Friday, July 3, 2009

Irresponsible Journalism Pisses Me Off

Wow. Just wow.

I just have to shake my head over the inane drivel published recently by the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. In a June 22 article writer David Frank condemns MLB umpire Gerry Davis for his (at worst) request for photos with Red Sox players for his son and friends.

I take exception with this article for several reasons. First, Mr. Frank’s condemnation of Gerry Davis is ostensibly based on reports from the Boston Herald and WEEI radio in Boston. Since Gerry Davis predictably declined comment on the matter there is no one left to object to Mr. Frank’s indictment based upon a load of hearsay and conjecture. I am, of course, mindful that hearsay and conjecture “are kinds of evidence,” at least according to Lionel Hutz.

Is it so unreasonable to believe that something more was happening during this pre game exchange? The MLB website lists Gerry Davis as active with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as Blue for Kids, so how about a little investigative journalism, Mr. Frank? Or, if getting the facts straight is asking too much, how about a modicum of responsible journalism before assailing the character of a 25 year veteran umpire. Here’s an excerpt of Mr. Frank’s hard-hitting prose:
As the story goes, the blue shirt's young guests were decked in Sox garb as they sat in the team's dugout waiting for members of the 2009 squad to come onto the field. It was then that Davis (who declined a Lawyers Weekly interview request) allegedly called players over as they exited the runway for an impromptu get-to-know-you session with his son's posse.

You can hardly blame our local heroes, including the slumping David Ortiz, for posing, but if the reports are true, this doesn't sound kosher.
Mr. Frank is telling us that he doesn’t know what happened and wasn’t present for the events. You know, if we weren’t conjecturing on pure speculation, I might hypothetically agree with Mr. Frank’s analysis. Wow. Just wow.

Second, assuming Gerry Davis requested Red Sox players to pose for photos, so what? Gerry Davis is a professional umpire who officiates a game. He’s not a judge although Mr. Frank and other similarly baseball obsessed lawyers can’t seem to understand the game of baseball except in legalese. No doubt Mr. Frank read “The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule” while a 1L at Boston University School of Law and has been since unable to see the game and its actors in non-legal terms. Or am I unfairly and irresponsibly mischaracterizing Mr. Frank?

Mr. Frank challenges the integrity of this 25 year MLB veteran umpire by questioning whether Ortiz received a preferential call during the game - a check swing in the eighth. Ortiz walked during the AB. Really? I mean, REALLY? The night before GD worked the dish and Ortiz went 0-2 with 2 walks. Clearly there’s a conspiracy afoot Mr. Woodward!

Mr. Frank correctly points out that MLB umpires are not constrained by the Canons of Judicial Conduct. I say, “Thank goodness!” But since we have all stumbled into the wonderful land of Frank-dom, maybe it would be a good idea to impose the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct on journalists. Especially Rules 3.3 and 3.4 which involve candor and fairness.

Even if the worst has happened here and Gerry Davis asked David Ortiz to pose for a photo with his son, so what? Gerry Davis has failed to maintain an appearance of impartiality? Get over yourself! I wonder how many times all star David Ortiz has been asked to pose for pictures by opposing players. Oh, wait! There he is on the same team as Derek Jeter! I bet that makes a BoSox fan's skin crawl. Yes, fraternization is generally prohibited, but ultimately we are dealing with people interacting with people at a place of business. Just like a judge may have interaction with attorneys both inside and outside the courtroom, umpires may have interaction with players away from the field. For instance, MLB reports that Russ Ortiz, Matt Herges and Will Ohman participated in the Umps Care golf charity during the off season. No doubt they were angling for preferential calls on check swings!

I suppose the worst part of the publication of this biased and unprofessional piece is that it is purely an act of bullyism. Gerry Davis will not defend accusations that are obviously trivial and beneath him. Umpire bashing is a national pastime and Gerry Davis is a public figure, so fire away Mr. Frank. I'm sure it makes for a funny fluff piece for your rag. Gerry Davis will not respond to your speculation and character assassination – its all part of the job as a professional umpire.

1 comment:

Pete Reiser said...

For good journalism try Zev Borow's piece in the October, 2008, issue of ESPN The Magazine entitled "Law & Order:"