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.