Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anthony Witrado Still Doesn't Get It.

Anthony Witrado answered questions in a JSOnline chat today, and, as you'd expect, he wasn't too keen to talk about his brush with glory last week, when he went on ESPN to give his eyewitness account of an event that he didn't actually see -- Prince Fielder trying to confront Gas Can Bill Mota in the Dodgers' clubhouse. Tony was much more interested in discussing the David Weathers trade, and why Jason Kendall is still playing, and why YoGa doesn't hit sixth when he's pitching.

He did take a couple questions on the subject, though -- and his answers probably didn't help his cause any.

Queries Brad from Oshkosh:
Have you talked to prince since criticising him on National television and if so did he have to be held back?

Responds Tony:

Prince is fine, we laughed about what he did the next day. It's funny that only people in Milwaukee seem to think I was "cricising" Fielder on TV.

That's probably Strike One, right there -- [sic]ing the guy's misspelling of "criticize." (Though: who knows? Brad from Oshkosh might be a transplanted Brit.) When one of the criticisms leveled against you is that you're an arrogant, condescending douchebag, [sic]ing a misspelling in a freaking Internet chat isn't going to win anyone to your side.

(Note: I, m'self, don't much care about Witrado's condescending douchebagginess ((no way in hell that's a word)) since I, m'self, am a condescending douchebag, and I, m'self, enjoy a good [sic] every now and again. That said: when you're gonna [sic] someone, you should probably make sure that you accurately quote his misspelling, and don't write "cricising" when he said "criticising." Now, you've ended up [sic]ing somebody else's [sic], and nobody's happy when there's [sic] all over the place.)

Anyway, let's continue with Tony's response to Brad:

I've pointed out on more than once

... [siccccccc] ...

that the Dodgers were wrong for throwing at him and that there was no indication that the Brewers threw at Ramirez. I've also said it was dead wrong for Fielder to go to the other clubhouse, just as his manager and GM and owner have said. People are going to believe what they believe, but I was asked to give an opinion and I gave one, one that is shared by almost everyone I've talked to who isn't a Brewers fan and even some of them.

And there's Strike Two. The problem most fans had with Anthony's appearance on ESPN, as I understand it, stemmed from the fact that, at the outset of the interview, he wasn't asked for his opinion -- he was asked what happened when Prince went to the Dodgers' clubhouse. And, instead of saying: "Well, I can't tell you exactly what happened, because I wasn't there, but this is what I've heard," he started prattling on like he had witnessed the whole thing himself. The fact that Witrado may have exaggerated some of the details of the event he didn't actually see -- and exaggerated them to make the Brewers look bad -- probably doesn't help, either.

(Note 2: I know that some folks have a problem with what Anthony said about Prince's personality -- at one point, Witrado referred to Prince as "a ticking time bomb." Again: I don't much care about this. Is that over-the-top? Sure. Did Anthony look and sound like he was auditioning for J.A. Adande's seat on Around the Horn when he said that? No doubt. Was it a curious choice of words when he's going to have to interview the "ticking time bomb" for the rest of the year? Indubitably. But: he was asked for his opinion of Prince's personality. He gave it. Hard to fault him for that.)

Prince and I have a good relationship, actually, probably about the best he has with any media member in this city and I'm proud of that because he can be a tough guy to get at. However, I'm not going to give an opinion I don't believe just because I think it'll stop hate mail and people telling me to go back to Mexico or be fired.

I don't know that I saw anyone attacking Witrado because of his ethnicity, but I stopped reading the mouth-breather fest that is the JSOnline comments a long, long time ago, so I can neither confirm nor deny.

In the economic climate and state of the newspaper business (The JS was recently forced to cut several jobs and friends of mine are now unemployed), I think it is in absolute poor taste to wish something like that on someone. So, no, I'm not going to sugarcoat anything. I think Fielder was wrong for trying to get into the clubhouse and no one cussing me out or saying I only said that because it happened against the Dodgers is going to change my mind on that.

Annnnd Strike Three. The other thing that aggravated most Brewer fans (again, as best I can tell) is that Witrado was sent to cover the L.A. - Milwaukee series when he had publicly proclaimed himself to be a dyed-in-the-wool Dodgers' fan. This isn't necessarily all that big of a deal -- after all, it stands to reason that most baseball writers followed a specific team growing up, and that the prejudices engendered by following a specific team in one's youth are hard to bury completely -- but still: it seems kind of odd to send Anthony to cover the L.A. series when the Journal could have dispatched Haudricourt and avoided the question entirely. ANYWAY, at the very least, it's a legitimate question, and one that merits more of a response than Witrado poo-pooing it by lumping it in with fans "cussing [him] out" for his ESPN antics.

Witrado elaborated, a bit, on this part later in the chat:

Some fans do know what they are talking about, no doubt about it. But there are others who have on blinders and just want to criticize because their local writer might not be a cheerleader. Maybe the worst thing I could have done was admit that I'm a baseball fan/junkie, because now people want to throw that in my face.

And, again: that kind of misses the point. I don't think anybody's upset that Tony is a baseball fan. What's upset people is that Tony is a huge fan of one team, and was sent to report -- not to give opinions -- on a series involving that team. I mean, the Journal, quite sensibly, wouldn't ask for me to give a report on last night's debacle against the Padres -- not only because (1) they can't print the F-word and (2) my reporting would consist of me taking a shit, putting it between two slices of Wonder bread, and stapling a note to the sammwich that read: "A visual representation of the Brewers pitching staff," but (primarily) because I'm a fan of the team, and that would color any attempt to give an objective report on the Brewers. I know Anthony's of the opinion that he can take off his "fan" hat and put on his "reporter" hat at will, but, at the least, you should probably acknowledge the perception of a conflict of interest there.

To wrap up what's already a post that no one will read:

Tony: Made a mistake. Still kind of a douchebag. Doesn't understand what got people so riled up.

The Journal: Made a mistake. (Also: dying.)

Rubie: A clinically-depressed fecalpheliac on Prozac.


Devil's Threesome said...

I got to the end, but only b/c we are friends.

Rubie Q said...

Oh, sweet. I have a friend. This day is off to a kick-ass start already.

Sheets' Va Jay Jay said...

I got to the end and really enjoyed the link to South Park. Funny.

I might be in the minority and completely wrong here, but don't you want a reporter who is a fan of the sport they are covering? I know you might not want a "homer" for the team, but shouldn't they be a fan? How is admitting that he is a "baseball fan/junkie" bad?

The way I look at it, a fan of the sport is going to be able to follow that sport much better. They can write about the things that happened and why they happened. If you follow A-Wit's logic, you want someone that hates the sport they follow or someone that doesn't get it. With this logic in hand I would like to try this... I should write about soccer.

This would be perfect. Besides the fact that there are a lot of people on the field, they kick a ball towards huge nets, they can't use their hands, and their clock runs the wrong way, I know nothing about soccer. Oh yeah, and I also hate it. That sounds like the criteria to be a soccer reporter. How do I word all of that on my resume when I send it in?

Oh yeah, if you are a "good" writer/reporter, it shouldn't be hard to take off the "fan" hat and put on the "reporter" hat. That is what makes you good. It's not really your ability to spell or destroy a press box bathroom, it's your ability to report on what happens.

Some people are just douches.

This was a long comment.

Devil's Threesome said...

Can someone fill me in - what did he say about Prince on ESPN?

Agree with Sheets - Witrado should be a baseball junkie. I don't think his being a Dodger fan is that big of a deal. He's a young reporter, the biz will beat that out of him soon enough.

Also - is Witrado Hispanic? I pegged him as a dago or one of those crusty Eastern Bloc guys.

Rubie Q said...

Like I said: I've got no problem with the fact that he's a fan of the game. I just don't understand why the Journal would send him to cover a series involving his favorite team -- and why Witrado doesn't understand how people could see that as a curious move, and wonder if it colored his reporting. You can disagree with someone's conclusion while acknowledging that the question is legitimate.

I don't know about Witrado's ethnicity, but people (allegedly) telling him to go back to Mexico calls to mind the classic exchange in Supertroopers:

RABBIT: I don't get it. Tacos?

THORNY: They think I'm Mexican.

RABBIT: (Pauses) You're not Mexican?