You probably heard that Adam Wainwright, the outstanding St. Louis pitcher (and one of the few guys on that team that doesn’t seem to be a jerk), is likely out for the season with serious elbow problems. It’s a tough break, and it definitely hurts the Cardinals’ chances in the NL Central (that’s the only positive here).
Anyway, everyone was in a rush to find out what Cincinnati’s players thought about this latest development. This led to a big controversy, of course. Enter Hal McCoy:
Jonny Gomes walked into the Cincinnati Reds spring training clubhouse early Wednesday morning singing at the top of his warbly voice.
The melody was not recognizable, but the words were plaintive: “Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone,” he sang joyously.
The reference was to St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, sent back to St. Louis Tuesday to have his ouchy elbow examined.
If that actually happened, there’s no way to spin it: it’s a classless move. Ample evidence is pouring in, however, that it may never have happened.
The other two beat writers who were in the clubhouse at the same time — Mark Sheldon and John Fay — both heard Gomes enter singing, and both agree that Gomes was singing a song from Karate Kid, which is awesome in its own right. Neither heard Gomes sing what Hal McCoy said he heard.
For his part, Gomes denied the McCoy report, and appears to be mortified about this controversy:
“I was doing an interview with [Rob] Dibble and Dibble gave me the breaking news that Wainwright was flying back to St. Louis with arm problems. That’s all I heard. I came in and I said ‘is Wainwright gone, is Wainwright gone?’
“To clear up everything, I came up with Wainwright. I know Wainwright. I think he’s one of the top notch pitchers in the National League and baseball. Outside of different uniforms that we wear and different cities we play in, playing in the Major Leagues, we’re all brothers. There’s a brotherhood there. There’s one thing you would never wish upon any other player and that’s an injury. We’ve all had them at some point coming up and we might currently be having one now.
“From the bottom of my heart, I would never wish anyone an injury. If they did have an injury, you wish them the best in rehab. As Major League ballplayers, we have a brotherhood for each other. On the field, we’re going to battle and play our nine innings and we’re going to compete. Off the field, we’re still human and we have families. There’s one thing you don’t wish upon anyone and that is an injury. Even if they are on the other team, you wish them the best of health. If Wainwright is gone, it doesn’t mean anything to us. It maybe gives them the opportunity to make a trade for another big ace. The Cardinals are top notch themselves. They’ve battled with injuries there. They are a top notch organization with a top notch general manager and a top notch ownership.”
Hal McCoy, you will remember, reported the comments by Brandon Phillips that set off a firestorm in the heat of the August pennant race last year. I don’t know what happened there, but frankly, I don’t have a hard time believing that McCoy got the story completely and utterly wrong. McCoy’s a legend, and I’m not going to say anything bad about him. I’ll just say it isn’t difficult to believe he was wrong here, especially when contradicted by the other beat writers.
Even better, Fay seemed to take a swipe at McCoy:
I heard it. I honestly don’t remember exactly what he sang. I didn’t report it because I generally don’t write what players say aloud or sing in the clubhouse. I only use what I get in interviews.
I don’t know what to make of all this. Seems a bit like a manufactured controversy, and you will just have to decide who you believe.
A final point, the faux indignation from Cardinals fans on Twitter was laughable. That entire organization and fan base are exactly what Brandon Phillips accused them of being. Period.