I’m not very good at this new social media world, where Russian bots and local frauds can attack at any time.
I generally don’t pay attention, and I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t had a bunch of my favorite journalists tell me that my reporting is being questioned.
Here’s what you need to know about the attackers:
I’ve never met them. To meet them, they’d have to have the courage and work ethic to show their faces in the clubhouse every 10 years or so. They don’t. They are plagiarists, amateurs cowards and professional liars.
Let’s start from the beginning. Last Sunday I was at Target Field. I had been hearing from Twins sources that MIguel Sano’s weight was worrying them. They love him as a player and a personality but they worried that if he was carrying extra weight at age 24, his career might not be what it should be.
They mentioned.Kent Hrbek’s early retirement, Pablo Sandoval’s career decline and Glen Perkins’ unannounced early retirement as examples of the bad things that can happen when a player doesn’t control his weight and conditioning.
I had heard this for months but had no reason to pursue it because Sano was playing so well.
That morning, a Twins official I’ve known for a long time told me that Sano’s weight was 290. His listed weight is 260. Some Twins officials would like to see him at 250, especially while he’s playing third base.
That was an alarming number - 290. So I pursued it. I talked to three other Twins sources, two in the clubhouse. They told me that because weights fluctuate I’d be safer estimating his playing weight at 285.
Sano had fouled a ball off of his left leg on Friday. The Twins announced on that Sunday that he had a stress reaction and would be placed on the disabled list.
I wrote that the Twins were concerned that his extra weight could impede his recovery and harm his career path, based on my conversations.
Somehow, this was turned, by local trolls and national know-nothings, into a story about how I had said that Sano’s weight caused his injury. I never said or wrote that. These people are lying.
I won’t even point out that now Sano is struggling to recover from his injury, because I can’t prove that there is a correlation between his weight and his slow recovery. I just know that the Twins wish they didn’t have to worry about that possibility.
Another lie I"ve heard: That the Star Tribune was embarrassed about the column. Wrong. My sports editor was puzzled by the negative reaction, and the editor of the paper complimented it.
Another lie: I have some kind of problem with Sano. I've been writing glowing things about him as a player and personality since he was in A ball, and Doug Mientkiewicz would tell me what a leader he is. I went fishing with Sano and Byron Buxton when they were rehabbing in Fort Myers. I like the guy. That doesn't mean I won't report uncomplimentary facts about him.
The problem with media these days is that people are willing to believe anything, including Russian bots and cowardly bloggers.
I’ve been covering the Twins intensively since 1993. I did the beat full-time for five years, then became our baseball writer at-large before becoming a columnist. I’ve spent years of my life in the clubhouse, and on the phone with Twins sources, and covering spring training, and traveling to Twins games.
Since people don’t seem to know who to believe, let me help. Here are the people you should and shouldn’t listen to when it comes to the Twins:
-Team broadcasters: They offer insights and anecdotes but will never tell you anything the team doesn’t want them to tell you. They are team employees.
-Columnists: It’s our job to write opinion. There are two columnists in town who have covered the Twins for decades, who can call up Tom Kelly or Hrbek or Torii Hunter whenever we like, who have spent hours jousting with Andy MacPhail and Terry Ryan about things we’ve written. The two: Patrick Reusse and myself.
-Beat writers: They cover the team on a daily basis, produce massive amounts of copy, fight deadlines and talk to the manager and other Twins officials multiple times a day. Like columnists, if they get something wrong, they hear about it from the team.
-Tethered and responsible bloggers: They write blogs but either have bosses, which makes them accountable, or show up and do their own reporting, which makes them accountable. The two best examples of this are Brandon Warne and Seth Stohs. They conduct one-on-one interviews with players, fight the same access limitations as the rest of us and have a sense of reality.
-Untethered bloggers: They may be good at statistical analysis. They may be able to help you with fantasy baseball. But they have the opportunity to get credentials and talk to people face to face and defend what they write, especially the many untrue things they write, and they never show up. They are afraid to. They are actual trolls, unwilling to do the work or look people in the eye and justify or defend what they’ve written.
There is a reason they take this approach. Their stuff wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of players and team officials. They’re afraid. And they would have to face the traditional journalists they’re trying to push aside so they have a place at the table.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been standing by a Twins beat writer who just talked to the manager or a player and Tweeted out news who has then turned to me and said, ``Funny, I just got the news and reported it, and yet here is Jabba The Stat, sitting in his basement, wearing his Kimono, eating his Cinnabon, acting like he broke the story.’’
These untethered-from-reality bloggers are trolls, liars, plagiarists and frauds. But mostly, they’re cowards.
Want some reality? Listen to my show with former Twins All-Star and current analyst Roy Smalley