Yesterday, Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a pedestrian, if well-turned column about Scott Rolen — he’s strong, silent, and magic, and his gritty greatness has willed the Reds into first place.
Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch wrote the same column.
Rolen is a quiet, no-nonsense guy with the mindset of a mule
He brings professionalism to his craft and demands that teammates play “the right way.”
Both make silly overstatements:
They see him playing a Gold Glove third base, even at 35.
But contract numbers and even hitting and fielding statistics are secondary to Rolen’s influence in the clubhouse, where he serves as both conduct patrolman and psychologist.
Oller goes off the deep end with a load of utter nonsense:
Baker paused. “I’ve always said that if your stars are jerks, then your younger kids become jerks. They pick up on it. If your stars are good guys then your younger guys tend to be good guys.”
That observation is most telling in the attitude shift seen in outfielder Jay Bruce, who came in under the Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn regime and began to go bad in a sour clubhouse. When the bad attitudes departed, and Rolen arrived, Bruce’s behavior shifted toward the positive.
Really? There’s a lot of b.s. in that paragraph:
First, Jay Bruce had a bad attitude? My memory is that Jay Bruce has played hard every game since he arrived in the big leagues. And I’ve watched more Reds games than Rob Oller.
Second, does Oller is a columnist for the Dispatch, a paper that no longer covers the Reds beat. He writes about the Reds about four times a year. If he’s going to accuse guys of being clubhouse cancers – about the worst thing you can say about a ballplayer – he needs to be able to back it up with sources. And from what I can see, he’s just repeating gossip.
Third, Jay Bruce was called up to the majors on May 27, 2008. Ken Griffey was traded on July 31, and Dunn on August 10. That’s barely two months — 66 games where Bruce was on the roster with Dunn. And in that amount of time, Jay Bruce was able to come up, hit .400/.500/.636 for the first two weeks, and then “began to go bad?”
Fourth, if Bruce did have a bad attitude in 2008, and Dunn and Griffey were such forces of evil, why didn’t Oller write about it then?
Of course, while I bash Oller for the Dunn/Griffey cheap shot, I shouldn’t ignore that Doc was on the same page with there, too. From Doc’s SI.com piece, linked to here yesterday:
Rolen just comes in and goes to work. Dunn and Griffey liked to lounge on the couch in the clubhouse before games, leafing through expensive-car catalogs and outdoors magazines. Sometimes, they’d be joined by the young and impressionable, including prize prospect Jay Bruce. This didn’t escape management’s attention.
At least Doc was in the clubhouse from time to time. He’s focusing on nonsense, but he was at least around.
So how did this happen? How do two guys write the same column? Well, the Reds’ day game gave these guys had a chance to put a column to bed early on Tuesday. The rise to first place and the end of the Cavs season gave Oller a reason to drive down. They clearly walked around together and listened to someone with an axe to grind (Jocketty?) bitch about Dunn, Griffey, and those horrible, horrible “outdoors magazines.” (Daugherty has an irrational hatred of couches too). Rolen was one of the heroes of Tuesday’s game, and someone got him talking (Frankly, Rolen comes across as a bit of a “get off my lawn” type, especially in Oller’s column). They got the obligatory “veteran leader” quote from Dusty, and they were home for dinner.
The mission was myth-making, and they did it by the numbers.
Media criticism aside, this needs saying: I like Scott Rolen on this club. A lot. He does play hard, and smart, and I’m sure that stuff does rub off. But pretending he has magic powers does a discredit to his 882 OPS, a discredit to Jay Bruce’s hustle in the outfield, a discredit to Joey Votto’s all-around game, and a discredit to the fact that Cueto/Bailey/Leake is a lot better than Belisle/Lohse/Livingston. Baseball’s a great game on its own. I don’t need some guys in pleated Dockers making moral judgments about the magazines a player
reads “leafs through.”