Monday, June 28, 2010

Tim Baines, wrestling columnist, is NOT anti-Spezza

I suppose that few people outside of Ottawa subscribe to the Ottawa Sun, and thus, few people really know whether the Sun is pro-Senators, anti-Senators or whichever. But it appears that they've become pro-sensationalism, with a ridiculous defense of the paper's sports section.

Earlier this week, the Silver Seven blog fired against the paper for its Jason Spezza coverage. and a couple of days later, back on Friday, Sun sports editor (and wrestling columnist, if you check out his bio on the right-hand side of the page) Tim Baines did his best to defend his turf. The result is not pretty:

So, it appears pretty overwhelming here. We are the bad guys for writing that Jason Spezza told Bryan Murray that he wouldn’t “object” to a trade. We are the bad guys for writing that he had a $4-million bonus coming July 1. We are the bad guys for suggesting that the Senators trade him.

That's a fair point, but you're getting way defensive way too early in your column.

We are the bad guys because an overwhelming number of people in this city, when polled, suggested that the Senators should trade their star centre.

An overwhelming number, which doesn't represent the majority at all.

And, many have said, Don Brennan is an idiot because he suggested the Senators should trade Spezza if they can get fair value. Brennan actually disputed what he considers an unfair label about Spezza’s defensive liabilities.

Personally, I don’t think they should trade Spezza. He’s a marquee player on a team that has too few of them. But, and call his sensationalism on my part if you want, be assured the the Senators GM is, yes IS, trying to trade him.

In these two paragraphs, the editor is sticking up for his columnist who suggested Spezza should be traded, and that Spezza is not a defensive liability. Then he goes on to suggest that Spezza should not be traded and that his paper is sensationalist for bringing it up.


The Ottawa Sun’s reporters are being blamed for breaking Spezza stories. Does it not seem curious to anyone why Bryan Murray would mention his conversation with Spezza in the first place. Do you think that ruffles the feathers of the team’s best player?

This is where Baines falls apart. When is he going to explicitly defend one of the Spezza stories, one of the broken stories that determined an irrefutable truth? This would be different had Jason Spezza been traded, which it doesn't look like is going to happen.

One blogger suggests the Senators should rid themselves of the real problem, Daniel Alfredsson. Geez, you rip on us for creating a problem with Spezza, then you try and trade the Senators’ captain, a guy who’s poured his heart and soul into the franchise?

And the Dany Heatley criticism persists? The guy freakin’ wanted out of town. He asked for a trade. Didn’t want to be in Ottawa. Was that the media’s fault. He made a lot of money here. We had no gripe with him until he gave Ottawa the middle finger and said he wanted out. Was that our fault?

I find it funny that, on one hand, we are criticized for being too home-teamish. And on the other, we’re over-the-top anti-Senators.

Baines switches from being ridiculously defensive to outright whining. This brings us to the end of the column, where he needs to take a parting shot at blogs.

We make decisions every day on which stories will be played up. Which stories merit space in the paper. You think the guys are making stories up. Unlike some local hacks who live in their mothers’ basements and throw enough crap out there until some of it sticks, our guys have sources — GMs, scouts, management-types.

How original. At no point, though, does Baines mention that anybody at the Silver Seven blog eat doritos.

Sure, we run rumours in our paper. It would be safe to say that somewhere upwards of 99% of trades that are discussed in NHL circles never happen. So does that make it wrong that we report some of the deals that are at the discussion level? And are we wrong for reporting that Peter Regin’s agent suggested that his player could earn a Tomas Vanek-like contract? The notion he’ll get that kind of money is ludicrous. But the fact his agent said it is newsworthy.

You're probably wrong for not calling the guy out on it at all, whether it's in print or via interview. One major difference between print and blogs is that the print guys supposedly have access to major sources.

Baines is the sports editor for a major big-city newspaper, yet his defensive column has no more exclusive quotes or access points, and so his piece could have been crafted by somebody in my position, who has his own blogspot and gets a dozen readers on a good day.

I'll give him the last word, though. Enjoy the rest of your Monday:

It’s great that fans are so passionate about the Senators. They just have to be open-minded enough to hear the good and the bad.

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