Pirates Expect Oneil Cruz Back for Spring Training

We all saw the story about Oneil Cruz and his situation in the Dominican Republic. This is not an indictment of the media, they are reporting what they believe to be fact as it comes. No this is more to show how stories like this evolve but not everyone comes along on the ride.

Let’s start at the beginning, on the 22nd of September news broke out of the Dominican that Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Oneil Cruz was involved in a motorcycle accident that cost the lives of 3 people. As with any story such as this wait 20 minutes and there’ll be an update, this time is was that alcohol was involved.

Fans and some media for that matter of course shared thoughts about what an idiot Cruz is, how spoiled these athletes are, he should never play again, on and on. When a story like this breaks, more eyes will be on it than at any other time in the life cycle of breaking facts. It becomes a feeding frenzy, a virtual orgy playing out on social media of people deciding the fate of the player and for that matter the organization.

People actually wrote pieces talking about how the organization doesn’t install moral fortitude into their players. Fans blamed Cherington for sending him home to the Dominican, so did some writers.

All along the Pirates stood firm that they had no information that led them to believe alcohol was involved, but that did little to change the story.

Patience is important for things like this, especially when it involves a country that has a less than stellar history with fairness in their legal system and even less in their media.

Then the story evolved again only a few days later. The three people on the motorcycle who lost their lives were allegedly without a headlight and driving on the wrong side of the road. There was no evidence that Cruz had any alcohol in his system and he had his pregnant girlfriend and sick child in the car with him.

In fact as it turns out he would have been in Pittsburgh to end the season after the training bubble in Altoona closed up but Cruz asked the organization if he could go home because his girlfriend was late in her pregnancy and he felt he needed to be with her.

Ben Cherington just reiterated yesterday in interviews with the media that he has no reason to believe Cruz will be anything less than a full participant come Spring Training and the club has no sense that this was anything more than a tragic accident.

I’m not here to tell you that’s the end of the story, I’ll still refer to Cruz as an if until the day he shows up with his glove. The larger point is this story has evolved and what sucks is there are a whole bunch of people that haven’t heard one damn thing new since the 22nd.

That’s not anyone’s fault, not everyone lives on social media waiting for updates, but if the updates to the story were treated with the same ravenous hunger that the original ‘sexy’ story was perhaps the new facts would be a bit more prevalent. Well, I don’t have the biggest platform in the industry but I’m at least going to put it all in one place here and say right now, fully expect Oneil Cruz to make his way to Bradenton once this is all cleared up and it won’t require the Pirates to turn a blind eye to alcohol abuse or the tragic loss of life.

The rush of making sure everyone knows your opinion first has made most of us form locked in opinions long before the facts are gathered. Nobody likes to be wrong so changing that original opinion is harder than is should be. In fact when/if he does show up for Spring Training there will be questions about how he ‘got off’ or who the Pirates paid to get him off from fans, because it’s so much better than admitting they jumped the gun in forming an opinion and or didn’t pay attention because the aforementioned feeding frenzy of initial takes doesn’t happen for corrections.

In many ways the damage is done, to a certain percentage this will be part of his reputation no matter who writes what on the subject.

I called for patience on the 22nd because we’ve seen this before as recently as two years ago when David Ortiz was shot at his friends bar, rumors ranged from he was in with a gang, to he was vocally against a gang to he owed gambling debts. People talked about him destroying his legacy and many of those takes ignored the very critical situation he was in fighting for his life. If that can happen to a name that big, an actual hero for so many players from the region, how could you take verbatim a story about a kid who hasn’t set foot on an MLB diamond yet?

There are many things that the minute by minute news breaking of social media has made better in our lives, but I’d argue the worst thing it’s spawned is the rush to be first has created an environment where sources and methods are at the very least less scrutinized than they should be and when you’re playing with someone’s reputation, it’d be good if everyone cared as much about correcting the misinformation they’ve put out as they did originally condemning the person.

Again, the media is giving you information they receive for the most part, sans opinion. It’s not their fault what you do with it or how you ignore the cautions of some of them to understand even their level of trust in the source is less than great. The point is don’t come out of this blaming the media for this story, instead take a good look at how you ingest news and don’t be afraid to be wrong and admit it.

Social media has changed us forever, but at some point we need to stop blaming the machines for what we have willingly become.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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