If you need a recap on the situation, it goes something like this
- Adam Wainwright halts his spring training with elbow soreness. Tommy John surgery a likely outcome
- News of Wainwright’s injury reaches the Cincinnati Reds spring training camp
- Jonny Gomes is reported to have been singing a happy song in the Reds clubhouse
- Upon learning of Gomes alleged vocal elocutions, a fire storm of anger spread throughout Cardinals Nation
- Upon learning of the aforementioned brush fire, the Reds issued a very slick and thorough statement, clarifying some things Gomes did that were perhaps misunderstood
As with the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, there was no shortage of reporting on the Gomes event, but at the same time, credible details were nowhere to be found. So let’s apply some common sense and see where we get.
Competition <> Sociopath
Professional athletes are intense and competitive. Some, perhaps many, are cocky, arrogant and at times maniacally egotistic. Sometimes this leads to some less than stellar personal choices and affiliations with people of questionable character, but few athletes, if any, are sociopaths. While they want to defeat their opponent in any way possible, cheering about the personal misfortune of another athlete just doesn’t happen. Or if it does, another veteran teammate will make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If the initial report about what Jonny Gomes did was accurate, I suspect the situation would have played out much differently if he learned of Wainwright’s injury while having dinner with his family or some friends. In other words, the situation is a key component of this event.
That’s also what makes Brandon Phillips’ comments last year so fascinating – they didn’t come in the heat of battle. It makes them more poignant and far more inflammatory than anything Jonny Gomes could have done. Consideration must be given to the situation.
Athletes and teenagers have a boundless ability to react before thinking. In the case of the youngsters, this is why we pay such high car insurance rates when they reach the legal driving age. For athletes, this is what allows them to hit an outside fastball, recognize the difference between a curve and a slider, and leap or dive to make a highlight reel play. It is unrealistic to expect them to be able to turn that on and off at will. Occasionally this will lead to some athlete saying something that makes you cringe. This is one of reason I don’t like sideline reporters that stick a microphone in the face of a player right after something big happens.
Cue Aretha ……
The Reds have not been getting a lot of respect lately, especially considering they won the NL Central last year. The national consensus seems to be that the Cardinals are the favorite to win again in 2011 and both the Brewers and Cubs have improved their rosters. Add some comments about Houston being young and aggressive, perhaps being a dark horse as they flirt with .500, and the Pirates turning around their organization. It is perfectly reasonable to expect some jubilation upon learning that their odds for winning the NL Central just went up significantly without Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals rotation. Any joy expressed is about their newfound fortune than Wainwright’s injury. If it had been Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, the celebration would have been much different because the Phillies have less say in how the Reds finish. It isn’t personal – I will never believe that.
In other words, this is just not a story. If we continue to fixate on it then we will be turning this
Let’s credit the Cincinnati Reds organization for quickly recognizing the potential public relations trouble that might come out of this situation. They said all of the right things, through both the player involved as well as his manager. It doesn’t really matter if Jonny Gomes was singing “Another One Bites the Dust” through their spring training facility PA system – the situation was understandable and any glee displayed was not aimed at Adam Wainwright the person, or the Cardinals as an organization. We should accept that and move on.
Now, that doesn’t mean we should back off the vitriol towards the Reds that has been bubbling since last August. Not in the least. We still remember …….
Put it on your calendars. April 22, 2011. 7:15pm CDT start.
If anybody in the Cardinal front office happens to read this – please please please please bring Jason La Rue back to St. Louis and have him throw out the first pitch. I agree, a bobblehead doll might be in poor taste considering the circumstances of his retirement, but if La Rue throws out the first pitch, that will be Top 10 highlight for the 2011 season.