“Jim Hendry Fired” – Anatomy of a Broadcasting Mistake

by Kent Sterling

During his show on Friday, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd reported that Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had been fired by owner Tom Ricketts.  As Cowherd learned during the break that followed the announcement, he was wrong.

How did that happen?

Last Wednesday, furious with the level of play of the Chicago Cubs, I sent some moving boxes to general manager Jim Hendry and fired him myself.  Obviously, I don’t have the power to fire anyone affiliated with the Cubs, but being unable to stomach another afternoon of Alfonso Soriano playing the worst defensive left field I have ever seen, I decided not to let the fact that I’m not in a position to fire Hendry stop me.

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So I wrote a headline – “Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry, You’re Fired!” and followed it with a post about my frustration and how I ordered boxes that were delivered by the U-Haul store at the corner of Fullerton and Racine in Chicago.

My son’s roommate enjoyed the post, and sent a link to his uncle, who then sent it to Cowherd.  Very shortly thereafter, Cowherd went into a break by announcing that Hendry had been fired.

The goal was never to confuse anyone into making an error, especially one that garnered so much attention in Chicago, but to somehow vent my utter dismay that this guy continues to office at Wrigley Field after spending so much money so foolishly.

Fans must wonder what level of mediocrity the Cubs need to fall to before someone – Hendry in particular – is held accountable.  I certainly wonder.

The Cubs are in the process to ruining the promising future of Tyler Colvin who is being robbed of an opportunity by the least productive .344 hitter in the history of baseball -Kosuke Fukudome, and the signing of Carlos Pena for $10 million.

The Cubs chances to make the playoffs after Pena’s signing were still zero, so why not let some kids play and see what happens.  Make this 75 win season meaningful somehow.  The Cubs are mediocre, so let’s see who can play.

But I digress.  This post is about a longtime Cubs fan losing his mind, shipping moving crates to the source of his frustration, writing about it, and then a chain of emails that put the post in front of the eyes of a national radio host – who read a headline, and reported Hendry’s firing

That’s live talk radio.  Cowherd is an excellent host, who is an exceptionally polarizing sports entertainment figure.  His job is to be both loved and hated, and he is very good at his job.

If only Cubs owner Tom Ricketts had made the same mistake.  One day, that headline, and Cowherd’s erroneous (or premature) pronouncement will be true.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

4 Responses to “Jim Hendry Fired” – Anatomy of a Broadcasting Mistake
  1. Cholly Grimm
    May 15, 2011 | 5:10 pm

    If Colin Cowherd was so good at his job, he would have confirmed that the story was true instead of running with it. Don’t excuse him because “that’s live talk radio”. He deserves the same treatment that he often dishes out.

    • kentsterling
      May 15, 2011 | 7:18 pm

      Anyone expecting journalistic perfection or excellence from a talk radio show misunderstands what they do. Hosts entertain with unique perspective. Hosts and journalistic exactitude don’t need to be mutually exclusive, but they needn’t be inexorably linked either.

  2. Steve Hufford
    May 16, 2011 | 8:36 am

    Jim Hendry is to Tom Ricketts as Isiah thomas is to Jim Dolan. Everyone tell them that their guy is terrible but they don’t see it. Tom Ricketts told a reporter when asked about Hendry’s job security that the more he gets to know him the more he is impressed. Huh? He just does not get it. We had a series with the freakin’ Cardinals and could not sell out. The outfield bleacher seats were half full! The fans are trying to tell him and he just isn’t listening. the worse it gets attendance wise the less he will be able to afford to build the team.

    You are right escpecially about Colvin. It is like old Lou is still in charge and he is not playing the young kids. Also while we are at how hopeless and helpess are Quade and his pitching coach? Neither one know which way is up especially the pitching coach. He had not been a pitching coach for over 15 years. I think there must have been a reason for that. No one else wanted him!!

    Kent I will be partying when the “real” announcement of Hendry’s firing is made. But I am not holding my breath.

    • kentsterling
      May 16, 2011 | 3:17 pm

      Hendry is under contract through 2012, and the conventional wisdom from the Chicago media is that he will be given that period to earn an extension.

      That’s a weak, weak position for Ricketts to take.

      I’ll be right there with you as far as the Hendry Out Party. I’m not supporting the end of Hendry’s career – I would like him to get another job, maybe with the Cardinals.

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