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February 25, 2011

Wezen-Ball

The Jonny Gomes Hypothetical

by Larry Granillo

When Cincinnati's Jonny Gomes heard the news that St. Louis' Adam Wainwright could be gone for the year due to Tommy John surgery, he was a bit excited:

Jonny Gomes walked into the Cincinnati Reds spring training clubhouse early Wednesday morning singing at the top of his warbly voice. The melody was not recognizable, but the words were plaintive: “Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone,” he sang joyously.

Well, that's what veteran beatwriter Hal McCoy had to say on Wednesday, shortly after the incident allegedly happened. Gomes categorically denies singing at the expense of Wainwright's injury and McCoy himself has removed the initial article with the story. In his explanation, McCoy says that he didn't mean to make Gomes look like a bad guy and that he's certain he heard the name "Wainwright" mentioned in whatever song Gomes was singing (which, apparently, was "You're the Best" from Karate Kid).

Let's choose to believe Gomes for a moment here. Hal McCoy heard him wrong and he wasn't actually singing about Wainwright's year-ending surgery. All the apologies and damage control that he's had to do since then have been entirely unnecessary, the fault of a simple misunderstanding. Even if all of that is true, the question still remains to be answered: was it really all that bad of a thing?

As long as we're dealing in hypotheticals and assumptions, let's make one more: Jonny Gomes was not happy that "Adam Wainwright, the person" is hurt. Instead, he's happy that "Adam Wainwright, the opposing pitcher with a nasty breaking ball" is no longer playing. Gomes was not thinking to himself - in this hypothetical - "Good! Glad that jerk of a pitcher is injured! I hope his arm falls off from all the pain!" That's just plain silly.

Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's finished second or third in Cy Young voting for two years in a row, and he's deserved each of those accolades. And, with Wainwright pitching alongside Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals were looking to go into the season with one of the best staff 1-2 punches in the game and one of the best lineup 3-4 punches in Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols.

As an opponent of Wainwright and the Cardinals - indeed, as the Reds primary threat for the division crown -  Gomes would no doubt like to see his toughest competition weakened. Sometimes this means an off-year from a star player or an ill-advised trade from the General Manager, but sometimes it means an injury. Whatever is going to get the opponent's star out of the lineup is good for your team. The schadenfreude that Gomes allegedly expressed was completely understandable, even if it does seem distasteful.

Now, granted, teams don't want to feel like they were just given the title. They want to feel like they earned it by playing strong opponents. A team without its star doesn't always cut it as a "worthy" adversary. But that doesn't mean a team is going to refuse a championship trophy due to weak competition. In the same way a dribbler down the line looks like a line drive in the box score, a win against a weakened opponent looks the same in the standings as a win against the 1927 Yankees.

Ah, the joys of complex human emotions.

So, was the hypothetical Johnny Gomes out of line with his Wainwright song? Should fans outside of St. Louis start booing Gomes every time the Reds come to town? Is it really so cut-and-dry? Personally, I don't think I would or could have broken into song so soon after hearing the news, no matter what kind of situation I found myself in. My first reaction is always going to be one of empathy.

But I understand where hypothetical Gomes was coming from. He's a ballplayer looking to win! Even I can't deny feeling a little bit of relief at the Brewers' new chances once the news broke. It's just the nature of fandom - and Gomes, hypothetical or not, is certainly a fan of his team. Next time, though, hypothetical Jonny Gomes should probably look around the clubhouse for certain scribes before breaking out into song.

Related Content:  Adam Wainwright,  Jonny Gomes

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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TraderBob

Not that anyone condones such things - but aren't we likely to see the first Cardinal pitch to Gomes fly past or plunk him in the hind quarters and then we all move on?

Feb 25, 2011 06:36 AM
rating: 2
 
Tarakas

Hypothetical Gomes the player should be happy that Wainwright the player will not be helping the Cardinals compete against the Reds.

However, publicly gloating about such an injury is unprofessional and in poor taste.

He also plays on a team that has had a series of incidents with Wainwright's team that has created bad blood and led to injuries. Tony Phillips instigated a brawl by making inane comments in the press and then tapping a bat upon Molina, which led to Cueto seriously lacerating Cardinal players with his cleats and inflicting a career ending injury on Jason Larue by kicking him in the head.

Given this history, hypothetical Gomes should do his best to not further inflame the already bad situation between the two teams. It would be a shame if hypothetical Gomes's behavior leads to another on field incident where another player gets seriously injured.

Hypothetical Gomes should, I think, be very worried that such an injury might involve his or Cueto's head and a 95 MPH fastball.

Or to put it another way, the Reds need to stop this garbage before someone else gets seriously hurt.

Feb 25, 2011 07:29 AM
rating: -2
 
Tarakas

Oops. Wrong Phillips. But you get the point.

Feb 25, 2011 07:29 AM
rating: 0
 
pikapp383

"Hypothetical Gomes should, I think, be very worried that such an injury might involve his or Cueto's head and a 95 MPH fastball."

TLR would go ballistic if any of his pitchers threw at someone's head.

However, that little punk Cueto is gonna have a baseball-sized bruise on his butt and/or ribs the next time he bats against the Cards.

Feb 25, 2011 07:34 AM
rating: 0
 
jinaz

To be fair, even if Gomes did this (and we don't know if he did), I am sure that he did not intend it to be public at any place outside of the clubhouse.
-j

Feb 25, 2011 07:58 AM
rating: 3
 
deep64blue

He didn't do it in public he did it in the clubhouse - a place from where reporters should be banned IMO.

Feb 25, 2011 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
nationalcoholic

It's strange to hear someone inside baseball think like that. My hunch was that these guys all relate to each other as co-workers, and they know they're just one pitch away from their own season (or career) ending surgery.

Of course, as a general rule, I don't think you'll find a less educated group of professional athletes than baseball players.

Feb 25, 2011 08:40 AM
rating: 0
 
adamsternum

Hypothetical Gomes is pretty funny. I like that guy.

Feb 25, 2011 09:57 AM
rating: 3
 
eighteen

You can respect opponents without wishing them well.

Feb 25, 2011 11:10 AM
rating: 2
 
Tarakas

Not wishing people well differs from celebrating their injury.

Feb 26, 2011 11:02 AM
rating: 0
 
10graham43

Much ado about nothing. Political correctness is out of control in this world and we spend way too much time worrying about it. Wainwright's hurt. Bad for him and his team. Good for the Reds, Brewers and Cubs and their fan bases. That's pretty much how it is. Perhaps more time should be devoted on why Chris Carpenter shows up his own players (see Ryan, Brendan) than what Johnny Gomes is singing in his own clubhouse.

Feb 25, 2011 11:49 AM
rating: 6
 
saint09

Thank you 10graham43. Agreed 100%. In the "safety" of my own clubhouse, I can be happy that a rival just got weaker. Surprised that the respected Hal would release this "story.".

Feb 25, 2011 13:32 PM
rating: 1
 
RedsManRick

There's a big difference between celebrating that an opposing team just got weaker and celebrating the injury itself.

Feb 25, 2011 12:35 PM
rating: -1
 
ArthurCopeland

I wasn't singing, but I'm a Reds fan and I was very happy to hear the Cards will be without their best pitcher. If I bumped into Mr. Wainright I'd wish him well and express my genuine sympathy on his personal misfortune. These are not mutually exclusive. Except of course in the press and on sports talk radio, where we all must pretend to be infants.

Also, I think Jonny "Hypothetical" Gomes is my favorite new player nickname! That one should stick!

Feb 25, 2011 13:34 PM
rating: 5
 
Rider11

Gomes has made an effort to correct the record - as he should, if he was indeed misquoted (which McCoy seems to now be indicating).

Also, being nitpicky, but the correct usage of the term is "cut and dried." http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/cutanddry.html

Feb 27, 2011 09:16 AM
rating: 1
 
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