Houston Chronicle editor apologizes for column about Carlos Gomez

17 Comments

A couple of weeks ago Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle wrote a hit piece on Carlos Gomez, blaming him for the bulk of the Astros’ problems. That was bad (i.e. inaccurate) enough, but the column was made worse by Smith’s inclusion of a quote of broken English from Gomez that seemed to serve no other purpose but to cast Gomez in a bad light. In doing so, Smith eschewed any number of techniques journalists use in such situations to deliver a somewhat more empathetic story, even if they’re being critical. Paraphrasing, brackets, etc.

Yesterday the editor of the Chronicle offered an apology about the column and talked about trying to do better in this regard. It was delivered to Richard Prince at the Journal-Isms blog:

“With regards to quoting Carlos Gomez: We sincerely apologize for any offense that was taken. Our writers are encouraged to adhere to AP style rules, which are quoted below. I reviewed the rules myself after this arose and found the guidelines on quotes to be less than adequate for a community like ours, full of immigrants from all over the world, and for whom English is often a second language. I’ve asked some top editors to review this policy, research best practices, and recommend guidance for all of our writers in the future. We always want to be respectful of those we are interviewing.”

As Prince notes, major style guides hold that quotes should not be altered, but common practice involves using paraphrasing to convey the meaning of quotes which don’t come out cleanly as a means of not portraying the subject in a less-than-flattering light. Obviously a lot of judgment is used in such cases, but as he and his sources note, it also seems like the style guides are in need of an update or a review about such matters.

Indians’ Plesac upset with portrayal after COVID violation

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

CLEVELAND — Indians pitcher Zach Plesac feels he and teammate Mike Clevinger have been unfairly portrayed as “bad people” in the aftermath of the pitchers being quarantined by the team for violating COVID-19 protocols last weekend in Chicago.

Plesac said he posted a six-minute video on his Instagram page Thursday to ” get out the truth” to fans about his situation.

The 25-year-old acknowledged breaking team curfew last Saturday after he and Clevinger left the team hotel, went out to dinner and socialized with Plesac’s friends. Plesac had pitched earlier in the day, getting the win as the Indians beat the White Sox.

After the Indians were told by Major League Baseball security about the players being out in public, the team got a car service to drive Plesac home so he wouldn’t risk exposing himself to teammates if he had been infected by the coronavirus.

Clevinger didn’t tell the team he was with Plesac and flew home with the team.

The Indians placed the two right-handers on the restricted list Tuesday, when fellow pitcher Adam Plutko said Plesac and Clevinger had “hurt us bad. They lied to us.”

On Wednesday, manager Terry Francona said Plesac and Clevinger “got some trust to earn back and they’re gonna have to earn that back.”

Plesac maintains his actions weren’t malicious and that he and Clevinger practiced social distancing when they were with a small group at dinner and then afterward. Plesac said he has twice tested negative for the virus and understands the risks he took by going out.

While he didn’t deny breaking the team’s code of conduct implemented to keep players safe, Plesac said reports about him and Clevinger have not been fair.

“The media is terrible, man,” Plesac said in the video. “They do some evil things to create stories and make things sound better and make things sound worse.”

Plesac said he and Clevinger were within CDC guidelines when they left the team hotel and were never with “more than eight people the entire night.”

He feels he and Clevinger are being cast as “bad teammates, bad people and dragged across the mud.”

Plesac said he understands the risks with COVID-19 and that his brother has Type 1 Diabetes and his mother is a nurse.

“It breaks my heart for people to think I’m a bad teammate or a bad person. But I wanted to share with you guys that moving forward, there’s a selflessness lesson taught here and at the end of the day, I want everybody to be healthy. I want to be a good teammate. I want to win baseball games, man. That’s all I want to do.”

Privacy laws prevent the Indians from disclosing test results for Plesac and Clevinger The team has also not said if the pair will be subjected to further discipline.