San Francisco Giants fans finally got news regarding Aubrey Huff’s absence from the team.
And some reacted by getting angry — not at Huff, but at those charged with reporting the news.
After the Giants placed Huff on the 15-day disabled list because of an anxiety disorder, the three major media outlets covering the Giants took three different approaches with blog posts on the Huff news.
Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle put a post that was sympathetic toward Huff and cautioned restraint and understanding from those on the internet. Schulman even shared a personal note about his own mental health issues for context. You can read it here.
Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News took a more middle-of-the-road approach, simply reporting the details as revealed by team, but also including a statement that anxiety can be a debilitating condition. You can read it here.
But the post that really caught the ire of some fans was the one by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. You can read it here.
Baggarly dug a bit deeper, revealing some personal info on Huff, including the fact that Huff’s wife had filed for divorce this offseason.
Some fans felt that the reporting of such personal issues amid a report that Huff is battling anxiety issues showed a lack of class on Baggarly’s part.
MoreSplashHits does not necessarily agree with this. In fact, we felt that the added details of his divorce, while personal, made Huff a more sympathetic figure in this story.
Without that information, Huff comes off as a baseball player making $10 million a year who is having anxiety because he’s not hitting and may lose his starting job to a younger player.
With the information, you see a guy who has anxiety over losing his family. Huff has two young children. Then the on-field issues seem more a by-product of the anxiety, instead of the cause.
Where Baggarly got in trouble, at least with some fans, was the general tone of his post leading up to the revelations about his personal life.
The tone, whether intended or not, painted Huff in a negative light. Baggarly poorly strung together phrases like when Huff left the team by “simply leaving a text message for Bochy,” that the team was “in the dark for several days,” and that his teammates still don’t have a full explanation.
But the smoking gun came when Baggarly added “the timing was especially curious” coming after Huff’s rough day Saturday when he had a mental lapse while playing second base for the first time in his career.
The “especially curious” comment seems to minimize the anxiety disorder diagnosis.
And the statement that the team was “left in the dark for several days” is not accurate. For one, the timing is exaggerated. It was more like two days, a little more than 48 hours from the time we found out that Huff wasn’t with the team to when we found out why.
If by “the team” Baggarly was referring simply to the players being in the dark, that wasn’t entirely Huff’s fault. But if Baggarly is referring to the team as in the players, coaches and front office, the statement is inaccurate.
Bochy said he didn’t know what the issue was on Monday. But on Tuesday, he said Huff had a legitimate reason to leave the team, implying that the Giants knew what was going on.
This was further confirmed by the report that Huff has already spoken to a specialist in Florida which the team helped provide him.
So the Giants knew what was going on. They just weren’t telling anyone. Why? Because it’s a personal health issue, and they didn’t want to say anything until they had some answers.
And that’s exactly why they didn’t say anything to the players.
That’s how management in any other work field would have handled it. We just tend to forget that in the got-to-know-now world of pro sports.
Given the context of Baggarly’s opening tone, the reporting of Huff’s personal issues gives the appearance of piling on. And that’s why some responded negatively.
Baggarly’s structure also seems to imply a cause-and-effect that may be inaccurate — that baseball struggles led to anxiety.
It may have been the other way around.
It could be that Huff’s anxiety led to a lack of focus on the field, leading to his recent hitting woes and to his mental lapse when he broke to cover first base (and not second base) when he was playing second base on Saturday.
In fact, that could have been the final straw for Huff, a sign he needed some help.
But the bottom line is we don’t know, nor should it be our place to figure it out.
Speaking from experience, Schulman posted this: “Everybody will have an opinion about what set this off, but you can’t know, and it’s possible Huff doesn’t know. Sometimes a panic attack just happens.”
He added: “It’s foolish to try to play psychoanalyst … and try to pick a cause.”
Well said, Hank.
Baggarly was brought to CSNBayArea.com for his ability to provide analysis along with news details. But we aren’t talking about the decision to put on a hit-and-run play, or the development of a young prospect here.
This is a serious and complicated mental health issue.
Baggarly’s attempt to link details in an effort to provide answers that are not yet available was unfair at best, reckless at worst.
All we really need to know is Huff won’t be playing for the Giants in the next two weeks. When he’s ready to tell us more, we’ll be ready to listen.
And let’s leave the analysis to the professionals.