Hunter Pence may be my favorite baseball player. I freely admit that a huge part of that is because I have interviewed him twice and he was very nice to me, gave me really intersting answers that I used in good articles and, to boot, he took the time to ask me stuff, not just answer my questions. Based on those personal interactions I decided that he was a good guy.
Most sportswriters won’t admit that sort of thing to you. They all have favorites for many of the some reasons — well, maybe not the “asked me stuff too” part, but definitely the “make my job easier” part — and how someone feels about a person is going to naturally affect how they are covered, even if it’s subtly. Or that they are covered. Or how, later, if something negative happens with the player, the negative stuff is handled. The facts are almost always right — I don’t know any baseball writers who are so in the tank for a person that they wouldn’t get the facts straight — but there’s a lot more to a story than just facts.
Reporters will tell you that their vibranium-fortified journalistic training and impartiality keeps them from falling prey to such human biases, but everyone is human and everyone has biases, even if they’re subtle. Just look to the coverage players touted as “good guys” get vs. certain other players who tend not to be described that way in passing. I’m convinced Torii Hunter could knock over a children’s hospital and some reporters would praise him for how candid he was in his jailhouse interview. People are human. Some more so. I won’t speak for any other specific reporter, but I will freely tell you that if Hunter Pence gets involved in an ugly scandal, you can trust me to report the facts properly, but don’t necessarily make me the only person for the commentary, because I’ll likely have a sad if he ever steps in it real good.
In the meantime, we don’t have to worry about that. We can just laugh at how fun he is. As he demonstrated with his Twitter avatar and bio today:
Closer . . .
UPDATE: To show you how in the tank I am for Hunter Pence, I liked this before I even realized it was a joke based on the Jon Miller call of his home run yesterday.
I can never quit you, Hunter. If you ever get embroiled in a clubhouse controversy, I will DEFINITELY blame the other player. No matter what actually happened.
In May of 2014, former major league pitcher and former MLB Network commentator Mitch Williams was coaching a Little League team and was alleged to have cussed out an umpire, called kids on opposing teams derogatory names and, in one instance, ordered one of his players to bean a player on an opposing team. As a result of the controversy — which went public fast — Williams took a leave of absence from his MLB Network job and was eventually fired.
Later that year he sued MLB and Deadspin, alleging wrongful termination and defamation. Given that he publicly apologized for the behavior Deadspin reported that he engaged in — and given that there are pictures of him acting, well, less-than-professionally at the Little League game in question and that a number of witnesses backed up the story — one wonders how the defamation suit has any legs, but we’ll let the courts figure that out. There’s a trial set for this summer. Somehow.
Today we learn that Williams believes that he’s been blackballed from working as a baseball analyst. In an interview with the700Level Show, the entirety of which is embedded at CSNPhilly.com, he said:
“It’s pretty tough to get a job when Major League Baseball is partnered with every network and that sort of thing out there . . . There hasn’t been a job opportunity even presented that I could even go do and do what I like and what I thought I was getting good at, and that was analyzing baseball.”
When asked specifically if he thinks he’s been blackballed he said:
“In my mind, yes I have,” Williams said. “That’s sour grapes. I’m not someone who’s going to sit around on sour grapes. I continue to go out and try to find things to do, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
He says that this is all the result of people lying about him and spreading rumors. You know, like photographs. And statements from impartial third party witnesses. And his own apology.
But hey, good luck in court, Wild Thing.
It’s beer day today, I guess. Well, every day is beer day if you’re living your life properly, but here’s our second beer-related story in a row.
It’s from NPR StoryCorps and it’s about a vendor for the Baltimore Orioles named Clarence Haskett who goes by the nickname “Fancy Clancy.” Haskett has slung concessions for the Orioles for 42 years and, according to the article, “he has sold more than a million beers.”
He also treats his job like a sport itself:
“The way that I look at my job as a vendor, my mindset is I’m a professional athlete. I have to stay in shape, I have to train during the offseason,” Haskett says. “Because vendors running around with straps around their neck? That’s only on television commercials. Good vendors pick up their case and they carry it.”
If you’ve really watched these folks work, you know he’s right and you know just how hard and fast a good vendor hustles. The more they sell the more they make.
A cool part of the game we never see. At least until we’re thirsty.