Joe Smith and the St. Pete Times ran a lazy story about Rays’ first-round pick Taylor Guerrieri today that basically concluded that Guerrieri [side note, this kid needs a nickname fast, I have only typed his last name twice and I am already worn out from all the Rs, Is, and Es] fell to the Rays at 24 despite top-10 talent because of a “makeup” problem.
As Dirk Hayhurst pointed out on Twitter yesterday “makeup” is a “loosely defined term” that is a “key factor in the future of aspiring people.” (I don’t know how to link to specific tweets but Hayhurst’s timeline is here and you should all be following him because he is an entertaining read.) I’ll go further, “make up” is Joe Smith saying ‘I think this is a bad kid but I didn’t bother to get any proof of that other than unattributed rumors so, rather than reporting, I am just going to write that he is a bad kid using ambiguous terms that baseball fans will understand but, that will never amount to anything in a lawsuit for libel.’
Don’t believe me? Here is Joe Smith’s evidence that Guerrieri has a “makeup” issue:
He was not drafted in the top 10 even though Baseball America thinks he’s a top 10 player;
He tranferred high schools;
There are unconfirmed rumors about some unidentified incident; and
He won’t talk to the press even though the other first-rounders will talk to the press.
I know, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, it must be truly bizarre for a newspaper reporter to get denied an interview from a suddenly (marginally) famous person. But you have to take yourself pretty damn seriously to think his refusal to grant you an interview proves he is hiding something. I mean, why else would a high-school senior not talk to a reporter? It couldn’t possibly be because that reporter works for a newspaper famous for taking minor stories and blowing them all out of proportion, could it? I don’t know who the shadowy “advisors” are referenced in the story but, I hope their his parents because, as a parent, I would never let my kid talk to some nosy writer about some minor thing on one of the best days of his life.
Hey. Joe. You are a baseball writer, not Woodward and Bernstein. Go write about baseball. But, if you insist on doing this investigative journalism and you are going to write a story that will follow a kid for his whole career, the least you can do is, you know, some reporting. The kid shoots down your interview and that’s it? I am not a reporter but, if this kid really did something as bad as you imply in your story, then someone else saw it. Right? Or at least heard the rumor and can tell that. Right? Because if no one else has any information, then I think you should have just called your editor and said “doesn’t look like there is anything here.”
Unless someone decides to do some reporting, I am just going to assume that this kid did something we all did when we were 18. Unfortunately, in the world of high-priced amateur athletics, if you can play ball, you are not permitted to be an a-hole when you’re 18 because it gets written up in Baseball America.