Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News unknowingly created a controversy yesterday when he wrote about overhearing Jonny Gomes in the Reds’ clubhouse celebrating news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury by singing.
By last night McCoy had deleted the original excerpt while posting a follow-up article explaining his version of what happened and several other writers covering the Reds offered their own versions of the situation, all of which served to blur what actually took place.
Gomes then spent much of today making the media rounds to explain his side of the story and, as reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, “reached out” to Cardinals players in an effort to clear the air. Here’s some of what Gomes told Crasnick:
[Wainwright] is a good old Christian boy. He’s the guy that you root for as a fan and as a player. He did all his work in the minor leagues, grabbed the ball as a closer and converted to a starter. He’s the guy every kid should mirror. The hardest part was facing my friends and family. They’re questioning me like, “What’s wrong with you? You’re not that type of person.” I walked through the door and my wife questioned me right out of the gate. She was like, “What’s your deal already?”
The hardest part of my night was, “How do I clean this up without backtracking, because I didn’t do anything wrong.” I was just accused of doing something I never did. I’m not like, “I shouldn’t have said that,” or, “I wish I would have said that behind closed doors.” I didn’t do anything wrong. Flat out.
Despite taking down the initial article containing his version of the events McCoy has not actually backed down from saying he heard Gomes singing in a celebratory manner, writing:
He denies he was singing about Wainwright and said he was singing something else. I’m not the only one who heard “Wainwright” in his song, but I won’t throw anybody else under the bus. Maybe my 70-year-old ears are hearing things, but at the time I didn’t know about Wainwright and wondered to what Gomes was referring. I heard about Wainwright’s injury a few minutes later in manager Dusty Baker’s office.
Under these circumstances his “I won’t throw anybody else under the bus” comment is seemingly aimed at other media members who didn’t write anything about the incident and, once it became a big story, denied hearing Gomes sing about Wainwright. Whatever the case, McCoy has made it very clear that he regrets quoting what he overheard in the clubhouse, telling Crasnick that he “just thought it was something humorous” and “a cute throwaway thing.” Here’s more from McCoy:
I didn’t think it would create this kind of furor. I love Jonny Gomes. He’s one of my favorite people, and I’m sorry he has to be dealing with this. I didn’t sleep last night.
Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Gomes, Wainwright, and the Cardinals-Reds rivalry is a pretty interesting journalistic quandary. Beat writers spend hours every week in a team’s clubhouse, where they no doubt overhear all kinds of stuff that would make for juicy articles and instead restrain themselves. However, my sense is that McCoy only quoted what he heard yesterday specifically because he didn’t think it would be a big deal. Had he thought Gomes’ behavior would have caused a big uproar or even just gotten the outfielder in a little hot water, it certainly seems like McCoy wouldn’t have written anything about it.
In other words, in many cases the juicer something said within the clubhouse doors the less likely it is to be quoted or written about directly. We’ll never know exactly what was said by Gomes in the Reds’ clubhouse yesterday, but we do know that the one guy who wrote about it did so only because he wrongly believed it wouldn’t get Gomes into trouble.