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Despite denials, writers continue to run with the “A-Rod was benched because he was flirting” story

Oct 18, 2012, 6:58 AM EDT

ALCS Yankees Tigers Baseball

Yesterday Bob Klapisch, with no support whatsoever beyond his own speculation, said it was “unquestionable” that the Yankees benched Alex Rodriguez for Game 3 and Game 4 of the ALCS because of that New York Post story about A-Rod giving his phone number to some women in the stands during Game 1.

Then this happened:

Pretty definitive, no?  Guess not! Because despite this, Ian O’Connor, likely bored during last night’s rain delay, wrote this:

So people want to know if this is personal between you and the bosses, if the New York Post story about you and the ball and the Game 1 women in the stands — a story confirmed by a team source — is inspiring them to hit you harder than the rest.

“I don’t want to overthink it,” you said to the reporters who surrounded you Wednesday evening. Later, you added, “I don’t want to speculate.”

Both answers sounded an awful lot like yes.

And Bill Plaschke, linking the Post story, tweeted this:

I’m struggling to remember another instance in which reporters simply ignored a straight on-the-record denial of a fact by general manager and chose instead to credit what is literally nothing more than a reporter’s speculation as if it were unequivocal fact.*

Really, even if Klapisch’s story had something as thin as “an anonymous Yankees source said …” or “people are telling me …” it would at least be one story against another, and reasonable minds might assume that Cashman’s denial was a P.R. thing. I know folks hate anonymous sources, but they often speak the truth precisely because they are anonymous. And GMs, I’m sorry to say, often lie.

But this is different. There isn’t even an anonymous source for the Klapisch/O’Connor/Plaschke narrative. It is a plain conclusion by reporters, treating their angle on it as though it were the law of gravity or thermodynamics or something and thus it was unnecessary to even attempt to show their work.  But this is not so — it is not at all evident that it went down like they say it did — and thus unless there is some compelling reason why they would not even cite a source in their stories, we are left no choice but to assume that the notion that A-Rod’s benching is punitive is purely invented. That it is given credit by them because they want it to be true — or think their readers want it to be true — because it’s more juicy and interesting than the Yankees benching A-Rod because he simply can’t hit at the moment and his manager has lost confidence in him.

Guys, I’m totally willing to believe the juicier version. All kinds of crazy stuff has happened with the Yankees in the past, so an angry phone call from, say, Randy Levine to Cashman ordering that A-Rod never take an at bat as a Yankee again due to the Post story is not something that is beyond the realm of possibility. I’m a blogger who loves muck. I’D EAT THAT CRAP UP!

But you gotta give me a reason to. You have to at least have something suggesting that it actually happened rather than to just assert it and hope that the hatred and bile for Alex Rodriguez that you and your brethren in the New York sporting press have so gleefully cultivated for the past eight years will give it credibility.  In the face of Brian Cashman’s straight denial, you have to actually get off you butt and find someone who will tell you, anonymously or not, that it actually went down like you’re saying it did.

Until then, journalistically speaking, you’re just trafficking in baloney. You’re flinging unfounded stuff that, if some blogger did it, you’d excoriate as bringing on he death of the Republic.

Cut it out. Get the story or get off it.

Note that it’s not just the benching that is getting this treatment. Despite Cashman’s straight denial of it, there has been and likely will continue to be a lot written about that debunked rumor Keith Olbermann floated yesterday regarding talks between the Marlins and the Yankees of an A-Rod trade. Indeed, O’Connor credits the rumor in his story as if it was not immediately denied by Cashman when it came out yesterday afternoon.

  1. jayquintana - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    Er, couldn’t it be that A-Rod’s benched because he’s smelling up the joint?

    • sabatimus - Oct 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      No, that nothing to do with it. Plaschke’s always right. He’s the absolute pinnacle of objectivity. Right up there with Hawk Harrelson.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    And spawrts jernilism sinks ever lower beneath the line of basic competence and integrity….

    • bsbiz - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:25 AM

      In baseball, the futility line is called the Mendoza Line. After whom should we name this line? I nominate it as the Plaschke Line.

      • Adrastus Perkins - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:37 AM

        If we’re going with LA Times writers, my vote would be for the Simers Line.

      • adeedothatswho - Oct 18, 2012 at 5:44 PM

        Plaschke/Simer line. Done.

    • skids003 - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:03 AM

      It’s not just sports journalists, it’s journalists of all kinds. They just make it up, especially in the political arena. More and more people are finally figuring out you can’t believe anything you read or hear any more. Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley are rolling over.

    • badintent - Oct 19, 2012 at 1:54 AM

      Writers, we talking about writers here, Writers ? Writers writing ? I mean come on , writers? you want them to do real research ? writing facts. ? We talking about writers, not journalists. Writers ? What Craig said about writers ? come on , damn writers. shit.!

  3. indaburg - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    “That it is given credit by them because they… think their readers want it to be true…”

    You read my mind verbatim. Theatre of the absurd. I’ma grab my popcorn and watch.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      It’s fun to watch New Yorkers in their natural habitat, yes?

      • indaburg - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:42 AM

        I was born and raised in New York. I don’t miss living in the Defcon 1 hysteria over the Yankees, but yes, it is fun to watch from a distance.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        One of my favorite cartoons is from Callahan — called The Difference Between NY and LA. It’s street scenes of guys passing each other. In the NY scene, one of the guys says to the other “Fuck you” but the bubble above his head says “Have a nice day.” In the LA scene, the guy says “Have a nice day” and the bubble above his head says “Fuck you.”

      • badintent - Oct 19, 2012 at 1:59 AM

        @historiophillac
        Yes thats right. New Yorkers will tell the truth even if it stings a bit, but they do have your back when buildings are falling down. LA on the other hand is full of phony shitheads that will run to cover their own butts when the Big one hits Puente Hills downtown. Hasta la vista , baby

  4. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    I’m not shocked by this at all. You journos are fooling yourselves that the general public views you with respect. Many of you don’t disclose conflicts or bias in your work.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 18, 2012 at 7:39 AM

      Rage!

      • stex52 - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:23 AM

        And nonsense.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        Riggie Riggie Riggie Riggie Rage.
        Riggie Rage. Riggie Rage a Rage Riggie Rage a Rage…Riggie Rage.

    • indaburg - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      “You journos”? I presume you are lumping Craig in that category? He’s technically a blogger, not a journalist. Journalists supposedly are held to a higher standard, but I find that Craig regularly surpasses those standards, one of the reasons I read his work.

  5. legacybroken - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    The New York media must have been jealous of the Boston media’s evisceration of the Red Sox and decided to do the same thing to a struggling Yankee playoff squad.

  6. disappointer - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    I don’t blame the newspaper guys ignoring Cashman’s denials in the slightest bit. He is not exactly honest (nor should he be) in situations like this and the writers in New York know that. Alex Rodriguez sitting the bench for the rest of this postseason (well, presuming they face a lefty in the WS, I guess he would get a start) makes no baseball sense at all and you are left with the absurd to explain it. Cashman is never going to admit that (he probably still denies the Yankees have any interest in signing Texeira despite him having been on the team for several years now).

    • lumpyf - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Agreed. Of course, Cashman isn’t going to say it’s because of the flirting. For all we know, the decision came from above. Rodriguez denied the incident even occurred. Should we believe him as well just because he said so?

  7. Gobias Industries - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Klapisch is a man who needs to be taken seriously. He called the Steroid Era long before anyone else. Here he is before the 1988 postseason accusing Jose Canseco of steroid use (scroll to the 10:15 mark):

    They all laughed at him! But he was right! Now Klapisch is calling the Dudes Getting Benched Because They Threw A Baseball With Their Phone Number On It To A Hot Chick In The Stands Era and you’re all laughing at him! The Klap will get the last laugh, my friends. Mark my words!

    • bsbiz - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      The Clap always gets the last laugh.

      • Gobias Industries - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:38 AM

        That’s what the ceftriaxone is for.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      “The Klap will get the last laugh.”
      But I thought the klap always gets the last laugh. No?

  8. randygnyc - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Arod NEVER said the incident never happened. His exact wording was that the allegations were laughable. He has never denied it. Neither has Yankee brass. My gut feeling is that this is an organizational move, prompted by the top execs/ownership, in an effort to get Alex to waive his no trade clause. It’s undeniable that this relationship is now unsalvageable. Arod now has a reason to allow a trade. Ultimately, the Yankees re did Arods contract assuming he’d make a legitimate run at the home run crown. Since the steroid news broke, that is not possible now, even if his performance would allow for it (perhaps unlikely now). Yankees must be thinking that whatever Arod could give them going forward, it won’t be worth the money they’d have to pay him. They’ll eat 60-70% of the money they owe him and ship him off. Pretty stunning, these sudden turn of events. I’m not really happy with the Yankees as an organization.

  9. stex52 - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Yes, I believe! Joe Girardi would rather lose the World Series than deal with the possibility that one of his players is engaged in pre-marital intimacy! So he squelched that little affair before it got started! I’m sure A-Rod got the message!

    Now, space cadets, let’s go back to earth.

  10. doubleogator - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    If he keeps swing the bat like he’s doing now he’ll have plenty time to flirt…..

  11. paperlions - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    I saw the “interview” in which ARod was surrounded by vultu….er…reporters who kept asking him essentially the same question. I thought he handled it well and I was embarrassed for the group of vultu…er…reporters.

    This situation reminds me of watching a group of people decide what they think about a topic in the absence of any information whatsoever. They toss out a few idea, none of which are fact-based. One idea starts to gain support, and within minutes the entire group decides it is true….all without the introduction of a single fact. After this social interaction occurs, those individuals will staunchly defend their opinion in the face of a mountain of facts…even though the opinion was generated in the absence of facts. Very interesting social phenomenon that applies to pretty much every culture, generation, or topic.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Reminds me of the way the St. Louis media dumped on Rasmus.

      • paperlions - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        Yep.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        Absolutely P.C.
        The St. Louis press is definately on par with the New York press.
        I mean…they are almost the same. If they weren’t so different of course.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM

        Of course!

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      Yeah…I found myself embarrassed for them as well Paper. Strange feeling. But embarrassed I was!

  12. snowbirdgothic - Oct 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    New York sports reporters circling A-Rod remind me of the titular entity in Ray Bradbury’s “The Crowd”.

  13. willclarkgameface - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Dare I say it, but you ALMOST feel bad for any of the players that wear the New York Yankees uniform.

    In my baseball watching time (25 years), I have mostly seen the successful version of this franchise. Now that this team has altogether forgotten how to hit a baseball minus their captain that went down with a season ending injury, the New York media actually believes their own hype and exist as the sharks in the water we’re always told they could potentially be.

    It’s disgusting. I saw the ass wipe reporters huddled around A-Rod yesterday before the game and he looked calm, answering all the questions the right way, and coming off with the least amount of douchery I have seen from him in…well, almost ever.

    If this team loses tonight, it’s going to be a long winter in New York. I’m okay with that for a multitude of reasons, but the first one being this Steinbrenner crew CANNOT respond like their father. George would have DEMANDED his 2013 team to win 120 games and damn it, would probably come very close.

    New York media sucks.

    • Old Gator - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      Thanks for belaboring the obvious.

      Yet again.

  14. pisano - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    If there’s any way possible the Yankees will part company with Arod this off season. The problem is how do they get rid of him. I’m sure they are working on it, but who would want him? no one, unless the Yankees pick up most of his contract, which is not out of the Question, does AJ Burnett ring a bell?

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Boston and Toronto have demonstrated that it is possible to dump big contracts.

      • willclarkgameface - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        Please, for the love of God, let Ned Colletti and the powers that be in Los Angeles NOT have the number of Brian Cashman and vice versa.

        Send A-Rod to Florida where NO ONE gives a shit about baseball and he can end his career hitting 4th in an unimpressive NL lineup with absolutely NO pressure to succeed, causing no pressure of failing. It’s a match made in baseball hell: FLORIDA.

        DO IT CASHMAN!

  15. serbingood - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    The problem is that the bat A-Rod is swinging well is not the bat that can score runs for his team. His bat can score alright, but just not team runs. The benching is a reminder that he has to get his hitting priorities in order. The only scoring he should be concerned with is the one that is publicly shown on the big electronic displays on the playing field, not the one in his little black book (or Blackberry). If this really happened A-Rod should have known better. Trying to get a phone # on a ball should be left for the off season. We have been told for generations that adult gratification before a game makes one’s performance on the field suffer. Based on his post season performance, he must have had many balls in in the stands since his return from the DL.

    That said, The Yankees are trying to save him the embarrassment of striking out on and off the field. Cashman knows how this plays out. I recall that at one time he was burning his candle at both ends. This team is turning dysfunctional at all levels.

    At least we no longer have to keep hearing about the team leading the league in total home runs, runs scored totals, wining the division, etc. The Rise and Fall of the New York Yankees circa 2012 is more interesting. A-Rod is merely a long chapter in a very long book.

  16. xpensivewinos - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    I was getting worried. Things had been quiet for the most part for a long time.

    I guess the Yankees got tired of seeing the Red Sox step on their own d*cks non-stop for over a year now and said enough is enough…..It’s our turn again!!!

    And to think that giving a guy a zillion dollar contract isn’t working out well for the team. If only someone could have predicted that or seen it coming…….

  17. sdelmonte - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    The one positive to all this for me: Anything the Mets do short of Fred Wilpon committing a first class felony will be overshadowed by the Yankees this offseason.

    Otherwise, this whole thing is sad, sickening, and boring, and threatens to cast too big a shadow over the actual games.

  18. beelza - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    New Joke Yankees – MLB granted you a very late 20 hour stay-of-execution. The Yankees have brought their traveling circus to Detroit. New York is making a mockery of the revered ALCS. In Detroit, we’re very serious about trying to win this series and a championship. ARod is not the story here. Playing musical line-ups is not the story. The Yankees front office inability to handle their business has turned Detroit’s historic pursuit of a WS championship into an embarrassing TMZ-style cheap reality show. The Yankees on field play is shameful and one would think they would try to be a little dignified, move quietly and with purpose, trying to salvage any good baseball reputation they have. Sadly, either they cannot or will not, conduct themselves in a manner that belies their great and proud histoy The final insult to MLB, and to their hosts and competitors comes by way of crying about missed calls, phantom strike zones and unkind post-season schedules. This Yankee team has undone in one week, what took 100 years to build-respect, diginity, honor and world class players and play. New York, take your elimination like men and quicky and quietly leave. How far the Yankees have fallen is demonstrated by Detroiter’s, yes Detroiters begging you to go home.

    • zzalapski - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      I haven’t across this kind of bombast and lapse in logic since the last Michael Bay movie I watched.

      • zzalapski - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        *come across*, argh. Edit function!

      • seeinred87 - Oct 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        I’m from the Detroit area and a sucker for bombast, so I kinda liked his post, but that literally made me laugh out loud

  19. joewilliesshnoz - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Just another player who’s performance dropped , now that he’s off the juice .

    • zzalapski - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Obviously, you were asleep for most of the previous decade.

  20. joewilliesshnoz - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    He won’t be the first steroid – induced contract the Yankees will eat .

  21. gabeguterres - Oct 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Wow. “Excoriate.” Nice one, Craig. I had to look it up.

  22. raysfan1 - Oct 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    In 2011 Rodriguez sustained a major hip injury. Significant joint injuries take more than 1 full season before they are fully healed. This year he broke his wrist. By next spring the hip should be truly 100% again, and the wrist should be pain free. If he avoids another significant injury, I expect to read stories about a “resurgence” of A-Rod next year…wherever he may be playing.

  23. dizoakiusmaximus - Oct 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Remember when the playoffs were exciting enough on their own without a crap story about a crap player?

  24. mesurf4mesurf4 - Oct 18, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    ALOHA Baseball Dudes

    If a Bottle of MCJordan BB-Q sauce went for 10K on E-Bay, imagine how much one of A-Rods “BALLS” would go for.!!!
    Just Sayin

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