Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hasn’t He Figured It Out Yet?

In Sully’s piece today, he reveals that Mark Prior is puzzled:

Mark Prior's visit in October to orthopedic specialist James Andrews proved there actually were some physical issues with his oft-injured right shoulder.

But when asked Friday if it helped his mind-set knowing the problem wasn't in his head—as some had surmised—Prior wondered why reporters always focused on his head rather than his health.

"Everybody is always talking about my mind-set," Prior said. "It's funny. Everyone wants to talk about my mind.

"I knew I had some significant problems going on with my shoulder and [Andrews] just laid them out in more black-and-white [terms] than gray. We all know doctors aren't always definitive, but it was good to get a second opinion—this is what it is and this is what you have to do.

"It wasn't easy to take, but that's life."

Come on, Mark – you’re a smart guy. You’ve been around the pinheads in the Chicago media for a couple years now. And you can’t figure out why the punditocracy is more worried about your mind-set?

It’s easy to understand – the media loves playing amateur psychologist nearly as much as it loves its scripts. Don’t believe me? Ask Alex Rodriguez. Or Manny Ramirez. Or Barry Bonds. Or, if you want to dig into the microfiche, Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez as they approached the end of their tenures in Chicago.

In Prior’s case, the alleged root cause of his problems wasn’t because the pressure of a big-market, or a desire to leave a big-market, or legal issues, or squabbles with management. With Prior, the punditocracy had the luxury of moving from one script to the next.

At first, they were able to flog the “Dusty Baker abuses young pitchers” script (although they never reconciled that with the “Dusty Baker hates young players” script they also flogged). Of course Prior’s health issues were all Baker’s fault! How could they be otherwise?

But then Prior got hurt in odd ways. He didn’t notice Marcus Giles standing between him and second base. He got hit by a line drive. Can’t blame that stuff on Dusty (although they tried…).

But who to blame? The media needs a scapegoat. And, as if sprung from the skull of Zeus himself, a new, fully-grown script appeared – Prior can’t pitch? Must be because he’s soft! A real man would be able to shake off that line drive and get back in the game!

As Sully notes, one Chicago newspaper (and it’s easy to guess which one) ran a headline referring to “Mrs. Prior.” Nice – the paper got to smear Prior and demean half its audience in one fell swoop.

But this is the kind of stupid stuff the media has been focusing on for years. Will A-Rod opt out of his contract because he can’t take the pressure? What’s Manny thinking today? Why does Frank hate Jerry? Why can’t Mark sack up and pitch?

Instead of focusing on what’s actually happening during the games (or, as I like to call it, the important stuff), the media feeds us a constant stream of this crap. Why? I’m no mind reader, but my best guess is that it easily fills a lot of column inches and air time. And you can always count on your press corps to take the easy option instead of reporting what’s important (in all endeavors, not just sports).

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