One more bit of Murray funness before we get on with our day. Last Sunday, apropos of absolutely nothing, Murray wrote one of the odder (even for him) pieces I’ve ever seen. Since I’d never be able to do it justice, I’ll just reprint it here in full:
“Kicking About the Evil Empire”
A report here last week about Devern Hansack, a Nicaraguan pitcher for the Red Sox, prompted an e-mail message from Sergio Maltez of Managua in which he recalled the head-to-head competition the Red Sox and the Yankees waged for JosâˆšÂ© Contreras four years ago. Contreras had defected from Cuba and had established residence in Nicaragua so he could be a free agent.
The Yankees won the bidding, prompting severe vocal reaction from Larry Lucchino, the Red Soxâ€šÃ„Ã´ chief executive, and severe physical reaction from Theo Epstein, the Red Soxâ€šÃ„Ã´ general manager. Lucchino called the Yankees the evil empire. Epstein chose a different response.
‘It was true,’ Maltez wrote, ‘that Theo Epstein broke the door of the hotel with a kick when the Yankees signed Contreras and not the Red Sox.’”
Besides the fact that a Google search of Sergio Maltez turns up pretty much nothing (in English, anyway), this piece is weird because a) nobody had been talking about 2003, and b) Murray himself knows it’s not true! On December 29, 2002, in an early article in what became an ongoing series in which Chass condescended to Theo Epstein, the Times baseball columnist wrote, “Theo Epstein is the youngest general manager in baseball history, even if he does age a year today, but in his month on the job with the Boston Red Sox, not one of his fellow general managers has accused him of throwing toys across the table at them. Nor, he said, has he broken doors or windows or chairs, not in Nashville, not in Nicaragua. ‘I’ve never broken a piece of furniture in my life,’ said Epstein, who turns 29 today. Why the stories then? ‘It started in Nashville,’ he related, referring to the winter meetings earlier this month. ‘There was a chair in our suite that was broken when we got there. We placed it outside the room. One of the writers asked about it. I said we came close to a deal and it didn’t happen. It was an attempt at humor. One writer didn’t get the humor.’ The image of Epstein as El Destructo emerged, too, from his failed pursuit of Jose Contreras in Nicaragua last week. This time, the tale went, he broke a door and a window. The Red Sox attributed it to Yankee propaganda, not as in ‘Yankee, go home,’ but as in the New York Yankees’ dirty tricks.”
Somehow, this managed to shock even me. In desperately casting about for his latest piece of irrelevance, Murray Chass actually printed something that he himself knew was a lie. Did someone mention the lax ethic of the sports section?