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By Murray Chass

January 13, 2019

The news flashed across Chicago, landing most emphatically on the city’s South Side. From there it reverberated to Philadelphia and New York, then made a U-turn and swept all the way cross country to Los Angeles:

Manny Machado, the heralded free-agent shortstop, was at the Bears’ N.F.L. playoff game against the Eagles.

But wait; there was more. That was only part of this startling news development. Machado, the widespread reports rang out, was at the game with Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox.

What could this possibly mean, White Sox fans and others wondered. Only one thing. Reinsdorf was going to leave Soldier Field with Machado’s signature on a White Sox contract or at least a handshake agreement.

Alas, the report turned out to be fictitious. “Jerry was in Arizona on Sunday,” Scott Reifert, the team’s senior vice president for communications, told me last week. And then he thanked me for asking, a response that suggested to me that few others, if any, had asked before running with the report.

Sadly, that is what reporting has come to today. Hear something and, no matter how outrageous it might be, tweet it. Only one thing seems to matter in the Twitter world: be first with whatever it is on your Twitter account.

Don’t waste time making telephone calls to check the verity of a report. Shoot first and ask questions later. If you turn out to be wrong, you can always delete it. It’s only the Internet. It’s like Emily Litella used to say on “Saturday Night Live” when she confused something: “Never mind.”

I can’t blame reporters for all of this nonsense. You don’t have to be a reporter to …

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By Murray Chass

January 6, 2019

The word collusion has become one of the most commonly used words in the English language today. “There was no collusion,” President Donald Trump proclaims on a virtually daily basis, referring to accusations that he colluded with Russians in his 2016 campaign. Even if there was collusion, Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says just as often, “collusion is not illegal.”

In the Trump-Giuliani context, they are correct. There is no federal statute that says collusion is unlawful. In Major League Baseball, on the other hand, collusion is banned and has been banned for more than three decades. The collective bargaining agreement clearly and simply states:

“Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs.”

The ink was hardly dry on the signatures in the 1985 agreement, which first contained that stipulation, when the owners …

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By Murray Chass

December 30, 2018

I have what I call a habit but that my wife calls hoarding. Piles of newspapers can be found on my desk, next to my desk, in front of my desk. It’s really hereditary. My father used to have piles of magazines stacked several feet high next to his lounge chair in my parents’ bedroom. My sons have reportedly inherited the same habit.

The piles of newspapers in my office contain articles I want to read but haven’t had a chance to read. To me, that’s a perfectly harmless, even admirable, intention.

For example, if I had recycled this particular pile, I would have missed reading the obituaries of two great comedians, Don Rickles and Professor Irwin Corey, who died two months apart early in 2017, Rickles at the age of 90, Corey at 102. Rickles was better known and more popular with his acerbic wit, but Corey had a zany routine that produced laughter from first word to last.

One Corey example:

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