September 20, 2010

"The Jacoby Insanity": Don't Think About How It Began

Neil Swidey wrote an opinion piece in today's Globe, The Jacoby Insanity:
Boston has always been a town that specializes in building up stars and then tearing them down. But usually that cycle takes many years, precipitated by a bitter contract dispute. Not so with Ellsbury, who won't even be eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season. ...

While other injured players drew sympathy, the scorn for "soft" Ellsbury grew louder on talk radio, in the sports pages, and on the blogs that featured Ellsbury's face photo-shopped onto images of women in dresses. It didn't help when unnamed members of the Sox organization apparently raised their eyebrows about him behind the scenes ...

[B]efore booing Ellsbury out of town, consider Clay Buchholz. After the young pitcher's stomach-churning performance in one stretch of 2008 -– 0-6 and 8.19 ERA over eight starts -– many of the same critics who've been riding Ellsbury were writing off Buchholz, saying it was foolish to keep this one-no-hit-wonder. Funny how none of them are bringing that up this year as they campaign for Buchholz to be the next Cy Young Award winner.
It is always refreshing to see some sanity in the Boston sports media. However, I noticed that Swidey did not mention how this sorry saga began: a hit piece penned by his Globe colleague, Tony Massarotti, back on May 28.

Swidey simply notes that the scorn for Ellsbury "grew louder on talk radio, in the sports pages, and on the blogs". It is as if the scorn and derision simply appeared one day -- poof! out of nowhere! -- and set about infesting the Boston media and then moving on to the fan base (who were, naturally, helpless to resist).

As I have said before, I know of no news story that ever questioned Ellsbury's work/play ethic before Mazz's May 28 column. Not one. Not when he was in the minors (though Mazz hinted at that) and not during his first 2.5 seasons in Boston. I have asked both here and at Sons of Sam Horn for copies of (or even quotes from) any such articles. No one has come forward with anything.

Does Swidey know how this depressing turn of events was created? I doubt it. Even most serious fans could not pinpoint its genesis. And even if he did and wanted to include it, I'm sure that his editor would consider pointing out that all of this crap sprung from a Globe employee's hatchet job to be the height of impoliteness.

Better to let everyone assume it was just one of those strange, unexplainable things that happen from time to time.

5 comments:

L-girl said...

It is always refreshing to see some sanity in the Boston sports media. However, I noticed that Swidey did not mention how this sorry saga began: a hit piece penned by his Globe colleague, Tony Massarotti, back on May 28.

...

Does Swidey know how this depressing turn of events was created? I doubt it.


I would bet he knows and this is as far as he can get in saying. To me this is a read-between-the-lines stab at Massarotti.

It's a good piece - refreshing, as you said - and you've made it better by adding the context that Swidey can't.

redsock said...

I emailed Swidey last night, thanking him for writing the article and pointing out how (I believe) this whole thing got started. (This post sprung from that email.)

In his reply, he mentioned that he believes he heard people on sports radio describing Ellsbury as "soft" before Mazz's late May column.

I do not listen to sports radio, so this could certainly be true. I also do not know whether those people were the radio hosts, media guests, or fans/callers.

All I can say is that Mazz's column seemed to come out of nowhere, making accusations that I had never read or heard before. And after his column ran, it began being mentioned and alluded to in the papers and during TV and radio game broadcasts.

It seemed to me to be a textbook example of a team leaking some information/rumours about a player to a writer and then nudging the story along (other writers later mentioned unnamed team officials and players being pissed at Ellsbury). I heard Orsilo, Remy, and Castiglione offer clumsy praise for other players for playing hurt, sitting on the bench cheering, and coming back from injury quickly. (Yeah, those examples turned out real fuckin great, didn't they?)

Pedroia came back early (and may have fibbed to the team about his level of pain), then he got hurt, was out for the year, needed surgery, and admitted he was a "moron" for doing what he did.

Yay for "toughness"!!!

Zenslinger said...

Die, Mazz, and any radio dorks who got this thing going can join the party. I've heard this "LBJ is a pussy" thing repeated in bars as if it were fact.

Pedroia certainly lied about the level of pain when they came out to check on him after his fouled the ball off his foot. It seems possible to me that the severity of the injury could have been compounded by the fact that the trainers let him shake them off and that he hobbled down to first base on his newly broken foot.

I was at the game. It was stupid, and so was the LBJ crap.

redsock said...

I think Nick came up with the brilliant term "boothers". I need a good glossary definition for that.

redsock said...

Mazz would have called Ray Chapman a pussy.