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All The News That's Fit To Interpret
by Derek Smart
Today, we'll start with an exercise in what the newspapers call "reporting". Our first example comes from Paul Sullivan in this morning's Tribune.
After Pierre's introductory news conference Wednesday at Wrigley Field, general manager Jim Hendry disclosed he would offer Patterson arbitration next week and might give him the right-field job in 2006.
This was the first I read on the subject today, and after being forcibly restrained from harming myself, I went on to see how the other papers covered the story. This is Bruce Miles in the Daily Herald.
Starting in right field for your 2006 Chicago Cub[s] Corey Patterson?
Probably not, but with the Cubs scrambling to sign or trade for a left-handed hitter to play right field, general manager Jim Hendry went on record Wednesday as not ruling out the beleaguered Patterson.
"Sure," Hendry said.
Now, where the first statement made Patterson seem like he was a viable option for the right-field job, Miles' phrasing paints the possibility as more of a contingency plan should other more desirable alternatives not pan out. Then there's what Mike Kiley gives us in the Sun-Times.
Asked if Corey Patterson could play right field, Hendry replied, "Sure." If he plans to make that statement next month at the Cubs' annual fan convention, he would be advised to hire several armed guards to ensure his protection.
In truth, Hendry also is involved in trade discussions about Patterson after acquiring center fielder Juan Pierre from the Florida Marlins. So he simply was acknowledging that Patterson remains on the roster, not predicting that he will get the job in right field.
So, not only does Kiley go the extra mile to let us know how this statement came to be made in the first place, but he let's us know that, as he sees it, the possibility is not only remote, it's downright laughable.
Three gentlemen, all at the same press conference, all hearing the same responses to the same questions, came up with these three very different ways of translating those statements to us - and yes, these are translations, interpretations, if you will. It's an important lesson in the value of context, and something to always keep in mind when reading your morning paper on any subject.
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Of course, all the hubub above obscures the real news, which is that Hendry is now publicly stating his intention to offer Patterson arbitration - and, to my mind, it is the statement of intent that is really important here, not the possibility of it becoming reality, undesirable though that may be.
In other words, with the non-tender deadline looming, and the Cubs still trying to deal Corey, it became necessary to let potential trade partners know that there would be no discount to be had after the 20th - that if you do, indeed, want to bring this man to your club, you'll have to give something in return.
I don't believe for a second that the team is really considering running Patterson out there as a starter, or even having him on the club, until every last living option has been exhausted. Granted, that could still happen, but I think the possibility is remote. Hendry is trying to facilitate a deal, not keep Corey in the fold. At least, that's my interpretation.