(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How Would You Handle A Media Onslaught?

The Phillies' Kyle Kendrick came up last year in the middle of the season. Prior to his elevation to the Show, few in Philadelphia (except, perhaps, those who read Baseball America) had heard of him. What he lacked in stuff he made up for in competitive makeup, and he was a credible starter for the Phils, who made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

Fast forward to this season, where Kendrick got off to a good start despite a bad spring. True, he had more run support than most other NL pitchers, but he still won games. All this for a kid who say five years back turned down a full ride to Washington State to play quarterback. Not too bad.

The thing of it was, the kid tried to adapt. Sooner or later they'd catch up with his stuff, so he worked to add a pitch and to improve his current offerings. Lately, though, in the past 6 weeks, he's been getting lit up. Boos (and it's still hard for me to imagine booing your own team's players when they're making a good effort) that once were Adam Eaton's exclusive franchise now find their way to Kendrick. The talking heads (and writing ones, for that matter) are calling for the Phils to replace him in the rotation with J.A. Happ. Should the Phillies make the post-season and only need four starters, these commentators have determined that the young Kendrick should be the odd-man out.

So, if you're Kyle Kendrick, in your mid-twenties, how do you handle this? How would you handle this? You play a sport you love for great money, and your triumphs and failures are magnified for the public. How do you handle the media, whose membership isn't full of people who have done their homework or have clues to begin with? How do you handle the fans?

I don't envy Kyle Kendrick's position right now, but he seems like the type of guy who can handle adversity and who will be resourceful enough to have a good Major League career. But before any Phillies' fan starts to unload on Kendrick, who gives his all, that fan should consider how he'd want to be treated and how he'd want his kids to be treated in the same position.

It isn't easy.

Perhaps that's why they pay him the big bucks.

But it still isn't easy.

Pitchers are, after all, human.

And on some days, some are much more human than others.


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