You know how all those weird videos and stories circulate through social media and have everyone talking before some sane individual finally points out that they’re fake? That’s what I thought was happening with a purported Gordon Wittenmyer story about Starlin Castro and ADD. But there was no Snopes to the rescue on this one folks, because it turns out the Sun-Times scribe really did write a piece titled Speculation or not, Cubs’ Starlin Castro has no plans to seek ADD diagnosis.
This isn’t just click-bait, it’s tossing a lit M-80 into the pond and just scooping up the dead fish that float to the surface. Trouble is, if they’ve been swimming around in the swill of the CST pond they’re likely to be more than a bit contaminated. Further trouble is I’ve clearly outed myself as one such dead fish and am subsequently passing this poisoned pond water along. This image is fitting though when you consider that CST columnist Rick Telander once referred to bloggers as living in a “brown bog.”
First things first, I want to establish that I do understand that most journalists do not create their own headlines, which is the chief reason I could never be an actual journalist. Well, outside of having no qualifications, no formal training, and no connections. Can you imagine the amount of raw punnage that would be wasted by turning over control of my masterfully crafted headers? If I’m going to make no money writing about the Cubs, I’d rather do it from my own home and with control over the awful plays I make on words.
But while the pros may not have final say on the bold print above the story, they’re ones writing the ledes. And what I saw in Wittenmyer’s just struck a sour note with me. Like, more sour than usual, which is really saying something.
It’s called attention deficit disorder, or ADD.
“I know what it is,” Starlin Castro said.That doesn’t mean the Cubs’ shortstop wants to know anything more than that about the subject.
Throughout Castro’s career, mental lapses, moments of lost focus and inexplicable errors on routine plays have raised speculation among fans, scouts and even some in his organization – including the clubhouse — that he has a form of the common disorder.
Wittenmyer is just speculating, just asking, so it’s not as though he’s breaking HIPAA laws by disclosing private medical information, but this just seems like, what, sensationalism? I don’t know if I want to go so far as to label it yellow journalism, but G-Dub Cub sure is looking a little jaundiced these days. And if I’m reading the byline correctly, this came out at 8:11 pm CST, about two hours INTO THE CUBS GAME.
Ed. note: I was just reminded of an AP article from 2011 that chronicled Castro’s lack of focus during the infamous Bobby Valentine Game. Right there, maybe two-thirds of the way down: “At one point, [then-manager Mike] Quade was asked if Castro was going to be tested for Attention Deficit Disorder.”
Indicating that people in the organization and even teammates are questioning a diagnosis that — again, let’s be clear — does not exist just strikes me as something that is meant to stir up a little trouble. Especially bringing teammates in. There’s enough testosterone and ego in a professional locker room to make Spike TV look like Nickelodeon and this feels to me like poking the bear for the sake of poking the bear.
Speculation about where a player is at mentally is one thing. I should know, I’ve been calling Castro’s mental state into question for quite some time now. I just can’t imagine sticking a mic in Castro’s face and asking him if he thinks he might need to be medicated, let alone then going and asking the same thing of Joe Maddon. About Castro, that is.
At this point, I’m starting to feel as though Wittenmyer and his cohorts are simply trying to get a rise out of Maddon or someone else in the organization. To that end, I admire the team for not making the man’s job more literal. I can see the headline now: Cubs Beat Writer.
I’m sure I’m just allowing my general disdain for a struggling paper to color my views of the content its writers vomit out and I know that throwing stones while standing in the front yard of my glass house isn’t necessarily the smartest thing to do, but I can’t help it. This isn’t like the Telander piece, which made me genuinely mad and remains stuck in my craw to this day. No, Wittenmyer’s work didn’t anger me, it just made me feel kind of oogy.
I don’t even have any steam left for an impassioned conclusion here because I’m just tired. Physically tired, yes, but also emotionally worn out. It’s probably just a waste of time for me to fire my little pellet gun at a target that, while wasting away visibly, is still large enough to not feel the sting. I suppose I’ll go back to making bad puns now.
But before I go, I may as well get in a shameless plug for the swag in our shop, specifically the Narrative Buster t-shirt that I think is quite apropos in this situation.
Direct messages on Twitter revealed a mea culpa of sorts from Wittenmyer, who claims that he “truly likes [Starlin] and hate[s] seeing him bashed.” He goes on to say “I didn’t execute the story well and probably should have skipped it. But it actually came from a compassionate place.”
Wittenmyer also says that he spoke with several people close to Castro who are convinced he has ADD and that the Cubs shortstop has refused out of pride. That’s all well and good, but I just can’t imagine how public shaming is born out of a “compassionate place.” That is the part that just baffles me. Sounds like more of a backtrack, but maybe he’s just a very different person with a very different code.
One final thing about this little apology/justification I have real trouble with is the part where the beat writer says he “had them leave it out of the print edition.” That’s Peter Venkman yanking the tablecloth off the table in the Sedgewick Hotel’s ballroom, thus sending everything but the centerpiece clattering loudly to the floor, and sarcastically proclaiming, “The flowers are still standing!”
Not only was the toothpaste already out of the tube by the time the actual paper hit driveways and newsstands, but the cat was out of the bag as well. I admit that I have no idea what CST’s circulation is, though my disdain for the paper makes me want to believe it’s pretty low. But given the shift toward digital media and the speed at which news travels online, damage wasn’t limited by keeping it out of the hard copies.
I know I said that was my final thing, but now I’ve got one more. There is no way Wittenmyer is oblivious to his status as an antagonist when it comes to Cubs coverage. Whether he set out to craft that image or not, it’s there and he’s done zero to shy away from it. If you do something out of character, you’ve got a little more leeway when it comes to apologizing. But when you establish a pattern of behavior, it’s pretty difficult to be taken at face value when you try to go back and pull a “but what I meant was…”
I’ve probably devoted way more time to this matter than it actually deserves, so I will now close my thoughts on it down once more.