I don’t like criticizing other writers, as I face a fair bit of criticism myself. However, the profoundly ignorant drivel that escaped T.J. Simers’ keyboard on the topic of Marcus Thames aggravated me, not as a writer but as a human. Even for Simers that column was frivolous, arrogant and silly. Had he performed even a modicum of research before pontificating, he would realize it was downright cruel.
Let’s dive in.
"They stay for a while, sharing the common trait of taking themselves very seriously, before they just disappear."
"Go right down the list of head cases, and I won’t even mention the name of Gary Matthews Jr. But how about Kevin Brown, Chad Kreuter, F.P. Santangelo, Kenny Lofton, Esteban Loaiza, Brian Jordan,George Sherrill, Jason Phillips, Odalis Perez, Andruw Jones and now Marcus Thames?"
It’s not surprising that Marcus Thames would take himself “very seriously.” He has been dealing with grown man problems since he was a young child. Thames’ single mother Veterine was paralyzed and bed-ridden by a car accident when he was five. He grew up with her and his four siblings living on food stamps and $400 a month in welfare. He had to skip school at times to care for her. He had to join the national guard while still in high school to earn extra money. This is the guy you choose to pick on, T.J.?
"As big a hitter as the Dodgers’ propaganda suggests, it’s odd, though, that he’s bounced around between the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers and Yankees again during the last nine years before coming to the Dodgers."
"Maybe it’s because he’s averaged only 44 games a season on defense, prompting an obvious question."
You say he’s terrible. I say he’s a hard worker who despite limited gifts has repeatedly fought his way onto big league rosters, competitive ones.
"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.”…So I thought I might talk to Tims/Tems on Monday. Ordinarily I don’t like to start off a week talking to stiffs, but that leaves so few Dodgers to interview these days."
Symers/Simmers. Wordplay. Look at me, I’m a witty columnist.
Yes, Marcus Thames, who Simers has never met is clearly “a stiff.” I’m sure he loved that word choice. That’s the key to this journalism profession, making sweeping judgements based on no effort whatsoever. He’s “boring.” Nothing noteworthy or abnormal about his life.
Simers then confronts Thames in an insulting, unprofessional fashion.
"“Are you that horrible on defense that teams don’t think it’s worth playing such a home run threat?” I asked by way of introduction."
"Maybe somebody else wastes time schmoozing with Tims/Tems, but he’s a one-year rental who has some explaining to do. How bad are you on defense that teams don’t dare risk playing you? Tims/Tems just smiled. I asked again"
Thames has not played a game in a Dodgers uniform yet. He signed a one-year $1 million contract. He’s not someone coming in with fanfare and expectations. Simers doesn’t introduce himself. Ridicules the idea that Thames deserves the common courtesy normally afforded to a fellow human being (because he’s not a good defensive outfielder?). Then he dismisses him as a “one-year rental who has some explaining to do.” He is then incredulous that Thames won’t respond to him.
"He said he wasn’t going to talk to me because I hadn’t introduced myself. That would have allowed him to pull out the little card the Dodgers’ PR department provides players advising them how to get a running start on Page 2."
"I can’t imagine this is the first time in 10 years that Tims/Tems has been asked why he stinks on defense, thereby limiting his time as a regular player. Unable to answer, he just stood and walked away."
He wouldn’t talk to you, T.J.? After you didn’t introduce yourself and immediately bombarded him with a biting, disrespectful question? Unbelievable. He behaved exactly as a sensible human being would to that level of unwarranted maliciousness. Journalists should provoke to promote justice and to serve the public interest. This is just being a dick to someone whose major fault is not being Alex Rodriguez and who by most accounts is a nice guy.
There is a great column to be written about Marcus Thames. T.J. Simers had his head too far up his own shtick to realize it, or even run a cursory Google search.
[Photo via Getty]