The Daily News, Yahoo! not letting the facts get in the way of sensationalism

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I predicted this yesterday, but I awake this morning to find two outlets — the New York Daily News and Yahoo! — each going with completely inaccurate takes on the Andy Pettitte testimony today.  First the Daily News:

source:

Then Yahoo!

source:

He neither backpedaled on nor backed off his prior testimony.  He was entirely consistent.  The Daily News attempts to argue that his testimony differed from an affidavit he offered regarding the 1999 conversation, but that affidavit was not inconsistent with the testimony. It merely left out — for strategic reasons — the part in which Pettitte said in 2008 just as he says now that he thought he misheard Clemens in 1999.

Les Carpenter’s piece in Yahoo! is way worse.  He is all but saying that Pettitte perjured himself in order to help his friend, Roger Clemens.

He says “Prosecutors did not expect Pettitte to say the very thing Clemens has maintained all along, that he “misremembers” the earlier conversation,” when in fact they had every reason to expect it given that Pettitte testified to that exact effect four years ago.  He says that Petttitte “suddenly” had doubts about the 1999 conversation, when there was nothing sudden about it. He calls Pettitte’s testimony “a life preserver,” implying that it was unexpected help to Clemens when, in reality, it was merely Pettitte being consistent with prior testimony and the help to Clemens was the unexpected benefit.

Worse, Carpenter basically accuses Pettitte being some weak-willed slug, changing his story because Clemens was glaring at him:

But how much does Pettitte know? It’s hard to imagine his memory has turned hazy, yet Clemens is a hard man to defy. Even in court, intensity radiates from him. Clemens’ eyes never left Pettitte as his old friend sat on the stand. Pettitte could not return the gaze.

This is a disgrace on Carpenter’s part. He’s essentially calling Pettitte a liar and later chalks it all up to Pettitte desperately wanting to help his friend.

And maybe Pettitte has always wanted to help Clemens if he could.  But there’s a big difference between saying that and saying that he changed his sworn testimony in order to do it.  He clearly did not, and saying that he did is not just a matter of offering a strong opinion about what may be in Andy Pettitte’s heart. It is a clear misrepresentation of legal fact and anyone who maintains it in print should be required to print a retraction.

Thanks to Tamar Chalket at IIATMS for pointing them out. And for a good take at just how frustrating and common it is for the media to totally whiff on what’s going on in legal proceedings.

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.