Bird Law and Baseball: ESPN’s MLB Rules Quiz

ESPN’s resident baseball-knowledge mouthpiece, Jayson Stark, decided that too many professional baseball people were acting like Donovan McNabb and forgetting the rules of the game this season, if they ever knew them to begin with, so he and Rich Marazzi, “esteemed baseball rules expert,” came up with a ten-question quiz  to test folks. They then administered it to “20 of the most astute players in the game,” four coaches, one manager, “six ESPN baseball ‘geniuses,'” and one broadcaster.

Who were these people? The twenty-seven active players, managers, and coaches represent eleven of baseball’s thirty teams, and of those eleven teams, six of which are East Coast teams. That seems like a not unreasonable balance for a small sampling of people.

We don’t often hear people associating baseball players and intelligence, though, so the phrase “20 of the most astute players in the game” caught my eye. Stark pays close attention to the details of the game, so it certainly is possible that he has a good feel for what players might qualify. Maybe it was because I had just read Tommy Craggs’ article on Howie Schwab, but I started to worry that “astute” might mean something like “scrappy.” I took a look at the MLB.com profile pages for each of the “20 of the most astute players in the game,” and while Stark may be right– he goes to great lengths to discuss Sam Fuld’s academic credentials– my hunch wasn’t wrong: of the twenty, nineteen are white. The one exception was Jimmy Rollins, who is black. (According to the first Appendix of the 2013 Race and Gender Report Card for Major League Baseball, 61.2% of players are white, and 8.3% are African-American.)

mlbracialbreakdownAs far as the quiz itself, it turned out to be pretty tough. Marazzi decided that a passing grade was 6/10, and by that measure, just thirteen of the thirty-two takers passed. That’s probably because, as Stark writes, “the rules might be the rules. But that doesn’t mean they have to make much sense.”

The rest is baseball minutiae and hopeless reform rhetoric. If you want to see how the quiz-takers performed, click here. If you want to take the quiz yourself– at last count, over 171,000 people had– click here. And if you really must know, this writer scored a five, which, while not “passing,” ranks me better than or equal to all but two of the professional media “geniuses.” You get what you pay for here at ALDLAND.

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The Weekend Interview: Charlie Warzel

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The subject of the 2013 debut of the Weekend Interview is Charlie Warzel. After we featured his recent piece for Adweek’s Sports Issue, “Deadspin: An Oral History: How an irreverent sports site made the big leagues” earlier this week, Charlie graciously agreed to share his behind-the-scenes experiences and thoughts regarding the article and the state of online sports media.

Be sure to read the article, which opens with, “It all goes back to Ron Mexico,” and closes with, “Strip Club photos: courtesy of Deadspin.” Then check out our conversation, below.

Continue reading

Deadspin: An Oral History: How an irreverent sports site made the big leagues (via Adweek)

It all goes back to Ron Mexico.

In 2005, The Smoking Gun broke the story of a legal complaint about a prominent athlete who “knowingly failed to advise” a partner that he was infected with a sexually transmitted disease. The athlete, then-phenom Michael Vick, was reported to have used the alias Ron Mexico during herpes testing, a story that quickly spread across the nascent blog culture of the Internet.

Will Leitch, an early, struggling blogger, got the idea for Deadspin after taking note of what he believed to be a failure in mainstream sports media: It wasn’t covering or even mentioning stories like the tale of Ron Mexico—stories that sports fans were eating up. Partnering with Nick Denton’s Gawker Media, Leitch launched a site that would talk to the average sports fan like a real average sports fan, eschewing, as the site’s motto goes, “access, favor and discretion.”

Over the last seven years, Deadspin has grown from a one-man operation run out of a bedroom into a formidable counterweight to the sports media industrial complex of Sports Illustrated, ESPN and other players. Along the way, Leitch and successive editors have exposed star athletes and top media personalities, offended countless readers and managed to make over the culture of sports journalism, all from the outside.

On Jan. 16, the site was the first news outlet to report that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend, whose “death” was the basis of one of the more inspiring stories of the past year, was a complete hoax. The story would explode and cement Deadspin’s place at the head table of the sports media world—and the mainstream media’s worst nightmare. … Keep Reading

(via Adweek)