Melky Cabrera pulls the carpet out from under Buster Olney


ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney got Black Friday off to a bleak start on Friday morning when he decided to troll the Toronto Blue Jays and their rabid fanbase by stating that outfielder Melky Cabrera was unlikely to return to the Blue Jays in 2015 because of his displeasure with playing his home games on artificial turf.

Here are the original tweets from Olney that got us all riled up:

That led to a quick uproar amount baseball fans, and some websites, who immediately took to Olney’s words as gospel and determined that Cabrera did not want to re-sign with the Blue Jays. That in turn led to Olney altering his rather definitive statement into something a bit more presumptive.

Needless to say, that didn’t really take any heat off of the comment. As a matter of fact, it continued to peculate to a point where Melky’c agent Peter Greenberg made an impromptu appearance on The Jeff Blair Show on Friday morning to extinguish the flames. Greenberg gve a thorough “no” when asked if the turf would keep Cabrera from returning to Toronto, despite the mutual interest between parties on a return.

Now its own, Greenberg’s appearance can be seen as nothing more that making sure Toronto stayed in the market as a team with money to spend and an opening to fill, hence keeping the price higher for his client. Losing Toronto as an interested party, even though it is speculated on this writer’s part that Toronto is prepared to move on anyway, would be limit his market. However, the insinuation from Olney was also enough to bring Melky Cabrera out into the public light himself, with the Melkman commenting on the assertion himself via Twitter.

That sounds like a pretty clear denial in my eyes. Fact is, Cabrera stayed completely healthy in 2014 while playing on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre. He’d have no other reason to assert otherwise, nor would he want other teams to think that he had knee or back conditions that were exasperated by playing on carpet covered cement.

To that end, Blue Jays teammate Jose Bautista came out in Melky’s defense as well, taking what was a rather obvious shot across the bow at Olney for his comment.

Now in fairness to Buster Olney, he’s not likely to just run a generalized statement like that without someone with some legitimacy planting that seed of thought. However, he made a mistake by not noting the proverbial “Sources” in his opening tweet. It sounds much less definitive when it is said as “Sources: Melky Cabrera’s preference is to sign with a team other than the Blue Jays so he doesn’t have to play his home games on artificial surface.”

Still, it is a lesson in journalism dos and don’ts, not to mention how to react as a fan base to such widely speculative news.