Thompson was The Kansas City Star's sometimes hard-hitting feature sportswriter until he took a job last year for ESPN.com. His replacement, Bill Reiter, produced a front-page feature February 25 on Royals President Dan Glass that amounted to a wet, open-mouthed kiss.
The flaws with the piece ran as deep as recent Royals bullpens.
Reiter at least acknowledged the long-discussed belief that Glass, son of team owner David Glass, isn't the brightest bulb on the scoreboard. But in terms of hardened analysis, the story did little more than to quote not one but two of Dan Glass' children. Not exactly unbiased sources.
Reiter also touched on the Glass family's rep for scotching trades that would have improved the team. What about the rumor that the Glasses killed Mike Sweeney trades when the aging and often-injured slugger could have fetched something halfway decent? No mention.
The piece hinted at the team's struggles. But somehow, this profile of the Glass family never mentioned the fact that the team has lost 100 games or more in four of the past five seasons.
Worst of all was the anecdote with which Reiter began the piece, one that tried to show Glass as a regular guy who "often goes for lunch" at a Subway across from Kauffman Stadium. Now, it'd be easy enough to argue that Dan Glass lunches with the likes of Jared simply because Taco Bell is about the next-best option near Kauffman Stadium.
But the anecdote isn't even true. Danny Mong, a sandwich artist at the Subway in question, says he sees Glass there only rarely. When he does slum it, Glass usually arrives in a big SUV with two or three other guys "every once in a blue moon," Mong tells us. "I didn't know who he was, but when he left, all of a sudden, people start talking, 'Oh, do you know who that was?'"
Mong says somebody else recently came by asking whether Dan Glass regularly dined there. The Department of Burnt Ends figures it was probably Reiter, who ignored Mong's analysis that Glass rarely eats lunch there. It was, after all, a good anecdote.
In response, Reiter says, "I heard from a lot of folks that said we went way too easy on Dan Glass and a lot of folks that said we were too hard on Dan Glass. I stand by my story."