Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sportswriting versus political reporting

This piece from the Times' "Bats" demonstrates why I much prefer to read the sports page, particularly the baseball beat, then I do any of the political reporters that, figuratively, clog up the bases in the paper's A section.

At the same time, Cashman also praised Matsui’s overall body of work.

“He’s one of the game’s great R.B.I. guys,” he said. “There’s probably not too many people you’d pick to be at the plate with the game on the line ahead of him. When he’s healthy, he can perform, and thankfully for us it culminated in a world championship. He stayed healthy all year long, and it carried into the postseason.”

Matsui, who was the World Series most valuable player, is 35 and has surgically repaired knees that preclude him, the Yankees have said, from playing left field.

“As far as we’re concerned, he’s a D.H.,” Cashman said. “We don’t see outfield in the future for us.”

Those two statements by Cashman, about the danger of small sample sizes and about how the Yankees would not play Matsui in left field, demonstrate how remote a possibility it is of his returning to the Yankees. Cashman, however, is also establishing parameters for negotiations.

By ruling out the importance of the World Series in evaluating a player, he has taken away the agent Arn Tellem’s best argument for re-signing Matsui. Also, by declaring that he does not envision Matsui in the outfield, he undercuts his prospects elsewhere.

No "anonymous sources," though, admittedly, you saw a lot of those back in the Boss Steinbrenner days. The reporter doesn't take it for granted that what Cashman says is true. Matsui's knees are shot, "the Yankees have said." Context. This is why Cashman is saying what he's saying now.

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