On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith wrote a column about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez’s slow start to the season. Aside from curiously singling out Gomez—rather than, say, the struggling pitching staff (Ken Giles has a 9.26 ERA!)—as a big reason the Astros are stumbling early in the season, there wasn’t much to the column. Carlos Gomez is not playing well, and it’s fine to write about that, but Smith raised some eyebrows with the way he quoted Gomez in the article.
From the column:
“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,” said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09.
English is Gomez’s second language, so that’s probably exactly what he said, but it’s common practice for reporters to clean up foreign-born players’ quotes, or to use a translator in the first place. (For that matter, it’s equally common to clean up quotes from native speakers, which is why the quotes you read in gamers about players giving 110% aren’t filled with tics and solecisms.) Smith may not have meant any offense, but that quote could make Gomez look stupid to certain readers (very few of whom would probably be all that happy if they were quoted verbatim on any subject, let alone in a second language), and Gomez was not happy about that:
This may seem like a minor thing to get mad about, but Gomez has a right to be annoyed. He was forthright and honest with a reporter who wanted to talk to him about how much he sucks right now, and then that reporter went off and made him look dumb by not extending him a courtesy that most people quoted by reporters get. It’s moments like these that turn fun, outspoken players like Gomez into boring recluses, and that’s bad news for fans and writers.