ST. LOUIS -- There are few professional relationships I've valued over the years more than the one with Francisco Cervelli.
I'm delighted to share that it's very much intact.
Not long after the Pirates' 7-0 loss to the Cardinals Thursday night at Busch Stadium, once I was done interviewing the players who'd participated, he asked me to meet him in a room away from the clubhouse. That wound up being the bustling laundry room, but hey, there was plenty to clean up, so maybe that was just right.
Long story short because neither of us cares to keep bringing this up: We revisited the morning of eight days ago, and we did so meticulously. He explained his thought process in sharing with me what he did and why. I explained my own thought process in everything that occurred. And it went on covering everything through the week, right up to his interview Saturday with reporters in Chicago. He had some issues with me, and I listened. I had some issues, as well, and he listened.
It went beautifully.
When I asked what message he'd share to readers of this site, Cervelli said, simply, "Everything's OK. Tell them that. Like I said in Chicago, it was a misunderstanding. No problems. A misunderstanding. We're same as before. Five years of trust."
You damned well better believe it was recorded.
I'll share one specific of this talk, since this seemed to be prevalent in the fuss that followed: Why didn't I use my phone to record him eight days ago?
As Cervelli pointed out, I'd recorded every interview we'd ever done, so he couldn't understand why this was different.
In this event, as I relayed, the pack of reporters in the PNC Park clubhouse that morning -- and that's how it tends to migrate, as a pack -- had all just gathered around Kevin Kramer, a callup from Class AAA Indianapolis. This was about 20 feet away from where Cervelli and I stood at his stall. I wasn't interested in Kramer, presuming -- correctly, as it turned out -- he'd make a one-day cameo. And besides, I really don't like being part of a pack in any walk of life, which is a big part of why I've made precious few friends among competitors in this business. I've been doing things my way forever, and it's worked.
Well, here's how something else works: When you raise your recorder in a clubhouse or a locker room, it's a green light for every other reporter -- from main beat writers to radio interns -- to come rushing over. And in this instance, I had no desire for any such scene, so I wasn't about to show the magnet.
This is where Cervelli stopped me and suggested I should have asked that we move to some other room, where I could've recorded him and still gotten the exclusive. That's not something I commonly ask of any athlete -- media is restricted with where we're allowed -- but I acknowledged this obviously would have been an ideal solution. And that I should've prioritized that over fretting over the Kramer press briefing.
And if that had happened, everyone would've gotten what they wanted and, as I wrote earlier this week, I'd have had a clearer idea that he wanted me to wait until mid-week before publishing anything because he had one more appointment with a doctor.
And if that had happened, we all would have had a clearer idea -- myself included -- as to how influential that appointment would be.
On this day at Busch Stadium, Cervelli worked out relentlessly with special assistant Jeff Banister, performing exercises at stabilizing his entire frame. He doesn't know yet where it'll lead, but the exercises were as upbeat and visibly emotional as I've seen him in months. It was quite a sight. Banister, too, seemed moved, but then, he's an easy one to get emotional.
Cervelli spoke stuff when he was mad. I get it. He's passionate.
I wrote stuff when I was some combination of mad and disappointed. I'm probably not a lot different personality-wise.
It's all good. And very much over.
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