2011 Reds / Whiny Little B******

Oh Jonny

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.

19 thoughts on “Oh Jonny

  1. Suppose you were a reporter about to break a story that for the first time I can ever remember in MLB, one player wished ill on another, openly.

    Might you, say, ask Gomes what he said? Get confirmation elsewhere? Something?

    If Chad won’t, *I* will say something bad about McCoy, for whom I have little respect: an article about what you thought you heard someone singing is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even merit the word “journalism”.

    And if anyone were to wish ill on someone, wouldn’t the last guy to do it be Jonny Gomes? I can’t stand the guy as a player, but as a human he seems like a pretty good guy.

    Might not one take that into account before writing the story?

  2. Maybe next McCoy can report what words he thinks metal rock groups are singing.

  3. Just by reading the above comments from Gomes and Fay, I would say McCoy has it right and Fay and Sheldon are protecting their access to players. Then again I have to agree if you didn’t get it from an actual interview and didn’t talk to Gomes about it before publishing it, it shouldn’t have been published. And I have to disagree with you Dave, it seems to me with all the talk about Gomes attitude in the clubhouse, his over the top enthusiasm, he would be the first one to celebrate not having to miss all those breaking balls down and away Wainwright would throw to him.

  4. I’ve read the DDN and felt that they have pretty good Reds coverage. I assumed Hal McCoy was a big part of that. Without weighing in on the ethics of it, I have a feeling their coverage will be limited quite a bit this year…

  5. @Dave Lowenthal: It wasn’t an article, it was on his blog. Hal always posts little anecdotes and sights and sounds he observes while in the clubhouse. It’s something different from the same old articles about the fifth starter and last position player. I enjoy those kinds of stories.

    However, yes, he should’ve at the very least asked Fay or Sheldon if they heard what he heard. Or even Gomes.

    Hal posted another response on his blog saying he didn’t mean to break news of Gomes being malicious, he took it as Gomes just being himself in the clubhouse. This was one of those reports that everyone took out of context, and it snowballed badly.

    I respect Hal very much. You don’t get into the Hall of Fame by just sitting around 30 years. But in this case, he goofed up. He’s human, we all do it. If I were a beat writer, I’d probably do this more than once 😀

    Let’s just hope the Cards are understanding. I really don’t enjoy seeing those fights. Not what the game’s about.

  6. Chad: right on! I’ve been saying, Phillips didn’t pull that idea out of thin air. LaRussa was probably just ticked that Phillips discovered his mind games. The Cards have a classy exterior, but they’re vile on the inside.

  7. @JD: I guess my question is, was there any doubt the way this would be taken, if McCoy meant it to be just a little nothing anecdote?

  8. I wouldn’t imagine that McCoy would know that song from the Karate Kid, but Fay and Sheldon are both young enough to be familiar with it. But I don’t see how McCoy, even if his hearing’s gotten worse with age, could have mistaken “You’re The Best Around” with what he reported Gomes was singing.

    I don’t doubt for a moment that Gomes actually sang that, and I don’t think it’s a huge deal. It was said in the clubhouse, where he has some expectation of privacy, and not in an interview or on the field. And while I think reporters should be careful in reporting off-the-record stuff they observe as a simple courtesy, I think McCoy was right in this case to report what he heard. If it happened, it is indeed newsworthy.

    It seems to me that Gomes shared my initial reaction to the news of Wainwright’s injury, which was hooray, as well as my closely following second reaction, which was to feel bad for the guy. Injuries suck. I’d rather the Reds beat the Cardinals’ full compliment of players.

  9. I don’t buy that McCoy didn’t intend to stir a controversy. Besides the Gomes quote, he also made it a point to say that Dusty laughed on the phone when he heard the news and smiled when he repeated it. Neither Fay nor Sheldon reported Baker’s conversation in that way.

    The fact is, Gomes’ singing was unrelated to Wainwright and Dusty may have found humor in the fact he got his news from his 12 year old son, but in no way would laugh at the injury itself, McCoy just gets more hits when he’s stirring controversy.

    • I don’t buy that McCoy didn’t intend to stir a controversy

      Exactly right. If a HOF reporter can’t do the math of the controversey last August and see how this “report” only builds on that, it’s really, really, time to hang it up. There is no way this gets viewed as “Gomes being Gomes.”

      In this case, McCoy is an arsonist claiming insufficient capacity to undersatand the charges against him.

    • I don’t buy that McCoy didn’t intend to stir a controversy. Besides the Gomes quote, he also made it a point to say that Dusty laughed on the phone when he heard the news and smiled when he repeated it.McCoy just gets more hits when he’s stirring controversy.

      I totally agree with this. McCoy is always trying add some spice, or folksy flavor to his articles, it’s his nitch and it’s why he gets hits at all. Someone else on this thread already said they liked what he brought to the mix, and that’s why.

      The problem is with how far he’s willing to go to get it, even if it might not have been there in the first place. Like how he said Gomes sang in “his most joyous voice.” How the hell would he know that? It’s made up to add emotion to the piece plain and simple, and people got really ticked off about that emotion.

      I would have if I’d been a Cards fan. Joyous? He took joy from someone suffering? That’s low. And fake.

      I’ve been done with McCoy for a long time, I wish he would have just retired and not let it get to crap like this. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Gomes gets beaned for this, and to tme, that’s on Hal 100%.

  10. Hal McCoy is 70 years old. He is not the regular Reds beat writer for a reason. He has not been a competent journalist for a while and should not be considered one (or held to that standard) Whatever his accomplishments were in the past, he is not capable of equaling them these days. I think the DDN keeps him around for sentimentality. I can appreciate that. I think McCoy is best ignored. On the other side, he deserves some credit for backing away from what he said (sort of) and adding some caveats.

  11. And another thing. It just seems wrong that any player can’t relax and be himself in the locker room. You don’t want players tense and worried that some remark, off hand or not, overheard by some reporter trying to look smart (or smartaleck) is going to be spread all around. You want players relaxed and focused on being as competitive as they can be. Maybe McCoy should be banned from the locker room? Or maybe he has finally learned a lesson.

  12. I’m with every post RedBlooded has put on here.

    I will say something nice about the Cardinals organization, though. I disagree with those who say they are classless. They are not classless at all; DeWitt to Mozeliak on down to the scouts are all very professional, old school in treatment of players/fans, new school in stats analysis (they have a NASA rocket scientist in the front office) and they treat Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith and other icons like gods. Tony LaRussa has his moments, but geez, we Reds fans better be careful about throwing stones about something a rival manager says.

  13. Injuries happen to everybody. Who knows if Volquez will come back strong this year. Often the best thing said is the thing that is not said. Just do your thing and play ball.

  14. Now it’s hit ESPN. Side me with the ones that think that Hal McCoy should never have thrown this up…but I admit, I’ve never been a McCoy fan and don’t give me the HOF thing, I could care less.

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