The great weather vane

added 1/22/2008 by Scott Barzilla

Life used to be a lot simpler. In the good ol' days, people would do their thing without interruption or commentary from those in the fourth estate. Heck, players in the 19th century were lucky to have accurate stats for themselves, much less columnists question their nightly trips to the saloon or brothel. Oh, how the times have changed.

Now, all you have to do is turn on the television to find out that the likes of Pacman Jones has allegedly hit a woman at yet another trip to a strip club. Watching Jones in action is a lot like watching a two year old try to cram a triangle block into the circle hole. Yet, here we are in the information age where we get to see every painful minute of it.

Ironically enough, many in the press are thinking the same thing. They remember a time when they were the ones giving commentary and no one was allowed to question their opinion in any kind of mass medium. Well, that would appear to be my job. Of course, I will turn around and get others mocking me in their own medium. It's a never ending cycle of madness. Of course, I like to keep my social commentary to a minimum, but does anyone really want to see an indepth analysis of the Runeylvs Hernandez signing?

Everyone is familiar with P.T. Barnum's famous line, "a sucker is born everyday." The problem is that I'm not sure if he was talking about us or the press. Many of us tune into the news, read the newspaper, or surf the web looking for exactly that: news. What we get is questionable at best in terms of the quality of the information. If we consider the 2008 off-season we will see two great examples of that fact.

For Astros fans, the Miguel Tejada story is probably more important. This story has so many sides it is impossible to get your hands around it. First, you have the question of ethics from the Astros organization. Fans will remember when Julio Lugo was quickly DFAed following charges of marital abuse. Those charges were dropped, but an apology was not forthcoming from the organization. Now, Tejada is charged in the Mitchell Report and the organization is claiming innocent until proven guilty. It's hard not to see the contrast.

Certainly, commentators are quick to point to the inconsistency, but there are complexities to the case. First, no one has bothered to consider the evidence involved. Secondly, we are left to assume that both crimes are of equal importance. From a societal perspective, I think everyone agrees we would be a lot happier without violence then we would be without performance enhancers (if one were to be eliminated).

The next phase of the story revolves around his legal trouble. Will he be deported? Will he go to jail? Will he be suspended for a portion of the season? The coverage of the story seems to consistently assume guilt and simply question what punishment will be dolled out. Again, no one has really taken a long look at the evidence involved. Like with the Clemens case, it is a case of he said/he said. Yes, the Mitchell Report has a check. It is a personal check that only Piatt and Tejada know the intended use of. Has anyone in the media accepted the possibility that Tejada could be telling the truth and Piatt could be lying?

Then, you have Tejada himself. Is he going to be a good teammate? Is his kind good for the organization? What were the problems he had in Baltimore and will they come here? This is where I finally threw up my hands in disgust. The Houston Chronicle has been doing a series of articles on Tejada and the man inside the uniform. It's almost as if they are making up for the fact that his character has been assassinated. Whoops, our bad!

Naturally, the coverage of the Clemens situation is much simpler. The tide turns with every retort from either side. In the beginning it was bad for Clemens. Then Clemens fought back and it was good for him. Now, McNamee has come out and said there is additional evidence. I guess the wretched Katy Rocket must be guilty afterall huh? Why take the time to let the story play itself out? I must pick sides now. After all, I won't get to say I told you so if I wait for all the facts to be in.

That is the real crime of this situation. In this Crossfire, PTI, and ATH world, we must make our opinions known now, loud, and based on simplistic understanding of the facts. We all do it from time to time. It is what makes us American. An enterprising person could do a search on Speedy's board and come up with examples of when I have done it. As someone once said, "when you point the finger at someone else you have three pointed back at you." It's easy to point the finger, but we are the ones watching the shows, reading the stories, and clicking on the website. We are the ones shouting out half-baked opinions on message boards and blogs. That is my opinion and I'm sticking to it. That is, until I change it tomorrow.