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Masal Bugduv Fiasco Reveals Some Chinks in the Times‘s Methodological Armor

Masal Bugduv, the 16-year-old Moldovan sensation whose name is on everyone’s lips, was, you’ll recall, listed at number 30 on the Times‘s rundown of “Football’s top 50 rising stars”—right up until the moment when Fredorrarci established his nonexistence this morning. After the news of their mistake reached the news reporters at the newspaper (always the last to know), they silently changed the list. Silently in this case meaning without running the following correction or any near variant of it:

CORRECTION: The original version of this story referred to Masal Bugduv, a 16-year-old Moldovan attacker whom we described as “Moldova’s finest.” In fact, there is no such player. Seriously. Doesn’t even come into this as Jack Wilshere’s Warhammer avatar, in fact. I mean, “Masal Bugduv” isn’t even a Moldovan name. For implying that a culturally inappropriate chimera whom we had never heard of or seen play should rank within breathing distance of Mark Noble, we apologize. We regret the error.

What they did instead, however, was also kind of revealing. They took an Arsenal player who wasn’t originally on the list at all, Jay Simpson, and slotted him straight in at number 30. How, you might ask, does that make sense? Shouldn’t the player in the 31st spot, who has already suffered the insult of being rated below a striker without any atoms in his body, move up to 30, and so on down the list? Shouldn’t Bugduv’s replacement come in at the 50th position, like a first alternate? No, as it turns out. Because that would require some reformatting.

Now, maybe a defensive Times employee would say that I’m taking their list too seriously. To which I would reply that taking a list like this seriously is not a shortcoming to which I would generally subscribe. But they were the ones who wrote and published the list! How did they want me to take it?

Anyway, congratulations, Jay Simpson. You’ve come from nowhere to hurtle 20 of the top rising stars in football. The presumably-present-on-this-physical-plane Khalfan Ibrahim is sputtering in your wake. Kieran Westwood is in your sights, and who knows, if Grenoble’s Sofiane Feghouli turns out to be a sticker on the side of a lunchbox, you might leap up another 15 places.

View the original list.
See the Times‘s revised version.


Masal Bugduv Fiasco Reveals Some Chinks in the Times‘s Methodological Armor

by Brian Phillips · January 15, 2009

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