September 27, 2008
Big League Stew's David Brown is in Detroit this weekend for the Rays' final regular season series and will file a few reports from the scene.
The media hype machine that can surround and sometimes distort a baseball team on the rise claimed a victim in the Rays, who happen to be new to this sort of thing.
The ABC news station in Tampa Bay reported on Friday afternoon that outfielder Rocco Baldelli had been diagnosed "just last week" with muscular dystrophy. Baldelli's doctor refuted such a notion in comments relayed through the team, saying the report was "erroneous" and used "incorrect terminology."
"He has mitochondrial myopathy, not muscular dystrophy," Dr. Allan Weiss said.
Baldelli told reporters in the Comerica Park clubhouse that he hadn't seen the report, adding, "that's awful."
Baldelli has been hampered in recent seasons by injuries — to things such as knees and elbows — but doctors could not figure out what caused his chronic fatigue and hamstring injuries until March, when he was diagnosed. Baldelli regularly takes a cocktail of drugs to help make himself able to play, but his energy is limited.
The story by Wendy Ryan, which was still available online as of 11:45 p.m. ET Friday night, included video from an interview Baldelli apparently conducted shortly after his diagnosis. The piece also quoted Baldelli's doctor, but appeared to draw conclusions no one else has.
To make matters worse, the Flashpoint blog at abcactionnews.com seemed to gloat over the story and wondered why the Tampa-St. Petersburg newspapers had failed to pick it up.
Probably because ABC Action News got it wrong.