Covering Spring Training the wrong way

'Get yer Yankee Stadium right here'
Following the unaired Spring Training games

Now that everyone and their mothers — or at least mine — reads baseball blogs, the media, under pressure from the competition, is paying closer attention to the results of Spring Training outings. This is sadly to the detriment of the Spring Training process.

Exhibit A in this era of over-reacting media is Mark Feinsand’s overly dramatic piece about Joba Chamberlain’s outing in today’s Daily News:

Joba Chamberlain called it “just one of those days.”

Of course, Chamberlain had never experienced a day like this since joining the Yankees last August, at least one without midges around.

The hard-throwing 22-year-old allowed two runs on two hits – one of them a towering two-run blast by Twins outfielder Garrett Jones – in two innings, giving up twice as many earned runs as he did in his 19 outings last season.

Harping on less-than-stellar outings by Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, Feinsand spends a story talking about the struggles these two had yesterday. Missing from the story is any mention of the fact that these are the first two innings these pitchers have thrown against Major League hitters since last season. Missing from the story is a nod toward the purpose of Spring Training: refining mechanics, getting a feel for the strike zone. Missing from the story is a mention of the fact that these outings came on March 4 and not October 4.

Instead, Feinsand compares this outing to one of Joba’s Minor League appearances in which he gave up three home runs. This coverage needs perspective. Yankee fans shouldn’t expect an undefeated Spring Training; that’s not the point. Rather, these pitchers use the time to get out the rest, to get their throwing in, to get in shape. By the time April rolls around, these guys are ready to go.

If, in June, Joba and IPK are still struggling, then we can worry. But two less-than-perfect innings during the first week of Spring Training hardly warrant an alarm. Is this really where we are with sports coverage today?

'Get yer Yankee Stadium right here'
Following the unaired Spring Training games
  • steve (different one)

    great post.

  • Sam

    That is just irresponsible reporting on Feinsand’s part. If memory serves, the Yankees have recently finished around or slightly below .500 in ST and seemed to be just fine in the regular season.

  • Geno

    I expect nothing less from the Daily News.

  • Rob

    I agree. Feinsand seems like a nice enough guy. But I’ve never dug his writing – not for nor for the Snews. He seems to consistently rev up the drama when there really isn’t any. It works at the Daily News, where one overblown story becomes the backpage, but I can’t ever expect to learn much from him.

    • const

      I completely agree. I’ve never been enamored by Feinsand’s coverage.

  • Jeff

    Yeah unless a player is competing for a spot ST shouldn’t be looked at as any more than excercise. Even then the first two weeks shouldn’t be put under a microscope.

  • Jamal G.

    Off-Topic yes, but reading PeteAbe’s blog Austin Jackson will be the starting LF today @ the Reds. No idea if game will be televised so I will just have to pay attention to PeteAbe’s live blog.

    Now back to the topic I can’t believe the kind of attention this is getting. Even the Santana debut coverage was outrageous. These guys have been around baseball for years, why can’t they use their professional judgement instead of just trying to stir up some drama and attract readers?

  • save hughes

    not too mention, Joba pitched this game as a starter if i’m not mistaken. He was probably on a heavy dose of change-ups which he he didn’t throw last year and it is his worst pitch.

    • Travis G.

      he only threw one changeup from what i could tell. the HR was on a 93-mph fb belt high. just fyi.

  • Seamus O’Toole

    as must as i am peeved by this reporting, you have to understand the audience. people like to bitch and moan. he’s just giving them what they want.

  • Marsha

    Damn straight your mom reads baseball blogs. Or 1 baseball blog.

  • jason

    I watched the game and Kennedy pitched pretty well. He certainly didn’t have the location, which is to be expected in your first start to mlb hitters, but he got a couple of the top hitters out and confused, Mauer, Morneau etc.
    Chamberlain pitched slightly less well, but it was mostly command.
    My guess is that neither Kennedy nor Chamberlain will go the entire season without giving up a home run. But, if they can both hold teams to a few runs, especially on days when they don’t ahve command (a starter’s era of 4 or so), they will win more than there share of games.

    • Seamus O’Toole

      um.. i don’t know. he couldn’t get a single curve over for a called strike. except for the homerun, he was painting the black with the fastball though.

  • TurnTwo

    i dont blame the writers; its spring, and there are only so many stories to report about, so everyone needs to take a different angle to get attention for their newspapers.

    dont forget, like mike and the maddog, who granted are idiots, their job first and foremost is to get attention to their show and the station they work for, and to increase their listener numbers…

    same with Feinsand, IMO. he’s got a responsibility to gain readership for his paper and his blog. sometimes, if he has to take a negative approach to a story to be different and to draw contrast from other stories to garner attention, then its what he has to do.

    i dont hold him personally responsible… and if you think about it, it worked perfectly. he wrote the article that got your attention; so you wrote about it here, and linked it back to his blog/article, which will increase his readership, which means more people to the newspaper, and more people means more money for ads for the paper.

    • ceciguante

      well said — it’s just about money, yellow journalism is to be expected from this great capitalist media of ours. it’s sad, though. maybe we need some non-profit yanks coverage out there, like NPR for sports. they can run a bland factual story when our guys play spring games or drop a ho-hum contest in the regular season. motto: “boring, but true.”

  • Ed

    The Yankees generally do pretty lousy in spring training. The manager isn’t making moves based on trying to win the game, he just wants people to get their work in. You’ll get left in even if you suck horribly until you reach your target pitch count. Likewise, you could be throwing a perfect game and you’ll get pulled at the same point.

    I wouldn’t even be surprised if Joba was mainly throwing pitches he never threw in the majors last year just to get some work on them.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Don’t you know that it’s the end of the world when JC and Ike give up homeruns? The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    It’s going to be a long season with those clowns covering the team.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    OTOH, they made a big deal about the “perfect” game the other day. Either way, it’s stupid.

  • Steve S

    I read the entire article. I didnt think it was that awful. Even the quotes you gave. That did happen. I think the point was that Joba was so perfect last year on the ML stage that we never saw him struggle but hell probably have a couple of those this year. I thought Feinsand abrought up the fact that before Joba got called up he gave up three homeruns in a ML game when everyone was watching him (Cash etc..) to demonstrate that we should expect Joba to be perfect. Its also a relatively interesting story because he gets a quote out of Joba who said that minor league game gave him some perspective. In the grand scheme of things I didnt think that this article was that negative.

    Especially considering that a guy who hit 54 home runs last year gets analyzed by the media on a daily basis and managed to get booed by his own fans. Eventually all three of these kids are going to get bad/negative ink (Phil Hughes has already gotten some). Its part of them playing here. But this doesn’t even come close to being it, I actually think Feinsand did a good job of putting some perspective on their performance. Just because we have called them the “Big Three” doesn’t mean they are beyond reproach. Guess what this is the risk of leaving a team in New York with a massive payroll in the hand of a bunch of 22 year olds, the year after their biggest rival won the world series. Joel Sherman is still bitching about the Santana deal.

    • Steve S

      should have read “we shouldn’t expect”

  • pete c.

    Turn Two has a point. It is just spring training and the writers have to work out the kinks too. So I wouldn’t worry to much about how Feinsand writes yet, we gotta wait till at least mid may when we can see if he can get the job done. Or get sent down, to like, the Post.

  • Marc

    Does anyone know where I can get live blogging today besides Pete Abe at Lohud, my office blocks that site.

  • TheAnalyticalYankeeFan

    You know, it’s one thing when over-dramatic Yankee fans jump to conclusions this early…’s a whole ‘nother animal when beat writers like Mark Feinsand start jumping to early conclusions. Beat writers should be playfully taking jabs at the fans over these early, unjustified projections, not joining in with them. Amazing. Every season, I think maybe fans will have learned from the years past. I’m always wrong.

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  • Mark Feinsand

    Well, it’s always interesting to see what people think of my work. I enjoy this blog (and many other Yanks blogs out there), and I think most of you failed to read the entire story that you’re ripping here.

    As Steve S. pointed out, that the point of my story was that everyone is expecting these kids (Joba especially) to be perfect, and that simply isn’t going to happen. When I wrote that he had never had a day like this before since joining the Yankees, that was a fact. He allowed two earned runs on one swing – more than he did in 24 innings. This was not being dramatic, it was fact.

    I mentioned the game for Trenton last year becase Joba brought it up. That seems like fair reporting to me. And if anyone can show me where I said either of the pitchers pitched poorly, I’ll be impressed. I said they both gave up home runs – again, a fact. In fact, I even wrote the words “Kennedy’s one mistake” – it was one bad pitch, not a bad outing.

    Keep up the good work here at River Ave. Blues. Just do me the favor of reading the whole story before ripping it next time.