March 23, 2011

L. A. Times Scorches Former Tigers Slugger Marcus Thames — But Why?

By any chance did you see this hatchet job on Marcus Thames by the Los Angeles Times‘ T.J. Simers? I’m not sure what Country Strong did to deserve this:

Marcus who?

According to Dodgers’ propaganda, this no-name thumper hits a home run every 15.58 at-bats — ranking him 27th in baseball history. Yowza!

Now you would think anyone ranked 27th in baseball history in anything would be a household name, but in his own clubhouse no one seems quite sure how to pronounce his name.

The Dodgers, while gushing about his stats, instructed everyone in their propaganda to call him “Tims,” while Tims tells everyone else his name is pronounced “Tems.”

I just know this: It’s hard to believe such a monster with the bat would be available as a free agent and so cheaply the Dodgers could afford to sign him.

And that’s about the nicest part. It’s not often you see something as vicious as this in a mainstream paper.

Dodgers camp must certainly be boring if Simers has to resort to trashing a guy.

10 Comment(s)

  1. Lee Panas | Mar 23, 2011 | Reply

    Dan Shaughnessy writes stuff like that in The Boston Globe regularly. The difference is that Shaughnessy is usually humorous. If a writer is going to be an ass, he should at least be funny!

    Lee

  2. kent | Mar 23, 2011 | Reply

    I registered on the LA Times website solely for the purpose on commenting about that mean-spirited article written by a bitter, hateful and tactless writer. Shame on TJ Simers. The LA Times should be embarassed that it published his article on Thames. Keep your head up, Marcus. Hopefully, you’ll get an apology from Simers after you hit your first go-ahead home run for the Dodgers.

  3. Tiger | Mar 23, 2011 | Reply

    That just shows you how out of touch Dodger fans are…Give the ravine back to the Mexicans! Dodger Blue is itchy.

  4. Travis | Mar 24, 2011 | Reply

    Like all Tigers fans, I know who Marcus Thames is. A great guy, always quick to smile, and loved in every clubhouse he has ever been in.

    There could not be a worse target for this writer’s vitriol. Marcus’ mother has been paralyzed since he was five. As an adolescent in Louisville Mississippi, he went out and worked to support his brothers an sisters, then went on to serve in the National Guard. All this while staying focused and working hard enough to turn himself into a professional baseball player.

    Shame on Mr. Simers.

  5. kent | Mar 24, 2011 | Reply

    I was bored this evening so I wrote TJ Simers an email about the Thames article.

    Dear Mr. Simers:

    Your column about Marcus Thames has angered me far more than any other column I have ever read. I find it hard to believe that a writer for a major American news outlet would trash a a classy guy like Thames this much for not responding with good natured self-deprecation to such an insulting question. Or were you angry with Thames because he didn’t know who you were even though he’s played his whole career before this season in the American League nowhere near Los Angeles. You need to get over yourself. The LA Times should be embarrassed that your unjustified character assassination was published.

    You criticize Thames’ batting average against right handed pitching. However, Thames’ batting average against righties is far better than your average when it comes to exhibiting professionalism, decency, tact, politeness, pragmatism, eloquence, intelligence, etc., etc., etc. in your writing. Instead, you are a pro with regard to arrogance, narcissism, vindictiveness, pomposity, acrimoniousness, etc. You are a disgrace to your profession. I hope Mitch Albom calls you out on this Sunday’s “Sports Reporters” in the same manner that Curtis Granderson and Peter Gammons did on Twitter.

    The fact that Thames decided to answer your questions today despite your hatchet job is further evidence that Thames is one of the true gentlemen in the game of baseball. A lesser man would have ignored you for the rest of the season, and such a response would have been completely justified. Your article today acknowledges that he spoke to you, but you did not bother getting off your 27 feet-tall high horse, climbing down from your ivory tower, and tempering your vitriolic tone regarding Thames. Nope. Apparently, you are content with being nothing more than a cantankerous and ignorant hack of a reporter.

    Perhaps you should stay in LA the next time the Dodgers come to Detroit for interleague play. Based on the comments posted about your article, I think it’s safe to say that Tigers fans despise you.

    P.S. You do realize that there is a rather famous river in England called the River Thames, right? It’s pronounced “temz,” you imbecile. I hope you realize how juvenile and obtuse you will seem to anybody who wastes his or her time reading the garbage that was printed yesterday. Shame on you.

  6. kent | Mar 24, 2011 | Reply

    Here is TJ Simer’s reply:

    You’ll grow up and get over it, or you will grow up thinking sports are important

    My reply:

    Ha. This is exactly the type of response that I would have expected you to send. Sports may not be that important, but courtesy, politeness, kindness and professionalism are virtuous. You should try it. You may find it to be rewarding, personally and professionally.

  7. Sam Gifford | Mar 25, 2011 | Reply

    I met Marcus Thames one night at a benihana in Troy, he sat right next to my family. Ive met alot of pro athletes in my life but he was by far the nicest athlete ive ever met. He talked to us about the team and even let us play with his daughter, just truly a nice person. I still miss that guy from the tigers lineup personally. But, screw this a-hole from LA non sports fans anyways. Marcus will prove who he is ,,,Go Tigers

  8. Jim Craddock | Mar 25, 2011 | Reply

    If sports is so unimportant to this guy, why is he a(n alleged) sportswriter? He needs to find a new profession. Sounds like he’d be perfect for Fox News.

    I loved your email (and later response) Kent. Too bad you wasted your time and words on such a classless jerk.

  9. Joel Barnhart | Mar 25, 2011 | Reply

    I met Thames a few years ago while interviewing some Tigers during a winter team caravan.

    While it was not my assignment to interview him (I wrote up a story on JV instead), I did speak to him briefly. He could not have been a nicer guy. Was polite, courteous and more than happy to talk to a part-time scrub reporter like me.

    TJ Simers is the type of writer I hated. He gives (along with many others) sportswriters a bad name. He’s a detriment to the profession. And, after reading this, the human race as well, in my opinion.

  10. kent | Mar 26, 2011 | Reply

    Since i’m sick and in bed with extra time on my hands, i wrote a letter to the sports editor at the LA Times. Apologies to the above commenter, Jim Craddock, for not listening to his advice about not wasting my time on such a classless jerk. Here it is:

    Dear Mr. James:

    The purpose of this email is to complain about various failures and inadequacies demonstrated by the Los Angeles Times when it published T.J. Simers’ misguided and unprofessional article on Marcus Thames. I put a lot of thought into this email, so please read it in its entirety.

    Although I could write a 12,000 word email describing Mr. Simers’ shortcomings as a thoughtful journalist and a considerate human being, I think it is more important to point out how his deplorable and embarrassing column could have been avoided if the L.A. Times had held itself to higher standards.

    The L.A. Times has a responsibility to oversee the professional conduct of its journalists and to review the content of their writings prior to publishing such writings. The L.A. Times presumably reviewed the Thames article before attaching its name to it, so Mr. Simers’ failures must be imputed to the L.A. Times. Therefore, whether shortcomings in the article can be attributed to the writer, fact-checker, or editor, it is ultimately the L.A. Times that must bear responsibility.

    First, the L.A. Times failed to do its homework regarding the history and reputation of the target of its unjustified character assassination. A simple Google search would have revealed touching stories, one by the NY Times, about Thames’ paralyzed single mother and how Thames joined the National Guard in high school to support his family. As many journalists have written since Simers’ article on Thames was published, your readers would have enjoyed reading a human interest story about this member of the Dodgers more than the disturbing account of a verbal/written assault on Thames by a cantankerous, arrogant, vindictive, pompous, narcissistic, acrimonious, and ignorant reporter employed by the L.A. Times. A quick perusal of the many articles and blog entries written about Simers’ Thames piece reveals numerous anecdotes and accounts of Thames’ kindness and friendliness to both reporters and fans. Peter Gammons and Curtis Granderson, a player with a reputation similar to that of Thames, also criticized Simers via Twitter. The L.A. Times could have avoided the overwhelmingly negative publicity it has endured since this article was published if it had bothered to get to know Thames before crucifying him for absolutely no reason.

    Second, the L.A. Times failed to check its facts. Mr. Simers’ column states definitively that Thames can’t hit right handed pitching without providing any factual basis for such statement. However, Tony Paul of the Detroit News questions the accuracy of this assertion in writing that Simers “could’ve also taken 15 seconds to scroll through Thames’ BaseballReference.com page and discover he actually has been more of a run producer against right-handed pitchers. He has 68 home runs in 1,011 at-bats against righties, or one bomb every 14.86 at-bats. Against lefties? 45 homers in 750 at-bats, or one every 16.7. With RBIs, it’s the same story: One every 5.8 at-bats against righties, one every 6.3 at-bats against lefties. Thames can’t hit right-handers? Says who? He does and with authority.” Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth, I suppose. While even the staunchest Thames supporter will acknowledge that his defense is not Gold Glove-caliber, the L.A. Times could have attempted to supply statistical evidence of Thames poor defensive play by simply looking up his errors or fielding percentage from last year. Given the strikingly scathing and vitriolic tone of the article, the L.A. Times should not have been so lazy.

    Third, the L.A. Times failed to realize that there is a rather famous body of water in England called the River Thames, pronounced “tems,” which ranks somewhere between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nile River is terms of world recognition. Would the L.A. Times publish an article in which a player with the last name Champagne is referred to as “Sham-pain/Champ-og-nah” throughout such article? I hope not.

    Fourth, the L.A. Times failed to keep things in perspective. Simers argues that Thames has “some explaining to do” regarding his $1 million contract despite his poor defense and other aspects of his play. Anybody who has ever watched Marcus Thames play baseball knows that Thames is nothing more than a role player. He comes off the bench to provide timely power pinch-hitting. He can replace an injured outfielder when called upon. He can carry a team offensively for stretches but never for an entire season. His salary is commensurate with this role. This isn’t Allen Iverson or some other overpaid primadonna complaining vociferously about coming off the bench. Thames knows what his role is even if the L.A. Times does not.

    Fifth, the L.A. Times failed to exercise common sense and decency. In what walk of life is it acceptable to be as rude and as Mr. Simers was to Thames without provocation? Why do I keep referring to T.J. Simers as “Mr. Simers” when he has not demonstrated any conduct worthy of comparison to a gentleman?

    Sixth, the L.A. Times failed to value truth and accountability in journalism over website hits and advertising revenue. The only justification conceivable for publishing Simers’ article on Thames is that the L.A. Times hoped to increase traffic to its website to encourage more companies to pay to have their advertisements placed on the L.A. Times’ website. This upsets me almost as much as Simers’ conduct. As you know, the New York Times’ slogan is “All the news that’s fit to print.” Although this slogan does not appear on every issue of the L.A. Times, I think it characterizes what the goal of every news outlet should be: endeavor to publish only articles that reflect truth, accountability, integrity and professionalism. The L.A. Times failed to meet this goal when it published T.J. Simers’ article on Marcus Thames.

    I have more complaints, but I think I’ll stop here. I sent Simers an email, and he responded by saying that sports aren’t important and I should get over it. My objections regarding his article extend far beyond the realm of sports. As human beings, we all should strive to be kind, courteous, thoughtful, considerate, and empathetic in our conduct towards other people. Simers’ attack on Thames demonstrates his failure to treat others with civility and respect and is completely disproportionate in comparison to Thames’ defensive failures on a baseball field or his failure to sit cooperatively while Simers treated him like something less than a human being. Furthermore, if sports aren’t important to Simers, why is he employed as a sports writer for the L.A. Times?

    In summary, the criticism that T.J. Simers has received because of the Marcus Thames article should not be borne solely by the writer. The L.A. Times should have held itself to higher standards. All who were involved in the publishing of that article should be embarrassed and ashamed. I hope that similar mistakes will not be replicated in the future.

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