On Friday morning, USA Today MLB reporter Bob Nightengale tweeted out several quotes from Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California manager Joe Maddon, talking about COVID-19 and players potentially opting out of the 2020 season.

Here’s a screencap of Nightengale’s now-deleted tweet that caused Twitter to aim their pitchforks at Joe Maddon, where Maddon seemingly said that if a player doesn’t think he can play in the midst of a pandemic, he should opt out.

Yeah, that didn’t go over well at all.

The only problem is that Maddon wasn’t referring to players not playing – he was referring to them not being able to follow the protocols.

Two hours later, Nightengale tweeted out his story with the full quotes from Maddon, which includes much of that all-important context.

And here’s the full passage from the story itself, which makes Maddon’s comments seem not only reasonable, but completely alters the meaning of Nightengale’s initial tweet.

“Every organization really needs to tighten up their bubble,’’ Maddon says, “and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re asking you to be the best version of yourself and be the best teammate you’ve ever been in your life. We need you to follow the protocols and for you to be the best teammate ever.’’

And, if you don’t want to follow the safety and health protocols, Maddon said, you should opt out.

“Everybody’s talking about high-risk and those kinds of individuals opting out,’’ Maddon says, “to me the person that should opt out is the person who does not want to follow the protocols to a T at any age, at any risk. That’s hasn’t bene [sic] promoted enough.

“If you in heart in hearts don’t believe you could do all of this stuff, the way we need you to do all of this stuff, you’re the person who should opt out.’’

Nightengale’s initial tweet omitted “to a T at any age” and “the way we need you to do all of this stuff,” and he didn’t provide any context for Maddon’s quotes in the tweets before or after it, surrounding the quote with an article like to Mike Trout’s comments about playing in 2020 and a note about Gerrit Cole and his wife welcoming their first child into the world.

In the grand scheme of things, sports are insignificant. Except in very rare occasions, screwing up a quote from a sports figure in a tweet isn’t going to cause a national panic or a worldwide incident. But if you’re a reporter as experienced as Bob Nightengale, working for a national outlet like USA Today, you’ve gotta do better. Not only are you ruining your own credibility, you’re dragging the reputation of whoever you’re quoting without context through the mud.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.