Itís time for a FJM-style post. Todayís guest is Bob Smizik.
Rocco DeMaro, who is the host of the Pirates postgame show, “Extra Innings,” on WPGB-FM (104.7), is a man of many hats. DeMaro is host, stats geek supreme, comedian, cheerleader, sound effects man and occasional critic. He does a reasonably good job at all and, as we’ve said before, runs an entertaining show.
On Friday night, as Pirates fans awaited word on No. 1 draft choice Pedro Alvarez, DeMaro tried on another hat: Reporter.
It didn’t fit.
It is true that DeMaroís main responsibility is providing analysis and opinion on a nightly basis. But implying that he never provides significant news is incorrect, especially when discussing the 2008 draft.
From the time he was selected in the sixth round, Robbie Grossman was assumed to be a difficult player to sign. He fell in the draft because of those signability concerns, and remained a long shot in the weeks after being selected. On July 24, DeMaro reported that Grossman would sign in the days leading up to the August 15 deadline (14:30 mark). Elsewhere in the media, he was labeled a 50-50 shot at best. On August 14, Grossman signed with the Pirates. On the August 14 postgame show, DeMaro broke the news that 20th round pick Quinton Miller would sign (35:00 mark). That may have been the first time I had heard Millerís name since the draft. The next day, Miller signed.
Sometime after 10 p.m. DeMaro stated that Alvarez would agree to the Pirates’ terms. He said, “Sources, very, very reliable, tell me Alvarez is going to happen.” At other points he said it was a done deal.
Demaro said that Alvarez would sign shortly before the deadline. He never said that there was an official agreement between the two sides. In fact, he stayed on the air for about three hours, waiting for official word. He announced the signing at the same time as other members of the media.
EDIT: I re-listened to the podcast of the show. I admit that a few statements made by Rocco, when analyzed in a vacuum, could have been misinterpreted to mean that an official deal had been reached. However, anyone listening to the show should have understood that the deal had not yet been finalized. Rocco repeated that many times.
The deal did happen. Alvarez agreed to a contract minutes before the midnight deadline, not hours, as DeMaro suggested.
Again, this is incorrect. DeMaro said a deal would be reached right before midnight. That is exactly what happened.
Still, DeMaro thought he looked pretty smart and spent part of the next day patting himself on the back.
“We scooped the heck out of that story on ‘Extra Innings’ yesterday,” he told listeners to his Saturday afternoon show.
This column has a record of giving credit to radio and television reporters when they break stories. We would prefer to see the Post-Gazette break them, but no news source wins every story. That being said, there has to be serious doubt about DeMaro’s claim.
Why? Because it proved to be correct?
Did he have a legitimate scoop? Or did he just make an educated guess and pretend that he had sources that provided him with the information?
The most likely answer is that DeMaro made an educated guess and acted like he had a scoop.
That is a pretty serious accusation. I assume you have substantial evidence to back it up?
An educated guess was easy. It was pretty well understood Alvarez would accept the Pirates’ deal. He had little leverage. Who turns down $6 million? If he went back into the draft, he would not likely improve on his No. 2 slot but more likely could fall.
This is mostly true. But it is not evidence that DeMaro lied to his audience, which is what you have accused him of doing.
But more than that, where did DeMaro all of a sudden come up with these sources? That’s the most suspicious part of this so-called scoop.
Where do any members of the media get their sources? This is not a cause for suspicion.
In the course of his duties, he has never shown an iota of reportorial skills.
This statement is incorrect. We already discussed this at the beginning. DeMaro has been all over two of the more surprising draft pick signings.
He recites statistics and offers opinions but he never presents real news. How could he? He’s a guy who must talk about the Pirates some 162 times a year and never shows up at the ballpark. It’s impossible to develop sources if you’ve never met the sources.
He talks to a Pirates player or broadcaster after every game. He has had several interviews with different coaches and members of the front office. Itís also possible that the best sources in the Alvarez negotiations are located outside of PNC Park.
Yet DeMaro said Friday night, “I’m the guy talking to people in the game who know what’s going on.”
I donít know who heís talking to. But he was right about Grossman. And Miller. And ultimately, Alvarez.
EDIT: After re-listening to the podcast of this show, I thought I should post this quote in its entirety. “Let’s reserve expectation until it actually happens. I mean, I’m the guy who is talking to people in the game that sort of know of these things going on, and even I am trying to hedge a little bit here and there because it’s not done yet. I mean, these things are not done yet…Let’s wait until we get official word around midnight.” This contradicts the claim that DeMaro reported a finalized deal around 10:00. Interesting that only part of the quote made Smizik’s article.
Nobody outworks the Post-Gazette’s Pirates beat writer Dejan Kovacevic and nobody had better sources on the story than him.
Dejan does a fantastic job as the Pirates beat writer, spending a great amount of extra time bringing vital information to the fan base. His blog was alive with updates as the signing deadline approached. But just assuming he had the best sources does not prove anything.
His sources were telling him the deal wasn’t done and nothing was expected until just before midnight. That is exactly how it played out.
Thatís also pretty similar to what DeMaro reported.
Two other newspapers with highly competent reporters were working the story. They, too, came up with nothing. FSN, which has a reporter at PNC Park every day the team plays, had nothing. The sports staffs of the three local TV news departments had nothing.
Jim Callis of “Baseball America” is perhaps the leading authority in the country on the draft. He was on ESPN after midnight saying there was no word on Alvarez.
Yet, DeMaro claims his sources had the right stuff.
Letís go over it again. DeMaro reported that an agreement would be reached shortly before midnight. Thatís what happened.
At one point DeMaro suggested his information came from within the Boras camp. That is preposterous.
No one runs a tighter ship than Boras. No information was forthcoming from his company during these negotiations or any other.
This does not prove anything. This is just baseless speculation. Is there any evidence of anything in this column?
There were telltale signs throughout the broadcast that DeMaro wasn’t being quite straight with listeners.
Oh good. I was hoping there would be some evidence.
For example, when he signed off early Saturday morning, he said the deal had been consummated earlier in the day but the Pirates withheld the information until the last minute. That was incorrect. The deal was not done until a minute or two before midnight and not announced until some 20 minutes later.
So why would he say such a thing? Because in order for him to have the correct information early, the deal had to be done early.
I donít remember DeMaro saying this. To be honest, I was exhausted after listening to a three-hour show while continuously refreshing several different websites searching for news. But I doubt he would have said something that contradicted everything he had reported for the previous three hours.
I repeat, DeMaroís report was that an agreement would be reached right before the deadline. That is what he knew, and that was what happened.
EDIT: Honestly, when I went back to the podcast, I expected to be wrong about this. I expected to hear Rocco misspeak at the end of his marathon broadcast. But he never said anything like this. I’m not sure what Smizik is talking about here.
It wasn’t done early, and DeMaro was only guessing.
Again, this is a serious charge, and mostly unsubstantiated from what I can tell.
What made DeMaro all the less credible was that not only did he claim to have sources on the Alvarez signing, he claimed also to have sources close to the negotiations with the Pirates’ No. 2 draft choice Tanner Scheppers.
As the midnight deadline approached, DeMaro said a deal was near with Scheppers and they were “crossing the Ts,” on the contract.
Members of the Pirates’ public relations staff were listening at the time and burst out laughing. Why were they laughing? Because just as DeMaro was stating a deal was near, they were working on a press release saying the team had been unable to come to contract terms with Scheppers.
This was incorrect information, and Rocco retracted it minutes later. I guess you could have written a critical article based mostly on those couple of minutes, but that wouldnít have been all that interesting.
Good guess, Rocco. Next time, just call it that.
This is just irresponsible journalism. Your main points of evidence that Rocco DeMaro is a liar are:
1. He was correct.
2. You donít know where he got his sources
And thatís about it. I guess thatís enough proof to write a defamatory article about someone.