In a life of sports journalism, I've never once been accused of misquoting anyone. Or using something that was off the record. That spans 30-plus years and thousands upon thousands of interview subjects.
Not. One. Time.
But now that Francisco Cervelli's done so on this Saturday afternoon to reporters in Chicago -- John Perrotto has a file up from Wrigley Field -- I'm here to say, unequivocally, that this isn't any such case, either.
Cervelli and I have communicated countless times over the years and in all kinds of forms, and we've done so year-round. When he's wanted to go off the record -- which he's done a ton -- he'd say so in the clearest terms. In the case of our conversation last week, he passionately stated the following: “That’s enough. This time is different. I can’t live like this.” He also offered vivid, excruciating detail of what he'd been through in his most recent concussion. And he never added that he wanted anything off the record.
I don't know about you, but "That's enough" is a tough two-word term to misinterpret. As was so much more of what he said.
Roughly two hours later, after the report had come out and he'd read it, he texted me to say he wished I'd waited until after his final doctor's appointment Wednesday to run the article. He expressed no concern at all about the report itself. None. His message: "I should tell you to not say anything yet."
I apologized for not asking in advance when the article could/should have run, even though that's not standard procedure.
I also approached a team official before and after the article was published, also not standard procedure. The team official similarly expressed no concern, and the team official had spoken with Cervelli on the matter.
So, what happened?
As I wrote last night, a very passionate individual very clearly changed his mind. Which is his right. And whether contractual concerns -- he's a free agent this winter -- or an agent's advice or simple pride took over, only he can say. But something significant changed along the way, and it obviously wasn't the reporting.
The article, on the day it ran, was as accurate as accurate gets. And no one disputed any aspect of it that day, even in direct contact with me after it was published, until a week later.
As Cervelli told the reporters in Chicago, referring to me, "It’s not about him or anything. It’s a mistake, that’s it, and we move forward."
It happens. It's part of the business.
I'll be in comments, as always, if there are any questions.