Two articles in the sports section of today's New York Times disagree about the speed of the first pitch of last night's Yankees-Red Sox playoff game.
From the game story by Billy Witz: "Betts ripped the first pitch of the game — a 95-mile-per hour fastball — to deep center field."
From an "On Baseball" column by Tyler Kepner: "The TBS broadcast raised the issue of Severino warming up too close to game time, but Boone, Rothschild and Severino insisted he went through his normal pregame routine. But he looked vulnerable from the start, when Mookie Betts launched his first pitch, a 96-mile-an-hour fastball, to the warning track in center field for an out."
How fast was that first pitch? Ninety-five? Or ninety-six?
There are all sorts of possible explanations for the discrepancy. The five and the six keys are next to each other on the computer keyboard, so it may just be a typographical error. A five and a six look somewhat similar, so perhaps someone's brain or optic nerve filled in that space at the bottom left of a five to turn it mistakenly into a six, or thought a light was out in a scoreboard and made the correction. The Red Sox radio announcers last night observed, in connection with a supposedly 100 mile an hour pitch by Nathan Eovaldi, that the radar gun readings at Yankee Stadium tend to run a little high, anyway.
As a Times reader, I noticed the difference between the two accounts, but I assumed the sportswriters were operating in good faith to give me a close-enough-to-reality-account of the game that I can't really fairly complain.
Compare that, though, to the treatment that President Trump gets from the New York Times own "Fact Checks," which treat similar directionally correct but perhaps imprecise or inconsistent statements from President Trump with condemnation — "Trump's Inaccurate Claim," "This Is Exaggerated," "This Is Misleading." By the time it makes it to Facebook or Twitter, the tone about Trump is often the equivalent of, "Here is definitive proof that at least one New York Times staffer is flat-out lying about what happened in last night's Yankees-Red Sox game."
I guess one can say that Trump's inaccuracies are of greater consequence than whether a fastball was 95 miles an hour or 96. But some of Trump's may not be particularly consequential at all; they may be trivial. It seems to me that one important job of journalism is sorting out the significant inaccuracies and inconsistencies from the trivial ones.