Less Terrible is a Cubs DNA feature where one of our staffers picks two hated MLB personalities and tries to decide which one is less terrible. This column literally started on a dare as a way to give you, dear reader, a chuckle and a way to vent with us. This installment takes a look at two Cubs media "personalities" that we'd gladly trade to another team, Jesse Rogers and David Kaplan. Will either be deemed less terrible?
Let's find out!
Let me put a slight disclaimer on this: I've been planning this particular Less Terrible for a while now... it didn't just spring up during last week's extreme displays of wrongheadedness by both of these two doofuses. What displays, you ask? Well, we'll get to those. Patience my friends.
For those of you who haven't heard of Jesse or David (uh, "Kap," as his "fans" call him), both are media personalities that have been connected to ESPN at some point and that have covered the Cubs for some time now. I would call them journalists except they're totally not. Jesse might have been at one point, but like many members of the media the quality of his reporting has gone downhill by leaps and bounds over the past five years, but we'll also get to that soon enough. Kap is mostly a radio talk guy, which should already tell you a lot about what he does. Catchphrases! Hyperbole! TALKING REALLY LOUDLY!
This is uncharacteristically quiet.
I'll admit that the Cubs beat isn't what it once was. Sure, I still love to read Sahadev Sharma's stuff and Russell Dorsey is the best beat reporter the Sun Times has literally had in years. MLB gifted the Cubs with Jordan Bastian to fill Carrie Muskat's spot. The rest, though, leave a lot to be desired, especially with Mark Gonzalez leaving the Tribune. I don't need homers, but I do need some objectivity and a doom-free zone here and there, and these two are among the worst at stoking the doom boners. With that, let's dive right into these two meatballs!
Question 1: Were either of these two ever any good?
Once upon a time, Jesse Rogers was a pretty decent reporter. I mean, he was fine. He wrote fairly bland stories about the Cubs for ESPN and did things like broadcasting bad live video feeds of Cubs batting practice from his camera phone. It was okay. Here's a typical example of a Jesse article from 2015:
See? That's fine. It even proved to be somewhat prophetic as the team would go on to have winning seasons every year since then. It was optimistic without being too over the top. Objective, even. The headline was true to the contents of the article without being clickbaity. This is important to note for later... you'll see why.
Kaplan, as far as I know, has always been Kap. The Kapman. Mr. #NoShot Sparkles! And yes, that's a real thing he says to callers on air, from what I gather. I don't know... I can only listen to him for a few seconds before I have to switch him off. I get the need for a schtick on radio, but his is just so hard to bear. He likes to call people names like "clown" and "soft," which is why I don't mind pointing out what a knucklehead he is in this clip during the 2016 World Series:
Yeah, that's Kap being Kap, all right. Since I'm over the age of 15 I think I'll go with the old Jesse, thanks.
Winner: Jesse Rogers
Question 2: How are they faring now?
It's under this header where last week's brouhaha comes in, but we'll get to that shortly. Kap has often been accused of being a shill for Cubs ownership, often taking the side of the Ricketts over players and being overly harsh when guys aren't performing up to expectations. You might recall the time when he tweeted at Yu Darvish to "drop a pair and do your job" when the Cubs were set to play a game in near-freezing weather. You could go looking for the tweet, but accountability isn't exactly Kap's thing, and since Darvish has since taken him to task for that tweet and numerous other odious things he said to him during his time with the Cubs, Kap deleted it. You can find it memorialized on Sports Mockery, however. Bless.
Kap poked at Darvish constantly during his injury struggles and beyond until our departed king finally took matters into his own hands and shut him up for good.
Last week, Kap finally turned on the Ricketts when Jon Lester signed a one-year deal with the Nationals, closing the door on retiring as a Cub. Whether I loved it or not, Kap put false information out on Twitter about Lester's deal (claiming he got $4 million from Washington when he got $5 million, for example) and also made claims about having sources knowing what the Cubs actually offered Lester to return. Do I trust him? #NoShot! It was ironic, particularly after watching that World Series rant where he was telling people to leave the Cubs, that he started talking about flipping to the White Sox just a few days after the Lester deal.
Don't let the door hit ya! Or do! I don't care!
Honestly, I think the White Sox could use another meatball in their fanbase. This is a welcome development!
Still, that pales in comparison to Jesse's heel turn over the past few years. Jesse was an even bigger source of food for the "Yu Darvish is mentally soft" hyenas, and started building that narrative early on in Yu's time with the Cubs. I don't even have to dig up the tweets because Cubs Insider's Corey Freedman helpfully did it for me:
Last week, though, Jesse turned his clickbait on Kris Bryant, and Cubs fans were not having it. Sparkles appeared on a podcast and talked about how difficult it's been at times over the past few years hearing all the trade rumors, being injured, and not performing up to his own standards. It's not that fun, which I can understand. An article that in 2015 might have been titled "Bryant finds joy in baseball after rough stretch" or "Bryant talks about how it sucks to constantly pop up in trade rumors" (okay, that one's a little long) in 2015 was instead titled this:
Uh, way to make Sparkles sound like a whiny toddler? I guess? The headline, which was of course lacking context, clarity, or anything to give it any sort of meaning other than trying to make Bryant sound unhappy caused a firestorm from fans who actually listened to the podcast, which Jesse just kept tweeting through:
And let me tell you, there were several more tweets like that from Jesse. What there wasn't, though, was an apology, clarification or retraction, even when Sparkles himself came out of Twitter hiding and called Jesse out.
Oh hai, Sparkles!
Fans are still on Jesse's case, and are still mocking him over it nearly a week later. Which... that kind of makes up for his stupidity. But not really.
Winner: David Kaplan
Question 3: Do either of these two have any self awareness whatsoever?
I wanted to give Kaplan the edge here since he's actually apologized to Darvish. I really did. The problem is that he keeps being a meatball and doing the same things over and over. Is it really a lesson if you never actually learn it? Plus a player shouldn't have to be the one to call you out for you to realize that it's not okay to constantly question their manhood and toughness when they're fighting through an injury. That's just dumb, toxic masculinity at play... not good journalism.
Winner: Absolutely no one.
So friends, it looks like we have ourselves a draw in the Less Terrible Media Meatball sweepstakes, which is about right for these two. Maybe we can trade Jesse to whatever team picks up his one true love, Tommy LaStella, and Kap really will flip to the Sox. That'll at least ensure that they'll both leave Sparkles alone for the maybe short time we have left with him.