Two in two days? It just wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t honor Marc Topkin after his performance yesterday…


And he especially sucks for those “Barry Bonds Ringtone” ads that now litter this site. What the hell would a “Barry Bonds Ringtone sound like anyway?

For the record. Marc Topkin did not write anything that wasn’t true. The Tampa Bay Rays did discuss Barry Bonds.


It was a non-story and either Marc Topkin knew that and he worded his story just right in order to get the national media juices flowing OR Marc Topkin is an idiot. Last week everybody was talking about how good the Rays could be in 2008. This week we have 6,432 headlines that are all of the variety “The Rays Look To Put The Devil Back In Tampa Bay”.

Rays ponder Bonds pursuit [St. Pete Times]



  1. Brad says:

    Kaz is going in for an MRI. They are saying it's precautionary, but this worries me a lot. This would be a devastating blow. Hopefully, it is nothing serious.

  2. Robert Rittner says:

    Once again, you are dead wrong and are putting yourself in the position of having the same epithet hurled at you. If it appears in print, it has been checked enough to make it credible. Apparently you have no idea how a newspaper operates or how a story gets to the printed page.

    So again, you are dead wrong and verging on idiocy plus mean-spiritedness that discredits you. I don't care if this is a blog rather than a newspaper, a place to register opinions without censorship or restraints; this kind of writing is despicable, disgusting and indefensible.

    Is this a site for discussion or one where we can all show off our "Boston Sucks" teeshirts?

  3. The Professor says:

    I guess you don't mind that the Rays were basically the butt of 10 kazillion million jokes yesterday.

    go back and read what I wrote. I actually held back in my assessment of Topkin's take when I said that he "didn't actually write anything that wasn't true". I am more upset at how he presented the story. But in actuality he probably was wrong about one important point.

    But the Rays seem to have at least an eye on Barry Bonds, and team officials have recently talked internally about the all-time home run king

    In all likelihood this is 100% NOT TRUE. And it is this one line that led to the national media attention that followed.

    Topkin uses the present tense in stating that the Rays "have at least an eye on Barry Bonds" That is most likely not true. Just because there were discussions at one time in past does not mean the team is still considering Bonds.

    Somebody told Topkin that Bonds name came up in a discussion in the past. Topkin then jumped to a conclusion that was a bit of a stretch.

    This is why i think Marc Topkin Sucks. And I dont care if you think that my point of view is "verging on idiocy"

  4. Big Mike says:

    personally I always wear my "Boston Sucks" t-shirt when i a reading this site.

  5. Scott Simpson says:

    Topkin knew exactly what he was doing. He knew there was no substance to the story. But he knew if floated the idea, the national outlets would pick up on it and run with it, further twisting the story. He was just trying to get some national buzz and it worked.

  6. Robert Rittner says:

    Again, you are dead wrong. Topkin did not, because he would not, write anything until he checked with someone in the front office. And if you read Sternberg's most recent statement you will see that it is entirely possible the Rays are currently discussing Bonds. Given that Topkin wrote it, it is probable. And given that Bonds's agent is currently making the rounds of Florida training camps it is even more probable.

    I too doubt it will happen, for many reasons including the ones you provide about the overall plan. But it is a legitimate story and one that has legitimately goosed up discussion.

    As for the jokes, of course the idiots make them. They are by and large too stupid and too lazy to come up with new material so they recycle the old "look how bad the Rays are" moronities and consider themselves clever. But you don't see any respected analysts doing that. Some may think it a bad idea; in fact, Shelton's column was all about it being a bad idea. But none of them are mocking the Rays either before the story broke or since.

    In all the time I have read your site you have failed to identify one significant criticism of a Topkin column. Every posting has been a desperate attempt to elevate some minor point, often one that isn't even legitimate, into some mortal sin of journalism. It really is kind of pathetic and juvenile. I think I already compared it to 12 year old girls mocking someone they dislike because she has a pimple or wears the wrong shoes. It is petty and spiteful and characteristic of pre-pubescent behavior.

  7. Steve O. says:

    just shut up already. your constant whining is the only thing that is "despicable, disgusting and indefensible."

  8. The Professor says:

    In all the time I have read your site you have failed to identify one significant criticism of a Topkin column.

    there are a lot of people that disagree with you. I am far from being the only person that thinks that Topkin often sucks

  9. Anonymous says:

    "Again, you are dead wrong. Topkin did not, because he would not, write anything until he checked with someone in the front office."

    Robert, you are wrong on this one.

    Topkin says that the Rays "seem to have an at least an eye"

    HE IS GUESSING. that is not something that anybody told him.

  10. Devil Ray Guevara says:


  11. Anonymous says:

    Anybody else get the feeling that "Marc Topkin" is just a Pseudonym for "Robert Rittner"?

  12. Robert Rittner says:

    One of the problems with the anonymity of sites is that there are always suspicions about who people are. I can only declare that I not only am not Mark Topkin but have no personal relationship with him. I do however know some people in the newspaper business. I think the Professor may have a way to know that I am who I say I am.

    I am not whining. I am criticizing which is quite different. In every case, I explain why I disagree or find something irrational, irrelevant or "disgusting...." You may disagree with my views, but should not mislabel them.

    I have often labeled something on this site as drivel, or some variety of that term, and in every case explained why. I have rarely read a response to my objections that addressed them directly or convincingly, and in those rare cases, I have either modified my point or explained it further.

    Professor, what is the difference if many people dislike Topkin's work? Is this some sort of popularity contest where I have to render up an equal number of yes votes? Of course some dislike his writing. Some people can always be found who do not like someone, whether Bill James or Joe Posnanski or anyone else. I cannot stand Conlin or Plaschke; I know that they are very popular in some circles. So what?

    I address your specific criticisms and repeat that in every single case they have been petty. You are apparently desperately looking for evidence to support a pre-established view, and your efforts fail miserably. In some cases the criticism comes from willful misreading of what he has written.

    As for Topkin guessing about Bonds, that is absolutely false. He would be fired if he did that. Every rumor has to be verified by direct contact with someone in the organization who has enough authority to do so. One reason some journalists dislike blogs is they are not subject to the same restrictions and so can spread rumors willy-nilly. Reporters on the Times and Tribune cannot do that. (And incidentally, I cannot recall Topkin ever writing anything indicating hostility to blogs.)

    I reiterate. This had to be a story. It had to be verified within the Rays organization; it coincides with a pilgrimage by Bonds' agents around Florida camps and it refers to one of the biggest names in the sport. Had Topkin not written it he might have been accused of dereliction of duty.

    That said, I absolutely agree with Corky that it is very unlikely, maybe even close to impossible that it will happen. And I am very much on the fence whether I think it should. To criticize him for writing the story is simply an example of desperation to prove your point that he is a poor writer, a point you have never provided even an iota of evidence for.

    I also make no apologies for my tender sensibilities regarding headlines using the word "suck". It is degrading and juvenile and by now should be left to wannabe hipsters. It has about as much resonance in writing as "groovy".

  13. Robert Rittner says:

    Incidentally, I did write a while back that Corky had a legitimate case to quarrel with Topkin about his HOF choices and particularly his reasoning which I found contradictory and very disappointing. Corky very properly noted that as it was not a Rays' issue he did not include it on his site.

    I point that out only to stress that I am not an apologist nor have I any axe to grind on this matter. Of course, as disappointing as I found that column, I would never make the leap from there to a blanket condemnation of the author. As passionate as I am about certain HOF candidacies, I recognize that disagreements can exist between otherwise reasonable people. I think it far more profitable to critique the arguments and conclusions than to attack the person.

  14. The Professor says:

    Robert, usually i at least understand where your criticism comes from. this time however, you are wrong.

    Yes. Topkin was told something and i am sure he verified it.

    he was told the team had discussed Bonds.

    when he said the team had an eye on Bonds (present tense), that was conjecture. otherwise he would not have used the word 'seem' which simply means that it appeared to Topkin that this was the case. Columnists are allowed to draw conclusions as long as they don't present them as facts. It is a fine line between that and editorialization, but journalists do it all the time.

    "if Longoria starts in the minors the team may decide to use Guzman and Aybar in a platoon"

    "it sounds like the team will make a decision on longoria prior to spring training"

    sometimes writers need to put 2 and 2 together themselves. otherwise, why not just print quotes.

    all Topkin did was present to the readers what his interpretation was of the facts that were presented to him. only his interpretation was wrong. normally that would be ok. sometimes they are wrong. but it is my feeling (and others too) that he did it on purpose bc he knew it create a shit-storm. OR he was careless bc he didn't realize it would create a shit-storm. either way it was poorly done.

  15. David Chalk says:

    Topkin made my day yesterday and I am grateful.

    Now, seriously, I really really do want to know what a Barry Bonds ringtone is. Any help?

  16. Robert Rittner says:

    I am sometimes accused of too refined distinctions, but I don't think I have topped this.

    Your post first says it is a non-story and says flatly that either Topkin intended to juice up the national media or he is an idiot. I cannot know whether he had in mind to call attention to the Rays, although as a home town reporter I cannot see how that is wrong. And since it is very much a story, in fact an absolutely essential one for the paper to report, the name calling is stupid. (as it would be in any case.)

    There is no evidence that his interpretation is wrong nor that it is sloppy writing to say the Rays seem to have an eye on Bonds. There is evidence, which Topkin presents, that the Rays do have an eye on Bonds, and that they do so now. There is nothing wrong with the word "seem" in that context, because his "speculation" is based on the evidence he presents. Again, Borris's presence as well as what he must have gleaned from his talks with Rays' officials, clearly demonstrate that it is currently in their conversation.

    And very properly, he also hedges the point so as not to mislead the public as to the seriousness of the discussion. In fact, that is exactly the point. Throughout the article he reminds us that the interest is nothing more than on the table right now, that there have been no overtures or public displays or direct contact.

    Within limits journalists may-in fact are taught to-juice up their stories to make them more exciting. When it is the New York Post, it is tabloid nonsense, but even at the most respectable papers such as the NY Times or Wall Street Journal, writers are expected to heighten interest by tweaking the story so long as it remains within the bounds of honesty. If Topkin presented the story in such a way that it became national news, more power to him.

    What he wrote is not just true, as you admit. It was absolutely honest. Right now the Rays are keeping an eye on Bonds and have discussed the advisability of approaching him. My guess is they will decide not to, but it is on the table. Trying to make a case out of the use of one word, which can even be justified on purely stylistic grounds and doesn't need even to be defended on substantive ones, is another example of desperate searching for a reason to criticize.

    I apologize for the vehemence of my critique and for coming dangerously close myself to ad hominem attacks, perhaps even going over the line. I hope I need not reiterate my respect for much of what you do or admiration for your insights and skills. .

    But I wish you would reconsider the tone and nature of some of your commentary, and particularly those of the Rays' journalists. I would love to see the language of the criticism mirror the actual seriousness of the offense you identify rather than to puff it up beyond the bounds of reason. And that the specific criticisms not be framed as blanket attacks on the credibility, integrity or intelligence of the writers. There is simply no case for that, and the criticisms would have more weight were they more restrained and thus accurate.

  17. Robert Rittner says:

    I will fess up to something now. When I read Topkin's story I chuckled to myself. It seemed to me that he used a juxtaposition of coincidences to make something more of the story than was actually there. While continually reminding us that this was all very speculative (on the Rays' part), he nonetheless put in enough of these coincidences to suggest a meatier significance.

    I chuckled because it seemed to me both obvious and sly, although hardly poor journalism. Actually, I thought it quite good journalism, stimulating interest while red flagging it simultaneously.

    Had I thought to write on it, I would have alerted readers to the very speculative nature (again, on the Rays' part) of the situation, highlighting Topkin's alerts, and pointed out the journalistic "tricks" (I am not using that word pejoratively) in the story. You may be more offended by that, which is certainly reasonable, (especially if you are the sort who prefers reading Stephen Hawking to Carl Sagan) but it hardly merits such violent criticism.


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