There’s a story in today’s Delco Times about Mike Sweeney. About how great a guy he is. About how he adds so much to the Phillies’ team chemistry and has made the clubhouse a happier, friendlier place to be. Because of him, they’re “the feel-good Phillies.”
No mention whatsoever, though, of the fact that back in May Sweeney was challenging his teammates to fights and browbeating and intimidating reporters who said negative things about his team as the Mariners disintegrated scarcely a month into the season.
My point is not that Sweeney is not a nice guy and a good person — by all accounts he is. It’s that it’s a hell of a lot easier to be a great and friendly teammate when you’re winning (like Sweeney’s Phillies are) than it is when you’re losing (like Sweeney’s Mariners were).
We should try to keep that in mind whenever we see feel good (or feel bad) stories about ballplayers. They’re human just like the rest of us, and these stories tell us less about their subjects than they do about their subject’s circumstances.