Bob Klapish vs. Bobby Bonilla ‘s report on a baseball beat writer’s clash with N.Y. Mets player.

North County 4/14/93

CLUBHOUSE ETIQUETTE

Bob Klapish and John Harper were beat writers covering the pitiful 1992 Mets for rival newspapers in New York. Through years of work, and a network of contacts, they decided to jot down the various daily unmentionables a good reporter is normally privy to. Their combined efforts are documented in a new book entitled, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy.”

Fortuitously, Harper moved from the Post to the Yankees beat at the Daily News while Klapish was promoted to baseball columnist at the very same paper this off-season. Immediate retribution for the book from angered ball players was postponed.

As luck would have it, my co-host, Tom Ragone and myself welcomed Mr. Klapish as one of our many guests on last week’s “Sports Nite” radio program. After discussing the varied sexploits, back-stabbing, and name-calling mentioned in the tome, I posed this question: “When you cross paths with the gentlemen depicted in your book, what do expect from them?”

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

“Believe me, they’re well aware of what’s in the book,” Klapish answered. “And as you can imagine, some of them are taking it pretty hard. But John and I didn’t write the thing to win any popularity contests.”

As fate would have it, Kaplish was pressed into Mets beat duty subbing for Steve Serby last Saturday, and while attempting to appropriate a quote from Dwight Gooden, he went toe to toe with Bobby Bonilla. Fresh off his own personal season in hell, Bonilla was extra surly, and decided to bodily threaten the writer on his turf; the clubhouse.

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

When you look at this from a matter of trust, you probably side with Bonilla. Let’s face it, when players smile at us, and tell us that money has nothing to do with their motivation for playing the game while they rake in the dough, we rip them good. So what’s fair is fair, and Klapish and his buddy took trusted relationships built from off-the-record quotes and outside-the-lines activity and turned it into a profit-making proposition.

Is it wrong? Absolutely not. Is it a standup nice thing to do? Probably not. But Klapish doesn’t care either way. Can you blame any player for becoming a bit perturbed?

This, of course, does not absolve Bonilla from childish act of threatening another man with bodily harm, but just like when the Mets’ right-fielder strikes out with the bases loaded, Klapish must face the music.

The prediction here is that Bobby Bo and his tormentor will kiss and make up. Klapish is a fine baseball writer with great influence, connections, and a foothold in New York sports; and Bonilla, who is obviously overwhelmed by the pressures of playing for big money in the Big Apple, won’t be around nearly as long.

Which illustrates once again that the pen is mightier than the bat.

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