On Air: Pirates postgame radio host's scoop was only a guess
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Rocco DeMaro, who is the host of the Pirates postgame show, "Extra Innings," on WPGB-FM (104.7), is a man of many hats. DeMaro is host, stats geek supreme, comedian, cheerleader, sound effects man and occasional critic. He does a reasonably good job at all and, as we've said before, runs an entertaining show.
On Friday night, as Pirates fans awaited word on No. 1 draft choice Pedro Alvarez, DeMaro tried on another hat: Reporter.
It didn't fit.
Sometime after 10 p.m. DeMaro stated that Alvarez would agree to the Pirates' terms. He said, "Sources, very, very reliable, tell me Alvarez is going to happen." At other points he said it was a done deal.
The deal did happen. Alvarez agreed to a contract minutes before the midnight deadline, not hours, as DeMaro suggested.
Still, DeMaro thought he looked pretty smart and spent part of the next day patting himself on the back.
"We scooped the heck out of that story on 'Extra Innings' yesterday," he told listeners to his Saturday afternoon show.
This column has a record of giving credit to radio and television reporters when they break stories. We would prefer to see the Post-Gazette break them, but no news source wins every story. That being said, there has to be serious doubt about DeMaro's claim.
Did he have a legitimate scoop? Or did he just make an educated guess and pretend that he had sources that provided him with the information?
The most likely answer is that DeMaro made an educated guess and acted like he had a scoop.
An educated guess was easy. It was pretty well understood Alvarez would accept the Pirates' deal. He had little leverage. Who turns down $6 million? If he went back into the draft, he would not likely improve on his No. 2 slot but more likely could fall.
But more than that, where did DeMaro all of a sudden come up with these sources? That's the most suspicious part of this so-called scoop. In the course of his duties, he has never shown an iota of reportorial skills. He recites statistics and offers opinions but he never presents real news. How could he? He's a guy who must talk about the Pirates some 162 times a year and never shows up at the ballpark. It's impossible to develop sources if you've never met the sources.
Yet DeMaro said Friday night, "I'm the guy talking to people in the game who know what's going on."
Nobody outworks the Post-Gazette's Pirates beat writer Dejan Kovacevic and nobody had better sources on the story than him. His sources were telling him the deal wasn't done and nothing was expected until just before midnight. That is exactly how it played out.
Two other newspapers with highly competent reporters were working the story. They, too, came up with nothing. FSN, which has a reporter at PNC Park every day the team plays, had nothing. The sports staffs of the three local TV news departments had nothing.
Jim Callis of "Baseball America" is perhaps the leading authority in the country on the draft. He was on ESPN after midnight saying there was no word on Alvarez.
Yet, DeMaro claims his sources had the right stuff.
At one point DeMaro suggested his information came from within the Boras camp. That is preposterous. No one runs a tighter ship than Boras. No information was forthcoming from his company during these negotiations or any other.
There were telltale signs throughout the broadcast that DeMaro wasn't being quite straight with listeners.
For example, when he signed off early Saturday morning, he said the deal had been consummated earlier in the day but the Pirates withheld the information until the last minute. That was incorrect. The deal was not done until a minute or two before midnight and not announced until some 20 minutes later.
So why would he say such a thing? Because in order for him to have the correct information early, the deal had to be done early.
It wasn't done early, and DeMaro was only guessing.
What made DeMaro all the less credible was that not only did he claim to have sources on the Alvarez signing, he claimed also to have sources close to the negotiations with the Pirates' No. 2 draft choice Tanner Scheppers.
As the midnight deadline approached, DeMaro said a deal was near with Scheppers and they were "crossing the Ts," on the contract.
Members of the Pirates' public relations staff were listening at the time and burst out laughing. Why were they laughing? Because just as DeMaro was stating a deal was near, they were working on a press release saying the team had been unable to come to contract terms with Scheppers.
Good guess, Rocco. Next time, just call it that.
First Published August 18, 2008 12:00 am