Sports World: Gimme Some Truth

Updated: January 7, 2013
Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

There’s “the whole truth and nothing but…” and then there’s everything else, such as spin, omissions and outright lies. We’re seeing a lot of ‘everything else’ in our beloved sports these days. It seems the popularity of social media and talk radio feels like a huge threat to the sports establishment, so they’re doing their best to satisfy the press but shut out the public from the truth. Usually we have no idea we’re being had unless the story just doesn’t make sense.

Case in point, today’s big talk topic is Robert Griffin III‘s injured knee and whether Mike Shanahan should have stuck with him after his re-injury early in the game. The more telling story comes from the original injury on Dec. 9. A report from USA Today prior to yesterday’s game said that while Shanahan claimed that RG3 had been cleared to return to action in that game, sideline doctor and renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews denied any such clearance and rather indicated he was kept from seeing RG3. In fact he was a “nervous wreck” about RG3 playing, given the condition of his knee.

If you believe Dr. Andrews, Shanahan is not only flat out lying…actually fabricating quoted conversation from the Doc…but also using Andrews’ unimpeachable rep to cover his own decision (or if you want to defend Shanny and say the Doc is lying, you should talk to Broncos fans and hear how he abused Terrell Davis’ and Clinton Portis’ careers). Nice guy.

Yesterday RG3 re-injured the knee in the 1st quarter and then again in the 4th, both times the knee buckled with no contact…clearly they knew in the 1st quarter the knee could not hold up. Shanahan defended his continuing to play RG3 by saying that the player felt good to stay in the game. C’mon who’s supposed to be the adult in the room here? Verdict? Shanahan: Spin + Liar-Liar.

Photo by dbking on flickr

Another case, Stephen Strasburg. GM Mike Rizzo took a lot of heat from around baseball (like from Leo Mazzone) for shutting down Strasburg in a pennant race. While most baseball traditionalists said he should pitch, Dr. James Andrews and Strasburg’s surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum thought otherwise.

One unreported story says that bio-mechanics experts are cautious given that Strasburg’s unorthodox ‘Inverted W’ delivery puts him at high risk for another elbow injury. The other one has to do with Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, publicly defending Rizzo for shutting Strasburg down while privately threatening Rizzo in order to protect his pitcher’s long-term interests. Boras points to Leo Mazzone protege Steve Avery whose arm was shot at 25 from overuse as Exhibit A for bringing along Strasburg slowly. The leverage: Boras not only controls where Strasburg signs next but also represents 3 other current Nats’ stars and their 3 top prospects.

This was a situation where all the pundits were scratching their heads over Rizzo’s thinking…it’s a no-brainer, let the kid pitch. However on closer inspection there were other factors behind the scenes (bio-mechanical expert opinions and the Boras pressure) that weren’t widely known. I give Rizzo a lot of credit for doing the right thing given the player risks, although the point is certainly debatable. Verdict? Rizzo: Omission (to his credit).

The lesson here is that if there’s a story that doesn’t quite make sense, someone may be lying…or we may just not know the whole truth. Unfortunately it’s becoming the norm in sports as business decisions are played out very publicly, and ‘spin’ morphs into utter fabrication. It’s sad. That’s when we need to question what we’re hearing (and when I think of John Lennon’s plea to ‘Gimme Some Truth’).

Ain’t it the truth.


This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>