So my friend Lisa Swan pointed out a column written by T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times. Lisa asks whether Simers is “the biggest bully in baseball?”—and I’ve gotta say, fair question.
I don’t know Simers and, to be honest, I’ve rarely read his work. But the piece Lisa is referring to, Simers’ oddball attack on the Dodgers’ Marcus Thames, oozes of, well, what? Snark—check. Pettiness—check. A galling lack of professionalism? Check, check. It’s the kind of work that gives sportswriters very, very, very bad names, because it basically says, “If an athlete doesn’t answer a question the way we want it answered, we’ll destroy him.”
I can’t believe I just wrote that last sentence, but I did. And it’s true.
To begin with, the following lines actually appear in the piece:
• So I thought I might talk to Tims/Tems on Monday. Ordinarily I don’t like to start off a week talking to stiffs, but that leaves so few Dodgers to interview these days.
• “Are you that horrible on defense that teams don’t think it’s worth playing such a home run threat?” I asked by way of introduction.
• Maybe somebody else wastes time schmoozing with Tims/Tems, but he’s a one-year rental who has some explaining to do. How bad are you on defense that teams don’t dare risk playing you?
Really, T.J.? Really? Is this who you are as a writer? As a reporter? As a professional? I know people can pull stuff out from my past—You killed Rocker; you suspected Bagwell without proof; you …
And, yes, we all have our moments. But this is the kind of stuff Simers seems to do regularly, and it reeks of ugliness. I’ll eagerly rip a player for stinking. I’ll eagerly rip a player for treating others as dirt. Hell, I’ll rip a player for treating me like dirt. But I’ll never rip a player for refusing to respond to my rude-ass, holier-than-thou, I’m-a-columnist-for-the-Los Angeles Times-and-you-damn-well-better-treat-me-with-respect dime-thin question. I mean, does Simers genuinely believe that Thames owes him an answer to that sort of introduction?
I’d walk away, too.