Monday, July 10, 2006

Don't Believe Half of What You See, and None of What You Hear

I have been writing this blog for a little over a year, and I named it Serafini Says as I figured Dan Serafini would be a good pseudonym.

In 1999, I was living in a townhouse on the near north side of Chicago. Across the courtyard, a townhouse was rented out by Dan Serafini, a pitcher who was called up early in the season from Iowa.

Back then, I had the weekend/night game season ticket package for the Cubs, and, on a number of occasions after I got back from a game, I would see Serafini walking his dog, and we would chat occasionally. Serafini pitched one year for the Cubs, and then was on his way to his next stop.

At the end of the 2000 season, I went to the Cubs’ garage sale, which offered game used jerseys, flags, etc. I decided I wanted a jersey, but didn’t want to spend the often ridiculous prices charged. Then, I saw it, the #33 Serafini jersey. It was $85, and with the backstory, it was an obvious buy.

So what?

So, when I started writing this blog, I simply used that name, but never, ever, represented myself as this crafty lefty.

Until last month…

On a Tuesday, while checking the email linked to this blog, I received an email from a producer with WCCO and the Twins’ radio network. Dan Serafini was the #1 pick of the Twins in 1992, and played for them for a couple years.

Turns out, they wanted to interview “me,” me being the former major leaguer. Who was I to say no? After allaying my wife’s fears, who thought I would be sued or arrested, and telling my buddy, who demanded I drop his name into the conversation, I agreed to tape an interview on the Thursday before the Cubs-Twins series in Minneapolis.

So, on Thursday, after emailing the producer a cell phone number, I got a call from Steve Thomson, the talent, but not the producer who set up the interview. He first asked me where I was (I told him Chicago), and why I ended up there, and started the tape.

The night before “my” interview, I figured I should be ready to answer some questions about “myself.” I checked various baseball sites, and learned such interesting tidbits as the fact that Serafini went to the same high school as Barry Bonds. I also found when Serafini made his MLB debut, got his first hit, and first and only major league save.

This research took all of twenty minutes. Turns out it was about nineteen more minutes than the radio boys did.

After an introduction, and my best Spinal Tap-esque “Hello Minnesota,” I was asked my first question, "Was there pressure being a #1 pick?”

The beginning of my answer was the completely Freudian, “I won’t lie to you…” before giving some great Bull Durham-type answers. I also spoke convincingly about growing up in the Bay Area, seeing games at “the Stick,” and even referenced a Mark Twain quote about the weather in San Francisco, as well as the feeling of playing in Chicago (“Wow, what a thrill.”)

I did get a chance to work in the names of my pal and my brothers as people I contacted right away when I got my call to the Show. Coincidentally, my brothers and I were in Minnesota that weekend on our annual Cubs Road Trip, so we listened to the show from our hotel.

I had one answer prepared. When the Cubs are playing exceptionally poorly, I watch the NBC Game of the Week broadcast of the Ryne Sandberg Game with Bob Costas and Tony Kubek (an all-time underrated duo). During that broadcast, Kubek and Costas were commemorating that on that date in 1971, Rick Wise threw a no-hitter, hitting two home runs along the way. As Kubek talked about Wise, he said that he was now “managing his investments,” a great way of saying, “not much.”

So, when I (or should I say Dan) was asked what had been doing since I left the majors, I was ready, but first I mentioned another tidbit I had picked up.

Serafini was on the Chiba Lotte team that won the 2005 Japanese League championship for manager Bobby Valentine. I learned that when I came upon a picture of Serafini getting a beat down from another former Cub, Julio Zuleta. I BS’d my way through a bunch of questions about playing for Valentine before being allowed to tell the listening audience in the Upper Midwest that I was in Chicago “because of the love of a good woman” and was currently “managing my investments.”

As we wrapped it up, my questioner said thanks, and said goodbye, simply hanging up, and not saying a thing about the interview. I wondered if I had been found out, and had to wait until the Twins Weekend Magazine show that Saturday to see if I would be receiving my (or Dan’s) fifteen minutes. Sure enough, the interview was played in its entirety minutes before the Twins regular pre-game show.

I resisted the temptation to make news (i.e. "Yeah, I saw Barry juicing back in high school, and Sammy in 1999..."), and kept it very vanilla. Still, they bought it.

I immediately emailed the producer who set up the interview and asked for a tape or mp3 of the interview, and got no response. None. Did they figure it out? Who knows. I held off posting this in hopes of getting a recording, but this will likely end any chance of getting it.

Point is, next time you hear someone being interviewed on the radio, don’t be sure it is who they say it is.

And, Dan (the real one), if you read this, I hope you remember, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

47 comments:

Toasty Joe said...

Funny stuff, man. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you should be real proud.
Certainly, the WCCO producer should have asked if you were, indeed, Dan Serafini. But at some point you have an ethical obligation to set the record straight. You are just as guilty as the bozo from WCCO. You willingly misrepresented yourself under that guise that it is OK because the other guy didn't ask the right question. Well, that's just bullshit.
So while you huckle at your cleverness, I leave you with this: What is any respectable person to make of a clown like you who knowingly misrepresents himself, and then links on his blog to Indiana basketball and Barry Rozner? Nice job, douchebag.

Anonymous said...

What a funny and well written post. - thanks.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

I am huckling. What part of the media are you attached to?

Anonymous said...

Pay no mind to the anonymous poster with a stick up his ass, t hat's a great story and you did no harm at all. I got a kick out of it.

jmag said...

WCCO deserves all of the scorn they get. Great stuff. I "huckled" heartily upon reading your post.

Anonymous said...

...ethical obligation...?
on sportstalkradio?

I huckle as well.

Anonymous said...

Me again, the stick-up-the-ass guy.
Let me put a different spin on this: By misrepresenting yourself and then mocking the guy from WCCO, you have created a double standard.
I realize that the fun of blogging is being able to say whatever you want, but that's also the problem with it. Just because bloggers are not, for now, subject to the same libel laws as traditional media does not mean you are removed from accountablility.
Yeah, your little prank was cute and, yeah, I kind of (c)huckled, too. The failure of the guy from WCCO to ask the right questions REALLY kills that station's credibility and lobs them in there with those same clowns from ESPN and Fox, who, I am certain, we equally loathe.
But look at the bigger issue: Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Anonymous said...

What do Rozner and IU basketball have to do with Dan Serafini and WCCO?

Your Humble Correspondent said...

I love America, and Americans.

See, here in America, we can say what we want, and comment pretty freely.

I must admit, logical arguments are lost when they are cloaked in ad hominem attacks (I went to law school, too) and misdirections.

I am many things, but a douche bag is not one of them, and I am confused, as others are, what IU and Rozner have to do with this.

It was a prank, and it seems you have a different agenda.

I only represented myself as Serafini when a lazy person from WCCO asked for my interview. It was that fact that caused me to go forward.

Yeah, I could have said no, and yeah, I would be a douchbag if I wrote this blog under the guise of Serafini, and represented myself as him while writing this.

But I don't. But, as Jesus would have me do, I forgive you. If you see me at Bernie's before a game (that is me in the picture in the jersey), say hello and I will by you an Old Style, and we can work on your other issues.

Anonymous said...

> Just because bloggers are not, for now, subject to the same libel laws as traditional media...

Funny... I thought everyone was subject to libel laws. And to think that all this time I could've been using my blog to accuse Andy McPhail of feasting on the remains of Lakeview indigents. (Though, truth being an absolute defense and all...)

Anonymous said...

good stuff! I would have done the same!

Brian said...

I really doubt that outgoing Twins broadcasting home WCCO radio gives a crap one way or the other is they were duped. They have the rest of the year on autopilot and this just lends even less credibility to the sad state of radio and professional sports today.

Good job though, this proves how easy it is to fool a bunch of stupid jock sniffers.

Anonymous said...

I think the "stunt" was fantastic... too bad I will now be forced to call the author "huckles"....

buff steve said...

I agree that WCCO is at terribly at fault here, for not doing the modicum of research by actually reading your blog's contents (especially if the blog's header has always read "Chicago-born"). That's just shoddy work, even for a insignifcant little Saturday afternoon puff piece.

But at the same time, you were essentially posting under the name Serafini, in fact you now say that "Dan Serafini" was your pseudonym, and you made no disclaimer anywhere it was simply a pseudonym and that you weren't Dan Serafini. I suppose their first contact with you should have been "Are you Dan Serafini?" rather than an assumption. That mistake is clearly on them. After that, though, if they called you and said "Mr. Serafini?" and you replied "Yes", you clearly made a decision to willingly and publicly misrepresent yourself and Serafini, which I think is wrong.

Perhaps WCCO deserved the prank for their shoddy work, but at some point, a line has to be drawn where this type of behavior -- no matter what mistake is made by the reporter -- is irresponsible too.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Do the "Sons of Sam Horn" put on their blog that they, in fact, are not, the offspring of Sam Horn?

I think not. I guess pseudonym is the wrong term, but I defy you to find one thing here that would lead you to believe that I am Dan Serafini.

I guess participating in an "insignificant little Saturday afternoon puff piece" was a fitting punishment for the crime of shoddy research. Like I said, I would be more deserving of scorn if I said something to draw attention to myself, but I didn't. So, I did "draw the line."

If I was on the WCCO end of this, I would take my medicine and learn the lesson. From what I can tell, that's just what happened.

I think the people most outraged are media types who don't do their homework, and now know the pitfalls.

Peace out. Live the Fourth!

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a Chicago native who has lived in Minneapolis for decades, I say Congratulations! WCCO is an embarrassment to Minnesota, and this is not news. It's a cheap, sleezy operation with a major chip on its shoulder and horse crap for brains. Never in the history of broadcasting were 50,000 watts more completely wasted! I feel sorry for native Minnesotans. They are pretty decent people. But they're stcuk with WCCO.

Anonymous said...

Agreed! This station sucks! Try streaming their so called morning show sometime. In Chicago, this wouldn't be laughed off the radio dial...it would be exploded like a gasoline tanker hit with a hand grenade.

Anonymous said...

I think what you did was fine. You didn't hurt anyone, nobody's 'image' was tarnished. Only thing possibly hurt is the ego of the host at WCCO who didn't pay attention to detail and that of a former MLB player who would probably be happy with any attention drawn to his playing days. And for the record, Dan Serafini was my favorite Twins pitcher of all time.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you are a lawyer, the way you parse this, tease it and then twist it into a moral pretzel to make it seem like your lie really was not a lie, putting all the responsibility on the other party and accepting none for yourself. Very Clintonesque.

Oops, I'm sorry. I called you a lawyer. That's an ad hominem attack.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Boy, that's tedious. Bringing politics (Clinton) and lawyer jokes into is BO-RING.

But, since we are there, if I were W-esque, I would simply delete your comment, and denied that it ever existed.

I think you are on the wrong side of this. The good news for you, no one will ever think I am him again.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the wrong side of this? Then the right side is that it's OK to lie to another person for the purpose of embarrassing them? At least W. can lay some claim to national security to justify his lies, as dubious as the claim is. I have no idea what the justification for this is, other than to show you're more clever than someone else.

And I agree with you on W., by the way, so I give you your props for the conversation.

Ed Homonym said...

Johnathon Brandmeier is guilty of misrepresentation when he makes calls to people using the recorded voice of Mr. Ed.

And I guess I'll stop trying to get on the air at CNBC with the hope of mentioning Howard Stern's balls.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Baby.

Anonymous said...

Me yet again. The stick-up-the-ass guy.
First, Rozner and Indiana have nothing to do with anything. I just think the Daily Herald is the worst rag on the planet, and I REALLY dislike Bobby Knight and Steve Alford. So that was just a meaningless swipe. IU is a fine school.
Second, I'm sorry for calling you a douchebag. That accomplished nothing. I was ranting.
Third, call me a hypocrite, had you done this to Sid Hartman, if he still has a show on WCCO, it would have been funny. Real funny.
And the people of Minnesota would have made you governor.
Fourth, you had the stones to post my barbs. You do get points for that.
NOW ... Your SOSH reference is irrelevent. Sons, in that case, clearly is not a familial reference. See definition 3: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sons
And a look at that Web site is not likely to confuse anyone on the term "Sons." You're stretching a bit there.

My point remains that just because the clown at WCCO failed to do his job, that's no license for you to exploit it. I do believe that this goes beyond a harmless prank.
If I may stretch to make the analogy, this is like the Ozzie and Mariotti, I mean Fucktard, deal. Both were wrong. One was not more wrong than the other. Ozzie was wrong to make the fag reference and Mariotti is wrong to hide from those he criticizes. Just because one is connected to the other does not make one of them right. WCCO was wrong and you were wrong.
WCCO's act was careless. Yours was egregeous. The difference is intent. Being a lawyer, you know what that means.
So why should I not mention you in the same breath with Jayson Blair?
The WCCO producer probably will lose his job, and he should. And it's likely that had he not made this gaffe he would have made another. So I won't suggest that you should feel guilty for that.
I leave you with this: Do you think that what you did in any way damages your integrity or is consistent with your integrity?
I'm sorry if I come off like your dad or college religion professor. This just hit a real sore spot with me.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

"This just hit a real sore spot with me."

Apparently.

I don't consider myself a jouirnalist, but I do think Jayson Blair did. He was paid to be one, at least. Me? No money.

My integrity remains, as I will believe this was a harmless prank, until I hear that the "real" Serafini was harmed.

Anyway, I did post all of your comments, when I didn't need to, but I say let everyone give their $0.02.

By the way, your arguments would be more effective if you left out the unrelated BS about Rozner, IU, etc. (you must be a disgruntled Iowa fan).

Keep reading this space, and I am sure I will irritate you more in the future.

Anonymous said...

As the real Dan Serafini, I got wind of this from one of my friends. I have to say I'm disappointed in WCCO and their staff, but I'm shocked that you think its OK to carry out a masquerade posing as me. I would have enjoyed reconnecting with the Minnesota Twins organization. You'll be hearing more from me.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Uh, no, you are not. The real Dan is apparently in Japan pitching still, and since none of my blog hits are from Japan, or anywhere in Asia, I think you are bs'ing me.

Nice try, though.

As for as "your" connection with the Twins, feel confident I did nothing to harm that relationship.

If you are the real Dan, e-mail me, and we can discuss it. I remember you to be a guy with a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

I'm a different Anonymous guy, with a much smaller stick up his butt, but the fact is you willingly misrepresented who you were to a radio audience. The fact that WCCO has culpability doesn't eliminate your role in the deception.

Was it funny? Sure. Did anybody get hurt? Not really, other than the real Dan Serafini losing his chance at $15. But ask yourself: How would you feel if someone made public statements in your name that you didn't authorize? How would you feel if columns you read or interviews you heard were misrepresented? What if the great stories you've read in your favorite biographies turned out to not be true? Is the only thing that matters that it was a good story, and people bought it?

Of course, the worst crime of all is that it sounds like you gave a pretty boring interview. If you're going to play pretend for laughs, do something that's actually funny.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

First you say it was funny, then that it was boring. Well, which is it? It was being taped, so I couldn't get too outrageous, and I didn't want to make Serafini look bad, which I haven't.

If someone wanted to give vanilla quotes and answer questions in an interview (factually accurate, I might add)as me, go for it.

I think that if you did enough digging, lots of stories in biographies were not always accurate.

Remember the Seinfeld episode where J. Peterman bought Kramer's stories for his biography? Where do you think that premise came from? Thin air? I doubt it. I would guess that it happens all the time.

As someone surely said once, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Your arguments to try to justify your stupid, selfish act are weak and empty. You're not supporting it so much as rationalizing.
The fact that you're not paid makes it OK? Huh?
It was harmless? Huh? You don't know that.
It's OK because Kramer did it on Seinfeld?
Did you learn your ethics from Lee Atwater?
In the end, all you really did was make yourself look like an ass and show the world that you have no integrity.
Good luck with that law career. You'll need it.
Now we all know that the jackass who maintains Serafini Says is nothing but a blowhard with too much free time who gets his yucks from making people look bad.
If I ever do see you at Bernies, I don't think I'll be able to stop myself from peeing on your shoes.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Show me the harm I did to Serafini, you incontinent jerk.

But yes, I am a "blowhard with too much free time who gets his yucks from making people look bad," isn't every blogger?

I would submit you have too much free time as well. You also fail to counter my arguments with facts, just characterizations such as "weak" and "empty."

Me thinks you doth protest too much. Sounds like you were once the victim of such a hoax, and so your vitriol is completely out of proportion for this silly little ruse.

Thanks again for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I think some pretty reasonable reasons why someone wouldnt check into someone claiming to be Serafini is that:

1. No one really cares enough about Serafini

2. Someone would have to be a pretty big loser to claim they were Dan Serafini

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Someone would also have to be a loser to be reading this on a Saturday night, like you did.

Thanks for the comment.

RonDavis said...

Dan,

I came across your run-in with WCCO through another blog and I haven't stopped laughing since --WITH you and AT all these people who are trying to run down your moments of exposure on the WGN of the North Woods.

I have a special interest because, every now and again, I guest post at www.bat-girl.com as RonDavis. Most of Batgirl's readers, the vast and overwhelming majority, are wise enough to know the difference between Ron Davis, the scary-as-hell Twins (and briefly Cubs) closer, and RonDavis the blogger.

Once, I called in during the morning show on 'CCO and won some Twins tickets, identying myself as "Ron Davis."

The host asked if it was diffcult sharing a name with the former pitcher, to which I replied, "It sucks when your table is ready and they still boo when my name is called."

Thanks for a funny tale. The radio station should have known better.

Best, RD

Liars suck said...

Once upon a time, honesty and integrity used to be qualities that men strived to have. You don't even understand right from wrong. Hell, you are PROUD of being wrong.

You are just another pathetic example of why this country is in decline.

Your Humble Correspondent said...

Thanks, pal.

I know the difference between right and wrong, and a lie and a prank.

Show me how I hurt Serafini, or anyone other than the lazy producer (if even him), and I will make the appropriate apologies.

I am WAY DOWN on the list of people ruining this country. You, "liars suck," are surrounded by them in Washington.

Get a grip.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Note. WCCO is not a waste of 50,000 watts. That is what the Good Neighbor claims KSTP is. CCO is a waste of 100,000 watts that can be heard in 17 states.

That means people in 17 states can experience the brain-rotting play-by-play that John Gordon presents, the inaccuracies and homerism of Sid Hartman.

Nice work.

TwinsJunkie said...

It's kind of funny, because I am on the very same Magazine Show once a month, so we probably deal with the same producer. They're good people, but I think this was definitley some innocent fun.

Rob said...

I haven't seen Dan Serafini since our high school graduation, but I think Dan would laugh the loudest. Dan was never a dick like the majority of us were in high school, and I bet he probably wished there were other interviews you could have done for him.

Barry Bonds did go to the same high school that we did, but we never saw him. However, when we were freshmen (1988) we use to see Gregg Jefferies all the time. Our PE teacher was also the varsity baseball coach, and I think if Dan probably looked up to Gregg more than Barry. There was another athlete though who was only a freshman when we were seniors, but he is now better for football than baseball. Just like Dan, he isn't just a great athlete, he is a good person too, and hopefully Tom Brady still has several years left in him playing in the NFL.

Jon said...

this is hilarious. I grew up around the corner from Dan in San Bruno, his older bro Joey was my age, I went to the same high school, in san mateo, which is actually a private catholic school 10 miles away from our neighborhood, I figured out baseball reference had a link to Serra High and stumbled upon this, classic

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Anonymous said...

Yes, the people from WCCO should've at least double-checked to see that you were or weren't really Dan Serafini. However, you should've come forward to say that you weren't really him, and are an asshole for not doing so.

Anonymous said...

BOO HOO, Mr. Anonyomous from Esko, Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

I got linked to this blog by googleing the quote “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” but I must say I read all of the posts and did enjoy the first few minutes of my workday doing so.

Anonymous said...

It's guys like you that make living this life worth living and certainly just a little more interesting.... Right, Wrong, Potatoe Potahto.... Need more people like you in this world, and I think we'll all be alright..... By the way, I am a producer at WCCO... People in this craft live with their balls out sometimes, but damn does it create good art, even if you don't like the process....

Anonymous said...

I just met him, the real one. In Mexico.