"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Even Bloggers Make Mistakes

(You don’t say…)

When I first heard the news about Alex Rodriguez on Saturday, I sat down to write a blog post to express my initial reaction. I was emotional when I wrote the following:

I’m turned-off by how this story was reported–we’re talking about leaks from confidential documents. Why not release all of the names on the list? Why just Rodriguez? Color me cynical, I respect Selena Roberts as a veteran journalist, but I also know she’s got a book on Rodriguez coming out this summer. You can’t tell me that didn’t play at least a small part in all of this. Has she been sitting on the information waiting for the right moment to drop this bomb? I wish I knew. I don’t mean to discredit the story, but it’s hard to come away from it not feeling dirty.

Looking back, I was too hot to write soberly, and I was wrong to attack Roberts’ professionalism even if I was turned off by the fact that she has a book on Rodriguez coming out later this year. I know enough about the magazine business to know that she doesn’t decide what goes in the magazine and when. Moreover, I suggested that she sacrificed the truth for the sake of her book. If I was writing for a publication an editor would have called me to the mat: prove it. I can’t.

I could have written, “In wake of the fact that she has a book on Rodriguez that will appear in May, I will be interested to learn precisely how long she has had this information and why the story is being released at this time, because when a writer of a story stands to benefit financially through its release, such questions can speak of the veracity of the report.” Or something that that effect which would have been less accusatory, while making the same point.

So I want to apologize to Ms. Roberts for my half-baked critique. In the final analysis, I only made myself look like a fool. I also want to apologize to you, the reader. Because although this is a blog, where we often give a quick, emotional take on things, I am not in the business of character assination. And even when I’m worked-up I go to great lengths to be fair-minded and even-handed.

This whole mess brought out the worst in me too. And I owe to you and to myself to do a better job. I’m far from perfect but not too proud to admit to an error in judgement when I make one.

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 Simone   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:48 pm

I'm glad that you apologized Alex. You were wrong.

2 JohnnyC   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:48 pm

It's o.k., Alex, the very professional Ms. Roberts never bothered to apologize for her erroneous and half-baked crucifixion of the Duke lacrosse team.

3 tommyl   ~  Feb 9, 2009 3:54 pm

Alex, I completely understand. Its a gut reaction thing, when the news about Bonds broke last week my initial thought was, "See! Deserves it!" and when this news broke I initially thought about the same as you did. You owed an apology yes, but its completely understandable the way you reacted.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:08 pm

Your intentions and hers and everyone else will bear out over time. It was big to apologize, which says a lot this day and age. I wouldn't worry about it from here on out; thanks for Steppin' Up, big man.


5 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:12 pm

Alex, I don't think an apology is necessary. I am sure you were called on the mat at SI, and realize you have to appease your bosses, but your response was raw and candid, but legitimate. Regardless of her motive, Roberts benefited from receiving illegal information. Essentially, Selena Roberts cheated in her attempt to get a scoop. I am sure her competitors would have loved the scoop, but didn't have the same opportunity to break the law.

It's a shame that SI is circling the wagons to protect her, but Roberts deserve a critical eye in all this.

6 rbj   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:25 pm

Maybe you could have used different language, Alex. But I do not think it is wrong to at least put the question of Selena's motive out there. I listened to the Costas interview on MLBN yesterday. She did say that she had a profile on A-Rod coming out, didn't say it was a book. And she was very circumspect on how she got A-Rod's name. Unnamed sources are ok, particularly if there are four different ones. But either a MLB person(s) broke the confidentiality clause, or a government official broke a rule on sealed evidence. I'm not going to defend A-Rod, but it does seem like there was a hit going on him here.

Selena's doing a profile on A-Rod and she just happened to come across the list name? Who leaked it, and why. Wouldn't it be a bigger story to get all the names?

Man, this steroids issue is making everyone look bad.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:30 pm

[6] She was also quoted in an interview as saying she didn't want to discuss the journalistic process when asked if she knew any more names on the list. In other words, yes, she does have more names and will use them to her benefit at another time.

Roberts basically was playing gotcha journalism with unnamed sources and illegal information leaks. Her integrity has been rightly questioned in the past, so no one should be surprised by this episode.

8 Yankee Mama   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:40 pm

Alex, while I understand the need to let calmer heads prevail, truth is that thankfully, this is a blog and not SI or ESPN, the monoliths of acceptable sport opinions, as dictated by MLB, the NFL, NHL, etc. Your readership at the Banter engages in healthy discourse with regards to a topic we mutually love, the Yankees. Personally, I'm ok with you bringing it. We'll banter it out.

This site is a vehicle for non-censorship and we all appear respectful in our posts. Yes, you were emotional, but the timing of yesterday's news was difficult. How much more are we to take? It's been a relentless destruction of trust, from Bernie Madoff to A-Rod. I was not surprised by A-rod, but I was dismayed.

When I had time to process, I realized that right or wrong, when a journalist discovers a juicy tidbit, they feel it's their responsiblity to report it and that's what we want from them. Roberts was that vehicle and I'm ok with it, but I'm sad of the new distrust that is our reality, from leaking test results that Gene Orza didn't dispose of to the loss of innocence that surrounds the game which has such spiritual underpinnings (for me).

BTW, I read ESPN and Si daily. I'm a believer, but as Will Leitch would say, they are limited to what organizations would expect of them. You're not, at least not at the Banter.

9 zack   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:42 pm

Alex, you are a good person. But you don't need to apologize. As William already as said, the way Roberts went about all of this does stink. Was it a good scoop? Hell yes, it'll probably make her. But was it ethical journalism? Questionable. There is a lot to be disgusted by in all of this, and that is one part of it.

Its very possible to have believed her story AND be sleazed out by it by the same time.

10 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:51 pm

Actually, I wasn't called to the carpet by SI. Full disclosure though, a guy I know at the magazine called me to clarify the process. He wasn't upset though and certainly didn't ask me to retract what I had written. In fact, he probably would think I was taking it too far writing an apology. There was no agenda there. But, independently, I did talk to a few friends who were taken aback by the tone of the post and thought I wasn't being fair. So I re-read it and agreed with them. Then I sent the post to a few guys I know in the business to get their take. And they thought it was too harsh as well.

So that is why I was compelled to issue an apology. Not because I ripped somebody but because of how I did it. I want to treat people the way I want to be treated. It bothered me enough to say something publicly. Take it for what it is worth.

11 Dimelo   ~  Feb 9, 2009 4:57 pm

Alex, There have been worse comments posted. For example, check out "Matt O" from Islip here:


Poor guy! I bet his inner child needs a hug now.

I have a hard time believing Roberts broke any law, I might not like it, but she did what her job requires of her. But there are Matty O's everywhere, no matter what is said they will look to point the blame at others.

12 Shaun P.   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:08 pm

[10] In which case I have even more respect for you, Alex. You did what you thought was right on Saturday, when you first wrote it, and then as time went on, you continued to do what you thought was right - get other reactions and ultimately apologize. You stayed true to yourself and that counts for as much as anything.

For me, I don't think you needed to apologize - but you did, and good for you.

13 Bama Yankee   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:17 pm

Alex, you are very good writer and seem to be an even better person. Kudos on the apology (for the record, I thought your post was fine...especially on a blog), I guess it never hurts to err on the side of caution.

Just one thing though...I hope that someday we don't find out that all your good writing is the result of some sort of performance enhancer (Ginkgo Biloba, perhaps?). ;-)

14 Just Fair   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:21 pm

I wouldn't worry too much about posing legitimate questions. "You can stuff your sorries in a a sack, mister." : ) Seriously, I think this is all one big sh#$storm and lotsa people feel dirty. I do. I have invested too much time and energy over the years to not feel pissed. "They" say there are lots of fans who don't give a crap whether or not players are doing something shady. Well, I prefer they simply use their given abilities.

15 pugzilla   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:23 pm

Ethical journalism has become equivalent to military intelligence, jumbo shrimp and other assorted oxymorons. Frankly, I approved of your immediate reaction (not that it matters a whole heck of a lot!) and wished that you weren't required? requested? to issue an apology. I assume that Arod's name was indeed one of the 104 but was rather upset that he was the only one outed. As noted in posts above, Ms. Roberts' prior behavior was not impeccable, nor her current motives above reproach.
Interestingly, on the SI website, there is a link to a 6/97 article about "How drugs are ruining sports." Of course drugs have been a part of the sports scene since well before that, as "greenies" were as common as coffee in the clubhouse, from my readings, in the 50's.
There are other philosophies, e.g. from NASCAR: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'!" And show me a weightlifter or bodybuilder who doesn't use anabolics.
Oh, well.... we pay talented athletes millions to help our teams win championships and then wonder why those same athletes do everything in their power to keep earning that kind of money.

16 tommyl   ~  Feb 9, 2009 5:41 pm

Out of curiousity, what specific things are people referring to when they say Roberts' integrity/reporting has been called into question before? Not being a big reader of the SI/ESPN websites, I'm less knowledgeable about this. Any specifics would be most welcome.

17 Raf   ~  Feb 9, 2009 6:00 pm

Out of curiousity, what specific things are people referring to when they say Roberts’ integrity/reporting has been called into question before?

She used This guy as a source

18 hiscross   ~  Feb 9, 2009 6:14 pm

No apologizes needed. I like your blog, but I always know you are a lefty. You just do what all lefties do, complain and whin about things you can't change, but expect others to do. After 8 years of Clinton and then Bush, I realized that people who make their living and talking provide little to our society. The ticket taker at Yankee Stadium provides more value since they let in paying customers to watch skilled professional display their God given talents. SZorry forbeing so hard and direct but that is the way it see it.

19 ny2ca2dc   ~  Feb 9, 2009 6:28 pm

All this stuff about Selena Roberts, that she was cited for being on his property etc. is odd - WTF. If it's not true, he really opened a can of worms.

20 Ben   ~  Feb 9, 2009 6:50 pm

[17]. In the words of my late father...


21 pugzilla   ~  Feb 9, 2009 6:54 pm

re: 15

Tommy, wasn't it Selina Roberts that pushed the Duke lacrosse team players under the bus, and when the truth came out, failed to apologize?
If it wasn't, I may need to construct an apology also!

22 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Feb 9, 2009 8:06 pm

I agree with William on this. There is something very fishy about the whole "revelation" of A-Rod's name but not any of the other 103..I think you are 100% justified in questioning Ms. Robert's work here.

[17] huh???

23 51cq24   ~  Feb 9, 2009 8:34 pm

[5] william, what law do you think roberts broke? do you understand what the first amendment means?
[17] among much nonsense in this post, one thing strikes me given the overall topic: god given talents?

24 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Feb 9, 2009 8:51 pm

You're a mensch, Alex.

I have so much respect for you and how you go about your business, to say nothing of your talent.

Thank you.

25 pugzilla   ~  Feb 9, 2009 9:17 pm

I'm not sure whether I should mention this on Alex's blog, but Joe Sheehan has a very interesting article dated 2/9 on Baseball Prospectus titled "Stupid Media Tricks" which I feel makes some excellent points and consolidates others. Alex, you may excoriate me, if you wish, if it is bad form to mention this.
This Selina "stalking" issue is truly bizarre!

26 Raf   ~  Feb 10, 2009 11:47 am

No one here is familiar with Lefty? Jeez, how young is this crowd?

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver