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Friday, April 8, 2011

Jon Heyman Criticizes Nick Swisher Over Slide, Tweet

It was great to see the Good A.J. Burnett pitch for the Yankees yesterday -- he's now 2-0. There was one sad thing in the win, though. Nick Swisher's slide into Minnesota Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka (you can see the video here.) ended up knocking the player out of the game -- and breaking his leg. It seemed like a clean slide to me, and the Twins agreed. But it's a tough blow for the Japanese-born player in his first week of MLB.

Anyhow, Swisher did all the right things, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes:
Swisher visited Nishioka in the X-ray room.

"The first thing I said was, 'I'm sorry, man. I thought you were going to jump,' " Swisher said. "And he said, 'It was my fault. I should have gotten out of the way.' I was just trying to break up a double play. I didn't mean to do that. Especially with a guy like that, just trying to make his mark over here."

Nishioka said he appreciated Swisher's apology but didn't feel it was necessary.

Added Gardenhire: "[Nishioka] just got caught a little flat-footed. Swisher's a clean player. That's just a good baseball slide, trying to break up a double play. There's no intent there."
The article also notes that Nishioka even apologized to Gardenhire for the play!

It looks like there's no bad blood between the Twins and Yankees over this, and best wishes to Nishioka on a full and speedy recovery. But there is at least one sportswriter who took issue with Swisher -- Jon Heyman of SI.com. On Heyman's Twitter account, he first wrote:
I'm sure all the yankee honks will come after me, but I didn't love that swisher slide. Too late. Best wishes to nishioka
Then he wrote this, retweeting a Swisher tweet after the game:

wheres the remorse? remember nishi? RT @nickswisher Great series win for the Bombers today ... Off to Boston baby!
I like Heyman -- he's emailed me replies when I've written to him, and tweeted back several times. He talks to fans a lot, and is accountable, which is good. And I do like his writing, and I enjoy hearing him on the radio.

All that being said, I think he is way off base here. He has a right to his opinion on the slide, but to gripe about Swisher not showing remorse is a bit much. (Heyman later acknowledged the possibility that it might not have been Swisher himself writing the tweet. But he still thought the post was wrong.)

Are journalists going to start demonizing players not just for not talking for them, but not showing what they deem to be sufficient remorse on their Twitter accounts? Good grief.

And, as I wrote Heyman on Twitter last night, plenty of journalists in newsrooms make black-comedy jokes about tragedies that are much worse than what Swisher did. When I first visited a newsroom in college (my professor was a TV weatherman who gave us a tour during a broadcast) he warned us that we might hear some offensive jokes, because that was the way journalists sometimes coped with horrible stories -- by cracking wise. And Swisher didn't even do that -- he just posted an innocuous tweet about winning the series and getting ready for the Red Sox.

It's a touchy thing when something bad happens. When my father died, I laughed at something somebody said during the wake, and was also delighted to see an unexpected face. Would somebody view that as not sufficiently mourning?

I suppose Swisher could have specifically tweeted his apology. But really, it makes no difference -- he apologized in person, which is the important thing. Whether or not he referred to it on Twitter is irrelevant to me.

At any rate, I don't want Swisher dwelling about what happened, if it constrains him as a player. What if, the next time he is supposed to slide, he is unable to do, because he's afraid of inadvertently hurting another player?

There are a lot of dopey things athletes do on Twitter. What Nick Swisher did wasn't one of them.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Agree completely. But I have an even worse gripe with Dave Gershman over at the Beyond the Box Score who called Swisher's slide dirty. Mr. Heyman likes to stir things up. It gets a bit much at times but he was off base here as you point out.