01.08.06

Adolf Hitler, From Way Downtown….Bang

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 5:01 pm by

Where do quotes come from and how are they attributed? Earlier this week, a passing mention by the New York Times’ Murray Chass that Alex Rodriguez had changed his mind regarding his WBC participation was picked up by Baseball Think Factory, Baseball Musings and (naturally) Deadspin as confirmation that the overly sensitive A-Rod had indeed, flip-flopped his way into a reconsideration.

Days later, the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch reported that Princess A-Rod had merely agreed to think it over.

How, then, did the story of A-Rod joining the U.S. squad circulate so fast? According to a friend of Rodriguez, the union leaked the story in hopes of getting Rodriguez to succumb to the tidal wave of headlines.

Other than Chass’ word being accepted as gospel, no harm done. It not suprising that while Baseball Think Factory and David Pinto have each linked to stories subsequent to Chass’ that contradicted the earlier report, Deadspin has no problem letting a headline like “A-Rod Changes His Mind About Who He Is Again” stay up with no retraction. I realize that no one really minds seeing Rodriguez unjustly smeared, but it’s the principle that matters.

But here’s another interesting case. On December 29, Yoco’s Yoni Cohen quoted University Of Houston coach Tom Penders as having said “”If Adolf F™in Hitler could hit the three, I™d play him.”, linking to a amusing CBS Sportsline story, “The Secret World Of Student Managers” by Clay Travis

Said quote was also noted, 2nd hand, by Deadspin’s Will Leitch, who opined “Nothing funnier than a Hitler joke, Mr. Penders,” (and who would know better than Will?)

This piqued my curiousity. Cohen attributes the quote to Houston coach Tom Penders. Leitch’s item, in a vaccum, suggests that this is the sort of humor Penders trades in when talking to reporters.

I’m not a big Tom Penders fan or anything, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a fair way for the former Texas coach to be immortalized in Google-land. I tried to find other sources for the quote, but failed to come up with anything beyond Travis’ original article, and the links from Cohen and Leitch.

I placed a couple of phone calls to the University Of Houston’s sports information deparment, hoping that if Penders himself was unwilling to confirm or deny having said such a thing, at the very least a spokesperson would do so on his behalf. Neither of my calls were returned.

I took the liberty of hassling Travis about this ;

Dear Clay,

In your Sportsline column last week, you quoted Tom Penders as having said “if Adolf Hitler could hit the three, I’d play him.”

I was wondering if you’d be gracious enough to cite your source for said quote. Perhaps it is terribly obvious and I just haven’t seen it before.

Travis replied,

The quote was from GW’s practice which I attended as a student manager and was utilized by Penders to quell grumbling on the team that he was playing the players he had recruited over Mike Jarvis recruits. It was clear hyperbole and the imagery it brought to my mind when I heard it then is still pretty vivid.

I thought it was clear from the context and article that I had witnessed the statement myself but I hope this clears things up for you.

It certainly does. Though it does seem a little screwy that neither Cohen or Leitch saw fit to point out that the alleged quote was not something Penders had said very recently, and there was some kind of context beyond y’know, thinking Hitler is funny, nor (in Cohen’s case) was it something Penders had said while in the employ of the University Of Houston (as opposed to something he uttered at practice sometime between 1998 and 2001).

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