Last night, CC Sabathia walked home with the Warren Spahn Award for the second straight year. The prize is given out by the Oklahoma Sports Museum to the best lefty pitcher in the game, and it’s no stretch to award it to Sabathia.
By itself, the award is hardly newsworthy but how the AP covered the presentation and Sabathia’s acceptance is. The AP sent Jeff Latzke of their Oklahoma City bureau to the event, and here is how he covered it. On the surface, that seems fine and dandy, but take a look at these seemingly innocuous two paragraphs:
Before Saturday night’s ceremony, he said he’s looking forward to having Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera there to close out games for him, and he’s already talked to Chamberlain about it.
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
That’s right; Jeff Latzke just put Joba Chamberlain back in the bullpen. At no point did Sabathia actually say that he’s looking forward to Mo and Joba closing out games. He simply said that he’s looking forward to the support of the Yanks’ bullpen.
Meanwhile, if we compare Latzke’s reporting to that of Yankees.com beat writer Bryan Hoch, a different tale emerges. Writes Hoch:
Before Saturday night’s ceremony, Sabathia said in a press session that he is looking forward to having Mariano Rivera close out games for him.
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J. and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
Now, I wasn’t at the press session, but do I trust the guy who covers the Yanks all season or some AP writer based out of Oklahoma City? The choice is clear to me.
This isn’t, of course, a new rant. We’ve had problems with the AP’s creating news where there isn’t any before. We’ve seen them misquote Yankee officials and, as they do here, put words into the mouths of players. It doesn’t help their credibility, however, to talk about Joba’s role in the bullpen because, simply put, he doesn’t have one. AP or not, Joba is starting this year. He may reach an innings cap, but baring a disaster, he will spend the season in the rotation. The Yankees are better off for it.