And Curt Schilling wants to be the school’s bully
by Matthew Taylor
One important lesson taught to aspiring journalists is to consider a source’s motivation when he or she wants to provide information without attribution. Approach such a situation with caution, the thinking goes.
Apparently this concept doesn’t apply to sports reporting. Baseball writers run wild this time of year with all kinds of unattributed statements that are so clearly motivated by agents and competing ball clubs working to manipulate the free-agent market. Thus we have reports on Tuesday that Mark Teixeira has an “enormous attraction” to the Orioles; 24 hours later we learn just the opposite, that the Orioles are “out of it, unless Teixeira really, really wants to play there.” (Just check out the headline of the latter story, where these anonymous voices get top billing in the headline: “Sources: Teixeira to Orioles unlikely.”)
Alas, this system of sending anonymous messages through the media works as the O’s have responded in kind to “sources” with word that the team’s “bid for Teixeira could go up.” Isn’t that what was supposed to happen? Agent sends message through the press, “You’re out of the running.” Team responds, “But what if we give you more money?”
It’s hard to believe, but this actually could be a good thing for the O’s if they really want to sign Teixeira, the equivalent of the girl who actually likes you flirting with another guy at the bar just to make you jealous. Even if that’s the case, it’s frustrating for fans to follow (see, for example: The Loss Column, Oriole Post, Dempsey’s Army, Weaver’s Tantrum, Oriole Central).
As silly as the whole thing may be, I understand that reporters have little choice but to be pawns in this ridiculous game. They’ve got space to fill and, on most days, no real advancements in the story. Somehow I can’t picture Buster Olney going on the air and saying the following: “Nothing to report again today, guys. Still don’t know what’s going to happen, and no one will talk to me on the record.” He would earn praise for responsible reporting from journalism professors everywhere, which would be quite useful considering he’d need a new job.
Ultimately, the whole thing has the feeling of middle school courtship… “Hi, Mark, this is Andy McPhail. Listen, I was just wondering, do you like any team on the free-agent market more than a friend?” Imagine McPhail, Theo Epstein, Jim Bowden, Tony Reagins, and Brian Cashman sitting across the table from Scott Boras and passing him notes that read, “Do you like my team? Check Yes or No.”
In other news, Curt Schilling puts in a good word for Baltimore in his analysis of the Teixeira sweepstakes: “I understand Mark is from the DC/Baltimore area and can speak first-hand to the allure of that place. I’m talking Baltimore though. Fantastic city, great fans and you have your pick of big city apartment or house in horse country. Not sure D.C. offers that second option or whether or not that matters, but I know going back to Arizona felt like ‘coming home’ and that was a huge draw for me.“
However, Schilling’s praise comes in a posting titled “Why Boston Might Be Best” where he describes Red Sox baseball as “Packer football, Cowboy football, Yankee baseball, Penn State football, ‘Bama football, all rolled into one.”
It’s nice to know that Schilling considers Baltimore a fantastic city with great fans (and here I thought he might just call it a “horses— town”); however, I still have trouble taking his opinions seriously. After all, he continues to pile on Manny Ramirez (we had four physical run-ins!) after the fact. This is the same guy who as recently as June was praising Ramirez and hoping that the guy would hit home run No. 600 “here at Fenway.”
Schilling must be from the Colin Powell school of character analysis, where the strategy is to share your “honest,” potentially controversial feelings about a guy after public opinion has already sailed so clearly in that direction. There’s nothing quite like kicking with the wind at your back.
If baseball’s GMs are akin to loverlorn middle schoolers experiencing their first crush, Schilling is the aspiring bully who picks on the little kids and talks about what he would’ve done to the big kids had they not already walked away.