JUST LIKE OLD TIMES

By Murray Chass

August 22, 2013

For 39 years, the byline appeared in The New York Times probably more than any other. This week it is making a return engagement. It’s the byline you have seen on this Web site approximately 550 times in the past five years:

By Murray Chass.NYT Chass 225

Why is it back in the Times?

It is the culmination of a two-year effort to get the Times to set the record straight on free agency and unconfuse its readers. Some of my critics – yes, I have critics; what fun would I have writing this column if some readers didn’t disagree with me? – have attributed my desire to induce the Times to acknowledge and correct its errors as a way to embarrass the newspaper.

That, however, was not my goal. I am a fanatic for accuracy, and the Times’ mistakes on free agency  were going to live in its archives forever. Fifty years from now some school kid was going to research a school paper on free agency and find that the Times said Curt Flood’s losing lawsuit and Catfish Hunter’s breach-of-contract grievance created free agency.

I wanted the Times to correct its errors so readers would know the facts, not some writer’s fantasy.

After writing to a variety of Times editors, including the public editor, and getting nothing but rejection, I raised the issue with the relatively new sports editor, Jason Stallman, whom I didn’t know but who turned out to be a man of wisdom and class.

He asked if I would write a piece explaining the origins of free agency and the fate of arbitrators who make major decisions that are not liked by one side or the other. I accepted his invitation, and the result was posted on the Times’ Web site Wednesday evening and published in the print edition of the Times Thursday.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/sports/baseball/baseball-arbitrators-receive-a-pink-slip-thanks-for-a-major-decision.html?ref=sports&_r=0

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