I was reluctant to give this story its own thread after it entered into tabloid territory. But it seems to have captured the imagination of Reds and Cards fans alike for the better part of a 12-hour news cycle. So to summarize:
I'm not the only one who heard ‘Wainwright' in his song, but I won't throw anybody else under the bus.
Maybe my 70-year-old ears are hearing things, but at the time I didn't know about Wainwright and wondered to what Gomes was referring. I heard about Wainwright's injury a few minutes later in manager Dusty Baker's office.
I thought the Gomes thing was humorous, with no malice intended by Gomes. That isn't Jonny Gomes. He is one of my favorite people and I would not do anything to hurt him. It seemed it was Jonny's way of saying the Reds wouldn't have to face one of the best pitchers in baseball and he'd never wish injury on any player.
- John Fay weighed in: "I heard it. I honestly don’t remember exactly what he sang. I didn’t report it because I generally don’t write what players say aloud or sing in the clubhouse. I only use what I get in interviews."
- So did Tony LaRussa: "I happen to know Gomes. I don't think he meant anything by it."
It's likely the truth lies somewhere in between the conflicting accounts. Maybe Gomes did exactly what Hal originally reported. Or maybe "Wainwright is Gone" was a somber, respectful ballad to the tune of "Simple Gifts" with wishes for a speedy return spun out in the verse. Regardless of what actually happened, everything we know (and want to believe) about Gomes points to an absence of malicious intent. Placing emphasis on not having to face Wainwright as an opponent, rather than sympathy for his plight is insensitive and tactless, but if that took place in some form in the Reds' clubhouse, I'm ready to believe it was motivated by respect for a worthy adversary, not callousness about someone else's pain and misfortune.
That's not to excuse whatever gloating took place. Only to allow for shades of gray and resistance to the caricature and histrionics that seems to rule the day ever since last year's Reds-Cardinals brawl. I'm not willing to ship off to cartoon universe where Reds players are laughing hysterically over Wainwright's mangled elbow.
One thing we know for certain is that there was a breakdown somewhere, whether in reporting the events, exhibiting respect for a colleague, Communications 101 or some combination of the above. While we can have our suspicions about Hal's hearing or a PR stitch-up, but we don't know the truth and likely won't. That's why this sorta thing is interesting.