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Discussion in 'Our Errors are Mistakes: The Media Forum' started by Shawn O'Leary, Feb 21, 2019.
Somebody placed flowers at Nick's seat in the press box in Ft. Myers:
Nick did his best to cover baseball for his readers. In the fulness of time, the contributors of this well educated and passionate board came to view him as an anachronism.
I see the passing of a peer and John Donne expresses best how I see his loss....
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
As others have said - while the writing wasn't often good and the thoughts weren't often well-constructed, never felt like there was malice behind anything, and that he was genuinely interested in Baseball.
Regardless of any of that - too young to go, especially with seemingly no notice. RIP, and all the best to his family.
Notes column today with tributes from Abraham, cashman, mcadam and Bob nightengale.
There was a quote in there from Cashman that I thought was pretty telling about how Nick was thought of throughout MLB. Paraphrased: "if you had a missed call from Nick, you were returning that call"
I saw the notice just now, and am saddened to hear of Nick's unexpected death. 62 is young-ish, but still time enough to have a good life, and obviously leave a strong impression on others. The penalty phase lies beyond.
The juxtaposition between the testimonials listed above and the general regard SoSH had for his craft is a telling one. How can one be pilloried for his work, yet touch the lives of the people he met so meaningfully? It is a tale of hope for us all, that the mark of a man (or woman) consists of more than any one measure.
I think about life and death a lot, perhaps more than is good for me. You wonder how you might be remembered, what difference you made. In the end, if you live long enough, there are few to remember you in the first place. We all want to live long, full lives, but there is something nice about living just so long that people can regard your life with a certain consensus.
That appears to be the case with Mr. Cafardo.
RIP, whatever that really means.
A lot of people often questioned in the old thread about Cafardo why he was employed year after year despite what many believed to be outdated ideologies and a perceived limited number of contacts. The tributes that have poured in, especially those in that Sunday Notes column from Abraham, Cashman, Silverman, et al., answered that question better than anything else ever could and really hammered home how invaluable he was. It seems perfectly apt that such a humble and unassuming guy wouldn't get his just due in the mainstream until after he was gone and the stories started coming in. As always in these situations, one of the saddest things is that he never got to know how much he was respected and revered in life. One can only hope it provides some measure of comfort to his grieving loved ones.
I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about Cafardo's passing and the type of reputation and reaction we've had here over it.
It's no secret that Nick's work wasn't the most popular for many of the folks here, myself included. We had a long thread all about it. It seemed fluffy, old-fashioned, non-inquisitive, sedate....many of the qualities that we had hoped would pass by the wayside in favor of more hard-hitting reporting that might hold a deeper look into successful baseball.
But as the tributes have poured in, as I read story after story from other reporters about how kind Nick was to them when they were starting out, how supportive, how positive, how helpful and how respectful he was of them (especially the younger ones), it dawned on me that maybe we were looking at the wrong thing with Nick. Nick at his heart was a people person. He always viewed baseball through the lens of the people involved in it. So while we used to scoff at his endless pimping of old scouts and JP Ricciardi and agent's talk and James Shields, for Nick he was trying to show his readers the human side of the game. These old scouts were people, people Nick got to know on the beat, and in Ft Meyers, and on Thursday nights in May in Kansas City. Nick wanted to show the work that these under-appreciated people put in to make baseball what it is, to contribute in some small way to finding players and growing the game and winning championships. Was it the most modern way to view the game? Maybe not. Did we roll our eyes every time Nick mentioned a scout who didn't trust launch angles? We sure did. But he was painting a picture of the people involved in the game. And maybe we missed the point of that.
What really triggered these thoughts was Amalie Benjamin's tweet I posted earlier in the thread. It could not have been all that easy or comfortable for a young woman to start her writing career on the Red Sox beat. Nick was kind and supportive of her. He helped her out, made her feel comfortable, and wasn't a creep. I follow a lot of writers on Twitter, and the women always mention the creeps. It's gross, but that support of Amalie (and Jenny Dell and others) was greatly appreciated.
So he will be missed indeed. He seemed a kind soul in a world full of cynical jerks.
Great post, SJH. I’ve been struggling balancing these tributes with my own hypercritical feelings about his writing. Candidly I’m still having trouble with the idea that some people think Nick was among the best baseball writers in the country.
That said, you may be on to something with him believing baseball is about people. Seen through that prism, it makes sense that he would worry the game was becoming too driven by statistics. And it would explain his many columns about veteran presences in clubhouses and features like his annual managers rankings, which drove posters here nuts. While I still don’t think he was sticking the landing on these pieces—I think you need to explain concretely why these things matter—for Nick this was about unearthing the increasingly rare human side of baseball.
As for the tributes, yeah, it makes sense that a guy who gets enjoyment from that side of the game—the story about him being so giddy during the 18 inning marathon in the Dodgers WS was sweet—would be kind to others and beloved. To that end, I think there may be a sense that with Nick’s passing there is also a passing of an era in some ways – of writers who came of age in an earlier time when the “people stuff” mattered and the guys they covered could still be heroes.
Nick was different only in the sense that most sports writers deal in sarcasm and caustic wit. A few, like Nick, are just good people who laugh off the cynicism about length of games. Deadline pressure drives most of the humor in press boxes. Beat writers want the game to end as soon as possible so they can make their deadlines.
I don't post much here anymore, but what SJH wrote needs to be commended. There are different ways to write about baseball -- different styles and perspectives -- and what some fans prefer, others don't. People in the game really do matter. Nick was a good man.
I don't want to come across as crass or talking ill of the dead, because I'm not. But I'm not quite sure that I buy all of what SJH is selling above.
Yes, it appears that Nick Cafardo was a lovely, lovely person. Someone who watched out for his writer brethren and someone who spoke to just about everyone, no matter if you were the Spring Training janitor or Brian Cashman. That is the headline right there: Nick Cafardo is a great guy. And it sucks that we lose great people, especially when we can use more of them. I have no doubt in my mind that if I sat down and had a beer or two with Cafardo, I would walk away thinking that he was the nicest guy in the world and doesn't deserve half the shit I gave him. And, to be truthful he didn't. It's a cliche by now, but sometimes when you're pecking away at the keyboard, you forget that these people are real and that they're doing the best that they can. I don't think that Cafardo ever intended to write about things that I vehemently disagreed with and maybe the better thing would be to cancel my subscription and read something else, so that's on me.
But death doesn't change the fact that Cafardo didn't really do his readers right. Or at least I don't think that he did and maybe I'm wrong. However, I don't think that favoring sources that speak to you and demonizing ones that don't is a good policy. I don't think that shitting on baseball analytics and proudly saying that you will never learn about them is wrong. You can be the best person in the world, and it sounds like Cafardo was certainly up there in that regard, but proud ignorance should never be something that you're remembered fondly for (and in a number of remembrances, he was). Especially if you're a reporter. And double especially if you're the national baseball guy for a large newspaper.
The human side of baseball is important. No doubt about that. But at the same time, so are the numbers that make up that game. And there are way more people on this board who are more numbers orientated than I am. For better or worse, baseball (and all sports) is now very number driven. To find a bully pulpit and rail against week after week after week, isn't right.
I don't know. It really does suck that Nick Cafardo died--and strangely, I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm just not sure that he was the best at what he did.
As someone who used to listen to a lot of sports radio, in and outside of the New England area, I heard Nick on quite a few different stations. Every time he was on, the radio team would praise him as being one of the most knowledgeable and nicest baseball guys around. I'd always roll my eyes at the first part, always assumed the 2nd part was true because everyone said it.
I also know quite a few people who liked Nick's writings, mostly more casual/average sports fans. He always struck me as a writer for the casual/average fan, ie not SoSH. To the average fan, maybe Nick was actually knowledgeable. Compared to most of the talk I've heard on sports radio over the years, Nick may as well be a genius.
Even on here, the hate he received was more in a lovable oaf sort of way. His thread was far more lighthearted than F&M, Callahan and Friends, etc even though there was just as much criticism. That probably had a lot to do with him staying away from hot takes and hatchet jobs.
It looks like baseball lost one of the really great guys and a writer maybe I couldn't appreciate but a lot of others did.
One retrospect on his career: he was a baseball writer all the way; he and the readers would have been better off had he never drawn the Pats' assignment.
His old-timey cultivation of sources, etc. didn't work well with, right or wrong, the way the Pats' organization does business.
I think that could be said of 99% of the posting feuds on SoSH. There's something lost in using the written word to define a person. I've been to a couple west coast SoSH bashes and a couple of guys who I thought were going to be complete douchebags were not only great guys, but we were hugging it out and taking pictures with each other by the end.
Someone didn't like his work, fine. Animosity about a writer or a poster is a waste of effort. And I'm talking to myself as much as about anyone else.
I am happy you engaged on the elephant in this thread, largely ignored since Nick’s death. I like your post.
I always thought many (not all) of the posts in the Nick thread were snarky and mean spirited and killed the same horse put down years ago. I thought this having no idea whether Nick was a good guy or bad.
So when he died and we find out he was a prince — an uncommonly generous and good man — my first thought was, I hope he did not read our Nick thread. Then I realized he probably did (or heard about it) — but it occurred to me that we probably were incapable of wounding him. He probably had a hearty laugh.
That does not excuse venom. In this instance, the people most hurt by mean spirited piling on were probably posters here, in reflection. That is not always the case, and we are not certain it was the case with Nick.
Substance? Demonizing non-sources, and favoring sources, is not good. It is exactly why Bill Belichick is vilified, and Jeff Fisher was fellated, by so many “journalists.” I honestly don’t know the extent to which Nick did it; I’ll take your word for that. Analytics? That didn’t bother me all that much. Readers know where to get them, and in any case I thought a lot of his objections were aesthetic.
But in any case, we all can be kinder and gentler about a lot of things, and still make forceful points. I think there are more than a few people here who regret their approach in the Nick thread, and this is an opportunity to change course and eventually feel better about ourselves.
I think it was regularly acknowledged by his most regular critics that he seemed like a nice guy. Obviously he was that and more.
So, to summarize:
Guy: really good
With due deference to the 1939 Technicolor classic: Good man, bad wizard.
Several/Many years ago, Cafardo wrote about the excessive noise at ball parks, the constant barrage of songs and sound effects and commercials that often make it impossible to carry on a conversation with the person sitting right next to you. He HATED it. It was one of the few things about which he and I agreed wholeheartedly. (The cacophony adds less than zero to every game and no fan would stay home from a game if it vanished.)