Over the last week the media have made two proverbial mountains out of mole hills, because, well, the media has a vested interest in creating and sensationalizing stories. It's not like journalists are on an evil mission to perpetuate falsities or embellish points, but it's hard to write a new story every day. In order to craft a more interesting story, sometimes corners must be cut. But just because it's easier to write a story by ignoring some facts does not mean it should be done, especially when the masses are so easily swayed by the words of scribes and TV talking heads. Case in point, the Rick Ankiel and Chad Pennington stories.
Ankiel- If you were only to read the headline or the first few paragraphs of the Daily News article that first broke this story, you would think that Rick Ankiel was an unabashed steroid user. Buried deep in the article are facts that should have pretty much made this story nothing more than a blip on the radar- namely that he received a shipment of HGH several years ago before it was a banned substance, he was still a pitcher, and lastly he was recovering from major arm surgery. Furthermore, there is very little evidence that HGH does much more than shorten recovery time for injured athletes. Doesn't this sound like a great drug? I mean what fan wouldn't want their players to get back on the field as soon as possible? Let's also remember that Ankiel was scuffling along in the minors and his career was teetering on the brink of Spearsian disaster. Can you really blame him for wanting to get back on the field as quickly as possible? A complicated convalescence and he is sitting in the Long Island Ducks dugout with Jose Offerman. Now three years later he has become a outfielder, has not had any injuries, and there is zero evidence that he has used any type of performance enhancing drug, yet media members are making him out to be public enemy number 1.
Chad Pennington- I was at Sunday's game and witnessed the controversial events live and in surround sound. Despite what Keith Olberman and Phil Simms amongst others contend, the Jets faithful did not cheer Chad Pennington's injury. Chad got his ovation when he did "the sprain" off the field, but Jet fans have been eagerly anticipating the Kellen Clemens era. It's often said that the backup qb is the most popular player on the team. Pennington himself realizes this, since he was in this very position years ago when he first took over for Vinny Testeverde. Anyway at the time Chad was injured the Jets were getting pushed around like Donna Martin on spring break in Palm Springs. Many, myself included, were hoping that Kellen could provide a spark. The crowd erupted in cheer, not because Pennington was hurt, but rather out of the anticipation of seeing Clemens, the quarterback of the future, get some real game reps. Clemens was a 2nd draft pick, had a great preseason, and can actually throw a 25 yard out. Jet fans are legitimately excited about his prospects and simply wanted to support the quarterback who will hopefully lead the team to success the next 10 years. Chad did get a round of applause when he returned on the following drive. Of course that didn't get reported, since it would have been harder to fit this story in a nice little package. Yes, the timing of the massive applause was not good, but the eruption was for a glimpse at the future, not a celebration of injury.
Are Jets fans down on Pennington? I get the sense that they are to an extent. But that is a whole 'nother post that I'm working on.