Jose de Jesus Ortiz Is a Turkey

I know I’m about a week late to this whole Turkey of the Year thing, but I didn’t get the memo. So here’s my nominee for Turkey of the Year: Chron beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz.

The way I see it is that it’s got to be kind of tough to be Jose de Jesus Ortiz. The guy’s a bit of a hack. He wasn’t hired because of his skills as a writer or as a reporter, but because he speaks Spanish. And the guy absolutely refuses to say anything negative about members of the Astros while they’re with the Astros – unless they’re clients of the Hendricks brothers, in which he’ll never say anything negative. No matter what.

That leads to his Thanksgiving post in which he arbitrarily writes about the 30 things for which he is grateful. I’m not going to get into the whole damn thing – if you want to make yourself ill, just click here. But I do want to address some of the things he writes.

For instance, let’s take a look at item no. 8 on the list: “Carlos Lee: Yeah, he took a ton of cheap shots from folks who claimed he didn't hustle even though many of those who ripped him in the media never took the time to ask whether he was playing hurt. Nonetheless, this big Panamanian created a buzz and a cult following while living up to the $100 million contract he signed. He may not be a Gold Glove defender, but he delivered at the plate and won his second Silver Slugger. Just watch how he will become a community leader in years to come.”

So, I’m guessing Ortiz is referring to his colleagues Richard Justice and Brian McTaggart. But I wonder if maybe Justice and McTaggart wrote some of the things that they did because they bothered to do a little reporting and talked to some people and discovered that management didn’t care for his lack of hustle and were often upset about his failure to arrive on time for games and practice. And I’ve got to admit to some confusion: I don’t know what an injury has to with keeping a person from showing up on time.

Also, I wonder if Ortiz ever bothered to take the time to find out if Lee was injured. And if he did, then why didn’t Ortiz ever bother to report this? I’m sure the Astros brass would’ve liked to know this fact. Then again, maybe Ortiz is just making things up to fit with his version of the facts.

He does that. Like that time he claimed the reason that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock died was because Tony La Russa was a drunk, and also because the team failed to listen to his, Ortiz’s, warnings.

But let’s go back to that list, and item no. 4: “Next year's Astros schedule: Josh Beckett's Boston Red Sox and Andy Pettitte's New York Yankees will come to town, and that will be a treat to Houston baseball fans who deserve to see these teams play regular season series at Minute Maid Park.”

Sure, it might be a treat for the Astros fans, if the Astros fans could afford the tickets to the games. But Drayton took advantage of this scheduling to jack up his ticket prices for these games. So fans aren’t going to get go to these games, it’ll be more of those pricks who sit with Drayton right behind home plate and spend more time talking on their cell phones than they do watching the game.

So the Astros fans do deserve the chance to see the Red Sox and Yankees. It’s just a shame they won’t get to. (Speaking of which, I couldn’t help but notice that Ortiz didn’t give thanks for games with the Pirates, Marlins, and Nationals – for which Drayton also raised ticket prices).

Also, when did Josh Beckett and Andy Pettitte buy the Red Sox and Yankees? Am I missing something? And the last time I checked, Pettitte was in the middle of his Roger Clemens act and had yet to decide on his status for next season.

Yeah, I know. It’s Ortiz. Facts don’t matter.

Now back to the list. Let’s look at item no. 20: “Jackie Moore: The former Round Rock manager will serve as the bench coach after nurturing the Astros' top young players since 2000, when Round Rock played its inaugural season in the Class AA Texas League before jumping to Class AAA a few years later.”

Okay, someone help me out here. Roy Oswalt. Hunter Pence. They did pretty good after some time after Round Rock, but neither guy spent much time there. Now, am I forgetting anybody else? Round Rock alum Tim Redding flopped big time. As did Morgan Ensberg. Jason Lane, ditto. Chris Burke? Wandy? Albers? If this is nurturing talent, then I think I have a severe misunderstanding of that word.

Or, how about item no. 18: “Cecil Cooper: Give this man a chance, and you will realize that he brings integrity, solid baseball judgment and a teacher's touch and tough love to the manager's position. He recognizes that the defense needed improvement, which is why he brought in his own guy to serve as third base coach and infield coordinator after letting go of Doug Mansolino, who was Garner's confidant and also the infield coach.”

First, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Cooper Garner’s bench coach? Wasn’t Cooper the one advising Garner on all of those bone-headed moves? That should tell us a little something about his so-called solid baseball judgment. And if Garner wasn’t listening to him, then why in the hell was he on the staff? And just what was Cooper doing during his tenure on Garner’s staff? If the defense was so bad, am I supposed to believe that Cooper couldn’t ask the guys come in early and work some before a game?

And let’s face it; this whole poor defense thing is a scam anyway. You had Biggio at second who had no range and wasn’t about to listen to a second-rate coach. Berkman was at first, and he’s never been known for either his work ethic or as the second-coming of Jeff Bagwell. Ortiz has already told us that Carlos Lee is perfect. And we all know how Hunter Pence excelled while playing out of position. And there was no need to work with Brad Ausmus, Adam Everett, Eric Bruntlett, or Mark Loretta.

I also seem to recall that at the time of the firing, Ortiz said a little something about the whole thing not being Garner’s fault. Ortiz, it’s called Google. I suggest you look at it every now and then. It keeps you from contradicting yourself. But then again, this tracks with the standard Ortiz line: always stick it to the last guy in charge.

Further, this gets to another of my pet peeves with Ortiz. Shouldn’t a reporter be telling us these things at the time they happen? Not months later when you don’t have worry about losing the source?

And let’s look at item no. 13: “Craig Biggio and his display on June 28, 2007: That's the day Biggio became just the 27th man in major league history to collect 3,000 hits. On that special night at Minute Maid Park against the Colorado Rockies, the franchise icon rewarded his fans and the entire city by delivering his single to right-center field to join Roberto Clemente with 3,000 hits. He added to that count that night while finishing with a career-high, tying five hits for only the second time in his 20 years in the majors.”

Sure, Biggio getting his 3,000th hit was a special moment. But was it really worth destroying the career of Chris Burke? Burke will probably never be a good major league player. And the odds are he probably never would have been. But because of Biggio’s selfish quest for 3,000 and his refusal to sit, Burke’s career may have been destroyed.

Jeff Bagwell never wanted to stop playing either. But when he could no longer lift his arm, he did not demand the club run him out to his customary spot at first base so that he could continue with his quest for 500 home runs. Bagwell was always the superior player to Biggio, but Biggio’s going to the Hall of Fame because he put himself above the team. Bagwell won’t because he put the team above himself.

But hey, at least Ortiz got to see a 3,000th hit. That’s the important thing, right?

Forget it, I can’t go on anymore. Someone just shoot me and put me out of my misery. Please.

I guess I should admit something here. Even though it’s a bit late, I’ve got to confess that I’m thankful for Jose de Jesus Ortiz. After all, if this hack didn’t exist, what would I have to write about?

P.S.: And if you look closely enough, you’ll discover items no. 1 and 30 are the same thing. – John Royal


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