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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Freaking" in

Posted By on 06.21.12 at 11:08 AM

Matt Garza between interviews
  • Matt Garza between interviews
The endless struggle between Gritty Authenticity and Contemporary Standards of Taste—see Hemingway, "Muck my grandfather and muck this whole treacherous muck-faced mucking country," For Whom the Bell Tolls; and Mailer, "mother-fuggin sonofabitch," The Naked and the Dead—took an interesting turn in the Sun-Times's sports pages Wednesday.

A column on Alfonso Soriano by Rick Telander offered this passage:

"I get [ticked] off when the fans treat him the way they do," Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said after the first game of this intracity series at the Cell. "That's freaking ridiculous. The guy's doing everything he can. He's hit 20-plus homers every season."

While a story by Gordon Wittenmyer offered this:

"I get pissed off when the fans treat him the way they do," right-hander Mark Garza said Monday, referring to the reaction Saturday after Soriano stopped in the batter's box after lining a shot to third that inexplicably was dropped. "That's freaking ridiculous."

At the Sun-Times, it seems pissed off is an idiom so toothless that whether it's rendered verbatim or euphemistically is sheer chance. "Garza definitely said pissed off," says Telander. "I don’t know what we can do or can't do. I will quite often put in what they said and it's up to editors to put in what they want it to say. I don’t remember if I self-edited that or someone caught it at the desk. My judgment is terrible. I have no judgment."

And what about that freaking? Is it freaking as in fuggin or freakin' golden? Or is it how Garza talks around sportswriters with their pencils out?

Because there are no brackets, can we assume this is what Garza actually said? Or do we have here a euphemism subbing for such rough language that the Sun-Times doesn't want brackets calling attention to it? What I'm saying is that journalistic convention in this area could be better established than it is.

"I think he might have said 'freaking,'" says Telander. "People are using freaking more and more."

Patrick Mooney of Comcast SportsNet offers a much more complete version of Garza's remarks, which he recorded and transcribed. "Garza didn't drop any F-bombs—'freaking' was a direct quote," Mooney tells me. But according to Mooney's transcription, the freaking came earlier. All Garza said at this point was, "That's ridiculous."

Caveat lector.

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