As a columnist, it’s hard not to root for the home team, to pat them on the back when they win and kick them in the shin when they lose. At the same time, readers rely on a columnist to provide the insight that regular schmoes won’t see, to write tidbits about the team that keep the fans wanting more, and to keep their personal love or hate in their back pocket.
But when you flat out deceive your readers and badmouth the team you’re covering, you shouldn’t be responsible for half a page in the Sunday sports section. Sidney Hartman owes anyone who reads his tripe an apology.
In his July 30 column, Sidney wrote, “The fact that the Twins will be playing in a new ballpark in the future, one that will generate a lot more revenue, won't have any effect on adding to the payroll this season or in the near future, according to Twins General Manager Terry Ryan.” Sidney went on to write that he asked Ryan, “if the presence of the new park in the future would have any effect on the Twins' decision to pick up the $12 million option next season on Torii Hunter or to buy out his contract.” Ryan’s answer, "Just state the facts. He's got a $12 million option with a $2.5 million buyout It's just plain and simple. Do you want to pick it up or do you want to buy it out?" Sidney puts this in the context that Ryan is not showing his hand with Hunter’s future in Minneapolis. Even the caption under a photo of Ryan says, “Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said the team’s new ballpark will not have a bearing on adding payroll during the next couple of years.”
When the debate for the new ballpark was in full swing three months ago, Sidney wrote in his April 22 column, “What the Twins fans should know is that if the stadium bill passes the Legislature there will be a bigger budget for the team. That means there will be a much better chance of picking up the $12 million option on Torii Hunter's contract next year and signing other big-money players who could make the Twins a winner.” Sidney added, “In fact, you could see Pohlad spending some money to improve the team this year once a ballpark becomes a reality.”
Without a new ballpark, the Twins would struggle bringing in and keeping big-ticket players. But by adding the new ballpark to the equation, Sidney made it easily sound like Hunter would roam center field for the Twins for years to come. It seems Sidney had a pretty good idea of Hunter’s future back when votes were needed. What will Sidney say if Hunter is gone before then end of this year? Or before the start of the 2007 season?
His April 22 article is no longer available at the Star Tribune’s website.
And if deceit isn’t enough, Sidney feels it’s okay to tell fans how he thinks the team should be run because, again, no one at the Twins front office can do it, right?
On June 10, he wrote, “The best prospects should be given an opportunity to play because the Twins have no chance of overcoming the White Sox or Tigers this season. Give some of the better prospects at Class AAA Rochester the opportunity to develop here.”
On July 27, the Twins caught and tied the White Sox for the wild card lead in the American League. While that doesn’t mean much with two months remaining in the season, it goes to show that you never can tell, and when you decide to make statements like this, you should have some backup.
Sidney still had time to write for the July 30 column, repenting for his horrible forecast. But no, Sidney has too much pride for that.
How long will it be before the Trib removes that article off the web? Then how long will it take for the Trib to see that Hartman is nothing more than a curmudgeonly old fan with little more than a free ticket to every game in the press box courtesy of Carl Pohlad, and a bad attitude toward the rest of the organization.So, reader, you're thinking, 'Why does he read Sidney's column every Sunday?' Simple, I'm smarter than Sidney and love to show it.
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