautiful game, from the passion of the fans, to the songs, the stadiums, relegation, the fact that the game works well and is available on TV in high definition and, unlike some American sports (baseball) it is fairly easy to pick up the basics and follow what’s going on pretty quickly. And the fact that the game is foreign just makes it more interesting.

We picked up the game during the 2006 World Cup and started following Liverpool shortly after. And because we’ve only been a fan for a short time, we tread carefully when we write about the game. We try to stick to games, players we like, things like that. One area we work hard to avoid is diving too far into the darker parts of the sport’s history. Frankly, we’re so new to the sport that it would be foolish to do so, as we just don’t have the depth of knowledge as fans who have been following teams for generations – literally in the case of Liverpool as the team was founded in 1892.

And the one area we would never feel qualified to discuss is the Hillsborough tragedy, where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives during a game against Nottingham Forest.

Unfortunately, Alex Beam of The Boston Globe has no such reservations.

In a column, Hardball in Liverpool, Beam writes about how John Henry’s New England Sports Ventures (owners of the Red Sox) are still in the early stages of its ownership of Liverpool. The point of the column seems to be to grind an axe against NESV. Beam writes that:

In a lengthy interview with one of the fan sites, Redandwhitekop.com (kop refers to a part of Anfield stadium), Henry confined himself to boilerplate Belispeak: “This club needs everyone on the same page every day. Every day. We need everyone focused on what needs to be done in the next match facing us and during that match,’’ blah blah blah. He comes across as bloodless and dispassionate, talking about soccer in the same breath as his auto racing interests and baseball — one management template for all. That kind of talk won’t sit well by the Mersey, believe me.

But then, inexplicably, Beam goes off the rails and brings up Hillsborough, classifying it as a riot:

The few sane people I have talked to about Liverpool understand that these are early days for New England Sports Ventures and that meaningful changes probably won’t come until Liverpool’s season ends in May. None of those sane people are in Liverpool, however. Even by the deranged standards of European soccer, Red fans are totally bonkers. Their excitable Internet fan sites are still agonizing over a 21-year-old soccer stadium riot that killed 96 people. One website, Thisisanfield.com, is publishing yet another exhaustive history of the incident, and still actively promotes a boycott of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun, two decades after the paper accused Liverpool fans of pickpocketing the corpses, and other outrages.

Why you would bring up a tragedy that killed 96 people when you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about? And why would you judge a fan base for mourning the loss of their own? What purpose does that serve, other than to broadcast your ignorance to everyone?

Needless to say, the outrage over the article was quick. Rather than run a retraction or, better yet, an apology, The Globe ran a correction:

Because of a reporting error, Alex Beam’s column on Tuesday in the “g” section mischaracterized the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster involving Liverpool soccer fans as a “riot.” The official investigation into the disaster, which cost 96 lives, placed the blame primarily on poor crowd control and inadequate stadium design.

OK, we know we’re just a fan blog and have nowhere near the reach or influence of a newspaper such as The Globe. But once upon a time we were a working journalist and we still carry those standards with us. We try to have fun here, but we also work hard to be accurate when we write.

And, most importantly, we think before we write. Clearly those same standards are not in play at The Boston Globe, which paints a sad portrait of the state of journalism in this country.

If you want to learn more about what happened that day at Hillsborough, visit This is Anfield for its series of articles about the tragedy.

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