Friday, March 23, 2012

The Meddler, Part 2: Heyman lets Torii Hunter slander Lew Ford

By The Common Man

Yesterday, as you'll recall from TCM's post this morning, Jon Heyman said some things that were basically untrue.  Today, he opened his laptop again and relayed information that was patently, blatantly false in his post contending the Twins were consistently intimidated by the Yankees in their playoff losses.  Take it away, Jon:
Ex-Twins star Torii Hunter said some Twins players were beaten before they started, which finally confirms what has long been suspected: that the Twins are intimidated by the Yankees....  Hunter recalled one 2004 ALDS game the Twins lost where they had a runner on third with one out, down a run against the great Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, and Twins manager called on a young righty hitters to bat against Rivera, and Hunter recalled that hitter turning down the pinch-hit assignment. "You need a righty hitter against Rivera with his cutter,'' Hunter recalled. But according to Hunter, Ford shook his head no. So Gardenhoire used another kid, Jason Kubel, a lefthanded hitter, who Hunter recalled getting jammed. "Kubel wasn't afraid, but he's a lefty hitter,'' Hunter said.
That's a really compelling story, undone only by the small problem that it never happened.  At least not like Torii Hunter said it did.  Kubel never pinch hit against Rivera in 2004 (his first year in the Majors), and Lew Ford started three of the four games, and in the one he didn't start, Rivera faced six batters, and none of them were (or should have been) pinch hit for.

Also, at no point in the article does Heyman ever point out that, in each series in which they were supposedly psyched out, the Twins faced a demonstrably better club in the Yankees.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Heyman writes, "How else to explain four wipeouts in the ALDS since 2003, two in three games and two in four, generally following seasons where both teams won fairly similar numbers of regular-season games?"  Really John?

YearTwins WinsYankees Wins

Now, team wins is a dumb way to determine which is the better team, as it doesn't account for strength of schedule, and the Yankees have always had more of a gauntlet than the Twins.  But come on.  COME ON!  How can anyone look at that and think the quality of the teams was at all similar?
Torii Hunter owes Lew Ford an apology for throwing him under the bus and either lying or being completely wrong about the details of his story.  And so does Jon Heyman, who is a reporter and should know that he needs to check his facts in every damn story.  Do better, Jon.  This reeks, and it's your second day in a row reporting misinformation.


SethSpeaks said...

Kubel pinch-hit in the 2004 playoff game against Rivera and looked horrible in a strikeout.

Bill said...

Not according to Baseball-Reference. Kubel did strike out against Rivera, but it was a game in which he started (and went 0-for-6).

Kubel's only pinch-hit appearance in the series came against Tom Gordon, and he doubled.

hk said...

Jason Kubel did face Rivera in Game 2 with a man on 3rd and 1 out. It is possible that Gardenhire asked Ford to PH for Kubel and that Ford refused. If so, Hunter's account of the situation is nearly accurate.

Having said that, as is pointed out in the article, Lew Ford did not refuse the assignment to start Games 1, 3 and 4. Therefore, if the alleged story did occur, the implication would seem to be that Lew Ford was afraid to face the greatest reliever of all time and not the rest of the Yankees.