Curiouser And Curiouser

I use that line from "Alice In Wonderland" as the title of this post, because what's happening surrounding this year's Cubs becomes more surreal by the day.

The latest bizarre situation is this: Dusty Baker was invited to appear on Stephen A. Smith's "Quite Frankly" show on ESPN next Monday morning, before the Cubs face the Mets in New York.

I (and apparently quite a number of other Cubs bloggers) received an email from a woman identifying herself as Jackea Chan, an "assistant associate audience producer" for the show (Just how low on the totem pole IS an "assistant associate", I wonder?).

It read, in its entirety:

My name is Jackea Chan and I am an Assistant Associate Audience Producer for ESPN2's sports talk show Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith.

The reason I am contacting you again is that we have just been notified that on Monday, July 24th, Current Chicago Cubs Manager Dusty Baker is scheduled to appear LIVE in studio!

We would like to extend to you and your website FREE tickets to attend the show. We realize that this would be a great opportunity for some of your forum members to get together and meet up for an exciting sports show. You guys can definitely feel free to BOO Dusty if you so please. The tickets are open to your all interested members, family members, friends, and co-workers.

Our studio is located in the heart of New York City, across the street from Madison Square Garden. Again the show date is Monday, July 24th at 11:15am with a 9:30am check-in.

If you or any of your members are interested in attending the show, please call me at 646-708-7150 or email Jackea.X.Chan.-nd@espn.com. Please provide your first and last name, telephone number with area code and spell your email address. Someone from Audience Services will contact you if your reservation has been accepted.

In addition, please feel free to post this information on your website for all Dusty Baker and Cub fans located in the New York or tri-state area.

Well, the line "You guys can definitely feel free to BOO Dusty if you so please." caused a great deal of consternation -- many of you, in fact, reacted quite negatively to that, and rightfully so. It was classless for Ms. Chan to send that out, and honestly, I should have realized that before I posted it.

But that's where the story gets interesting, and Teddy Greenstein of the Tribune picks up what happened next:

When Kurt Evans of a Cubs blog called goatriders.org saw that, he forwarded it to Cubs TV play-by-play man Len Kasper, who notified Baker.

The result: Baker, concerned he would be ambushed, withdrew from the show. And Smith doesn't blame him.

"I spoke to Dusty about it and told him I totally respected his decision," Smith said Thursday. "I don't ambush people. I pride myself on being a Mack truck ... you always see me coming. If there's an issue out there, I'll broach it. But I don't ambush people."

Smith also denied his staff had sent out a memo inviting people to boo one of his guests. Smith said that after speaking to staff members Thursday, he believes the memo was doctored and that the line about booing Baker was added.

Here's where I'm going to go out on a limb and say: if Stephen Smith really believes ANY of that last paragraph, he ought to be fired. First of all, I received, just about 24 hours after the original email, a second email from Ms. Chan, and it reads in its entirety:

Hi Al,

Hope you are doing well. This information is not accurate http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/story/2006/7/18/143220/837

Please post the following...

My name is Jackea Chan and I am an Assistant Associate Audience Producer for ESPN2's sports talk show Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith. The reason I am contacting you again is that we have just been notified that on Monday, July 24th, Current Chicago Cubs Manager Dusty Baker is scheduled to appear LIVE in studio!

We would like to extend to you and your website FREE tickets to attend the show. We realize that this would be a great opportunity for some of your forum members to get together and meet up for an exciting sports show. The tickets are open to your all interested members, family members, friends, and co-workers.

Our studio is located in the heart of New York City, across the street from Madison Square Garden. Again the show date is Monday, July 24th at 11:30am with a 10:00am check-in.

If you or any of your members are interested in attending the show, please call me at 646-708-7150 or email Jackea.X.Chan.-nd@espn.com. Please provide your first and last name, telephone number with area code and spell your email address. Someone from Audience Services will contact you if your reservation has been accepted.

In addition, please feel free to post this information on your website for all Dusty Baker and Cub fans located in the New York or tri-state area.

Thank you.

What a classic case of "cover my butt". Obviously, the "boo Dusty" line had caused a firestorm which had reached ESPN, and they hastily tried to backtrack. The truth is: Ms. Chan DID send out the original email, it was NOT doctored in ANY way, and if she's saying that to Stephen Smith in order to save her job, someone at ESPN ought to show her the door right now.

I do not appreciate being used in this way -- first, by posting an email that I thought was simply a way to get people to a live TV show involving Dusty Baker, and then told that information was "not accurate", when the only thing that was "not accurate" (i.e. the only thing that was different in the second email) was that the person who wrote it realized that she shouldn't have put in the "booing" sentence. I did edit the original diary (which you can see in the link in Ms. Chan's second email). However, I should not have done that, since I knew the original email was legitimate -- I had received ANOTHER email from Ms. Chan promoting Andre Dawson's appearance on Smith's show last month. I'm embarrassed to have allowed BCB to be used in this way -- but Ms. Chan and Mr. Smith ought to be more embarrassed that they have flat-out lied about this entire situation.

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