It is common across sports and society in general to play the blame game.
As St. Louis Cardinals fans know, just last week manager Tony La Russa tried to play off the Albert Pujols contract stalemate on pressure from the Players Union being applied to Pujols to seek top dollar on the open market. Considerable debate ensued as to whether the accusations were real or imagined.
Not only do officials do it, fans join in, too.
Wednesday was an especially bad day for members across the Cardinal Nation as the serious injury to Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright was announced. Thursday’s news confirmed the need for season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Some pointed an accusatory finger at the club’s oft-maligned medical staff for not addressing the problem earlier while others turned their anger on the opponent – specifically, the Cincinnati Reds’ Jonny Gomes.
A report from Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News had the veteran Cincy outfielder singing in the Reds clubhouse on Wednesday in apparent delight over Wainwright’s misfortune.
Another writer, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, witnessed the same event, but offered a different perspective. Later Sheldon contacted Gomes by phone. The player said all the right things, including a denial of any malicious intent, but many suspicious Cardinals fans wrote it off as damage control, backtracking, spin to cut the heat.
This morning, McCoy was the one to backtrack. He said his “70-year-old ears” may have been “hearing things.” McCoy subsequently removed the offending passage from his original Wednesday post and offered his regrets for having written about it.
On Thursday, Gomes told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that he has “reached out” to the Cardinals to squash any potential bad feelings from the episode. Update: Gomes has also gone on local radio in St. Louis to explain.
Both managers earlier made politically-correct comments intended to diffuse the situation.
I can understand why Cardinals backers are unhappy about the Reds, stemming from last season’s comments from Brandon Phillips and especially the career-ending injury that Jason LaRue suffered at the cleats of Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto.
On the other hand, Cardinals fans have a well-deserved reputation for being knowledgeable and classy, showing respect for opponents. Overreaction to one writer’s disputed report would seem to go against that grain.
It is completely understandable to be upset over the Wainwright news, but it should probably be left at that.