Inside Mr. Met's Head

January 23, 2011 2:40 PM

In Response to Jeff Pearlman (Mr. Mets Head Returns!)

ap-ra-dickeyjpg-c37d4b9cb6edd0ed_large.jpgOn Friday, Jeff Pearlman, writer for Sports Illustrated and, posted an article entitled "Tracking Down my Online Haters". In it, he wrote about two people, Matt and Andy, who responded negatively toward an article of his where he outlined why Jeff Bagwell should not be a Hall of Famer. The "Andy" in the article is indeed me, as a couple of people have asked me. I've had a couple of days to digest my new found internet first name super stardom and I'd like to take an opportunity to not only defend myself but also explain my actions.

Basically, I read his Bagwell article and thought it was really dumb. I mean, it was just absolutely ridiculous and I felt that it was just a poor attempt to rile up people. So I'm watching Billy Madison one night and I make some stupid, admittedly unfunny joke on twitter about Billy Madison and Jeff Pearlman being f-ing retards. Just something in passing. I wasn't commenting directly on his article or directly attacking him, it was just a random observation that I made late at night. The next day I log into twitter and I see that he responded to me, saying something like "is that the best you can do?" and I was taken aback that he literally name searched himself on twitter. So, like anyone who's being challenged, I called him a whiny baby who is so starved for attention that he searches for himself on twitter. I don't think anything about it afterwords.

A couple of days later, I'm at my girlfriend's place in Philadelphia and my mom texts me something like "call me -- very important." I call her up and she goes "Who's Jeff Pearlman? He wants to talk to you about fan anger or something" and my jaw drops -- this dude literally called my mom's house. I told her that he was some dude from SI who I called a retard online. She was confused but thought it was hilarious too. She leaves me his number and I call him back but get voice mail. I'm pretty weirded out so I leave a simple message, "Hey Jeff it's Andy, the jerk from twitter. Call me back." 

That night he calls me back and we had an awkward but civil conversation. I was apologetic for insulting him like that and to be fair I did feel badly about it. I explained to him that twitter's 140 character limit hampers intelligent discourse and that I really wasn't expecting anything to come out of it.  A lot of what I said was tongue-in-cheek (and not used, we had a fairly long conversation). After reading the article, I was most disappointed that he didn't use my answer when he asked me why I was angry ("years of Jesuit education"). After the phone call ended, I emailed him, thanking him for letting me explain my side of the issue and jokingly said "please don't eviscerate me too badly." He was a friendly guy and I was glad that he gave me the chance to at least defend myself. 

During the conversation I had a feeling that he absolutely wanted to bury me. He was pissed off that some random guy on the internet was insulting him. One thing that I attempted to explain to him was that I'm trying to "make it" in this industry. My Howard Beale-esque opinions about the mass media are well documented if you know me or read my twitter feed. It's hard to get noticed in this industry, especially when there are people out there who are admittedly better than you. Amazing Avenue does the sabermetric angle better than I could ever hope to. Matt Cerrone does the mets news... and really awful opinions in bad grammar about the Mets better than anyone. Both are substantially more read than me for good reasons, because they're the best in the biz. Sometimes, when you're just starting out, in order to get noticed, you have to be controversial. There's a lot of white noise out there and there's only so many different ways of standing out in the crowd. Being juvenile and hitting the low hanging fruit of calling someone a retard isn't necessarily the best way of doing it but yet again, I never expected this to play out like it did. 

A few weeks later, the article comes out. It's not bad (and not as nasty as I expected) but it's of course not exactly a full portrayal of what happened. First of all, both me and Matt's twitter names are our full names. I have an extremely uncommon last name so all he had to do was plug it into yellow pages. It wasn't hardcore undercover detective work like he made it out to be. Secondly, the article makes it sound like I was harassing him. I said something dumb in passing and when challenged didn't back down. It wasn't like I was inundating him with hate mail.

A lot of people are making a bigger deal out of this entire situation than it really is. To be quite honest, I'm not that bothered by it. I mean, how many people can legitimately tell their kids one day that they were featured in an article on CNN? Yeah, it was kind of weird to get a phone call from someone more famous than you asking why you're such a jerk but I just think the whole situation is absurdly hilarious. Plus, the people commenting have been great as well. I've been compared to a wife beater, called a [sic] d**h**d, and numerous other things. I'm chuffed.

A couple things have bothered me though. A bunch of bloggers have been critical of my apologizing. Honestly, how would you react if someone literally calls you out of the blue and demands answers for something you said? I apologized for not being civil, not for disagreeing with him, which has been lost in the white noise of a bunch of sportswriters who are falling over themselves to write about how they don't care about the opinions of their readers and how they ignore it. In my conversation with Mr. Pearlman, I ranted a bit about how sportswriters have no integrity and that many opinion pieces are written simply to get people angry, then they get upset when people rightfully call them out for doing it. Guys like SI's Jon Heyman do it all the time. Just look at Hall of Fame voting time and him waxing poetically about Jack Morris, poking at the hornets nest of Bert Blyleven supporters, simply for the attention.

Is Heyman an idiot? No, he's really an excellent reporter.  Is Jeff Pearlman a retard? No, he's a best selling author. But here's the bottom line to all writers -- don't write dumb, unsubstantiated things and people won't call you names or attack your opinions.  Fairly simple, is it not? Don't get offended if people mock you when the articles or tweets that you are writing insult your reader's intelligence.     

The one thing, though, that really got to me was his comment about talking to my mother. While I'd love to get out of the house and get my life going, I can't right now. The economy blows Jeff. Yes, I live at home like millions of other recent college graduates who are up to their necks in student loans and other expenses and therefore have to live with their parents because they don't have any other options. If you take joy in that, then you're a substantially worse person than I am for calling you a retard.   

For the record though, I don't live in my parents' basement. I live on the second floor. Take that, you jerks.    

Oh, and my mom's response to this whole situation? "I'd always knew you'd make CNN but I figured it would be for breaking the law or something."

The picture of R.A. Dickey is completely unrelated to this article. 

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