Headlines were when Dan Warthen was outed by a reporter for comments he made in the clubhouse. Warthen approached Dice K’s interpreter, Jeff Cutler, to apologize for an ill attempted joke. Cutler did not take offense to this joke, but Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo, who witnessed the whole scene, broke this story later in the day.
Here is an excerpt from Woo’s article in the WSJ:
Cutler and I turned around. It was Dan Warthen, the Mets pitching coach.
“I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler.
“It’s OK,” Cutler replied.
“I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.”
“It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh.
Warthen walked away.
Were you offended by Warthen’s joke? I asked him.
“No,” Cutler said.
What was the joke? I asked.
“You should ask Dan about that,” Cutler replied.
After the story broke, Mets starter Jonathon Niese had some choice words for a group of reporters in the locker room “Stop tweeting about our clubhouse. That shit’s got to stop” was his reported statement. Now I’m not sure how Niese would feel knowing that his words were immediately tweeted out by those same reporters, but nonetheless, I was happy to see someone speak up.
Was Warthen’s joke poorly thought out? Sure, I won’t argue that it could offend the wrong person. But if the man in question, Cutler, was not bothered by it, then this becomes a non story to me. Warthen was obviously bothered by his comments enough that he went out of his way to apologize before this story ever made it to the limelight, which was as far as this needed to go. The two of them worked this issue out, without having to be told to, problem resolved, end of story.
I know this is a new day in the world of sports media, where everything these players and coaches do is a story and I mean EVERYTHING. There was a time when the locker room area was a sanctuary for teams to go back and talk freely to one another and there was an unspoken agreement that reporters would not talk about things they heard or witnessed. “Off the record” is a term that seemingly does not exist anymore, any conversation or action seen will be tweeted for the world to read about within seconds.
The locker room/clubhouse area is meant for the team. Reporters are allowed in to ask questions and gain information from the players and coaches. But now they could be looked at as “spies” of sorts, where players and managers will be weary to say or do anything in the presence of anyone. And rightly so, reporters now have the power to end someones career or at the very least tarnish their public image, like Warthen in this case, all with the push of a button.
“I apologize for the thoughtless remarks that I made yesterday in the clubhouse. They were a poor attempt at humor but were wrong and inappropriate in any setting. I am very sorry,” Warthen said.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I apologize for the insensitive remarks made by of one of our staff members. The remarks were offensive and inappropriate and the organization is very sorry,” added Mets GM Sandy Alderson.
It seems like a story of this caliber breaks every hour these days in the world of sports. I’m sure all athletes are happy to play in the present day, where contracts have reached astronomical amounts, but I’m sure at least a little piece of them misses the day when there was a mutual understanding with reporters as to what was written.