He said, she said at the heart of Andre Ethier controversy

We're all confused about the Great Andre Either Knee Caper. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Growing up as a kid, I was a sportsaholic. I ate, slept and played sports 365 and 24/7. Many of you are probably no different.

When I was around 10-years old, I dreamt of being a professional athlete. Once I got old enough to realize that I didn’t have what it took to do that, I thought of the next best thing – getting paid to write about sports!

What better way to couple my love of sports with my passion for writing by earning a living as a sportswriter?

I went to college and studied Journalism, and landed a job as a sportswriter for a daily newspaper in Alabama. It was there that I learned that successfully covering a sports beat often involves a lot less writing ability and a lot more bloodhound skills in order to survive.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think that’s part of the reason that the Great Andre Ethier Knee Caper became an issue for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Covering a sports beat is a job that’s not for the squeamish. If your beat is the Dodgers, then you had better break the news about the team before the other newspapers that cover the same beat. What happens if you don’t?

You’ll be writing about obituaries or high school sports pretty quickly.

What does all of this have to do with Ethier’s creaky knee? It is said to illustrate the fact that not everything you read in the newspapers and online is accurate. There were times when I was covering a major college football team where I saw reporters only use partial interview quotes to create a more exciting angle for an article.

Other challenges besides quoting athletes out of context in an effort to unearth the truth in sports journalism are questionable “sources” and facts being misconstrued or omitted in an effort to crank out news before your competition beats you to the punch.

I think all of this played a part in the controversy about Ethier’s injured knee. I don’t think Dodgers manager Don Mattingly or team management ever told Ethier he had to play through his injury. I also don’t think Ethier really believes that the Dodgers treated him unfairly.

Here is what I do think:

  • Ethier has some type of injury to his knee.
  • Ethier is frustrated at his lack of production at the plate and at the disappointing season the Dodgers have endured.
  • A journalist saw the chance to crank out a controversial article on the Dodgers at a time when there isn’t much news about the team other than with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.

Ethier’s not the kind of player who is going to slack off and not give the Dodgers his all. Mattingly also has nothing to benefit from by forcing Ethier to play through an injury.

When all the dust has settled from the great knee caper, Ethier will be able to have off-season surgery. Mattingly will be able to reassure him that No. 16 needs to be in right field for the Dodgers in 2012 and beyond.

Then newspapers and online publications will be able to look for the next scoop on the Dodgers. Pssst, Dodgers beat writers … I heard a rumor that Tommy Lasorda likes to eat pasta. Just remember that you didn’t hear it from me!

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