Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What did THEY say about baseball?

The baseball issue is bubbling in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere. There are Facebook pages for supporters of baseball in The Bottom (here) and for supporters of baseball on The Boulevard (here). The comments sections of various blogs have been lively, if not edifying.

But there's something going on with the Internet aspect of the debate that should be noticed: There are a few regulars always pushing the agenda of the developers who want to bring baseball to Shockoe Bottom. THEY want you to think THEY aren't organized and have no connection to anyone standing to profit from the development. THEY have been as busy as little beavers.

If in your comments you question whether the surrounding counties will ever support building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom, THEY might dismiss your viewpoint as anti-urban. You could find yourself accused of being against progress, even against having a good time.

In this sense regional cooperation is apparently seen as capitulation. Like, if the suburbanites don’t like Shockoe Bottom it's their own fault; they probably need to get a life and replace their elected representatives, ASAP!

If you question whether the families, church groups and Little Leaguers that attended R-Braves games faithfully at The Diamond are likely to feel comfortable going to and from night baseball games in Shockoe Bottom, THEY might accuse you of being out of touch with a modern aesthetic, which has redefined what it is to be a baseball fan.

Put another way -- you are too old to know what would draw young adults to a minor league baseball game.

The assertion in that case is that so many young gadabouts will flock into the new cute-as-a-button baseball stadium, just to be there -- but not so much to watch baseball -- that it will more than make up for whatever wimps won’t go to Shockoe Bottom after dark.

So, THEY say an imaginary baseball team with a stadium in The Bottom, the Richmond Whatevers, will out-draw what the R-Braves attracted in recent years. Of course, THEY can't say what league or Major League franchise the Whatevers will be affiliated with. What THEY will say is you are dead wrong if you don't see it the same way.

If you suggest that building a baseball stadium in a part of town that has had serious flood problems even after the floodwall was built, THEY will advise you that Richmond, itself, is now through with having violent storms. Forget global warming -- Hurricane Gaston was a fluke.

On top of that THEY will say that without the proposed baseball stadium The Bottom is caught in a death spiral, because the stadium is essential to further development, according to federal dictates. Which, if true, might mean Shockoe Bottom, with all its history and distinctive architecture is all but doomed as a neighborhood without baseball coming to the rescue.

Who are THEY?

THEY won’t say. What THEY will do is jump into the comments section of every article/post to do with baseball in Richmond and hurl their talking points at the conversation. THEY will insult people who post sincere questions about the project using their real names. Yet, if you question who THEY are, THEY will say that’s tantamount to questioning their character. And, THEY stay cloaked.

THEY say no one is paying them to conduct this little propaganda campaign, but THEY refuse to identify themselves.

Next thing, THEY might forward you an email plea for help from a friend of theirs -- a Nigerian archduke who wants you to help him spirit his zillions out of the old country. THEY could even vouch for the archduke. Whatever his name might supposedly be, THEY will remain anonymous, while asking you to believe what THEY say.

Update: For more on this topic, click on the links below:

Melissa Savenko's Richmond Real Estate Review
Sierra Club
STYLE Weekly
Fan District Hub
Buttermilk & Molasses (live blogging Tuesday night meeting/presentation Part One; Part Two.
Richmond Good Life (baseball issue archive)


Anonymous said...

When the message is convincing, I guess you can always resort to shooting the messenger.

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous, when the message has been spoken with forked tongue the messenger's agenda must hide in the shadow.

Anonymous said...

Witty comebacks won't change the effect of the message. Have you even been to a presentation yet? I'm trying to figure out whether your repeated references to ghosts from Richmond's past like
the 6th Street Marketplace are an attempt to intentionally mislead people about this project or whether they are simply done out of ignorance of the facts.

Paul H said...

The flood control aspect of this seems to be marvel of engineering. John_M puts it succinctly in comment 11 over at RDN Not being an engineer, I can't comment on it's feasability, but the project will rise or fall (sorry) on this feature.

There is a lot of anonymous commenting from both sides, especially on CHPN. There has been more public support for this than I would have guessed. It could be because this developer has reached out to the community far more than any previous one I can recall.

There's another meeting tonight at 5:30 at Globehoppers on 21st and Main. Those all should be real people

Anonymous said...

Just one sticking point for me... do you really believe that Shockoe Bottom is a larger hinderance to birthday parties and Church grups than the Greyhound bus station and the crime ridden Boulevard? Seems like you are trading one drawback for another.

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous (8:46 a.m.),

Against the advice of some, I have continued to allow anonymous commenting here at SLANTblog. The same has been true for the Fan District Hub, which I also publish.

Perhaps that policy needs review. That's because I am getting tired of playing games with the likes of you.

So, you can't figure out why I have doubts about the veracity or intentions of mysterious people who seem to be deliberately misleading the public. People who hide their identity, for their own reasons, but want to be respected for the truthiness of their "message."

Well, the truth is I can't poison the credibility of anonymous propagandists, because they have none. But they still do have the option of using a tool familiar to all sorts of hucksters -- repetition.

So, we've been seeing just that -- some PR hacks trying to create truth through repetition -- say it enough times and some folks will begin to believe it.


Hey, if the so-called "message" is righteous, why not put your name behind it?

As it stands, there's really no satisfying answer for that last question.

Finally: No, I haven't been to a presentation. Haven't been invited to one by a person with a name.

However, my words here are not aimed at shooting down what the project's official spokespersons have said/will say. They aren't hiding their identities. My criticism in this post was aimed at people who are working anonymously on behalf of the project -- THEY.

FanGuy said...

I hear black helicopters.

In all seriousness though, you accuse folks generally of "misleading the public."

First, what is your evidence to support that?

Second, how would you even know what is and is not true if you have not bothered to attend a presentation and here about the plan in details? No one is handing out personal invitations. Just go with an open mind and maybe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous said...

Which one (or more) of those "Anonymous" comments are from "Tom". I swear anytime I think baseball he comments on my blog. "Tom", if that is your real name, get out of my head! Oh and this whole stadium/ball field/ holy shrine/ or whatever they are "branding" it this week is a horrible idea (dream). But if that is what it takes for "Tom" to take the hidden cameras out of my closets, then what can I do?

Peter said...

Truth is, attacking an Internet commenter because it says "Anonymous" or whatever in front of their name is a time-tested method of preemptively dismissing the legitimacy of possibly legitimate comments. In the sphere of Internet discourse, it's right up there with attacking someone for their grammar and spelling.

I mean, come on. How long has the Internet been around? And you're complaining that it permits--even encourages--anonymity? Did you completely miss the last ten or fifteen years of online culture, when the rest of us figured out how to deal with the semi-anonymous nature of the Internet?

It's pretty laughable, too, for you to threaten to disable anonymous comments, as if you'd be revoking some sacred privilege. Blogs often live or die according to the diversity and vigor of reader commentary. But if you don't like anonymous comments, by all means, you should disable them. If you don't like kids on your lawn, you should chase them off, or call the police. It's certainly your right.

I'm going sign my post with the name "Peter Reiss." I mean, it SOUNDS like a real name, so my post must carry more weight, right? I even have a Google account! And you can't fake a thing like that.

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous (Peter Reiss),

Anonymous blogging and commenting is what it is.

Some of the mischief-makers who spend their time doing such like to pretend they are using the license and methods of a courageous whistle-blower. When, truth be told, they are hiding their identity because they simply don't want to be accountable for what they say.

It has more in common with throwing a rock through a neighbor's window, and running away, than it does with debating issues.

That said, sometimes anonymous commenting can be useful to the debate. Most of the time it is not.

Before you try to school me on the history of chat-room hijinx and other modern forms of electronic discourse, you should spend a little time reading what responsible political bloggers -- on both sides of the aisle -- have written to decry and debunk such cloaked commentary. Attacks from anonymous partisans, pretending to be what they aren't, is old hat in that realm.

A couple of years ago it was a hot topic. Which made outing anonymous players stylish for a while.

SLANTblog is published by a person who has been writing under his own name/byline in Richmond for decades. In its five-and-a-half years online it certainly has not lived, or died, according to what silly comments have occasionally been posted under the stories offered in this space.

If one of my readers chooses to believe something that has been written by an anonymous attacker, who obviously has some sort of agenda they must hide, that reader is on their own...

In the long run, I trust most of my regular readers aren't that stupid.

So, the only value of the vast majority of anonymous commentary on this blog or at other blogs that discuss public affairs rises and falls strictly as entertainment.

In other words, Pete, either be funny, or you should probably go to another blog to waste your time