That might be overstating things, but Buster Olney's recent gossip on ESPN about the Phillies discussing a swap of the All-Star first basemen has made several parties unhappy.
From La Russa to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro to Pujols himself.
Now, I'm not saying that La Russa and Pujols were born curmudgeons, because it would be painting with a very broad brush. Curmudgeons are made, not born.
But the Cards camp was certainly irritated by the report, the AP reports.
"There's people, stupid, that like to write something when it's not the truth, and that's all I have to say about that," Pujols said.
"To come up with that one is abusive," La Russa said. "To the extent that anybody takes it seriously, it could distract the Phillies, it could distract here. I am pretty sure neither is happening," he said.
Amaro, who had the most reason to be angry because the information reportedly came from within his own club, was more direct.
From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat:
In denying the rumor that the Phillies have had internal discussions about proposing such a trade, Philadelphia General Manager Ruben Amaro used the word “lie” three times.
"Lies," Amaro told Olney. "That's a lie. I don't know who you're talking to, but that's a lie."
WELL! If that's how you feel, Ruben. OMG, a trade rumor!
Jeez, you'd think Olney was leaking national security memos.
Buster Olney does not have a reputation for lying or fabricating, thought it's plenty valid to criticize him for using an unnamed source (even though, unfortunately, it's become common to write stories using unnamed sources). Because we don't know the context of who told him about "kicking around" a possible Howard-for-Pujols swap, we certainly don't know the context of how far the idea got.
Olney does mention the name Pat Gillick in his story; Gilick was Amaro's predecessor in Philly and had experience doing a megatrade when he was GM in Toronto. Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, if you recall.
I wonder if Gillick is Olney's source.
"Truthfully, I can go back to all the stuff that happened when I was in Double-A — all the talk about trade rumors," Howard said. "I don't know anything about anything. I'm not really focused on it. If that were the case — I don't know if it is or not — it is what it is. You just keep going out there and doing your thing. If you get a call saying you’re traded, then you’re traded. Until that happens, I’m still a Phillie. I'm still here. Let's ride it out."
Good for Howard, showing some maturity.
We probably won't see him swinging fungoes at reporters anytime soon.