Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

El Infierno

Posted by JD on February 21, 2010

Hat-tip to @fonzieforever for tweeting this NY Times article on Josh Thole yesterday. It seems that Thole earned the nickname “El Infierno” during his time in the Venezuelan Winter League. The Times helpfully translates this as “the Inferno” but never addresses how it came to be. Seriously. They translated what might be one of the most perfect cognates I’ve ever seen, but never bothered to convey why it was applied to the player. Was it his temper? His bat? The amount of hot peppers he ate? We have no idea. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Editor: “Great story. It’s missing something, but I think it’s great.”
David Waldstein: “Well, I guess I could translate his nickname.”

Editor: “That’s it! Now the story will ‘play in Peoria.’ It really resonates!”
Waldstein: “Thanks! I was just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.”

I shouldn’t be so hard on Mr. Waldstein. After all, I didn’t have the access he, I didn’t interview Thole, and I certainly didn’t have to produce a readable story by deadline. I’m unqualified to criticize, but it just bugs me that there’s no backstory for the nickname.

And in fairness, Mr. Waldstein did a great job presenting Thole’s fiance, Kathryn Poe. She was in a tough spot in Caracas, which can be a terribly dangerous city at times, and Mr. Waldstein showed us that she really handled herself well in an adverse situation. I’m rooting for Thole as much for her as I am for him…she sounds like a real trouper.

Of course, she’s from Oswego, NY, not “Owego”. I mean, I know that I shouldn’t get this fired up about a Spring Training fluff-piece, but the Times really mailed it in on this one. That’s a shame, because Thole and Poe seem to be great folks who deserved a better introduction to the Mets’ fan base. Maybe one day we’ll figure out how Thole became “El Infierno”, but I doubt it will be from the Times.

Thanks to a helpful commenter, I am now aware of the existance of Owego, NY. There is almost nothing worse than ripping into somebody based on shoddy research. That’s certainly the case here, and I apologize to Mr. Waldstein and his editors for my unnecessary and uninformed tweak.

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5 Responses to “El Infierno”

  1. Maybe Thule actually started a fire in their clubhouse, or something. Or maybe this is just a symptom of all the cutbacks in the newspaper industry these days. First, no back story. Eventually, no complete paragraphs, just a bunch of prepositional phrases. Then, eventually, they’ll be down to the USA Today approach; a cute colorful pic accompanied by a pointless poll. Anyway, nice blog post. Bill

  2. Owego said

    http://www.villageofowego.com/

    Owego exists – Check it out

  3. katie said

    I am sorry but no one should be praising this girl for going to Venezuela. This girl has been around for less than a year and had the ignorance to go to a country that is on the brink of civil war. There are many other wives/fiancés out there that have actually done newsworthy acts in their life. Toasting bread on a hot pad is about as innovative as wearing your socks two days in a row by flipping them inside-out. Please NYtimes, stop writing about a girl that is quite possibly a gold digger and focus on people in this world that are promoting change and working towards to the betterment of humanity.

    • JD said

      It’s not fair to call her a gold digger and really, it’s not fair to call her anything negative. Literally, all we know about her is that she went to visit her fiance in Venezuela. I don’t how valid your point about being “on the brink of a civil war” is, either. The issue is crime rate in Caracas itself: I know native Venezuelans who won’t visit there because of the amount of violent crime, and the families of professional baseball players are routinely targeted for kidnapping. In the past year alone, Yorvit Torrealba, Henry Blanco, and Victor Zambrano have had relatives who were kidnapped.

      And of course there are more newsworthy people out there: the point of the story, I thought, was to give a little background on a prospect, a little fluff. And here I was worried that I was being harsh. Thanks for clarifying that…

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