Anybody who works in sports reporting or analysis should strive to be accurate with every piece of information, no matter how big or small. I try, though I admit I’ve made mistakes. The point in making mistakes is admitting it and moving forward.
Sometimes, though, people will criticize whatever you say no matter what you say or how you say it. It’s the internet, people will tell their opinions, no matter how rational. And thankfully because they don’t have to deal with consequences of seeing their opponent in the face, they’ll be more vicious about it.
I’m kinda familiar with this through my work with IGN, where us reviewers are sometimes chastised for whatever minor criticism of a TV show, or for the unscientific rating of an episode of a TV show.
It gets slightly worse with baseball where people assign emotions, actions, thoughts or general sensibilities to players they don’t know as an explanation for their play. This guy’s struggling because he’s young and immature; this guy’s struggling because he’s a headcase; this guy’s struggling because he’s no longer taking steroids; this guy’s hitting well because he learned to be clutch. It’s not that these things CAN’T be true, it’s that we don’t know they’re true and thus shouldn’t make a comment about it. Why condemn a player for something that you believe will unwaveringly affect him throughout his career when you’ve never shook his hand, let alone spoke to him?
Morgan Ensberg was on ESPNU broadcasting as a color commentator during a college baseball game and received criticism for it. In his response, he earnestly wanted to learn from what people were saying, most of the criticism was about how he talked to much. And in response on Twitter, he asked how he could change for the better. He received more than 100 responses, ranging from you stink to don’t listen to idiots, you’re doing great.
I really admire Ensberg, who’s taken his post-retirement life and rather than sit around, decided to write for his own blog. Out of that, he gave baseball fans an idea of what some baseball players are like. He’s analytical, he’s very at ease with criticism and I think he put it best when he said this:
I always felt on the same level as fans because I saw them as people. What confuses me is why fans think we don’t hear them.
Emotions do count in this game. But it’s important as fans to realize that raging at players is useless except as a release for your impotent rage. This goes doubly for umpires and managers. It’s only because they’re so good at not reacting to it that they’re professionals.
Here’s a cheers to Morgan Ensberg.