May 6, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) heads to the dugout after being relieved by manager Bobby Valentine (not pictured) during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Times certainly have changed in baseball, and that became even more evident after Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz attended a charity event (but did not drink) after recently getting out of the hospital for intestinal bleeding.
Times have changed.
Tales of Mickey Mantle going out and get rip-roaring drunk almost every night, and at times playing with an extreme hangover are legendary. It was not reported on, and if it was mentioned, it was almost in reverential, heroic terms.
Babe Ruth ate, drank, smoked and caroused to excess, many times in the company of reporters, who in turn portrayed him as a hero to the youths of America.
Larry Bird liked to drink beer during his playing career, and tales of a fight in a bar during the Eastern Conference finals in which he injured his hand are hardly ever mentioned.
But in 2012, if you're Clay Buchholz, and you just got out of the hospital and then decide to attend a charity event in which you reportedly do not even take a drink, you'd better be prepared to be accountable to the full wrath of the Boston sports media.
In this world fueled by the likes of TMZ.com, gossip is king. This applies to the sports world in Boston like few other places. We might have two sports radio stations, but much of their airtime is devoted to sports gossip, dealing with what athletes do outside of the game, rather than actual analysis and reporting on what happens during games.
The Buchholz story became a day-long topic (on the same day as the NBA draft) after Scott Zolak tweeted late Wednesday night that he had heard that the Red Sox pitcher was in attendance at a "damn good pool party going on at MGM Grand Foxwoods.'
The event, which turned out to be a charity event for the Greg Hill Foundation, an event that Buchholz was asked to attend by friend after it was determined that he would not be going with the Red Sox on their West coast road trip. Alex Speier of WEEI.com reported soon after Zolak that the event was charitable in nature and that Buchholz did not drink at the function.
Both WEEI and 98.5 FM led off their morning shows with discussion of Buchholz attending the event. Toucher and Rich put out a Tweet that, while worded innocuously enough,put the emphasis in such a way that let you know this was a SCANDAL
CLAY BUCHHOLZ didn't travel w the team to the west coast, but was at a vodka-sponsored pool party at MGM Foxwoods last night. Details NEXT.— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) June 28, 2012
Their discussion of this topic led to a few national sites picking up the story, mostly to ridicule the Boston media for making this a story.
TheBigLead wrote of Toucher and Rich - They are just presenting themselves as sensationalist dummies while acting as representatives of Boston sports media and fans.
Deadspin wrote of the Boston sports media in general: Don't couch it as this will look bad to the fans, even though the fans don't care until you tell them they should care. It's an insult to readers, an affront to logic, and yes, a boon for circulation. Controversy sells, even if the offended parties are an entire fanbase of straw men.
Others jumped on the story throughout the day. Outside of Obamacare, this might've been the most hotly debated topic of the day. On any subject.
Which, when you think about it, is ridiculous. Everyone is suddenly a moralist, everyone is worried about how this is a slap in the face to the "fans" - the fans that the media routinely insults and makes fun of in the course of their job.
Whichever "side" you're on, the fact that this is a story at all just shows how far we have come from the days of Ruth, Mantle, and even Bird.