The Power of Baseball Blogging

The below is a sample of some of Evan’s work as a journalist.

Jayson Stark, a columnist for ESPN.com, loves blogging. He loves how blogging is a “cool, flexible medium.” Stark has been writing columns for ESPN since 2000, after spending 21 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. You would think he prefers articles that show up in print, or on the Internet in typical print form. You would be wrong. He loves blogs because it includes “stuff that was slipping through the cracks before,” says Stark. “Now it all just fits right into the 24/7 texture [ESPN has] woven.”

Millions of citizens are using the power of blogs, Internet journals, to make their voices heard and change history. Political blogs, an influential part of politics nowadays, have already been successful in bringing down Congressman Mark Foley in a sex scandal in 2006. Baseball blogs are also an influential part of the sport now, and the blogs serve as a way for fans to voice their opinion on anything related to baseball, and there are many fans doing so. There are 1,441 baseball blogs registered with SportsBlogs.org at the time of this writing, and thousands more read them every day. Not only read – but comment. This means there are a staggering amount of people out there writing, reading, and thinking about baseball.

In blogging, other fans can comment on a blogger’s opinion by leaving a comment under every article a blogger writes. This causes a horizontal flow of information to occur, where people are talking to each other. Instead of newspapers and other media companies talking to readers on a vertical line in the flow of information, now they find themselves on a horizontal line with bloggers and their commenters. Sports journalism is being changed in a profound way because now newspapers and sports companies have started blogs of their own to have their columnists speak with their readers, not to their readers. The media benefits from this because they still maintain the power that being the media gives them to find out news when it happens, something that very few bloggers enjoy.

As a result of blogging, fans are becoming far more informed about the game. In the old days, fans picked up the local newspaper and read the opinions and news of sports columnists, and then talked around the water cooler with their co-workers. Today? Today, fans can reach millions across the world with their own opinions and information. Information is flowing in many different directions, and some bloggers have parlayed that into a paying job with a sports corporation. We know far more about baseball today than we did even five years ago. The amount of detail and opinion on each player, both with statistical information, scouting information, and opinion of that player is staggering. A lot of that can be attributed to the explosion of baseball blogging.

There are many different ways one can approach blogging about baseball. Blogging about baseball can be an enormous task, and can spin you off in a million different directions. The reasons behind baseball blogging vary widely from doing it as a hobby to marketing oneself, to doing it for a job or to get a job. The one common theme that unites all baseball bloggers, despite their intentions is passion. Jamie Mottram, the director of AOL Fanhouse, the AOL sports blogging network, believes passion is a large part of baseball blogging.

“If someone is getting paid to blog … that passion has to be there,” Mottram says. “If someone is blogging because they want to turn it into a paid position, then they should still really know and love what they’re doing. If it’s just for kicks, then it should be all fun, all the time,” he says.

One such company that has embraced blogging is ESPN, the dominant sports media corporation in America which has turned all its prominent columnists into bloggers, including the aforementioned Jayson Stark. “At ESPN.com, we’re interested in exploring every form of communicating with our audience that we can utilize,” says Stark, who happens to be paid for blogging. “Those blogs are a great device to do things and communicate in ways that wouldn’t work or fit anywhere else. Blogging just fits right into that picture.” There are concerns that big media corporations, including ESPN, are seeing blogging as a fad that they are utilizing to be more popular with readers and gain money while the fad lasts. Stark disagrees, saying that ESPN’s style is to be innovative; the idea is to be “at the forefront of all technology and all media, not to follow.”

Stark goes on to explain that his blog, called “Useless Information,” was originally designed to incorporate his “Useless Information” columns into a blog-style form, but that it was expanded to make it “more wide-ranging and free-form.” He continues, saying that “since Peter Gammons and Buster Olney [ESPN baseball columnists] are writing more serious blogs, the idea was for mine to be a different kind of blog whenever possible.”

Any baseball fan who goes to ESPN.com to drink up the latest baseball news knows that the blog section is where one should go to get the best opinion and analysis. The aforementioned Gammons, Olney and Stark combine with ex-Toronto Blue Jay assistant general manager Keith Law to make baseball blogging a powerful force at ESPN.com. Indeed, baseball blogging has many people from many different walks of life involved, not only at a sports media company, but across the world.

One such person is Christian Ruzich, a devout Chicago Cubs fan. Ruzich, the founder of All-Baseball.com along with Mark McClusky (which got bought out by Most Valuable Network, owned by this author, in March 2005), got his start in the late 1990s. He started writing about the Cubs before any popular blogging tools such as Blogger.com started up, but lost interest. When baseball blogs started gaining interest, he jumped back into the fray and has been blogging since at The Cub Reporter at MVN.com.

Stark and Ruzich come from vastly different backgrounds. Stark is a baseball writer for ESPN, while Ruzich has no baseball ties whatsoever other than being a fan. What tie these two together are a love for sports and a love for writing. Blogging is a tool to get opinion out in the Internet and it is made far easier by the sport they blog about, baseball. Baseball is such an easy sport to blog about and much of that reasoning has to do with the fact that baseball is a year-round sport. People always have something new to talk about, thanks to 162 games per team being played almost every day in a baseball season. In the off-season, there are winter leagues being played with players from all organizations. Free agency and trades continually keep the “hot stove” burning and through it all, people are listening, reading and writing. As Ruzich explains, “People have been writing about baseball for as long as there has been baseball, which is a long time. It is such a part of the fabric of American society people who watch it and talk about it feel compelled to write about it.”

In addition, he cites the revolution of sabermetrics as an important contributor to blogging. Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence and was popularized by statistician Bill James, who currently works for the Boston Red Sox. As Ruzich explains, this revolution now enables people to argue about not just baseball in general, what moves the manager or general manager should make, but also “arguing about statistics as well as arguing about arguing about the statistics,” Ruzich says. “It’s the only sport that’s achieved this level of meta-discussion.”

In addition to baseball blogging allowing no shortage of baseball material, another aspect about blogging that people love is that a blogger is their own boss and can write what they want when they want. “There’s a lot of freedom to it and if you do it well and write about an interesting subject in an engaging way, you’ll develop a loyal readership,” says Chad Finn. Finn, a former columnist for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, now is an editor at the Boston Globe. He started blogging because he missed the voice he had with the Monitor and decided to start up a blog at touchingallthebases.blogspot.com to replace that missing voice.

Tyler Bleszinski, a blogger at AthleticsNation.com, agrees. “It’s great to know that there are people out there who are just as obsessive as I am about the Oakland (Athletics),” he says. “It also gives me an outlet for writing, as I have always loved writing and wanted to make it my career. With blogging, I get the best of both worlds. I get to be a fan and write about the team I love from a biased viewpoint.”

Finn and Bleszinski also believe that while blogging is slowly becoming accepted, it still has a long way to go. Finn has received freelance opportunities from his blogging work, but as an editor at the Boston Globe, can see firsthand how reluctant people are to give credibility to a blogger. “In some circles, it’s almost like ‘blogger’ is an insult or a dirty word,” says Finn. “It just takes some time to convince people you’re not an angry dude sitting in his mom’s basement spouting opinions.” ESPN adding bloggers has dramatically increased the credibility of bloggers, but Finn notes that the only true blog that ESPN does is by Buster Olney, who usually writes a lead about the news or hot topic of the day. Olney then collects links from around the web and disseminates them with comments. The other blogs on ESPN tend to be regular columns or “watered-down notes columns that you’d read in the Sunday newspaper,” as Finn describes them.

Bleszinski agrees on ESPN adding credibility to blogging and also helps get the word out about blogs. “People who haven’t discovered blogs yet might find out about them through the more traditional means and then look for the best quality ones,” he says. Bleszinski has suddenly been making multiple media appearances and says that baseball blogging can gain universal acceptance by getting “acceptance from the media then acceptance from the mainstream then acceptance from Corporate America which wants to reach the mainstream.”

As blogs gain in popularity, so do the aspirations of bloggers. Nowadays, it is common for people to start blogs with an eye towards financial gain. A question then arises on how blogs should be treated or viewed – as a hobby or a job? It is Stark’s job, it is Ruzich and Finn’s hobby and Bleszinski approaches it as a job. Finn cautions that it is very hard for a blogger to attain riches, although it is a commendable goal to have, while Bleszinski says it all depends on the desires of the blogger. In the end, a blog should be approached as something that one has passion to write about and shouldn’t expect a job to materialize out of it. Doing anything with passion will get one noticed, and baseball blogging is no exception.

For John Vittas, a blog got him a job. Vittas wrote a blog on the Texas Rangers on Blogger.com before being recruited by Most Valuable Network to be its Rangers’ correspondent. Vittas approached blogging as a hobby until December 2005, when he gained press access to the baseball winter meetings, where most free agent signings and trades occur as general managers hunker down for a week in a hotel that changes venues every year. Vittas decided at that point that whether or not others viewed blogging as a job, he wanted to be taken seriously and be appreciated for his love of writing. It allowed Vittas to reach the next level of writing and get an offer from Scout.com to become its Texas Rangers’ correspondent. “Writing for the Most Valuable Network was a great way to garner more exposure and I doubt I would have ever been given the opportunity to expand my horizons at Scout had I not been a part of MVN,” Vittas says.

For John Sickels, it is a job because he makes it a job. Sickels, long known as a respected minor league columnist, worked at ESPN from 1996-2004. After ESPN decided not to retain Sickels’ services as a minor league correspondent due to entering into a partnership with Baseball America, a famous minor league Web site, Sickels needed an outlet for his work. He read about SBNation.com, a sports blog network, starting up and decided to become the minor league correspondent for them. Unhappy with ESPN’s creative restrictions, he loves blogging now because it offers him complete creative control. “Blogging ties in with my book and my newsletter, sort of a free outlet to get people interested in the other stuff that I do,” says Sickels. He goes on to say that it is extremely difficult to pull off making blogging a full-time endeavor and you must love the subject matter to be able to do it.

A negative to blogging is that if one is successful enough, a blogger could feel indebted to readers to continually post columns. Aaron Gleeman, who has been blogging since 2002 and subsequently landed jobs at NBC Sports, Fox Sports, USA Today and Rotoworld.com, feels indebted to readers. “I’ve long passed the point of doing it every day for fun,” he says. He pegs the number of blog entries he writes as an obligation at 90 percent, especially because he feels something should be written “instead of leaving the readers with an old entry at the top of the page when they show up the next morning.” Without that obligation, he says, he would have long ceased blogging.

Those interviewed for this article were polled on the hours they spend on the blog per week, the amount of articles a week and words per article. The average answer came out to roughly 20 hours a week, five entries a week, of about 500 words. The most common answer to each question was spending 10 to 18 hours a week, writing five to 10 articles a week, of words ranging from 300 to 900 words. The most hours contributed was by David Pinto, a former Baseball Tonight Online host, who moved to blogging after Baseball Tonight Online was not renewed for the 2002 season. He spends an estimated 50 hours a week on the blog, writing about 20 entries, but the word count ranges from one sentence to multiple paragraphs. Among those who blog regularly, the least blogged is Chad Finn, the Boston Globe editor, who spends about three hours a post on his blog, penning three entries of about 900 words each. The most words cited is by Gleeman, who currently writes 1,250 words per article, down from 2,500 plus in his heyday, writing five times a week and spending 10 hours a week on the articles.

Pinto believes that the key to starting up a baseball blog is to write as consistently as possible. “After a while, I tend to stop reading (blogs that don’t write consistently),” says Pinto. “If you develop a fan base, give them a reason to keep coming back.” Another step towards building a well-known baseball blog is to link to as many other blogs as possible, as they will notice and link back.

Baseball blogs were the first to corner the market on the sports blogging craze and still have the market cornered. The long season filled with many games and active off-season means there are no shortage of topics to write about. There are many baseball blogs out there, and a baseball blog is a great way for an aspiring baseball journalist to begin honing his craft. A baseball blogger could also be a 40-something passionate baseball fan looking for that outlet that has been missing all along.

Whether one writes or reads baseball blogs, it is undeniable that baseball blogging has revolutionized the way that baseball is approached and viewed. The massive amounts of information have helped to propel baseball into a new era of discussion and analysis, both at the fan end of the spectrum and at the baseball operations end of the spectrum. ESPN blogger Jayson Stark helps explain why baseball blogging is so interesting and popular, saying “I find it liberating to have an outlet like this, where I can take a quick detour and express myself on something that rises up out of the daily baseball soap opera.”

Ethical Dilemma on Advertising

I was approached recently by an unnamed company to do some advertising on Most Valuable Network. After several days of haggling, we decided to do one month at a slightly reduced price to allow the company to gauge whether or not they wanted to lock into a long-term plan, which is what we had been hagging about in the first place – the price for the long-term plan.

The plan is about to end, and they really want to continue advertising on MVN but are not happy with the results. While they are getting plenty of “clicks” they are not getting any sign-ups to their website. They wanted me to either (a) run a contest where they can get free money on their account if they sign up for it, or (b) post articles written by them on one of our more well-known sites.

They had been sending me these articles for some time now and kept asking me to put it up, but I kept saying no. When this information came to light that they needed some extra incentive to re-up our advertising package, they asked again about posting articles, and I decided it was time to explain to them why I was refusing to post articles written by them. Here is what I said:

We will not be putting up any of your columns, nor will we ever, even if it was negotiated in the advertising to do so. We are not a company who puts up advertising opinions of companies. Our entire principle is to have sports fans write their opinions on their favorite teams, untarnished by those career journalists who just mail it in or stir the pot up simply to have something to talk about. Putting your content on the fantasy football page would not only spark immediate uproar and cause the writers of that page to quit, but it violates everything we stand for. Advertisers will never be allowed to put content on a page other than a text link, description, or image/animated ad. ESPN does not put advertising company articles on their website, and neither do I. I cannot think of a good reason why any company would. An individual blog? Yes, to generate cash. But a journalistic enterprise? That violates everything that a journalist holds dear.

Much to my surprise, my contact at that company wholeheartedly agreed, apologized for asking, and said it was the company’s policy to always try to ask for more than they should get. We agreed to run a contest, so I’ll be giving it some advertising publicity soon.

Nonetheless, I found it a bit frustrating and comical that an advertising company would presume to think a journalistic enterprise would allow an advertiser’s article to be published on the website in exchange for cash. Do you think the Boston Globe would let Verizon submit an article to the front page of the Globe simply because Verizon would pay the Globe?

The Podcast Revolution

The below is a sample of some of Evan’s journalism work.

To listen to a radio program, people had to plan their schedule around the show time. With an online phenomenon called podcasts, not only can users now choose when to listen to shows, they can also choose where and how. As new and innovative ways to present content of any kind to users emerge, the choices of the users expand into where, when and how. Podcasts, which utilize audio as its medium, are a fast-rising trend that can be thought of as the start of the online audio revolution.

Podcasts are audio shows placed online for a person’s listening pleasure at any time. Users can listen straight from the home page of the podcast or use a syndication feed to listen to it. Yet another option is to download the show to a multimedia player such as an iPod and listen to it on the go. A syndication feed allows users to subscribe to any type of data such as news, audio, or video and have it delivered to a home page of their choosing.

Tim Bourquin of the Portable Media Expo hosts a podcast called “The Podcast Brothers” (http://www.portablemediaexpo.com/audio.htm) along with his brother Emile, speaking about the business side of podcasts. He attributes the popularity of podcasts not only to the ability of users to choose when and where they want their content, but to the ability to choose the content they want to listen to. “Podcasting offers a tremendous amount of niche content,” says Bourquin. “Listeners can find audio and video content on specific subjects they like, rather than having to listen to mainstream content for millions on traditional radio.”

Brandon Rosage, the director of 360 The Pitch (http://360thepitch.com/), the podcast division of Most Valuable Network LLC, cites the fact that more than 10 percent of adults have currently listened to or downloaded a podcast, with that number expected to quadruple by 2010. “Podcasts allow listeners to pause, rewind, fast-forward and save shows for listening at their own convenience, which in today’s on-demand, Tivo and digital recording world is perfectly suited for consumers looking for the same experience with audio,” he says.

Another form of audio media found online, is the webcast. Webcasts are not very popular, but are out there. Rick Morris, a webcaster who turns his webcasts into podcasts for SportsTalkCleveland.com, has experience with both forms of online audio media. “Webcasts and podcasts differ in immediacy,” Morris explains. “Webcasts tend to be made available live to the listeners, while podcasts have a relatively short delay until listeners can hear the show.” The one reason why webcasts are not as popular as podcast despite webcasts being able to broadcast live is that podcasting can be done with a laptop and a few plug-in instruments from a local outlet such as Radio Shack. Webcasts, on the other hand, need more sophisticated technology. Rick Morris broadcasts from a radio station that looks “exactly like any terrestrial radio station, because of the various pieces of equipment needed for live streaming of programming,” Morris says. In addition, webcasts are not always converted into podcasts, so they cannot be made available after the show to listeners who were not able to listen live.

Podcasting is far from a perfect entity, as podcaster Mike Boyko can attest to. Boyko, who hosts “The Blitz” on 360 The Pitch, believes that the biggest problem with podcasters is the advertisers not trusting the medium just yet. “Many have wrong information or think you need to have a certain type of equipment to listen to the shows,” says Boyko. “All you need is a computer with Internet access and you can listen to anything you want.” Morris and Rosage also cite other struggles with podcasting. Morris says that the technology for converting files to MP3s (the audio file used for podcasts) needs to improve. “Presently, I have to take an audio file stored on a server and play it through Adobe Audition and record it, which is a time-consuming process. There are easier ways to process the recorded file, but the software is in many cases more obscure and/or expensive.”

All the audio content available is making its way into journalism as well. Now newspapers and television networks can add audio to their main means of communication, which are respectively print and video. The Boston Globe delivers six podcasts, one daily, one weekly and one with intermittent recordings. Rick Reilly, the popular columnist for Sports Illustrated pens “Life of Reilly” for the back page of the magazine, and then also records a podcast titled “Riffs of Reilly” that can be found at the Sports Illustrated Web site.

Morris says that podcasts are a part of a new style of media that is changing journalism in a profound way. “[It is] a citizen-oriented atmosphere that has no gatekeepers,” Morris says. In this era, citizens are able to choose for themselves what to read or listen to instead of having no choice but to listen to a certain radio station or pick up the daily local newspaper. Journalists are suddenly accountable to not only their competitors, but citizens as well, for citizens are becoming their competitors. Citizens are producing podcasts on their own, which causes traditional journalists to “up their game,” as Bourquin puts it, and journalists now have to put out a better production of a podcast than citizens, increasing the free flow of information.

Rosage believes podcasts have changed journalism, but no more than blogs and other independent media have helped shape journalism. The most significant change Rosage sees are “established outlets taking their cues from independent bloggers and podcasters, copying their amateur and personal writing and delivery style.” The mainstream media then create podcasts and put them on the company’s Web site, but Rosage doubts that the mainstream media is doing this for journalistic purposes. “Ultimately, the efforts are transparently motivated by marketing and are not taken genuinely.”

Many traditional outlets have yet to embrace podcasts. The reasoning may lie in the production of podcasts costing money and the relative newness of podcasting, but out of the top 100 newspaper sites (ranked by print circulation), only 31 newspapers offer podcasts, as found by the Bivings Group, a Washington press relations agency.

Rosage believes that podcasts may always struggle to be accepted as a professional medium for the ability to produce a podcast is accessible to anyone, while the broadcast medium is only accessible to big-budget corporations. “Podcasts, by nature, will always come off as amateur and will always feature a wide range of professionalism,” Rosage says. The way to solve this, he says, is to improve the technology. In the current environment, podcasts are accessed by navigating to a Web site and clicking multiple links until they can get to the podcast file to listen to. “Podcasting will evolve only as quickly as it is made more accessible to low-tech users through automobile interfaces and next-generation software,” Rosage says.

Bourquin emphatically believes that podcasts are here to stay, believing that advertisers will begin to spend money on niche podcasts, because “it will allow them to hyper-target their marketing dollars to the exact audience they want to reach without wasting millions of impressions on people who are not potential customers.” The number of impressions, also known as clicks on the advertising link, generally are tied to the amount of revenue that the advertiser must pay the promoter.

Bourquin also believes that the signal-to-noise ratio is only going to increase as podcasts become even more popular. To help sift through the numerous podcasts, listeners will need better search engines to find content and “podcasters will need to be willing to spend a few dollars to promote their shows and brand in creative ways,” he says. An important step toward that search engine can be found at Podscope.com, the first search engine that finds podcasts according to the words spoken in them.

In addition to being able to download podcasts anywhere, anytime for any possible niche that can be sustained through increased advertising revenue, Morris believes that podcasts will become easier to download to mobile phones, car radios and televisions, which may help offset Rosage’s belief that the Internet will need to be hyper-accessible.

Rosage believes that the future of podcasting will rely on the ability for the Internet to be as accessible as a cellular phone signal. Currently, a listener is not able to listen to a podcast just taped if he does not have the Internet available to him at that moment. Listeners will have to plan ahead to download a podcast into something they can take with them. “So much of audio consumption is an impulse buy,” says Rosage. “Podcasts and the Web need to be available on everyday devices in everyday places so users can feed their impulses” for it to become a dominant form of media.

To supplant terrestrial radio, Rosage believes that podcasts have to be “more universally accessible in automobiles, as most audio consumers are trained to dial up content on their built-in AM/FM radios.” The one word vital to the future of podcasts, Rosage believes, is the word “accessibility.”

Morris cautions against getting used to the podcasts at this time. Podcasts are part of the new entertainment/information-on-demand world that people are moving into rapidly, he says. As cell phones start providing mobile television service, podcasting may morph into live podcasting or even live videocasting, which can be thought of as podcasts with video. “We’re about 10 years into the Internet broadcasting age, and about 10 years from seeing how the Internet, cell phones, television, iPods, satellite radio, terrestrial radio and possibly some yet-to-be-invented forms of media tie together to allow us to access our entertainment and information needs on any platform,” Morris says.

The present period is a period of constant change and adjustment as mainstream media all the way down to citizens struggle to find out what the best communicative medium in the technological era is, and how to best reach every single person in every possible medium and niche. Morris is tremendously excited to be a part of this period, as everybody is currently “living history with each podcast.”

If I Ruled on United States v. Progressive

The below is a sample of some of Evan’s work conducted while an undergraduate in college.

The lower court’s decision of United States v. Progressive is a challenging one because it involves the absolute suppression of speech, something the framers of the Constitution were determined to establish, never to be abridged. The lower court ruled that the United States’ argument for prior restraint was effective and correct in its concern for national security. If this ruling is upheld, it would be the first such ever prior restraint initiated in the United States, a heavy burden for any court who finds it within their rights to limit the sovereignty of the press.

In this specific case, Howard Morland, a freelance journalist, has crafted an article titled “The H-Bomb Secret: How We Got It, Why We’re Telling It.” This article explained how to build and detonate a hydrogen bomb. It was set for publication in a magazine titled Progressive. Morland sent the article to the Department of Energy to confirm some facts in the case before publishing it.

Upon reviewing the document, the Department of Energy ruled that it violated the Atomic Energy Act – specifically Section 2274 and 2014. These statutes read that no one can communicate, transmit, or disclose “any restricted data to any person ‘with reason to believe such data will be utilized to injure the Untied States or to secure an advantage to any foreign nation.’” Restricted data is classified as data “concerning design, manufacture, or utilization of atomic weapons…”

There are four specific cases that have occurred in the United States’ history that can help shed light on what the appropriate ruling is. The earliest is Schenk v. United States, which may offer the best in-depth look as to whether or not the United States’ attempted prior restraint on Progressive is indeed constitutional. There is a famed passage from the decision, which was delivered by Justice Holmes. Holmes said: “the question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Since then, this test has been used to determine whether or not the First Amendment has been violated in countless free speech or free press issues. In Schenk v. United States, Charles Schenk was found to have violated the Espionage Act of 1917 by exhorting to men not to abide by the draft. He was constitutionally convicted of encouraging insubordination, which is not protected under the veil of free speech. This case also outlined the difference between peacetime and wartime. Justice Holmes draws this distinction by saying that “”[w]hen a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.”

This defines the fact that when a nation is at war, citizens must abide by rules that are unnecessary in peacetime. What we hold dear in peacetime may not be acceptable in wartime. Near v. Minnesota, argued in 1931, takes this thought and attempts to expound on it. Justice Hughes cited the wartime argument of Schenk v. United States and then followed that up with a clearer definition. As delivered in the opinion of the Court:
“No one would question but that a government might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service or the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops.”

This now has defined a clear and present danger to an example of publishing the number and location of troops, which could severely hinder the war effort, in addition to imperiling the lives of United States citizens.

The clear and present danger definition again reared its head in 1941, in Bridges v. California. A telegram sent by a union official, Harry Bridges, to the United States Secretary of Labor was published in California newspapers. The telegram contained a threat by Bridges that the union would strike if the judge’s decision on a labor dispute was upheld in the appeal of said case.

Justice Black delivered the opinion, saying that prior restraint of journalists was unconstitutional, unless there was a “clear and present danger to the administration of justice.” While the quote was specifically towards pretrial coverage of journalists, this can be used in many other instances as well. Black continued to state that the clear and present danger standard was “a working principle that the substantive evil must be extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high before utterances can be punished.”

The final precedent we must speak about before tying all the cases into United States v. Progressive is the famed ‘Pentagon Papers’ case, otherwise known as New York Times Co. v. United States, argued in 1971. In this case, the government brought suit against both the New York Times and Washington Post in separate district courts to exercise prior restraint over the publication of a 7,000 page paper on how the United States got involved in the Vietnam War. The United States Supreme Court offered a per curiam opinion, stating only that the Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Each of the nine justices had differing opinions on how the Court should rule and why. Justice Brennan espoused on how this case did not meet the qualifiers set forth in Near v. Minnesota.

Our cases …have indicated that there is a single, extremely narrow class of cases in which the First Amendment’s ban on prior judicial restraint may be overridden. … Even if the present world situation were assumed to be tantamount to a time of war, or if the power of presently available armaments would justify even in peacetime the suppression of information that would set in motion a nuclear holocaust, in neither of these actions has the Government presented or even alleged that publication of items from or based upon the material at issue would cause the happening of an event of that nature … Thus, only governmental allegation and proof that publication must inevitably, directly, and immediately cause the occurrence of an event kindred to imperiling the safety of a transport already at sea can support even the issuance of an interim restraining order. In no event may mere conclusions be sufficient … every restraint issued in this case, whatever its form, has violated the First Amendment … the First Amendment commands that no injunction may issue.

The most important quote here to tie in with United States v. Progressive is that the suppression of information would be justified if it were to “set in motion a nuclear holocaust” but that mere conclusions simply cannot suffice for prior restraint – let alone an “interim restraining order.”

These cases together speak of a ‘clear and present danger’ standard, established with Schenk v. United States. In Near v. Minnesota, examples of troop movements in wartime being published were deemed acceptable for prior restraint, for it would cause the sure death of United States citizens. In Bridges v. California, it was found that the “degree of imminence” of a “substantive evil” had to be beyond a reasonable doubt of happening immediately. The substantive evil certainly qualifies as a hydrogen bomb, which is a clear danger. But where is the present danger? In New York Times v. United States, it was determined that presupposition is not enough to justify prior restraint. Again, a clear and present danger must exist.

It is clear that the content of the material to be published in Progressive is volatile. Any time one presumes to publish material directly related to a weapon of mass destruction, proper caution must be taken. At this current time, only five other nations other than the United States have the capability of detonating a hydrogen bomb. Clearly, the United States is painfully aware of the ramifications of detonating said bombs because the United States were the pioneers of the hydrogen bomb. The fear of reprisal certainly has to be high, but the bomb was detonated in a time of war. We are currently in a time of peace, the current hostility between the United States and Russia notwithstanding.

Russia has hydrogen bomb capability, so it is not a matter of protecting the United States from Russia. Thus, this is a time of peace for the United States and every other nation, even those who could stand to profit from this article to build a hydrogen bomb. However, one must consider the fact that if a freelance reporter is able to cull facts and technical information from public and unclassified sources, then top scientists of a nation should be able to do the same.

The lower court judge encouraged both sides to come to an amicable agreement on the deletion of technical facts in the article. However as the Progressive lawyer articulated in the argument of which I heard, rights of citizens or the press should not be taken away simply from a fear. Even the mere compromise of taking out technical facts could contribute to a chilling effect, which is a form of prior restraint in and of itself. As Section 2274 of the Atomic Energy Act states, no one can communicate, transmit, or disclose “any restricted data to any person ‘with reason to believe such data will be utilized to injure the Untied States or to secure an advantage to any foreign nation.’”
This magazine is not intending to injure the United States or secure an advantage for a foreign nation, so they are not violating the Act. They are not providing it to a specific person intent on destroying the United States, but providing it to the public to engage in an informed debate about the ethics, horrors, and other implications of a hydrogen bomb.

Publishing this article will not immediately send an hydrogen bomb hurtling to the United States from some unknown nation, for this is a time of peace – and as uttered in Schenk v. United States, things said in time of peace are more forgivable than when said in a time of war. A clear and present danger does not exist. The knowledge of how to create a hydrogen bomb is already present in at least five nations, and has been available to a freelance reporter in the United States. It does not violate the Atomic Energy Act, for if data needs to be restricted, it ought to be classified as well. Progressive is not attempting to injure the United States, nor give it to a nation intent on injuring the United States.

A simple way to exhibit clear and present danger with a substantive evil with immediate harm can easily be solved by asking a simple question: Will this publication immediately harm the lives of innocent citizens? Whether or not we are talking a hydrogen bomb killing hundreds of thousands or a new gun that is used on a singular person, the question must be asked. Any and all documents can only have prior restraint attached to it if the harm after the publication is swift and devastating. If in wartime there is such a document, the immediacy of the harm does not have to be as swift as in peacetime, but the devastation that would result still would have to hold true.

The issue of the Atomic Energy Act being unconstitutional also comes at stake here. You cannot restrict any other kind of free flow of information or data if it is not classified. Hindering people from utilizing information not classified violates freedom of speech. While the constitutionality of the Atomic Energy Act is not on trial, information that is not classified should not be restricted from being debated in an open forum. If an article being published utilizes classified data, then an argument is certainly in place for prohibiting said article to be published. However, if no classified data is used, then the article is certainly within constitutional rights to be published, unless of course, the standard of clear and present danger is established. Abridging any other information to be spoken about is unconstitutional.

In conclusion, the government does not illustrate how there is a clear and present danger towards the publishment of the hydrogen bomb article in Progressive. Thus, judgment is
Reversed.

Injuries to Pitchers

The below is a sample of some of Evan’s journalism work.

Today’s a special day because the pitching prospect that the team has been extolling for three years is finally making his major league debut. This player is going to save the team from mediocrity, maybe even send it to a World Series championship over the next decade. He can strike batters out at will with that powerful arm of his and other teams tremble in fear, wary of his potential.

He dazzles in his first start and for the rest of the year, is a beacon of hope. Fans flock to the park to see him go the distance, notching win after win. Every pitch that comes out of that arm is another step to the World Series and not one person, not even the manager, dares to consider removing him from the game. The team doesn’t make the playoffs, but everyone knows that it’s only a matter of time. The pitcher is too good to not lead them to the promised land.

Spring training rolls around the following year and as occurs every spring training, expectations run high for the team. The welcoming sun, in hibernation for months, shines on the baseball diamond, with the promise of long summer nights spent at the ballpark chowing down hot dogs and cheering on the young ace on the cusp of realization.

Then the young pitcher starts complaining of arm trouble. He’s babied in spring training and people say it’s only a precaution. The regular season comes, but he’s not himself – still good – but not the lights-out pitcher he was last year. Then he goes on the disabled list with an injury. He comes back and gets injured again as the team misses the playoffs. He’s plagued by arm injuries for the next three years and he slowly slips away from baseball, as the hopes of the team slip from playoffs to “wait ’til next year.”
Every team can think of at least one heralded prospect ended up like this. The Chicago Cubs had Kerry Wood, the Detroit Tigers had Justin Thompson, the New York Mets had Bill Pulsipher. It doesn’t stop there – the New York Yankees had Bob Tewsksbury and Al Leiter, the Seattle Mariners had Ryan Anderson and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had Tony Saunders. The Texas Rangers currently have a minor-leaguer named John Hudgins who was abused in the College World Series in 2003. Hudgins is still feeling the effects. They had the future of their franchise in their hands and then they let the potential of the pitcher slip away, all because they rode him too hard and wore out his arm.

Glenn Fleisig, a doctor at the American Sports Medicine Institute, based in Alabama, takes it one step further. At ASMI, whose mission is to improve the awareness and treatment of sports-related injuries, Fleisig explains that injuries suffered by pitchers are due to quality of mechanics, amount of pitches thrown, types of pitches, physical conditioning and genetic make-up. He continues, saying that a pitcher cannot just deal with one of the causes of injury and ignore the others. “There are interactions between these issues,” he says.

Will Carroll, considered by many to be the injury expert in baseball and a writer on Baseball Prospectus, says that “pitching arm injuries are cumulatives. Ligaments and tendons break down and fray, labrums tear, muscles break down when not allowed to recover. It’s like driving a car too hard with bad maintenance.” Fleisig agrees, saying that most serious injuries come from the cumulatives, which, when he reviews surgical findings, always look ‘worn’. As coaches and instructors become more aware of what causes injuries, especially to young pitchers, more pitchers are finding themselves treated with kid gloves as their pitch counts have become limited.

In 1988 – which was not so long ago – 151 pitchers threw between 121-130 pitches when they started a game. Compare that to 2004, when only 11 pitchers threw from 121-130 pitches. This is a marked change, even more so when one considers that even in 1988, old-time baseball greats were complaining that pitchers weren’t throwing as much as they used to. If someone pitches 200 innings nowadays, he’s considered to have good endurance. Contrast that to the early 1900s, when pitchers routinely threw twice as many innings as that. Steve Treder’s study, featured in “The Hardball Times,” found that baseball pitchers today routinely throw 10 percent less pitches than they did in earlier decades.

This is not to say that sometimes a pitcher can go beyond his fatigue threshold. A scout for the Washington Nationals, Mike Alberts, also a hitting and pitching instructor in Worcester, Mass., mentioned that there have been times when he or other coaches have pushed a pitcher past his threshold to get a “big win.” Alberts, a former professional catcher as well, continues, remarking that he remembers “a game in college we won 14-0, and I threw a complete 134 -pitch game. I was on cruise control, so I didn’t really fatigue my body or arm. There were times when I threw 60-70 pitches in a playoff situation and my arm and body were cooked. Pitch counts depend on the situation, but as a rule they should stay within reason.”

The rule within reason has been found to be between 100-110 pitches. Baseball Prospectus, a company which does extensive statistical research on every aspect of baseball based in San Diego, conducted a study in the book titled “Mind Game” in which it looked at a chart of the number of pitches per game a pitcher threw, which focused on the 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 seasons. Some interesting trends are that in 1988, 60 pitchers threw more than 141 pitches, while that number is three today. Another set of pitches is dropping slowly, the 131-140 set. The watershed year was 2004 as 131-140 pitches per game decreased from 60 to 11. From 121-130 pitches, a decline from 2000 to 2004 has been noted at 56 percent. Nowadays, pitchers hover around 100 to 120 pitches. The reasoning for this marked decline has to do with simple research.

Prior to 1988, pitch counts were not kept as a statistic, so it took a while after 1988 to realize how important pitch counts were to maintaining the health of a pitcher. In 1989, Orel Hershiser, the defending Cy Young winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers, threw 170 pitches in one game. The next year, he blew his arm out. Also in 1989, 23-year old pitcher Al Leiter threw 174 pitches in a game and had arm injuries for the next three years, limiting him to only nine innings over eight games. This was two years after yet another heralded Yankees pitcher, Bob Tewsksbury, was throwing 97 mph and then blew his arm out. He topped out at 89 mph after the injury. Former director of baseball operations and interim general manager for the Cincinnati Reds’, Brad Kullman, says that there have been studies done which “found correlations between heavy workloads in years prior to turning 25 resulting in career-limiting or threatening injuries.” Leiter has since retired, bowing out after he participated in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. While he will be remembered as a solid pitcher, he could have been so much more, fans will always say.

A contributor to this data becoming available was Baseball Prospectus’ Keith Woolner, who created a statistic called Pitcher Abuse Points. Woolner found that pitchers who throw more than 100 pitches and especially 120 pitches, show a decrease in effectiveness the weeks following that effort. Pitcher Abuse Points, now charted regularly, shows which pitchers throws the most pitches in baseball past the accepted limit, which is 100.

In the last three years, Livan Hernandez of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals has placed in the top three for Pitcher Abuse Points. Two Cubs pitchers also have made appearances in these years – Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano. Wood has long been a lightning rod for those who cry against abusing pitchers, as he blew out his elbow in 1999, a year after he averaged 112 pitches a game and as many as 137 in a start. His arm injuries, contributed to by being overworked, are well documented. Zambrano, 24, has been ridden hard the last two seasons, and red flags are sprouting everywhere from his workload, as he had arm trouble in the beginning of the 2005 season. Hernandez, who just completed his age 30 season, has avoided injury in the years he has been throwing, but as Carroll explains, Hernandez is the exception, not the rule. “Pitchers that break down young don’t often make it to their age 32 or 36 seasons. Pitchers that make it to those ages are special, beyond the specialness that being a major leaguer entails.”

Carroll, Fleisig and Kullman all agree that fatigue is the more important barometer to measure, not pitch counts. Kullman says that “pitch counts are the antiquated way of attempting to measure fatigue.” Kullman goes on to explain that he means antiquated because with the current technology available, “somebody is going to come up with a much better way that will make pitch counts virtually obsolete.” Pitchers consistently suffer micro-tears within their muscles, tendons and ligaments, leading to pitchers feeling sore. This is normal, because when the body detects micro-tears, it repairs the tears, making the repaired site stronger to withstand future tears. This is the basic concept behind exercising and then resting after the exercising to allow the body to repair itself. As Fleisig goes on to explain, “pitching injuries happen over the course of time when a pitcher gets micro-tears, doesn’t have sufficient rest for the tears to completely repair and then gets more micro-tears the next time out. If a pitcher pitches past the point of fatigue or pitches with poor mechanics that apply larger loads, then he will have more tears than typical and will have his micro-tears add up to larger tears sooner.”

Every pitcher has a different limit at which point he starts experiencing fatigue. This is based on various issues, such as previous workload, build, stamina and off-field issues. The simple thing to do, according to Fleisig, is to remove the pitcher when he becomes tired. Professional baseball teams are moving towards this conclusion, as they pay close attention to visible fatigue signs to craft individualized pitch count limits. The Reds organization is attempting to change conventional thinking around baseball with regard to starting pitching and Kullman was at the forefront of it all. He oversaw a unique system in the Reds’ minor league system at the Class-A level and below. Instead of one starter going as long as he can, the Reds pull their pitchers after three to five innings and replace them with another pitcher who then goes a maximum of three to five innings. The former general manager of the Reds, Dan O’Brien, hired prior to the 2004 season, implemented this strategy. The reasoning was that if pitchers were to continually decrease in endurance to save their body from injuries, why not decrease it significantly, to three to six innings, so they can exit while their arm is fresh and bounce back quicker? “If we, as an industry, are going to continually limit starting pitcher workloads with arbitrary pitch and inning counts, why not at least get them out there one day sooner?” asks Kullman.

Critics say that this method is not utilizing the talents of a great starting pitcher correctly. However, as Kullman argues, what is the difference between a starter giving you seven to eight innings every fifth day, or five to six every fourth day? In addition, those great pitchers who can go eight innings consistently without significant harm to their career is a list so small that it can be denied in favor of the more advantageous system the Reds are slowly implementing. Kullman believes that this system should one day reach the major league level, for it will lessen the risk of the pitcher becoming fatigued, which leads to injury. University of North Florida’s Joshua Papelbon, a junior and brother to the Boston Red Sox’s young pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, says that “your arm and body can only take so much. The longer you continuously throw in a game the more and more you put yourself at risk of getting injured.”

Papelbon, 22, did not start pitching until senior year in high school, which he believes has impacted his arm. According to Bill Thurston, Amherst College’s head coach since 1966 and the winningest coach in any sport in college history, Papelbon is on the right track with his theory. “Pitchers under the age of 12 or 13 have poor mechanics as the No. 1 cause, while ages 14-18 are probably over-use, or over-load, poor mechanics, poor conditioning and preparation,” said Thurston, who is also a consultant with ASMI.

Papelbon takes care to properly warm up prior to each game and is a proponent of long-tossing, where baseball players play catch with each other, gradually increasing the distance until they are throwing hundreds of yards away. “I learned that long tossing and keeping your arm and body in shape helps you stay strong,” says Papelbon. He also believes that his pitching style, which is submarine, has helped keep his arm healthy but says his hips and lower back become sore, so he needs to keep these areas healthy as well.

Fleisig notes that there have been some specific “anatomatical realities” found about pitching mechanics that every pitcher should follow to minimize injury. The most important is abduction (the angle of the arm is lifted from the side) of the shoulder joint, which is the most effective when it is at 90 degrees. Thurston includes attempting to throw too hard too early in the season, for the arm cannot handle the sudden increase in what it is being asked to do. In addition, throwing a curveball or a slider incorrectly can impact the arm, as well as lack of game preparation.

There are also realities dealing with physics, says Fleisig, such as the “proper timing between pelvis rotation and upper trunk rotation [which] maximizes the energy passed up the body to the throwing arm. With poor trunk timing, the energy produced to rotate the trunk is not passed up to the arm and the arm must generate a greater portion of the torque.” If any of these realities are not met, it then becomes much easier for pitchers to get injured.

Colleges are becoming more attuned to these issues, as Papelbon was taught in college that legs were vital to a pitcher’s health and effectiveness. He now spends a lot of time maintaining and building his leg strength. Papelbon also believes that colleges take good care of pitchers, as they have medical trainers, planned exercises, and other precautions to ensure the player remain healthy. Colleges also take care to rest players should they become fatigued.

Common injuries among college pitchers, according to Thurston, are a lack of long-term throwing and conditioning programs, over-use (throwing too many pitches in one game), over-load (lack of recovery time), improper pitching mechanics and over-exertion. The most important element of preparation is the training done in the off-season. “You need at least a month without pitching, then be built up slowly for the season,” Thurston says.

Young pitchers need good training, for they often do not know the effective way to pitch. After Bob Tewsksbury recovered from injury, he was able to remain an effective pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, despite the drop in speed. Tewksbury started to pitch more efficiently and pitch with his smarts and not his physical ability. This is the same reason why Greg Maddux, a future Hall of Fame member on the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs, has been able to remain so effective for so long.

Roland Carlstedt, the chairman of the American Board of Sport Psychology, says that if “clear reductions in performance can be established based on late inning fast-ball speed reductions and a pitching coach’s evaluation of “stuff,” then it is entirely justified to rely on [relief pitchers].” Carlstedt then goes on to explain that one thing relievers have going for them is the fact they have fresh arms – they are not expected to pitch around seven innings every five days. This is similar to Kullman’s thinking about getting pitchers out there one day sooner.

Injuries in baseball refuse to go away, not even with the evolution of the five-man starting rotation nor with pitch count reduction. However, as Kullman points out, medical technology has advanced to the point where injuries are diagnosed quicker and more specifically, allowing the pitcher to successfully rehabilitate his arm. He also believes that too much rest may contribute to injuries. An example Kullman uses is pitching one single pitch every day for 162 games. He believes that such a strategy would cause less harm and fatigue to the pitcher rather than having the pitcher throw 200 pitches every 20 days, a reason why he believes the system implemented by the Reds will be effective.

Carroll offers simple guidelines that baseball organizations should utilize to reduce injuries to pitchers. Organizations should “draft with an eye to work ethic, past injury and usage. Err on the side of caution with pitches and innings and have early and consistent instruction with focus on correct mechanics and pitching theory. The organization should also build stamina using an interval approach, abandon usage patterns and roles that don’t work and lastly, promote success.”

Alberts takes this a step farther, saying that a good pitcher needs good instruction from a pitching coach who knows mechanics, a year-round throwing program, and a general exercise program, focusing on cardiovascular exercise. “[A pitcher should] meet with someone in physical therapy and learn a complete rotator cuff strength program,” Alberts adds. A good sports doctor is also a must, for when a pitcher is injured, he needs to trust the doctor who is in charge of rehabilitation. Reading up on the subject can also be beneficial to pitchers in learning what to do and what not to do.

Young pitchers are more susceptible to injury and have to exercise caution to make sure they do not get injured. It is vitally important for a pitcher and everyone around him – from his parents to his coaches – to make sure that what is being done is keeping his arm as healthy as possible. One single game can change the course of a pitcher’s career. Baseball and its students may not be close to an answer, but they work every day to find ones. Glenn Fleisig will continue studying injuries caused by baseball to find out where the line between health and injury exists. Will Carroll will proceed with putting all the pieces together to find out how fatigue can be measured. Mike Alberts hopes to continue scouting for that perfect pitcher who never gets injured. Joshua Papelbon has plans to continue figuring out how he can remain healthy. Brad Kullman will keep implementing new strategies in the minor leagues. As he says, the Reds are working on more studies, and while nothing is implemented yet, “when it is, it is going to rock the industry. Mark it down.”