I shouldn't be, but I'm fascinated by the way Jay Cutler has been thrown under the bus by the Twittering population of the NFL in the wake of his exit from the Chicago Bears' playoff loss on Sunday. If you haven't seen the tweets they're worth your while, even though they're about football. Some examples: "If I'm on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room! #FACT"; "Cutler u little siSsy...how does it feel that ur back up's backup is the only 1that can put pts on the board!I bet cutler comes back now!"
More recently Cutler was lashed out at for going out to dinner and not limping enough on what turned out to be a torn MCL. I've hit my personal football-talking limit for the month, but to summarize—an emergency meeting of the Professional Athlete Spectacle-Making Conclave was called to order Sunday afternoon, and it was decided by a very public vote that the Crash Davis rules for interview blandness did not apply to spur-of-the-moment online communication. (A provisional amendment to ban the use of trending hashtags was struck down when it was brought to the players' attention that the #thingsmychickdoes tag could be used to question Cutler's masculinity.)
A look at my favorite players over the years—Ray Lankford, J.D. Drew, Jim Edmonds, et al—is all it takes to know that I don't share the PASMC's fetishization of toughness or intestinal fortitude or whatever it is that allows you to play professional football on torn ligaments. But it got me thinking about what the Cardinals would have to deal with if each baseball inning were scrutinized like a football minute.
Colby Rasmus: 1.0 Cutler Units
Rasmus has missed time with a strained calf, which seems like the kind of injury that would get a lot of Twitter play, but the major social media heat would have come when it was revealed that Rasmus's poor diet was affecting his play.
Likely Twitter antagonists: @TonyLaRussa, @AbsolutelyNotTonyLaRussa
TonyLaRussa: totally agree! also, nice dog pix! RT @absolutelynottonylarussa what a jerk! And strawberry yogurt!? #thingsmychickeats
Albert Pujols: 0.0 Cutler Units
Part of Cutler's problem has been that he already had a disappointing season under his belt—he's been an elite quarterback and now he's in that space where he's a disappointing star who's worthy of a kind of weird, ostensibly temporary derision. In baseball I'm reminded of post-Sawx-Mo Vaughn, or Yankees A-Rod, or—closer to Cutler's home—Frank Thomas, who was also accused of dogging it right before it was revealed that he'd actually had a season-ending injury.
Albert Pujols does not have this problem. Albert Pujols could could miss three months with an actual Stav infection—that is, an infection that Nick Stavinoha, and not Albert Pujols, contracted—and nobody would say a word. This isn't a clause negotiated into his new contract, it's a clause that's negotiated into everybody else's contract.
Likely Twitter antagonists: Maybe that guy who tweets as a really off-puttingly twitter-populist Lord Voldemort? But then his account would be deleted.
Troy Glaus: 0.5 Cutler Units
Glaus is a weird case, because he did something that I've learned over the last few months of attempting to cover the St. Louis Rams is impossible to do in football—he vanished. If a starter is hurt in football, he's got, at most, Monday and Tuesday before his practicing or not practicing is an enormous story.
If you tried to cover Glaus's bout with shoulder dropsy or whatever it was with the same tenacity beat writers are required to cover Sam Bradford's every sprain over a period of several months you would lose your mind. Which would make your primary antagonist...
Likely Twitter antagonists: Matthew Leach, Derrick Goold. By July someone would realize Leach hadn't tweeted except from his phone since mid-March, and Troy Glaus would be terrified to discover that the text messages were coming from inside the house.
David Freese: 0.0 Cutler Units
When he dropped that weight and broke his toe while already on the DL he would have had a real Cutler moment, but after that, when he pulled up lame in his first rehab start and missed the rest of the year—that was when he passed the Grant Hill threshold. Somebody like J.D. Drew will never be able to escape his injury-prone reputation (and the resulting hypothetical Twitter mockery) because he's always about 75%. He's only played fewer than 100 games once.
David Freese is always either 100% or out for at least month.
Likely Twitter antagonists: @sonicdrive_in
Kyle Lohse: ?.? Cutler Units
Klohsinator: @absolutelynottonylarussa hey man am i still on the @team #hopinso
Klohsinator: guys guys i hurt my elbow on a motorcycle
Klohsinator: like i was sitting on it and then the guy came back and he looked really mad so i went to run and my elbow was kind of stuck in the handleba
Klohsinator: freeipad @freeipad #freeipad
Klohsinator: it iddnt
Klohsinator: @Lord_Voldemort7 look dude its not a real injury but i wouldnt joke about albert #scaryirl