Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cyber Fight!!!

Wow. That was exciting! So much back and forth. One would make a bold statement and then there would be almost an immediate response by the competition.

I'm not talking about the game at Wrigley today between the Cubs and the Reds. Nor am I talking about the game in Philadelphia between the Phillies and Cardinals. I'm talking about the battle in cyberspace started by Steve Stone, joined by Dave Kaplan and for some reason, Al Yellon, and later essentially ended by Bruce Miles.

It all started during a lovely July day as I sat in Aisle 424 watching Kevin Hart, using a bit of awesome lent to him by the injured Ted Lilly, shake off a rough start and proceed to mow down the Reds' lineup. Meanwhile, the Cubs offense completed a team cycle in the first five batters to get three runs in the bottom of the first to take control of the game.

This is when things got interesting.

I was providing my usual in-game quips via Twitter when I caught a tweet from Steve Stone, the former Cubs color commentator and current White Sox commentator, about Milton Bradley. Now, it should be mentioned that Steve Stone, who is now a paid member of the White Sox broadcast team, still spends an inordinate amount of time commenting on the actions and play of the the Cubs. You can see what I am talking about by reading this from Hire Jim Essian, who goes more into detail.

Anyway, Steve sent out this tweet:

"Rumor is that tigers are interested in trading for milton bradley. Cubs should fly him in a private jet."

Given that Stone has been bitter and snarky towards the Cubs since being dismissed after the 2004 season (as fallout from Dusty's team being full of whiny bitches who couldn't handle criticism of their crappy play), I wasn't sure if this was just Stone toying with Cub fans or Stone being an actual journalist. So I sent him this:

"@BaseballStone If you are f*cking with us, you are a mean, petulent man. That wouldn't be cool."

That might have had more zing if I hadn't misspelled "petulant," but nevertheless, I think I had a fair point.

Still, I had no idea that Stone's tweet would get folks so excited. Immediately, people started re-tweeting Stone's message, speculating on who the Cubs might get back in return, how much money of Bradley's remaining two plus years of salary would have to be eaten by the Cubs, why the Tigers would ever want Bradley in the first place, and whether the Cubs would be stupid to make any such deal.

Enter Dave Kaplan.

He posted a confirmation of the rumor reported by Stone on his blog on

"Two very solid baseball sources confirmed for me just moments ago that the Detroit Tigers are interested in Cubs RF Milton Bradley. They believe that Bradley would be a much better fit as a DH than as a right fielder and that he would mesh well with Tigers manager Jim Leyland."

At this point, the Twitterverse went apeshit. Remember, this is two members of the Chicago mainstream media that have reported that the Tigers are interested in acquiring Bradley, and thrown in their two cents as "experts" that the Cubs should absolutely do so as soon as humanly possible. The speculations grow exponentially.

I understand that maybe Twitter still hasn't exactly hit the mainstream culture, but blogs certainly have, and none within the Cubs blogging community is bigger than Bleed Cubbie Blue. It is fed by an agreement with Yahoo!, so there are tons of people who log into BCB for their Cubs news. One of the BCB readers posted a Fan Shot (where readers can share their own feelings, opinions, and news about the Cubs) announcing that WSCR radio in Chicago and another blog, had reported the Bradley rumor, and then provided the link to Stone's original tweet that started the whole mess.

Al Yellon, the administrator and primary author of the site, elaborated on his reader's post in his game recap and gave the rumors a bit more credence when he "confirmed" the rumors:

"This rumor was confirmed to me from my own sources, so I think this possibility does have legs, and I hope it happens, sooner rather than later."

I'm not exactly sure what sources Al has in Detroit who would be in position to confirm anything. My guess is that he confirmed that the rumor existed, not that the rumor was true. Either way, he gave another large group of people the idea that Bradley would be getting traded soon.

Along the way, some other journalists started jumping into the situation and conveying the idea that the rumor was probably not true. Primarily, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald started doing some checking around, and found out that A) the Cubs were not aware of any interest in Milton Bradley, B) the Cubs were pissed off that the rumor got so much traction in the media and C) a member of the Detroit media debunked the rumor from the Tigers' end.

"Two people with the Cubs said it was the first they'd heard of any rumored deal and that the Cubs have not talked to any team about Bradley.

The Cubs front office was furious that such a rumor had grown so fast and had been picked up around the country. A rock-solid media person in Detroit told me there was nothing to it on his end."

At this point, both Kaplan and Stone started backtracking. Kaplan sent a tweet trying to clarify his and Stone's original reports:

"Let's be clear. All stone and I are saying is that Detroit has interest in Milton. Nothing more nothing less"

Stone, took a slightly different angle by contradicting his original report and throwing in a dig at Bradley:

"From the mouth of dave dombrowski the GM of the tigers, i would not have him on my team. Bradley homered and is closing in on beckham rbi."

So that's that. Rumor started, rumor spreads, rumor killed. End of story, right? Nope.

Stone couldn't leave well enough alone, so he sent one more tweet:

"In detroit for the series. Understand a guy named bruce miles believes that the whole bradley story was made up. Who is bruce miles."

Notice that he was not defending his sources that had started the rumor, standing by what he had originally been told, or even claiming that the erroneous report was taken out of context. No, he just decided to belittle the guy who uncovered that Stone was wrong.

Now, I would almost understand if I had been the one to call out Stone for reporting a crap trade possibility. He could say, "Who the hell is Tim McGinnis?" and he'd have a point. I'm a relatively new blogger with no inside sources, no journalistic background, and about three readers. Bruce Miles, on the other hand, has been covering the Cubs for the Daily Herald (the largest newspaper in the Chicago area that isn't in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) since 1998. I'm sure their paths have crossed, so Stone wasn't asking who Miles is. He was asking "Who does Miles think he is to contradict someone like me?" Very professional and very classy of Steve.

A reader commented in Miles' post that Steve had taken the shot and Miles responded as one might expect:

"I'm laughing out loud over that. Shows you a couple things: One, Stone could never be a GM. He's too thin skinned and doesn't want the accountability. Two, he's playing the "I'm bigger than you" card. Nice.

If Stone was such a brilliant baseball mind, why haven't the 29 other teams lined up to hire him?
Great story. A few years ago in Pittsuburgh, he was going on about what he was going to do 'when' he bought the A's. Ron Santo finished his dinner, wiped his mouth and said, 'I'll tell you what you're going to be doing next year _ broadcasting baseball!'

And so it was. And so it is."

If that story about Santo is true, he should get a statue outside of Wrigley for that alone.

What is interesting to me about all of this is that I'm sure almost nothing will come of this little cyberslap-fight. There is nothing about the rumor in the Sun-Times that I saw as of this writing. The Tribune reports that the rumor started, it was killed, and they asked Bradley about it anyway. Bradley, understandably, was not amused:

"'I don't pay attention to rumors,' he said. 'I'm always rumored. I'm one of them guys that are multi-talented, can do a lot of things. I'm not surprised. It's just a rumor.'

A Cubs official then told Bradley the rumor was '100 percent untrue.' Bradley began berating the media for spreading the rumor, calling it 'garbage.'"

But the fact is, this was all started and perpetuated by two mainstream media personalities. They are two guys that most casual Cubs fans believe have credibility as insiders and journalists (though probably not as much after today). The casual manner in which this rumor was reported is exactly why so many mainstream reporters get upset at bloggers.

Where is Ken Rosenthal and John Gonzalez ganging up on Stone on ESPN? Where are the other Chicago reporters and why aren't they jumping up and down on Stone and Kaplan for getting ahead of themselves and being irresponsible in their journalistic methods and reporting?

It won't come. Stone and Kaplan are part of the club and the others won't turn on them like they would if they had just been bloggers like me.

By the way, the Cubs won and the Cardinals lost. The Cubs now stand 1/2 game behind St. Louis (and have two fewer losses).



Steve Stone has weighed back in on the Bradley rumor debate in a very reasoned and professional response:

"To all the people who believe who believe that david kaplan and i made up the bradley story---get a life. Trade deadline rumors are not new."

I'd make fun of the typos, but I can't spell "petulant." Luckily, I now know that it is spelled "S-T-E-V-E-S-T-O-N-E."


Matt Clapp said...

Wow, I could've sworn I wrote this. I too saw all of this going on, pretty ridiculous. I'd always been a huge backer of Stoney but his bitterness and whatnot is getting beyond pathetic. The Casey McGehee and Jason Marquis comments crack me up the most.

Pell Mell said...

Thanks for the recap for us non-tweeters. Stone's arrogance seems to know no bounds these days, not that it ever did. Remember when he used to comment on relievers by saying "It's the only position in sports that's based on failure?" I always thought that was a rotten thing to say (not to mention inaccurate), and that was back when he seemed concerned about acting professionally. Now, not so much.

If I remember right, the gist of his admonishment to the 2004 Cubs was that they should mind their own business and do their jobs. Physician, heal thyself.

Tim McGinnis said...

I was actually pretty surprised to see you hadn't written anything on it yet since I knew you had been following everything pretty closely.  I kind of hope he gets his wish and becomes an owner somewhere (not the Cubs) just so we can see all of his "genius" moves that would involve keeping Jason Marquis instead of Rich Harden and relying on a lifetime AAA infielder as his replacement for someone like DeRosa. 

Tim McGinnis said...

It was a crappy way to lose a job he obviously loved, but that happens sometimes.  For all you kids out there, life isn't always fair, but that doesn't mean you have to go and become a snarky arrogant prick and lose all of your credibility.

@dat_cubfan_dave said...

Great summary of the whole debacle. It's been a fun weekend diversion, if nothing else. Steve Stone appears to be in a shame/credibility/death spiral. By the way, I was the reader on Bruce Miles' blog who pointed out Stone's shot at Bruce.

Tim McGinnis said...

Instigator.  :)

Arnold said...

<span style="color: #3333ff;">"I'm one of them guys that are multi-talented, can do a lot of things."</span>

<span style="color: #3333ff;">Ha!  </span>

Tim McGinnis said...

Yeah, I let that slide.  If nothing else, maybe all of this will rally some people behind Bradley and he'll relax.  He's kind of like our stupid little brother: we can pick on him, but other people better step off.

Ron said...

Great post Tim! I refused to retweet the original Stone tweet, but did retweet Kaplan's since he specifically mentioned two sources. Still, I was pretty skeptical, since I've never viewed Kap as a "get your facts straight first" kind of guy.

The Stone tweets are hilariously bitter. He really just needs to stick to the broadcast booth and focus his attention on his employers' team. That'd be the White Sox, in case he forgot.

Ron said...

LOL, yeah, that's how I feel about the Cubs in general. We're critical enough of our own team, we don't need anyone else throwing in.

Tim McGinnis said...

Unfortunately, Sox fans are probably loving him right now.  Check out for a lovely photo I can only assume came from a Playgirl photo spread.  I'm sure it will be pinned up on many a Sox fan's bedroom wall.  Warning: Do not look directly at the chest hair.

The Cubs In Haiku said...

I've always liked Stone
But the Bradley trade rumor
Gave me a new view

I have a blog at ChicagoNow where I write haiku about the Cubs. I'm not a journalist and I have no sources other than other bloggers. I just have 17 syllables.

But as a "responsible blogger" (is that an oxymoron?) I posted something (with question marks) on my blog and via Twitter - later updated to include Bruce Miles' debunking of the rumor. I linked to the Kaplan blog post - in part because the first tweet I read about the story linked there, in part because we're both part of ChicagoNow, but in part because I couldn't link directly to the Stone tweet.

When I clicked on a link somewhere to read Stone's original tweet, I found that his Twitter updates are protected!  You have to wait for approval to follow him.  Fortunately (?) I was approved in time to see his snarky comment Sunday morning telling us to get a life.

Personal Twitter accounts are one thing.  But how many other bloggers or public figures protect their updates?  Aside from the simple fun of tweeting in haiku and getting feedback during Cubs game, a big reason I tweet is to increase interest in my blog.  Isn't that also a big reason why other bloggers and celebrities tweet?

So why is Stone protecting his Twitter updates?

After experiencing, and participating in my small way to spreading, this rumor story, I attribute Stone's protected Twitter feed to the same arrogance that is reflected in his behavior as chronicled in earlier comments here.

waxpaperbeercup said...

we've seen the true colors of stone. what a p-o-s.

waxpaperbeercup said...

the two sources were stone and kap. i guess kap counts himself as a source. lmao.

waxpaperbeercup said...

he's as arrogant as the day is long.

AndCounting said...

POS, indeed. So I guess his true colors are . . . varying shades of brown?

Tim McGinnis said...

Not only does Stone protect his updates, but he has over 1,200 followers last I checked last night.  I'd offer to give anyone who guesses the number of people that Stone follows a shiny new nickel, but I'm not independently wealthy and the answer is far too easy:  ZERO.  He doesn't even follow Kaplan.

He uses Twitter to stir the pot and cause trouble, and thereby ingratiating himself with Sox fans who may be having trouble accepting him as a former Cubs announcer.  I'm becoming more and more convinced that he is actually elevating his levels of douchebaggery to push that agenda forward.

I would like to thank him, however, this post has far and away the most readers and comments than any of my other posts in my short time as a blogger.  Thanks Steve!  You dick.

Mike D. said...

Well done, Tim.  Excellent recap.

As someone who has grown tired of Santo to the point of starting to hate him, that story about him facing Stone warms my heart.

Sean Gill said...

This is why I don't follow Twitter on the weekends...missed this whole thing.  Which is a positive.

Tim McGinnis said...

I vaguely remember someone pulling a prank on Santo by telling him that Stone would be joining the radio broadcast booth (when Steve was still on his Valley Fever hiatus) with him and Pat.  He apparently did not react well.  I wish I could find any mention of that story somewhere because coupled with Miles' story, it makes me think that Ron probably never liked Stone all that much.

Tim McGinnis said...

This was entertaining.  It was hilarious almost from the outset and it just kept getting stranger and stranger.  Just when you thought Stone couldn't be a bigger jerk, there he was picking on Miles or anyone else who dared oppose his story.

@Thankphil tweeted yesterday that Thom Brenneman ripped bloggers for causing the rumor mess on the Reds TV broadcast.  I haven't been able to get ahold of that to see what his old broadcast partner actually said.  If I do, I'll be posting it.

89 Cubs said...

Speaking of not liking Stone:

The Cubs In Haiku said...

Same thing happened to me.  I've been on Chicago Now for about a month.  The traffic on Saturday, when I posted the Bradley rumor, was almost 3 times the average - and 1/2 of that was for the Bradley post. 

Still not getting too many comments, but I'll take the traffic bump - even if some might consider it "dirty money."  <grin>

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