Let’s just start off with the fact that I’m glad last week is over. I’m pretty sure if you follow the Orioles and the Hangout in the least bit you know that last week was a rough one around here and for me as well.
I certainly did my best to give my detractors another reason to dump on the Hangout and me when I reported that sources indicated that Brian Roberts was traded to the Cubs. Now I’ve explained this in several threads on the message board, but I figured it would be best to put everything to bed by coming out with how it all went down.
There were a lot of rumors swirling around everywhere that the Orioles were close to a deal with the Cubs. A poster with supposed Chicago connections indicated on the board that the deal was done and the paperwork was at MLB waiting for them to announce the deal. Several of our insiders on the board also had heard the same thing so I went off to confirm this information with two sources. I asked each source from two separate circles of baseball if the board rumors were true. They both told me yes, they were true, and it was a done deal. I asked both again, are you 100% sure this is a done deal and the paperwork is at MLB? I was told yes, it’s a done deal. “100%?” I asked for third time, both sources came back, 100%.
Now, here’s the point where I had to make a decision. Do I let this stand as rumor on the board, or do I now put my name and the Site’s name behind this information? I have never put my name or the site’s name behind anything that was rumored on the board because it’s just that, rumors. However, this was different. I was privately told the information was 100% correct and considering it was the same as information that was being “rumored” from three different people on the board, I felt pretty good that the information was solid. I had two separate sources that have proven themselves in the past tell me the information was 100% correct.
Obviously I made the choice to run it on the front page, but what some people have twisted around was how we reported the information.
First off, the Original headline on the front page read, “Sources: Roberts traded to Cubs.” The article then read, “Several sources have indicated that the trade of All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts to the Cubs has been finalized.” I did not say this was a confirmed report, nor did I say that this was official, I said “SOURCES have indicated”.
Maybe it’s semantics to some, but what I did was report that two previously solid sources indicated the trade was finalized. Several people have said we reported this as a fact and even said we never had “Sources:” in front of the “Roberts traded to Cubs”. What I think may have happened here is that McLovin posted the link to the front page in a thread, but in his title he left out Sources and just had, “Roberts trade to Cubs.” This is where I think some of the confusion came to be since some people go straight to the board and do not visit the front page first. Either way, the original headlines ran as “Sources: Roberts Traded to Cubs.”
Within an hour though, the Orioles sent me an e-mail telling me that the information was wrong and “inaccurate.” I immediately added to the story, “However, the Orioles have denied this rumor and have called it "inaccurate."
I then reengaged my sources and told them what the Orioles said and I was reassured, “this is a done deal, don’t worry about it.”
I explained to the sources that I was little worried now that the Orioles were not saying “No comment”, but rather saying it was “inaccurate.” The Orioles, who have been very good to the Hangout and me over the years, had no reason to lie to us, so to say I was getting a little concerned was probably an understatement. I was reassured again by the sources so I decided to keep the story up, but made sure people understood that the club was denying the story and now we’ll just have wait to see what happens.
As of today, the trade has not gone down so obviously the 100% comments were just wrong. I made a call to run with information I thought was solid from two different sources. It turned out to be wrong.
I’ve talked with several people about this situation within the local media and with the Orioles PR department and not one had a problem on how this was reported. If I had my chance to do it all over, I would have contacted the Orioles for their official statement before running the information, and in the future you can guarantee I will.
It’s been a long week since and I’ve heard people slamming the Hangout’s and my credibility, but at the same time I’ve gotten a ton of support from people as well. It’s always good to know that so many people appreciate what you are trying to do and that in the end; we are just trying to keep people interested in a team that hasn’t had a winning season in ten seasons.
The Orioles have credentialed us for five seasons now and we’ve gone about our business here at the Hangout despite not being full time journalists. We occasionally make mistakes, but we work extremely hard to make sure the information we report is up to the journalistic standards expected of a media outlet.
As we transition the Hangout from a fan site into an online media outlet, there will always be detractors that will try to pull us down while putting out their own disinformation about me and the site. With today’s access to internet message boards, people can lie or personally attack another person while hiding behind their screen names. They don’t have to put their name and reputation behind their posts but instead, they can take things out of context, skew comments to fit their narrow point of view, and basically hide behind their keyboards and monitors without repercussions. That’s all well and good and I certainly have learned to take the attacks with a grain of salt. As the old adage says, “You can make some people happy some of the time, but you can’t make everybody happy all the time.”
I’m not afforded the same luxury as these detractors. Everything I say whether on the message board, the radio or on this site through the blog or reports has my name on it, and I have take responsibility for those actions.
I’m proud that our community here at the Hangout stands above the others for their knowledge, research ability and the fact that we can discuss the issues civilly and without the constant threat of being flamed for their opinion. I’m also proud how the Hangout community has supported the Hangout and me throughout this entire situation, and we look forward to continually improving the Hangout to keep Orioles fans informed while giving them a place to be heard to a large audience.
For me, this issue is over and we are moving on. My moderators and I will continue to run our message boards the way we always have and our Hangout community will continue to be the best place to hangout on online!
Thanks for everyone’s support, and here’s looking forward to spring training so we can get this off season behind us.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.