Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spin Control

On a July evening in 2004 in Anaheim, David Ortiz took exception to a called third strike. For "took exception" you may substitute "went batshit."

Ortiz has a naturall jovial personality, but he sure bitches about balls and strikes. This time, Papi outdid himself. He got ejected, then tossed his bat on the way to the showers. The bat bounced high and far, and almost hit one of the umpires.

Uh-oh. Fine coming. A suspension was probably on the way as well. A struggling team (this was just before the Nomar trade) was going to lose one of its two best hitters for an unspecified number of games due to a childish tantrum thrown by said hitter.

Ortiz was the first Red Sox to face the press after the game. He stood by his locker with a rueful half-smile and said "What can I say, guys? I fucked up."

Somehow, at least one Boston columnist on the scene found it impossible to rip Ortiz too sternly for his sin. His frank admission of what happened defused the moralizing instinct all persons in my former trade must fight against each day.

Faced with his first press conference after paying a REALLY high price for a flagrant and foolish violation of the rules, Bill Belichick did not go the Papi route. That figures. He and Ortiz are about as different as two people in the same general line of work can be.

Belichick did, however, pick the second-best option for those caught red-handed. He clammed up and stayed clammed. It's PR 101. When there's nothing to say, say just that.

Predictably, folks in my former racket blasted Belichick for standing mute. Reporters hate that, because, frankly, it's difficult to write or broadcast a news story without the subject's input. Columnists need not worry about that. Here's a good clue for readers. A columnist who writes about why some figure in sports, politics, or whatever should have talked to said columnist is a lazy SOB whose output can be skipped. Leaves more time for the crossword puzzle.

But really, let's put ourselves in Belichick's place for a second. What was he supposed to say? Anything besides "I fucked up" would be self-serving weasel words. He wasn't ready to say that, so he said nothing.

Fair enough. In a hole, Belichick stopped digging. People are right about the coach. He IS smart-most of the time.


At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that the statement Belichick released was pretty clearly one that said, "I fucked up." Too bad for the press corps that it lacked the dramatic rending of garments that they were craving. The difference between Ortiz and Belichick is that a huge portion of said press corps were happier than pigs in shit that Belichick finally got his. I don't think Ortiz's outburst was received with nearly as much glee in the press box.


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