On July 12, 2010, Fangraphs published its yearly baseball trade value column. On December 4, 2010, that column exploded with negative comments. The reason?
The Sports Guy has been writing a similar NBA-themed column since 2002. He found the Fangraphs article and posted the following on his Twitter feed: ” Just stumbled acrouss this link: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2010-trade-value-introduction/ There is no honor on the internet.”
Cue chaos on Fangraphs.
Simmons’ legion of followers began posting comments on the page. Saturday morning, there were a total of 49 comments, almost all of them coming on July 12 and 13. A check 10 minutes ago showed 177 comments, almost all of them ripping author Dave Cameron for stealing the ESPN.com scribe’s idea.
A couple commentors noted that Fangraphs had credited Simmons in past versions of the column, like someone named Austin: “As much as I love Bill Simmons guys, you do realize that in his 2009 version, which is linked to about 20 times in this article, he mentions that he stole the idea.”
And that’s true. Cameron apologized via tweet and added an introduction to his post.
This post has been updated to once again acknowledge Bill Simmons as the originator for this series, which I adapted for MLB beginning in 2005. Credit has been given to him in every year since, but was unfortunately left out of this introduction at the time it was published. All credit for the idea goes to Bill.
So really, the entire kerfuffle is one big misunderstanding. Cameron should have acknowledged Simmons originally, but this wasn’t a case of horrible plagiarism. The Sports Guy had a right to be upset, but he could have solved the whole thing himself by asking an intern to spend 30 seconds searching for previous columns. Instead, he unleashed a river of hate on FanGraphs.
The Internet is a wonderful place.