ESPN’s Rubin Plays Games With Backman’s Career

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For the last 14 years, I have traveled inside, outside and around the many worlds of journalism.  Writing for the Associated Press for eight of them, working in terrestrial radio for three of them, and writing for magazines, the Internet as well.  Successful forays into the groundbreaking world of internet radio have been equally rewarding..

During that time, I have constantly found myself, alternately defending traditional journalists, bloggers, and other media folks to each other.  I love the freedom of the ‘Net, but also respect the discipline of traditional journalism. I have, more than once, been called to task by a member of the print media for criticizing other print media. I have also lectured bloggers and others who make their living on the ‘Net to find better ways to criticize MSM, so that the noise in their message (profanity, poor delivery) doesn’t get in the way.

On Monday ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin made some vague comments about Wally Backman’s candidacy during a live chat that, in my opinion, displayed extremely poor judgement.

If Rubin has something to report, then report it. If not, his commentary is not only unprofessional, but completely unacceptable for a journalist of his stature. Rubin has always been a meticulous writer, who has always had my respect for the perspective and thoroughness of reporting on the Mets as an organization, rather than just focus on the major league team. He has always been very accessible and polite.

Withe the exception of appearing on Steve Keane’s “Call To The Bullpen” show on BlogTalkRadio.com, Rubin has yet to address his comments on his blog for ESPNNewYork.com or via Twitter

On Keane’s show, he sort of repeated his original statements, with the caveat that something or somethings happened in Brooklyn” this past season and that he would be “shocked” of Backman was hired. “Just because things aren’t seminated to the public doesn’t mean everything is perfect.” Rubin stated on the show.

“There’s no sense in trying to disparage anybody, it’s not a match…”

By hinting at “problems” in Brooklyn and not making clear that Backman’s alleged transgressions in Brooklyn were on-the-field procedural issues, internal policy disagreements, or off-the-field problems, Rubin has opened speculation on all fronts. Whether he wants to agree with that sentiment or not, I really don’t care. What he did was completely out of line.

You don’t want to “disparage” anyone, but you throw out these comments a day or two right before Backman’s interview this week?

Any concidence that on the same day that a few scouts left the team, at least one with some bad feeling about the people that let them go. Rubin has “information that he can’t disclose” about incidents that happened in Brooklyn this year?

Please.

It’s no secret that ownership wants Backman to be the next skipper, and what better way to mess with ownership — who just let you go — than to disparage their guy in some vague way to one of the beat guys that has done such a great job in covering the minors for so many years?

If Sandy Alderson doesn’t hire him, it will not be because of some unnamed “incidents” that are not “widely known” by some unknown people in the scouting department, who are, or who will soon be looking for work elsewhere.  It will be because Sandy wants to go in a different direction.  If anything else were the case, Backman would have been quietly let go at the end of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ season. It’s in his contract. as Rubin wrote back in August.

People at the highest levels of the team have been talking to Backman nearly every day since the end of the season to keep him abreast of what’s going on and assuring him that he is a leading candidate for the job, i think it’s safe to say that he’s still a leading candidate.

Whatever Rubin’s motivation here, he has messed with a man’s reputation, A man who is doing everything he can to make a living the best way he knows how. Because if he doesn’t get the Mets job, where does he go from here? With an ESPN reporter citing whispers and innuendo about what Wally Backman may or may not have done in Brooklyn this past year, do you think any organization is going to give him the benefit of the doubt?

Again, report what you know, and keep your mouth shut about stuff you don’t. This isn’t some trade rumor, this is a man’s reputation and career. One you may have irreparable harm to.  And for what?

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16 thoughts on “ESPN’s Rubin Plays Games With Backman’s Career

    xmulderx said:
    November 3, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Amen… Ruben your story just does not add up. Be a man and man up.

      The Glider said:
      November 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      Rubin was wrong.

      But please stop with the “man up” stuff … emulating Sarah Palin doesn’t make people think you’re smart. Plus, it’s getting trite.

    Original Goodfella said:
    November 3, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    We’ll see how this all plays out, but I disagree that this undisclosed information Rubin hints at would have any impact on what Sandy Alderson or any other baseball executive decides about Wally Backman. What he’s clearly suggesting is that ownership, Alderson and others already KNOW this info, and have already made the decision that Backman will not be a serious candidate because of this. Time will tell.

    Rubin, as part of his ESPN contract, conducts live chats with fans. Fans ask him the top questions on the minds of fans. Backman/the manager position is the top question fans are curious about. He says something to the effect of “I really don’t think they’re going to hire Backman,”… then there’s another forty minutes to fill… Dozens of questions requesting more info… What else is he supposed to do? He’s a reporter. This is his job. You wanted him to either air specifics about whatever (potentially embarrassing) information he had heard that may have turned the Mets front office off to Backman, or just completely pass on the main question Mets fans are asking him about, and any follow-up questions?

    I’m just not clear on what else the guy should have done. It seems that whatever this info is, it is already out there amongst the Mets front office, and has been for a little while, and his hinting at it will have no bearing on Backman’s interview/future opportunities. Sounds like whatever damage was done was done well before Rubin’s ESPN chat. Sure, Rubin’s assessment that Backman has “no chance” is speculative, but from what I personally read in the online chat, that seems to be the position he’s in. I don’t see a conspiracy here. He’s not lobbying for the manager’s job, I don’t imagine.

    Are you suggesting the guy likes to be in the middle of controversies like 2009′s Omar-destroying Bernazard press conference? Unless he wrote Omar’s garbled, half-insane script that morning, I can’t imagine that to be the case.

      Dave said:
      November 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Well said Goodfella. Now everyone with a computer and a blog will make something out of nothing to generate more hits for their page.

    maryanne06 said:
    November 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you! Adam needs to hear this.

    Jake said:
    November 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I agree with Gotham Nation. If a reporter has facts to report, then report them. If not, hinting at them and then saying you don’t want to disparage somebody is ridiculous. By hinting at them, you’ve assassinated Backman’s character without providing any facts that can be proved or disproved. As a reporter, Rubin knew exactly what would happen when he said it, because he deals with that every day. And he couldn’t have been surprised being asked about Backman, because that’s the big story right now. So there was no reason to say anything except he either did or didn’t think Backman would be hired and could’ve left it at that or even said sources have told him Backman isn’t likely to get the job without hinting at anything. There are lots of reasons people are hired or fired and rarely is all the information disclosed or even hinted at. He had no reason to insinuate Backman has done anything to preclude his hiring. But he did so anyway.

    Thank You Gotham Nation said:
    November 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    [...] out this wonderful report. I really didn’t understand why Adam Rubin was putting shit out there about Wally Backman. [...]

    Brian DePersis said:
    November 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Well said Mark, what’s Rubin’s problem with Backman? I have never been a big fan, and alluding to a man’s character having flaws without giving factual information is a little amateur hour I think.

    Joe Amoia said:
    November 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Maybe Rubin got his info from the same source that told Peter Gammons that Jason Bay would rather play in Beirut than with then in Queens.

    [...] Healey of Gotham Baseball Magazine responded to Rubin’s claim today by saying [...]

    metfan5 said:
    November 3, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I think Rubin is lobbying for the manager position

    AW said:
    November 3, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Well said Mark. Rubin was extremely unprofessional in this chat. A reporters job is not to gossip, its to report. By report, it is to provide a complete story and provide sources wherever possible. This “I know something you don’t know” is an ego trip that can possibly damage Bachman’s reputation more than it needs to be.

    The speculation may be more than the actual incidents were. Especially given Bachman’s past. Given his checkered background we all automatically assume the worst in the incidents, something fitting into his past behavioral problems. Perhaps, his transgressions were not relatign to his past serious transgressions and relate to something more mundane, like his relationship with players, press, ownership etc.

    Also, given the way he was summarily dismissed from his manager hiring within a week in Arizona a few years ago and his forays into the lower levels of independent ball, this is most likely Bachman’s last chance to make the majors. Rubin owes it to be reasonably certain before making insinuations. Obviously, he is not certain about his allegations or else he would be reporting them, after all, that is his job as a journalist.

    The previous poster, who asked “what is he to say when asked a question, as a reporter, he either haas to come out and say what he know if he is certain or just say that he expects that Bachman will receive some consideration. Its vague, but it is the best he can due given the uncertainty. There is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know” when you don’t know.

    He crossed a line, and it is not ironic that this is not the first time he has crossed a line when it comes to journalists ethics.

    Dave said:
    November 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Great start to your post. The second half is stumblingly naive.
    As you imply, Adam lost sources and he was upset. Adam is extremely ambitious.
    How you conclude this was a foundless cast by a departing functionary is as beyond me as your belief that the mets were gonna be pretty good the past two springs.
    It’s the least possible of three general scenarios.

      Mark Healey responded:
      November 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      A.) I picked the Mets to be a .500 team this past season, and in 2009, I picked them to miss the playoffs. In fact, 2008 was the only year I picked the Mets to makwe the playoffs since 2006.

      B.) As far as being stunningly naive, have you ever dealt with the Mets infrastructure on the whole? I have, and it is as political as any office in Manhattan. I did not imply that Rubin was upset, I said the scouts that lost their jobs were upset, and perhaps took advantage of their relationship with Rubin to relay some “damaging” or similar information about one of the organization’s favorite people two days before his interview.

      The only thing I am upset at Rubin for is repeating those allegations — without any proof — in a forum that was bound to spread like wildfire.

    Computer Knowledge Database said:
    November 3, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    hm i agree with jake .

    [...] “Boomer and Carton” was asked by co-host Craig Carton about the Adam Rubin comments I wrote about yesterday: Craig Carton:  So, that little weasel, Adam Rubin, said that the Mets have dirt on Wally Backman [...]

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