Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reporters Are From Pluto

Let's face it -- there's nothing a Major League beat reporter won't do to gin up some fake, phony "controversy." Because if there's no "controversy," it gets too darned hard to find enough stuff to write about to fill those pesky column inches!

And that's why we find ourselves here, barely a week into spring training, with the Tribune's estimable Paul Sullivan already typing up three articles about the "controversy" surrounding the Cubs' closer situation.

For those of you who don't follow the team closely, former closer Ryan Dempster is slated to be the fifth or sixth starter. The three front-runners for the 2008 closer gig are Bobby Howry, Kerry Wood, and Carlos(y?) Marmol. Sully is verrrrry concerned that Lou Piniella doesn't know which of these guys will be protecting those three-run leads in the ninth inning. After all -- it's 23 February already!

Here's how Sully started his latest piece on the alleged "controversy:"

Kerry Wood stuck his head into a group interview with Bob Howry on Thursday at Fitch Park, pretending he was a reporter seeking answers about the competition for the Cubs' closer's job.

Wood, Howry and Carlos Marmol had just thrown their first live batting-practice sessions of the spring, the first small step in the six-week process to anoint the new closer.

"As I was preparing myself, I was watching you," Howry told Wood. "I thought I had a little bit more on the fastball, but you might have had a better slider."

After Wood left, Howry was asked how competitive he felt toward his two rivals."I had a little golf tournament, and Kerry asked me why I didn't invite him," Howry said. "I was like, 'Yeah, it would've looked bad if I had invited you out and then I hit you with a golf ball or ran you over with a cart.' "

Oh, for fun! Who knew that Howry was such a card? Certainly not I!

No sentient being born on planet Earth would read Howry's (allegedly) humorous comments and not understand the tongue-in-cheekiness of it all. And then there's Sully.

Sully, being a lazy sort, often uses his print pieces to fill space on his blog entries. Here's how he describes the exchange with Howry on the Trib's "Hardball" blog:
Wood was asked first if it was a media-driven story.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Well, it’s a long spring, as Wood knows well.

“The competition is good,” Wood said. “We’ve got plenty of guys that can do it. Lou and the upper management will make the best decision to help this team win and put the best guy out there. So regardless of who it is, whoever we’re getting the ball to or whoever is getting the ball to him, that’s just as important.”

Carlos Marmol was next up, and like Wood he said he’s ready to pitch in whatever role they give him, though he’d prefer to close.

“Sure, why not?” he said. “That’s a role that helps the team, that’s what I’m looking for.”

By the time we got to Bob Howry, he was anxiously awaiting us. Wood came by Howry’s locker and pretended he was a reporter, which, as we all know, is quite ironic.

“As I was preparing myself I was watching you,” Howry told Wood. “I thought I had a little bit more on the fastball, but you might have had a better slider.”

After Wood left, I asked Howry if he ever felt like taking a swing at the other two guys.

“I had a little golf tournament and Kerry asked me why I didn’t invite him,” Howry said. “I was like, “Yeah, it would’ve looked bad though if I had invited you out and then I hit you with a golf ball or ran you over with a cart.”

So there you have it- just another instance of the media trying to create tension between the players.

Mea culpa.

WTF? Jeebus only know what point Sully was trying to make here. Was he thinking that Howry was actually serious when he made the crack about running Wood over with a golf cart? Was he miffed because Wood played at being a baseball journamalist -- a gig that only true professionals like Sully shoud play at?

Or was he being a whiny-ass baby because Wood said the any closer "controversy" was merely the invention of the media?

I'm no mind reader, so I can't pretend to know what thoughts flow through the river of Sully's mind. But reading Sully's blog, there are only two conclusions I can reach. Sully is either deeply disturbed. Or he's not from this planet. Because there's no way that any sane, Earth-born person could make a mountain out of the Howry/Wood/Marmol molehill...

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