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A.J. Burnett is not happy with Colin Cowherd

Dec 16, 2010, 8:49 AM EDT

New York Yankees starting pitcher A. J. Burnett waves his glove to the cheering crowd as he leaves the field after being removed against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York

Yesterday, big-time talk radio host Colin Cowherd claimed that A.J. Burnett went through a nasty divorce last season and implied that led to his trouble on the mound. Cowherd said:

“A.J. Burnett went through a terrible divorce and he still might (be) going through it. His wife was vindictive and spiteful. I don’t even feel comfortable telling you everything.”

Which would be way more interesting if it wasn’t for the fact that Burnett and his agent said a few hours later that the report was a flat out lie:

“A.J. is ticked. He is not going through a divorce, and if he was, it would not be anyone’s business. They are happily married … This is irresponsible and reckless on Cowherd’s part. His reporting inaccuracies should be brought to light. This must be his idea of shock jockery.”

Last week we had premature reports of Bob Feller’s death. Yesterday an apparently inaccurate report of Burnett’s divorce.  Unlike a lot of people I don’t think that gossip is, in and of itself, a bad thing.  But I think there’s a big difference between a potentially inaccurate trade rumor or humorous anecdote on the one hand and stuff dealing with real life and death issues on the other.  In the former case strive to be accurate and stand accountable for your mistakes in the event that you are wrong.  In the latter case? Boy, you had better be right.

  1. BC - Dec 16, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Cowherd is going to get himself fired someday soon.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:18 AM

      We can only hope

  2. Jonny 5 - Dec 16, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    He was that bad last season that now he’s reduced to Colin Cowherds? Crazy, never pictured AJ the Cowboy type myself….

    Wow, it’s got to really suck on some strange level to be in the shoes of Famous athletes, or actors. It’s as if you have to sacrifice a part of your personal life no one else has to. Sure most are compensated, but it’s really got to be a terrible feeling for AJ to hear things like this.

  3. paperlions - Dec 16, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Does Cowherd ever actually check any facts? I remember listening to him years ago, but it was unbearable. He consistently just makes shit up. He provides no insights, he just fabricates outrage and argument where there is none.

  4. xpensivewinos - Dec 16, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Divorce or happily ever after, Burnett sucks either way.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:03 AM

      That is the bottom line from the baseball perspective. The other bottom line is that Burnett only plays when he’s playing for $$$. He should only be signed to one-year deals.

  5. daninkatonah - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Maybe the worst part of that whole quote is the last line, where he implies that he has this on inside information. It is going to be a real battle to the finish for the 2010 Hack Award…

  6. joshv02 - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    Why isn’t “gossip [ ], in and of itself, a bad thing?”

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    There are social scientists who talk about gossip — broadly defined as talking about things of which we don’t have immediate hard and present evidence of — as being evolutionarily beneficial. It’s a social thing. You chat about this, I chat about that, much of it speculative in nature. Communication aides understanding of subjects even if the substance of the communication is not based on hard immediate data.

    The key here is that “gossip” is not a perfect synonym with “misinformation.” Which it should not be.

    • joshv02 - Dec 17, 2010 at 9:27 AM

      Thanks – sorry for not being a part of the conversation after I asked a question.

      I agree 100% that discussion is good, regardless of knowing full facts, but I suppose I read (in Gordon Gekko’s voice) “gossip is good” in the context of a divorce story being more about gossip regarding the personal lives of baseball players. I don’t see the value in communicating about the married lives of baseball players. It certainly doesn’t seem to be good for the baseball players, and I don’t see the greater value for the rest of society. While I would agree that legal restrictions on such discussions would be worse that the disease, I don’t see how good taste wouldn’t prevent people from intruding on the private lives of others.

      Why is that good?

  8. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Quoting you in context:

    Unlike a lot of people I don’t think that gossip is, in and of itself, a bad thing. But I think there’s a big difference between a potentially inaccurate trade rumor or humorous anecdote on the one hand and stuff dealing with real life and death issues on the other. In the former case strive to be accurate and stand accountable for your mistakes in the event that you are wrong. In the latter case? Boy, you had better be right.

    I am not sure I understand your reasoning as inaccurate trade rumors are almost always malicious intent. They are offered up to make an owner, GM, agent or player look foolish. Divorce rumors and breakups have been the staple of gossip columnists for years and years. Rightly or wrongly they have become fair game for public figures.

    Craig, you and I do disagree over this. You see a bright line at the content of the rumor. I see a bright line at the intent of the rumor. Checking the facts is a given for a journalist. For a gossip columnist, not so much. As journalist you have to work very hard at getting things right. As a gossip columnist you have to work very hard at stirring the pot.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:45 AM

      “inaccurate trade rumors are almost always malicious intent. They are offered up to make an owner, GM, agent or player look foolish.”

      This is ridiculous. Almost all trade rumors by anyone close to being an established reporter that turn out to be inaccurate are based on mistakes or reading too much into some intelligence. No one who operates in baseball media sets out to make players or GMs or agents look foolish via a trade rumor.

      Personally, I see the difference being effect, not intent. Who cares what someone’s intent was? If the rumor is harmful to one’s personal life, well-being or privacy, as is the case with divorce and death, it is awful, no matter how accepted the practice is. If the rumor is not harmful (i.e. player X is close to signing with team Y when he’s really going to team Z) it is harmless.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 16, 2010 at 11:21 AM

        Amen, such as a man’s family hearing he’s died. The shocker when they call the hospital and/ or other family members to find it’s actually false. The poor man was dying and this jerkwad erroneously spouts to the nation he’s dead, while he’s not. It’s sad and should be pointed out by others as not acceptable behaviour. I don’t think it’s right, and I’m glad to see many others don’t either. Colin Cowherd should be pointed out as a hack until he’s in another line of work.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:26 PM

        “Who cares what someone’s intent was?” Actually, the courts do. One of hurdles for proofing libel is malicious intent. You can’t have it both ways, it is good fun if you don’t see the harm, but wrong if you do. Report the facts and you stay out of trouble.

        What if AJ and his wife are having serious problems (“I don’t even feel comfortable telling you everything.” part of the report) and it did affect AJ’s pitching. Then the report is correct in substance and merely wrong in some of the particulars.

        Lastly, you are saying that owners, GMs, agents and players don’t have axes to grind with one another and don’t use the press for their own gain. That is ridiculous. Where were you in the summer of 1994. Where were you when the steriod names were leaked? Why would you make up a trade rumor? For the fun of it?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:32 PM

        Please don’t lecture me on libel. I litigated defamation cases for a decade. If you believe “I’m hearing that Smith may sign with the Yankees” falls someplace on the libel spectrum you need to think about the matter some more. Explain to me the damage of such a thing. Explain to me the malice.

        I have written extensively on labor issues and PEDs as well. I believe you’re dealing with a totally different set of parameters with those issues than with trade rumors. I have excoriated the leakers of the names of PED users and I have come down hard on writers who engage in idle speculation of PED use.

        As for Burnett: you’re saying that even though Burnett denies it, even though Cowherd cites no sources, and even though the subject matter is highly personal and deals primarily with a person who is not a public figure — Burnett’s wife — that such reporting is LESS a problem than trade rumor gossip? Really?

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 16, 2010 at 1:14 PM

        I’m not lecturing you on libel, but my point is valid that intent is meaningful. Damages, let’s take the Fielder rumor. Many Brewers fans think that team isn’t doing enough to sign Fielder. The false trade rumor imflamed those fans (stirring the pot). The message of the rumor was clear, the Brewers don’t value Fielder. Does that put butts in the seats or take them away? I think it does as it is bad PR for the team.

        I am not calling AJ a liar when he denies the rumor, but he has a strong self-interest in saying what he is saying, whether it is true or not. Not that it is a lie, but as journalist it should raise a flag. You need to get independent confirmation. Of course, wives and girlfriends of public figures are fair game. And just because it is personal doesn’t mean it isn’t fair game.

        You want to have both ways. It is okay to get it wrong on what you think are “little” things and not to get them wrong on “big” things. I am lecturing you on ethics and journalism. Journalists present the facts as best they can find. They try to confirm them from other sources. They tell their readers what they know as honestly as they can. They never use that excuse that their unconfirmed lies are “great fun” because they are harmless.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2010 at 1:19 PM

        So you are sticking with the notion that a trade rumor is a “big” thing and the personal life of a wife of a baseball player is “fair game.”

        At this point I think we just need to agree to disagree on this. Because I disagree pretty damn seriously with that.

  9. jamie54 - Dec 16, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Sue his ass for libel, that’ll shut him up. That and/or spread it amongst Yankee teammates ESPN cannot be trusted so don’t do their interviews. Presto, ESPN will act immediately since they don’t want that artery bleeding.

  10. bradwins - Dec 16, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    If I were in charge of programming at ESPN it wouldn’t take making up stories for me to fire Colin Cowherd. It is virtually impossible for anyone with an IQ higher than Forrest Gump’s to listen to the man for more than 30 seconds. Of all the terrible “personalities” in the sports media, Cowherd may be the least knowledgeable and most unbearable of them all.

  11. Utley's Hair - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    I might be missing something, but where was it reported last week that Feller had died? I know that Earl Weaver did the Mark Twain thing, but I was unaware of the claims about Feller.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:25 PM

      A suburban paper in Cleveland had it on their website, and it was picked up by an ESPN radio affiliate. It got tweeted around a bit that morning (either last Tuesday or Wednesday; I forget) and then corrected.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:36 PM

        Gotcha. I have yet to be sucked in to the whole twitter thing, so I guess I missed that.

  12. IdahoMariner - Dec 16, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    I’m still reeling from the proposition that possibly inaccurate trade rumors (oh noes! someone who is insanely rich might make slightly less money next year if some fans are too stupid to realize the Brewers didn’t actually trade Fielder and protest by not showing up!) are more harmful and objectionable than saying someone — who is not a public figure — is vindictive and spiteful (and insinuating that there is information about worse behavior by her that is too nasty to talk about) in an actually non-existent divorce proceeding.

    Seriously? Wow. That is some skewed world-view there. Another blow to my already tenuously held belief (hope?) that most people are actually decent and reasonable.

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:03 PM

      Seriously? If your marriage is so fragile that a lie told by a gossip columnist on radio breaks it apart, well, it wasn’t much of a marriage to start with. Craig’s rules, no harm, no foul.

      Skewed world-view here is Craig’s that integrity only matters in big things. For journalists, it matters in all things, not just the “harmful” ones. In the end a jouralist is only as good as his words. Even his view would be okay if it was consistent. One last example, Craig has been all over bloggers who simply write what agents tell them. Somehow this is wrong, even if what they are saying is true. I can’t see any harm in saying a third mystery team interested in Lee. Even if this had turned out to be false, what’s the harm? Again, Craig’s rules on telling your readers the truth.

      The truth is a serious thing. A lie, no matter how “harmless”, repeated often enough creates problems. Like ‘Obama wasn’t born in this country’ or ‘When the Mets get healthy they will have a great team’.

      Did I like what Colin said about AJ? No. But, I don’t listern to gossip columnists.

  13. ralphwilsonsucks - Dec 16, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Colin, your not that funny! Skinny turd

  14. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Breaking down the quote from AJ’s agent…

    “A.J. is ticked.” – He should be. He sucks.

    “He is not going through a divorce” – if he is not, then he should sue that idiot Cowherd and ESPN for employing the guy

    “and if he was, it would not be anyone’s business.” – Oh, I see…the old “I don’t know, but even if I did, I’m not telling you” logic. LOL. Obviously, Cowherd is at least partially correct. Plus, it would be the business of YANKERS fans if his divorce contributed to him utterly sucking the way he did. You don’t like it AJ, then don’t take the $80+ million dollars to pitch in the #1 market in the world A-Hole.

    ” They are happily married” – Uh, huh…and when the divorce is finalized, will it have just happened, or will you admit you were lying through your teeth?

    “This is irresponsible and reckless on Cowherd’s part. His reporting inaccuracies should be brought to light. This must be his idea of shock jockery.”” – While I hate Cowherd and think he is a total A-Hole, if he is right about what he said, then I have no problem with it whatsoever. Burnett is a public figure and he took the $80 million to pitch in New York for the Yankers. His private life is not private. Just like Brittney Spears, A-Roid, and the rest of the high-profile people in the world, his life is an open book.

    Now, if Cowherd is lying or making this up, then that’s different. However, absent some type of lawsuit or a fight from AJ to demand an apology from him(he could do this by pressuring ESPN to force Cowherd to apologize we all know this) we can only say that Cowherd, the slimeball that he is, is probably right here.

    Now I am going to go get a shower for actually defending that creep.

  15. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 16, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    eading over what I have written, I have wandered off my main points:

    Journalists need to be absolute anal when it comes to telling the truth.

    You can’t give the truth a pass in one instance (no harm, no foul) and not in another (oh, you messing with his guys life). Yes, some lies are bigger lies than others, but none should get a free pass.

    Nearly everybody passes info on to a journalist for a reason. Often with an axe grind. Journalists need to confirm what they are given before publishing it or say that it is completely unconfirmed. If what Cowherd wrote is a complete lie, then he probably got double played by his source. A two for one, as source settled a score with AJ and made Cowherd look foolish.

    I’ll shut up now, please hold the applause.

    • Reflex - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:25 PM

      Quite frankly after seeing your posts for the past month or so, you have some seriously f’d up values. Whats worse, you seem to hold those values as superior to others, or what the mainstream values. And you think they are normal and accepted.

      They are not. What you think has value is not what most fans, most people or our nation believes. And yes, I’m pretty comfortable making that statement. I have honestly never met someone who honestly believes that extrapolating a sporting trade rumor is on the same level as defaming someone’s wife in a national forum.

      You are all manner of FUBAR. And you seem to be dedicated to giving Craig a hard time in these forums, I have no idea why. My guess is that you are a leftover visitor from that ridiculous radio show Craig participated on, and are grasping at straws to ‘prove’ Craig is less ethical than the host of that show. But thats just my guess.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:02 AM

        I simply value the truth. Sorry, that you find that messed up. I never said that I speak for anybody, but myself. Something you might do well to follow.

        I only give Craig a hard time when he goes after someone for being a gossip columnist and pretends he is not. Craig is more civil than you are about debate.

      • Reflex - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:23 PM

        No, you value the truth when you feel it makes Craig look bad, other times you make excuses for not valuing the truth. Apparantly at times when people are slandering other people’s wives. Your value system is all sorts of f’d up.

        And yes, Craig is more civil than me. He represents the website. I do not. I also find what you write to be highly offensive. Were I a player, and someone spread a rumor about me being traded I *might* be upset about it. Were I a player and someone spread a rumor about my wife, I’d be livid. That you would not be says everything anyone needs to know about you, your priorities and your values.

        Of course I don’t believe you are telling the truth about your priorities. As I said before, your goal on this blog is to make Craig look ethically inconsistent, not to promote your own values. You are failing at that, and this thread is a good demonstration of just how far you are reaching in order to try and make that perception stick.

  16. xxakshunxx - Dec 16, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    Cowherd is a POS.. never liked him but didnt really pay attention to this moron at all until he said that ridiculous thing about John Wall never going to be a leader on the basketball court because his dad died.. seriously wtf??

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