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Matt Potter 6 a.m., Sept. 28
Tom Garfinkel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Padres, has apparently offended some folks who either have autistic children or who are sensitive to anyone who is perceived as offending people with autism. In a talk that Garfinkel held with Padres season ticket holders, unbeknownst to Garfinkel, someone in attendance recorded the almost five minutes of audio in which Garfinkel made reference to the Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin affair that led to a brawl.
The audio was leaked to Yahoo! Sports and Jeff Passan ran an article on the content. Most of Garfinkel’s talk was nothing more than boring promotional gab to let season ticket holders in on what the club’s plans are for the near future.
But within Garfinkel’s talk is something he regrets having said, pertaining to Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin getting hit. "He threw at him on purpose, OK? That's what happened. They can say 3-and-2 count, 2-1 game, no one does that. Zack Greinke is a different kind of guy. Anyone seen 'Rain Man'? He's a very smart guy," Garfinkel told dozens of people in attendance for the event on Friday, April 12th.
The reference to Rain Man was from a 1988 movie about a man with autism and his long lost brother. Zack Greinke does not have autism, but has suffered from social anxiety disorder. Apples and oranges, but apparently the autism community is outraged.
This is Garfinkel’s battle to fight, and he is doing so by apologizing all over the place. In twitter, Tom wrote, “Hearing from parents who have children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and being a parent myself, I have learned a lot today. I am deeply sorry for my insensitive remarks. Separately, I'd like to also personally apologize to anyone affected by Social Anxiety Disorder.”
Garfinkel came on the Darren Smith Show on 1090 AM on Thursday, the Padres flagship station, and said, “I feel horrible. I’ve talked to parents of children that have autism spectrum disorder, and I’ve learned a lot today. I think mostly because I offended them and I feel horrible about it. It certainly wasn’t my intention to do that but I did and I’m sorry for that.”
“I was emotional that day, I was defending our player, I felt that Carlos was being attacked in a lot of different places, I was trying to provide context for why a 3-2 count and a 2-1 game wasn’t an absolute, and how I felt about what happened,” Garfinkel continued.
The fallout from this seems to be farther reaching than it deserves. Aside from Yahoo! Sports, who obtained a copy of the audio from an unknown source, even Zack Greinke’s father thought enough about this to open a twitter account and make a fool of himself.
Little League fathers pale in comparison. “My Most Disliked Persons list and only two one list. 1 Carlos Quentin, 2 Tom Garfinkel. Will someone in San Diego please show some class,” one tweet read. There are others, and while no one can blame Don – as the father of Zack – for sticking up for his son, the self-professed coach seems to not understand baseball very well.
Tom Garfinkel was right about one thing, at least. Zack Greinke most certainly did throw intentionally at Carlos Quentin.
But who would bother to record Garfinkel’s remarks, let alone send them to Yahoo! Sports for whatever reason? Look no further than this article by John Gennaro of voiceofsandiego.org and apparently the squealer is a friend of John’s.
In the article, Gennaro postulates that his pal had no clue as to what he was sending Yahoo! Sports, and no idea as to the Rain Man reference. Yes, and Zack Greinke suddenly lost control of a four-seam fastball, never mind he’s making close to $25 million per season and the four-seam is a pitch we all learned in little league because it doesn’t break and is simple to control and provides maximum velocity, and never mind that A.J. Ellis set up low and outside for that pitch.
That’s not something I can buy into, John. Why did he send the audio out if he didn’t know what was on it? You’ll have to do better than that if you want to convince me that it was all just an innocent misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, Tom Garfinkel is in full damage control because Zack Greinke, who is not autistic but instead once suffered from social anxiety disorder (as did former Padre Khalil Greene), got his collar bone broken because he wasn’t smart enough to get out of the way when Quentin charged the mound.
It’s unfortunate that Garfinkel put his foot in his mouth, but even more unfortunate how the media likes to treat this. It’s baseball. Pitchers and hitters fight over control of the plate, and when it gets touchy then sometimes there’s a brawl.
Then they get back to playing baseball again. Eventually, this is what will happen and the media will have to come up with something else to get excited about, as though the mere games aren’t enough.