Trying to make sense of the Joe Buck-Oscar Taveras comments

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Oscar Taveras is a spoiled, entitled baseball player getting preferential treatment by the organization’s front office, and the players aren’t happy.

Or so we’ve been told to believe.

Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck, who has a ton of obvious connections to the St. Louis Cardinals, made a few peculiar remarks during Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees broadcast. These came shortly after a trade that sent Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston in exchange for pitcher John Lackey.

The move also propelled the rookie Taveras into the starting right field job, a move that many Cardinal faithful  as well as General Manager John Mozeliak  had been wanting for a while.

To understand this issue fully, it’s important to understand that when this trade was made, there were several reports that the clubhouse was shaken and upset to see two of their teammates and best friends leave.

That was corroborated by manager Mike Matheny acknowledging as much. That much I believe.

Now let’s go to some of Buck’s comments (via Ray DeRousse):

“The clubhouse isn’t happy about being force-fed Oscar Taveras in right field…”

“(The players) aren’t happy with the way (Taveras) has gone about his business since being in the majors…”

“I don’t know if anyone in the clubhouse can speak up about this. Albert Pujols used to be the guy who would do that…”

I just have so many questions.

Joe Buck isn’t around the team. How does he know what the clubhouse dynamic is like? Does he just know some players really well and heard this from them?

Are these comments based on recent activity, and were they connected with the Craig trade? Or was this something Buck had heard a while back and is still referencing it now?

Is this just his opinion or is it this actual stuff he’s heard from actual people around the club?

We don’t really know. They’re just sort of out there, and boy have they taken off.

What gets me is that everyone seems to just be accepting Buck’s comments as legitimate because of who he is. I get that, to an extent. But if I were covering the team, the absolute first thing I would do is work to confirm whether or not these comments are true.

I don’t think we’ve seen that from anyone who covers the team, nor has anyone outwardly spoken about it, whether to confirm or deny it.

These comments were made on national television, so you’d hope that Buck wouldn’t just be slinging mud. But is it not curious that no one has really come out said, “yes, I can verify that certain players are unhappy about Taveras,” or something like that?

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch decided to pen a column about this.  Here’s an excerpt:

I say “controversial” because the deal apparently upset members of the good ol’ boys club in the Cardinals clubhouse. It was funny to hear Joe Buck on the Fox national telecast on Saturday, talking about how Cardinals players aren’t happy about Taveras being planted in right field — apparently over their objections. And according to Buck there’s dissatisfaction among the boys over the way Taveras goes about his business.

 This is precious, no?

Let me see if I understand this correctly: A group of hitters who have spent most of the season in a trance, stroking ground ball after ground ball — with the Cardinals scoring fewer runs than all but one MLB team — don’t like the way a rookie goes about his craft?

Really?

Do they have mirrors in the Cardinals clubhouse?

I don’t know how many players are engaging in this. It certainly isn’t fair to assume that the Taveras slams are widespread. But all of this stewing over the Craig clearance sale needs to end.

Bernie is extremely good at his job. As someone who works in the journalism field myself, he’s someone I look up to a ton.

But how in the world would Joe Buck have a better idea of what’s going on in the clubhouse than someone who is constantly around the team? Why should Bernie have to go off of what Buck says to write this column? It seems as though the next logical step would be to ask the players, manager or anyone around the team whether these claims have any validity before spreading this narrative to a mass audience.

This is not at all intended to be a knock on Bernie, but as a journalist, my aforementioned thoughts are what went through my head when reading this column. It’s all very accusatory without much substantiation for the supposed offense.

I challenge any Cardinals media member to try to clear up whatever is going on. Right now all we have is a few third-hand remarks and maybe some vague and passive comments. Are we just talking about Taveras’ work ethic, or do the players just not like Taveras? I don’t really know, and some of the things I’ve read have insinuated both.

It just sounds like it’s mostly hearsay, and frankly, it’s unfair to Taveras.

But, again, I’m still skeptical of that.

I get that this team is extremely close, but there are also a ton of veterans who have had immense success. I just can’t picture a scenario where such a well-led team resorted to acting like a high school lunch table. It seems out of character for anyone on the team to throw a teammate under the bus.

This is how rumors and perceptions get started, and there are likely plenty of Cardinals fans who now have a jilted opinion on Taveras for something that may or may not be true, or at least not to the extent that it’s being made out to be.

I should make it clear that yes, I acknowledge that there is the likelihood that Buck’s comments could have some validity. But as a journalist I was taught to always be skeptical, and until I see some actual reporting that these sentiments are in fact held by some players, I just have a hard time giving this story any validity.

The way the story sits currently isn’t satisfying enough for me to fully accept it. I look at the proof of what I can see, and what I see is a team that outwardly seems to be embracing a young player who has brought a ton of energy and offense since being given the full-time starting job, as Bernie also noted.

However, I can’t help but wonder if there were any players who read that column or heard Buck’s comments and were just as confused as I was. A little clarity would certainly help.

You can reach Cole Claybourn at highsocksunday@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @HighSock_Sunday.

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