Responding to Media
and Raves: Red Sox are a soap opera
Ken Rosenthal, The Sporting News [September 5]
Rant: As a former columnist for The Baltimore Sun, I never thought I'd see an organization as dysfunctional as the Orioles of the late 1990s. But the 2001 Red Sox are just as bad, if not worse. Dan Duquette isn't a general manager, he's an Orwellian creation, standing in the middle of a tornado and shouting that the sky is blue.
After reading the above article, I sent the following email to Mr. Rosenthal:
Your recent "rant" against Boston GM Dan Duquette displayed a shocking lack of awareness about the Red Sox's situation. In a few short paragraphs, you managed to get just about everything wrong (as you did several weeks ago about the firing of Jimy Williams). With regard to Duquette, I will confine my comments to two points:
1. You wrote: "His forced resignation of pitching coach John Cumberland was another."
I see no possible explanation of the Cumberland events that would indicate his resignation was forced. Indeed, what led to his dismissal was a chronic drinking problem and his refusal to do anything about it.
Cumberland appeared tipsy when he went out to the mound to talk with David Cone during Mike Mussina's nationally-televised near-perfect game last Sunday. Cumberland had been disciplined by the club for excessive drinking back in 1995 and recently Duquette had been speaking with Cumberland about getting help for his addiction. There were stipulations about that in Cumberland's contract and Cumberland had refused to abide by them. Upon being told he was being reassigned, Cumberland told Duquette "Fuck you", blabbed to the media that night and refused to report to his new job. And then he was fired, as might be expected.
Cumberland called in to a Sporting News radio station the following (Monday) morning while driving to Maine and was slurring his words and speaking in not-so-coherent sentences. I can send you an audio file of the interview if you like.
The Providence Journal reported on September 5: "Kerrigan also said that when he was named manager, he told Duquette he would like to have Treuel, 46, promoted to the pitching coach's job, but they elected not to do so because it would have created a hole in the minor league system at the time. The minor league regular season officially ended yesterday."
It's clear by this statement that Cumberland was merely "filling a spot" until Treuel was available and then would be reassigned. However, his tirade at his boss and subsequent talking to the media about his drinking (a topic Duquette *never* mentioned publicly, despite reports in the Boston media he did (no such quotes exist)) doomed the reassignment.
2. You wrote: "[Duquette's] suggestion that Pedro Martinez would pitch the rest of the season with an ailing shoulder was a threat to the franchise's future. Duquette mercifully backtracked Tuesday, saying that the organization would do nothing to jeopardize the long-term health of Martinez. This, two days after he proclaimed, "The team is not going to shut Pedro down. We're paying him a lot of money to pitch. Our fans enjoy seeing Pedro Martinez pitch." ... no self-respecting Red Sox fan wants to see Martinez risk his career. And he's pitching with a minor tear in his rotator cuff, for crying out loud."
In its blatant attempt to "get Duquette," the Boston media -- and by extension the national media (which took its cues from the Boston writers in this case) have taken these events out of chronological sequence and distorted them. When looking at the actual timeline of events -- reported as they happened -- it's clear that there is nothing much to report on this story. What I find odd is Martinez said one day he had a slight rotator cuff tear and the next day said he was excited about pitching against the Yankees this weekend. Dan Duquette does not figure into that mystery at all.
This is what actually happened: The Red Sox doctor declared Pedro was fine, which explains why Martinez was so excited about pitching. That's also why Duquette thought Pedro was fine. Pedro then went for a second opinion, heard the word 'tear' and got upset. Duquette, still going on the Boston diagnosis, said Pedro is fine. Pedro then flipped out, because he had this 'new' information and didn't realize Duquette had not been told about it. Once Duquette found out about Pedro's feelings and the other diagnosis, things were exactly as they should be. the decision to pitch last night was up to Pedro and Kerrigan.
That scenario also makes the most sense, but it's not a very pretty "get-Duquette" story, so events have been twisted to make it seem as though Duquette was going to force Pedro to pitch at gun point even if his right arm fell off.
The Boston media apparently operates on the assumption that its readers remember nothing of the previous day's news and will blindly accept whatever is being printed today. Then, tomorrow, they will forget again and accept the next day's reporting. It's too bad that by simply repeating what the Boston media has been spinning, you are contributing to this distortion of events.
As for the rotator cuff tear, the deterioration in the rotator cuff is NOT going to repair itself with time. It is not like a muscle tear -- what Pedro has now is a chronic condition that he's going to have to learn to live with. Having Pedro pitch now does not add any danger to his career. What Duquette and Kerrigan are doing is having Pedro get used to his shoulder being the way it is. He will have to learn how to pitch differently. That is why he was using different arm angles and strategies against the Yankees Friday night. He has to re-construct his approach, start pitching less like Randy Johnson and more like Greg Maddux.
I wish that if national sportswriters feel the need to write about individual teams, they try to get the information themselves rather than merely copying what the local media is writing. And when it comes to medical issues, why not get an opinion from a doctor?
The sports pages should maintain the highest level of professionalism -- just like the other sections of the paper. Accuracy and neutrality are key -- dumbing down and parroting the party line are not.
Thanks for listening.