Friday, August 10, 2012

Chambers makes mountain out of molehill, freaks out about size of mountain

Generally, I've preferred Mike Chambers's Avalanche coverage over Adrian Dater's... he seems (in my opinion anyway) to have a bit more knowledge of how the game is played (not that this is a requirement for a sportswriter, but it helps), and resorts a bit less often to the subjective, I-statement writing than Dater does. Lately, however, they seem to be coming together near the middle, and I'm not entirely sure how much of this is Dater improving, and how much is Chambers slipping.

If Chambers has a blind spot, it's Ryan O'Reilly, of whom he gushes at nearly every opportunity. Today's comment is on a recent blog entry in which Chambers explores the fact that O'Reilly, a restricted free agent, has yet to agree to a contract with the Avalanche.

The Avs moved quickly to re-sign certain RFAs (Erik Johnson, Matt Duchene) and equally quickly to indicate to others (Mueller, Porter) that they would not be extending them qualifying offers. So I'll freely admit that the topic of why O'Reilly remains unsigned, when the team hustled to take care of everybody else, presents a fertile ground for conversation. My guess is that O'Reilly (and/or his agent), having just led the team in scoring, values himself a bit higher than the Avs do, who see him (correctly, I feel) as a 2nd-3rd line center whose scoring will settle back down into that sort of range once his phenom-winger gets moved up to a scoring line, and as such they are hesitant to pay him more than they just paid Duchene. So there's probably some negotiation going on. It happens. It actually happens a lot; it's not out of the ordinary at all. The fact that he is yet to sign doesn't suggest to me that the Avs are dragging their feet here, nor do I suppose that O'Reilly's got hurt feelers because he's the only one yet to be signed. It's a part of the business... some contracts take longer to work out than others.

Chambers skips a lot of these possibilities, however, and jumps straight to shock and irritation that his favorite player is being given the cold shoulder by this cheap, unfair organization (I'm paraphrasing here, just a bit). The issue with this blog entry is that it's entirely based on the premise that having a player unsigned in the first week of August is some sort of slap in the face, a rare and bizarre occurrence that signals something far more sinister than what many sports fans might see at face value. I do not agree with this at all--as I wrote earlier, it's definitely a good conversation starter, but reaching the conclusion that signing a guy quickly somehow indicates a higher perceived value just doesn't track.

Chambers sets up this entire entry as an "ownership is too cheap to pay what he's worth" thing, and that's not fair. He can't really think that the Avalanche are the first team to actually negotiate with a player, can he? Because I'm pretty sure I've read about that happening, oh, pretty much all the time in pro sports. This isn't the first time in recent memory that Chambers has veered out of his way to get little jabs in at the Avalanche ownership, and in both cases he builds a pretty flimsy case.

He uses the "The general consensus is..." tactic in the first paragraph, trying to make the reader think that everybody already agrees with Chambers's opinion that it's "crazy" that O"Reilly is not under contract. It's a tool of rhetoric, not journalism... and there's more where that came from. Later in the piece, Chambers writes "Is O'Reilly demanding more? I doubt it." Oh really? If he's not asking more than the Avs offered, then why didn't he sign their initial offer? Again, it doesn't track.

Then, Chambers puts a classic straw man out there, writing:

If the Avs let O’Reilly go, their hard-core fans will good reason to throw in the towel with this team. O’Reilly is one of the poster boys for this talented young squad. If O’Reilly goes elsewhere, the organization will be indirectly telling its fans that this youth movement is nothing more than a cover for being extraordinarily cheap.

 That's a big "if," Chambers... in two paragraphs, he's jumped from guy isn't signed halfway through the offseason to cheap-ass second-rate rinkydink organization about to abandon hard-working young talent, doesn't give a damn about its players or its fans. By this point, he's no longer really discussing why O'Reilly isn't signed, he's off on some other planet from that conversation, getting himself (and evidently, many of his readers) all frothed at the mouth about something that not only hasn't happened, but is extremely unlikely to happen at all.

A good topic ruined by knee-jerk, over-the-top rhetoric, when it could have been well-served by someone with the slightest inclination to analyze and discuss. Written, as many of the Post's articles and blog entries, to generate web hits rather than thought.


1 comment:

  1. I haven't been following the Post's offseason Avs coverage, and I'm starting to not regret that very much.

    Is it possible that Chambers and Dater are showing the other's tendencies because ghost-writing one another's posts?