Jeff Pearlman

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Foolish intern, meet slime ballplayer

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Back in the summer of 1992, I worked as a summer intern at the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. I was, admittedly, a fool: 20-years-old, way too cocky, naive in the ways of all things media. One afternoon, simply because we were morons, another intern and I called the Chicago Cubs and requested credentials for a game at Wrigley. We went, had a killer time—then returned to find a livid sports editor wondering what in the hell were we thinking. Answer: We weren’t.

I long considered my act the dumbest thing a summer intern could possibly do … until now.

The other day I was scanning the web when I stumbled upon the blog of Jose de Jesus Ortiz, the Houston Chronicle’s excellent baseball scribe. Beneath the headline, MCNAIR’S DEATH NOT A LESSON TO ONE IDIOT, Jesus wrote of a female intern at a certain media outpost who was asked by a ballplayer whether she’d like to join him at a club later in the evening.

Wrote Jesus: “That was the first stupid decision made by the player, who just happens to be a married father. The young lady then accepted his phone number, which was a major no-no in the context of how it was offered. As if that weren’t silly enough, the young lady, who has nearly 700 “friends” on Facebook, decided to post this message on her Facebook account for over four hours: “Was asked out by (team name and player name) last night and I have his cell phone number to prove it.”

Jesus was classy enough not to “out” the intern or the ballplayer—and I’ll follow his lead. But, as with many things in life, there is a disconcerting aftermath. According to a baseball source, the ballplayer was a member of the Washington Nationals. Furthermore, because of the incident, the Nationals are now considering a permanent, all-encompassing ban of interns from the team’s clubhouse.

While summer interns are usually young and somewhat clueless, this would be a terrible shame. The hands-on experience of covering professional sports is invaluable. Why, one of the great moments of my young career was doing a profile of Mariners pitcher Dave Fleming for my hometown paper, The Patent Trader. Walking into a big league clubhouse, interviewing the manager, seeing how things worked—priceless.

As for the intern, one can only hope a valuable lesson was learned.

** Note: Several years ago the Nationals tried to ban me from their clubhouse when I was writing a semi-controversial story. When it comes to PR, they are, well, the Nationals.

  • Benji

    Seems to me that the disdain should more squarely fall upon the shoulders of the married player asking out a summer intern rather than her accepting and bragging.

  • Cyn

    Isn’t the Nationals player as equally (if not more so) foolish?

  • Bobby

    Who sends their interns out of town to cover a professional franchise?

  • lewis

    that intern is pretty bad, but there was a story last week about a U. of Florida student who was interning at the Colorado Springs paper, and she copied ENTIRE paragraphs from the NY Times and put them into her own stories.

    Because, you know, who reads the N.Y. Times and would catch her?

  • Anon

    Note that Jesus has removed the blog post. The link still works (if you have it) but the main blog link shows the post removed.

    Now THAT’S slimy.

  • John

    I respectfully disagree with your support of the beat writer, Jeff.
    To my thinking, he had no real business publishing this in the first place. Simply put, what business was it of his?
    And to go ratting out the intern to her bosses, probably ruining her career? Nice guy.
    That said, yes, the intern was stupid was putting what she apparently did on facebook. But you yourself write of your own mistakes of internships past. Good thing there was no blog about that back then, eh Jeff? Might have been more than the apparent slap on the wrist you got from your boss then.
    And good luck to the beat writer now in getting players to trust him or tell him things. I’m sure word has gotten around real quick in big league clubhouses: watch what you say or do around this guy in your off-hours. He might put it on a blog for the world to see.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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