When it comes to the 2012 Boston Red Sox, the media has a narrative and they’re sticking to it, facts be damned.
David Ortiz said nothing more than the obvious today.
The question they’ve been asking of late is ‘Are there issues in the Red Sox clubhouse?’ The answer –any answer, for that matter, is the wrong one. If a Red Sox player says ‘yes, the clubhouse issues are real’, then the feeding frenzy will begin. If they say ‘no, everything’s fine’, then the beat writers call them liars and keep asking the same stupid questions until they get the answer they’re looking for from someone, somewhere in the locker room. Of course if that doesn’t work, there’s always the trusty ‘unnamed source’, which has made more appearances in Boston papers than actual sources it seems this year.
Now I understand the media has a job to do – or should I say – they have an obligation to fulfill: the relentless pursuit of the truth. That demands that they ask tough questions. It means they have to write difficult stories. Sometimes they have to say and do things that are wildly unpopular.
But this… this is different.
Now we’ve stretched beyond the realm of the media trying to protect fans and search for the truth. Now we’re playing a game where whoever says the most sensationally over-the-top thing gets rewarded. It’s not enough to question a player’s on the field acumen. Now in order to describe anything, you need to attack a character flaw of said player and stomp on it relentlessly all the while keeping it handy to use as the reason for their lack of production just in case drama is needed.
If you don’t believe me, just ask these guys:
• They’ve gone after John Lackey for being abrasive and self-serving.
• They’ve gone after Josh Beckett for being arrogant and aloof.
• They’ve gone after Kevin Youkilis for being a whiner.
• They’ve gone after Jacoby Ellsbury for being soft.
• They’ve gone after Bobby Valentine for being an ego-maniac
• They’ve spun Larry Lucchino into a moustache-twirling super-villain behind the scenes.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka is stubborn and arrogant.
• Carl Crawford doesn’t hustle
• Tim Wakefield is more enamored with his own personal stats than the betterment of the team (see; Narcissist)
• Adrian Gonzalez is a goofy religious douses.
Sadly, these are all stories that have been written since just last September. These aren’t stories that dissect swings. They’re not about trade talk. They’re not about on-the-field performance, either. They’re personal attacks on players as people.
Yes, the Red Sox get paid a lot to play baseball. Yes, they can’t blame everything on the umpires. And yes, it’s their job to play through the distractions the media creates. But see, that’s just the thing. This isn’t just a distraction. This is about the local media hijacking this team and tearing it apart through a relentless tidal wave of negativity that’s fueled by personal attacks. That, in a nutshell, is basically harassment. And no player should have to deal with it.
In the very particular case of the Clubhouse attitude – it’s already set up for the players to fail, no matter what they say. The rules are rigged. The only possible outcome is that the media has a story – and an opportunity to steal the show. And make no mistake about it – the Red Sox had better suck it up and deal with it. They’re not the stars, after all. The real stars are the people who cover them!
That is until David Ortiz finally made his peace this afternoon before the game, obviously tired of the onslaught of personal attacks pointed towards his teammates and friends.
“It’s Horrible. We had a team right here, a group of guys. They just come in and out, put us together and try to win a ballgame. I don’t know where those comments are coming from or where they are going to, or where they start at. I haven’t found out yet. In my case, I’m here to provide wins, and my teammates are on the same page.”
(on having fun in Boston)
“Not really. Too much shit, man. Too much shit.”
“This ain’t all about me. I’m not the only player here. We have 25 guys who care just as much as I care about playing ball here and providing winning ballgames. It seems like every day there’s something new about players. People just need to leave us alone and let us play ball. We have, the only thing we can control is play ball. You guys control the microphones, the papers, everything. It’s becoming to be the shit hole it used to be. Look around, bro. Look around. Playing here used to be so much fun. Now, every day is something new. Not related to baseball. People need to leave us alone, play ball and do what we know how to do.”
And then he ended it on a pretty perfunctory note:
“Let me ask you a question. Who came out with the news a couple of days ago? The fans or the media? Thank you. I’m done.”
After essentially being barked down by Ortiz this afternoon, the media went into full-scale group denial mode.
Peter Abraham tried to focus Ortiz’s rage onto one particular story – as if all the other speculatory non-sense that was written as early as today wasn’t their fault:
“@jadenichola19 The story he is upset about did not come out of Boston, ma’am. Not sure what you mean.” He said on Twitter this afternoon.
Dale Arnold defended the recently written Buster Olney piece on clubhouse toxicity, refusing to believe that the Red Sox clubhouse could be anything other than a terrible place.
“Hear #bigpapi today? Let’s just say @Buster_ESPN doesn’t just throw stuff out there and his sources are always rock solid.” He opined
Gordon Edes to go easy on reporters, because they have a job.. or something.
“Buster has a job to do, and one is to render an informed opinion” he tweeted to Mattcreelman74.
Mike Mutnansky, after being told what the problem was, just ignored what Ortiz actually said – and then just made up his own reason:
“Based on start of his rant today and comments to WEEI here http://bit.ly/KofuDA I’m convinced this is mostly contract-fueled from Ortiz,” he pontificated.
Of course, it must be fueled by GREED~!
And hey, if you work for Comcast Spots, you just totally ignore the comments, ignore the incident and post something with even more inflammatory language so you can plant the seeds for the next incident:
“Not w/VIDEO Unhappy Papi: Ortiz lets out his frustrations letting them erupt thru the clubhouse. PF-13 httep://ow.ly/bKb1P #redsox” said the ubiquitous Sean McAdam.
I mean, who doesn’t love the word ERUPT~! Right? It’s so Volcano-ey and Pompeii-ish.
Even if you’re old and sick of writing like Peter Gammons is, you do have the option of going on NESN’s pre-game show and blaming fans for the negativity.
Whoops – and before I forget – one last thing on the Boston Sports media checklist: There’s always an opportunity to spin an innocuous Larry Lucchino-initiated on-the-field meeting with a player into something sinister. It is Lucchino after all.
And have no fear, our old pal Tony Massarotti was right there, ready jump into the sewer just in case we needed him,
“Sox scribes is this true?” “@liston617 @nesn Lucchino trying to talk to Ortiz during BP getting cold shoulder @thesportshub @globemazz.”
You’d think that after an entire winter of machine-gunning the word ‘accountability’ at every opportunity in every story written about the Red Sox, that the press would try and show some accountability of their own. Alas, it doesn’t apply to them.
But then again, there’s a lot of that going on lately. Curt Schilling is due to show up on WEEI tomorrow morning on Dennis & Callahan where he’ll no doubt be defended for putting 100’s out of work and flushing a tax payer funded loan down the toilet while the hosts simultaneously tear Josh Beckett’s reputation to pieces because he played golf on a day off.
But that’s OK, I get it, and so should you.
The rules don’t apply to stars.