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What’s Darren Rovell’s Problem?

The other day, Darren Rovell annoyed me. It wasn’t one of the “A or B” polls, or breaking down a pitcher’s salary into innings.

Perhaps my tolerance was low, because it was at the end of the day. Whatever it was, it got to me. It was when he first asked this:

Many people then informed him that teams do that for a specific reason, and it was part of the MLB CBA. He then tweeted the following:

And then this:

And then this:

And then this:

And then this:

In between, there was a back and forth with Nationals pitcher Drew Storen, which is documented here.

What bothered me most I guess, is that I felt like Rovell was intentionally ignoring obvious facts to either drive people nuts, or because he had trouble admitting he was wrong. I guess it’s funny that someone being stubborn about being right or wrong would bother me specifically given my personality.

To me, it should go like this:

@DarrenRovell: If MLB teams struggle to draw on weekday day games, why do you they schedule them then?

And then:

@DarrenRovell: Oh, it’s a CBA thing so they can get sleep. 

Instead, it devolved into an insane (my words) discussion in which he was demanding proof that players with more sleep perform better than players with less sleep.

So on my commute home, I thought to myself “what is Darren Rovell’s problem?” I thought as well, it might make for an interesting post.

The next morning, I decided to ask Rovell on Twitter if he’d like to comment before I wrote it, and he kindly obliged. He was a good sport about it, especially to someone who (me) repeatedly asks him questions like “how many dollars per second does that come to?”

He did ask if I was going to use his comments, to run them as an unedited Q&A. I agreed.

It went longer than I expected. I’ve got no idea how to whittle it down (and I agreed I wouldn’t), so I’m just giving you the entire exchange. Because it got so long, it’s here on spikeeskin.com instead of cbsphilly.com. Enjoy.

We’ll start with the questions I sent him, along with his answers:

1. What’s your problem, anyway?

Don’t have any problem, Spike. Love Twitter as a tool. Love to engage people. Enjoy hearing what they have to say.

2. Why do you think people follow you? For what purpose(s) specifically?

Think there are a couple reasons. Obviously they want sports business news. Some want the quirky news, things that they won’t get from any other feed. I know that I can’t please everyone. Some people love the offbeat things that I do, some people don’t.

3. What percentage of response that you get on Twitter do you consider to be negative?

I’d say probably 30 percent of what I get is negative. Fans are passionate and I appreciate that. It’s not pretty when it gets nasty, but I can take it. I’m a man. I’m 33.

4. Do you read all of it?

Yes I do. And I’m totally fine with people who want to be critical of anything I say. I think people don’t realize that I read all of it so when negative tweets come in from people like you with so much frequency, they don’t realize that their credibility is being compromised. I’d say 80 percent of what I see from you to me is negative so after a while it becomes more about “What’s His Problem?” instead of “What’s My Problem.”

5. Do you feel like Twitter is a prudent place to have a realistic discussion of whether or not day games have a positive effect overall on baseball? Or any such discussion that might be better served where answers longer than 140 characters are available?

This is a big debate right now. What is the appropriate use of Twitter? I pick Twitter sometimes to engage in conversations that might be bigger than the medium because it’s what I have in the moment. Maybe I’m busy with the TV story or writing a blog and don’t have the time to push the debate further. Or maybe I think it’s a small issue and people come out with amazing passion like they did in this debate.

What I think people should realize, as I do, is Twitter is out of context by its very nature. So you have to be patient to let the dialogue advance. People interacting with me felt like I wasn’t listening to them on this topic. I was. My point was, is it worth exchanging players sleep for compromising revenues by having day games that draw much smaller crowds than night games? I think it was a good question. While many came back with, it’s obvious this and that, there wasn’t anything that really stuck. The comical thing of course was, since when do fans really care about a player’s health, especially if they’re good enough to play?

6. Is part of how you behave and your “Twitter persona” an act, or is it really you?

This is the genuine article. If I had to put on an act every time I got on Twitter or tweeted something I’d be more exhausted than I already am from a day full of work.

7. Do you ever think that some of your responses come off as condescending?

Perhaps. I don’t mean them to be. I think it’s a written medium and just like emails sometimes don’t read like the person intended, I can see how a tweet could come off that way. I’ve written almost 30,000 tweets, it’s going to happen just based on volume. The funny thing is that people who bash what I do and curse at me expect a magnanimous response in return. Or, as I referenced before, they’re people like you who have decided you have a problem with me beyond what I write and seemingly tweet at me to “pick a fight.” How am I supposed to respond there?

8. The DM thing, what’s that all about? Why do you do that? Part of me believes it’s just to drive people nuts, which I’d understand.

I originally DM’d people because I didn’t think people on my timeline really cared to hear my back and forths with other people. I guess they did. So I haven’t done the DM thing in at least four months. When I choose to respond, it is a public response.

9. Are there any of the 100 Twitter Rules you’d go back and change.

Definitely Rule #28 which refers to using an unfollow as a “learning experience.” I don’t do that anymore. I just stay true to myself, know what my role is, and if someone unfollows me, I’m good with that.

I then asked if I could ask a couple of follow up questions (they ended up being more comments than questions as you’ll see), and Darren obliged. My thoughts:

In regard to his response to question #5:

The thing that bothered me here is that as someone who knows business, it seems like you either clearly ignored some obvious ideas here, or were looking for someone to say them. When bargaining to agree to a CBA like this, clearly there’s give and take. So maybe it’s not optimal for owners, by and large to have some day games in terms of gate, perhaps it’s something they give away just to get something back. As well, we’ve seen in the NBA season that rest for players (and lack of rest) can definitely have an effect on play. Having a quality product for more games, if it means less gate for a few seems like a pretty easy exchange. 

I don’t think the passion was in that people care that much about day games. The passion was that you asked a question, they gave an answer, and instead of acknowledging that you didn’t know the answer and a “thanks for the response,” it was just that day games were still silly and bad business. That you refused to acknowledge that you were mistaken. 

That I think is where it seems condescending and frustrating.  

In regard to his response to question #4

 I think the issue here is how you address when people are critical, which is what provokes a more negative response. 

 I would suggest that your responses can compromise your credibility as much as, of not more than, mine do my credibility. 

 That said, as a receiver of plenty of negative response (not in volume what you do clearly, but enough to understand), I get it. Point made. 

To which, Darren responded with the following:

FIRST QUESTION…

I don’t believe I was mistaken. That’s the point. And it has nothing to do with being stubborn. How much more of a quality product do you get with better sleep? Is that exchange with a smaller crowd definitely worth it for the business? While owners can choose to pay the players whatever they want, they also can choose to correlate it with the revenues that they bring in. If you believe that, and you believe the union wants to maximize the player’s dollars (which despite conventional thinking is the main role of the union, instead of to protect the HEALTH of the players), then it’s not ideal for business. I asked for data on quality of play or quality of sleep on getaway days. I’m not sure that the data exists, but if someone presented it to me, I would have posted that with lightning speed. I was thrilled that players weighed in and said that it was much harder to go to sleep when they arrive in the early morning versus late at night. But it’s still a valid question to ask: How much does the difference affect performance? Show me analysis that teams who used getaway days to leave early played better the next day.

Drew Storen, the Washington Nationals closer, said I was wrong about sleep and getaway days and the business of it all. So let’s look just at the Washington Nationals.

Storen Tweeted: “Having players perform at the top of their abilities in order to win the most games is better for business. It’s about winning.”

So then why have the Nationals only had 1 WEEKDAY GETAWAY ALL YEAR SO FAR. ONE. This is when they played a day game during the week so that they could travel somewhere else to play the the next day.

On April 11th the Nationals played @ the Mets on a weekday day game so they could get home to Washington (long trip I know, explain that one to me). They won the next day in 10 innings by one run.

So at least in Storen’s case, there was one piece of data, which no Twitter follower looked up for me (I would have RT’d it whether it proved my point or not) and the data is inconclusive.

Did getting home early help the Nationals get the win? Did Drew and his teammates go to sleep immediately when the went home? The Nationals won that game on a WILD PITCH by reliever Alfredo Simon.

It’s easy to say I’m wrong and I make bad points, but there’s clearly a debate as to whether it’s smart for Major League Baseball (and for the union to collectively bargain) getaway days when they are so few and far between, that they seem to affect crowds and there is not a ton of data that i’ve seen that says that on these few occassions lack of sleep affects performance.

I share so much on Twitter. From great T-shirts to weird tattoos to opinions voiced by those who do and don’t follow me. The burden to have to share everyone’s thoughts on every issue you discuss, just isn’t fair. It’s also easy to say that someone is wrong if you’re not going to back it up.

TO ANSWER THE SECOND QUESTION…

Read back through my responses yesterday and tell me one tweet that had any sort of disrespectful or condescending tone. You won’t be able to find one. I’m in search for some facts instead of opinions. You have you opinion, I have my opinion. Persuade me other than to say “it’s common sense that players who sleep better perform better.”

And he also added in a subsequent email:

I think it’s also fair that your intro does not include any counterpoints to my points so as to compromise this debate.

I agreed to that stipulation. Then, I responded with this:

You need facts to determine whether people perform better if they’ve slept better? I guess since common sense suggests that it’s true, but a simple google search returns a ton of results. 

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ix=h9&ie=UTF-8#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=Sleep%20affects%20performance&oq=&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=&pbx=1&fp=7bdef998cb23a92d&ix=h9&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1353&bih=723

I don’t have any research about teams on getaway days, as I’d guess there isn’t any. But I don’t think suggesting that because there’s no specific data on it, the intuition wouldn’t be the same. Right?

Where’s the data to suggest that every day game, if it became a night game, would have higher attendance? Just your intuition, right? I might even suggest that as part of a marketing strategy, to make games more kid friendly and appeal to people who can’t normally attend games, it works on a much broader level than something as direct as ticket sales for particular games. 

At this point I asked Darren if he’d like to come on my 94WIP radio show Thursday night for 12 minutes to discuss this, and I could post everything together. He suggested I publish this, then he’d do the interview. He then added the following:

Please incorporate this….

Again, there’s one piece of data with the Nationals. I did it for you. They had 1 weekday day game on April 11th to take a 1 hour flight back to Washington. Let’s work with that data because it’s the only data we have. Figure the players got back at what…8 pm? Did they go to sleep right away? Did their sleep make them better the next day?

Many on Twitter, like you, suggested that this was not a debate and I was wrong to suggest it was. Sure, there is data that says that sleep can make one perform better. But that’s over TIME. How many decent night sleeps do baseball players get by playing three- and four-game homestands in the same city. I’m sure enough. And if they don’t, it can just be called part of the job. I get less sleep that a government employee who might be expected to leave work at 4:59:59 pm every day. It comes with the territory.

It’s a much better assumption (than a sleep performance argument) that I make that weekday day games as a whole draw fewer fans than the same game would at night.

I can’t really work with the one piece of data I have because Johan Santana faced Stephen Strasburg on April 11th and that factor alone contributed to that day game drawing more than 9,000 fans more than the previous game. Would it have been more if it were a night game? Probably.

One more point to make here.

On April 11, the Nationals and the Mets played the game during the day on a weekday (it was a Wednesday) despite the fact that the Nationals were going back to Washington and the Mets had an OFF DAY the next day.

Explain how that makes sense.

Of course I wanted to respond, but with this post in mind, and the interview in mind, I responded with the following:

Darren,

There’s no way I can just “publish this,” and not respond to your final retort.

Then you’ll want to respond. 

Then I’ll want to respond (since it is in fact, what I’m writing).

And everyone will want to have the last word. 

I’m not quite sure how to proceed from here, but there are plenty of things (including one game being sufficient data to conclude anything about sleep and performance or attendance) that I’d like to respond to in your last email.

I appreciate your time, but I’m not entirely sure that an unedited email chain makes for great reading material. 

He then responded that I could do what I want, and asked that I just not use anything he wrote out of context. I don’t believe I’ve done that. He then sent me this:

You see why having a longer forum than twitter isn’t necessarily more fruitful?

To which I responded with:

No, this absolutely does not show that. It just shows that email isn’t the best forum for it. That doesn’t make Twitter better. 

I then told him I wouldn’t take him out of context, and that was that.

I thank Mr. Rovell for taking the time to answer the questions. I’m not sure I found out the answer to my original question. But I won’t tease him on Twitter anymore.

 

  • MB

    Holy shit. That was painstaking. The guy is an unrelenting jackass. He doesn’t realize that his opinion is based in less fact than everyone else’s. Also, it must be tough to be the central hub of all Twitter and other online based means of communication.

  • http://twitter.com/amiehartnett Aunt Mimi

    I don’t agree with him all the time, but what I read here is that no matter the topic, he takes responsibility for his opinions and responses, and I certainly respect that. He seems to dig into the trenches when defending his point of view more deeply than others I have read on Twitter and elsewhere. That’s not necessarily *bad* but it’s a personal style/personality feature that may conflict with others who are more accustomed to give-and-take.

    I am married to a highly-intelligent (from an I.Q. standpoint) engineer who also digs in and doesn’t compromise his opinions; perhaps I’m just used to it, after 15 years!

  • Mkil1390

    just to be a troll: If Darren is wrong (not that I agree with him), isn’t the league providing an unfair advantage to teams who get to play in a day game before a night game if they are playing against a team on back to back night games?

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