I know times are tough in the newspaper business.  Circulation is at all-time lows, people don’t want to pay for access to stories on the Internet.  Advertisers see little value in print ads, and most don’t have a clue how to effectively advertise online.  Hell, the only cash cow left is when a prominent athlete leaves town and buys a full-page ad in the paper to thank the fans.

“Hey, maybe we can get the Blackhawks to dump Jonathan Toews, we know he’d buy a full-pager!”

While the Tribune and Daily Herald struggle to put out quality issues every day (the Daily Herald for example, wads up “quality” and throws it out the window any day they let Mike North “write” a column), the other paper has basically given up.

Their sports section is an atrocity.  Not only in the hot takes foisted upon us by the “Ricks” or the fact that Joe Cowley somehow kept his job after his in-flight tirade against women and was sentenced to cover the Bulls, but both the website and the mobile site are un-navigable.  Even if you wanted to find something (on the rare occasion that you’re looking for something there) you need a digital sherpa to help you along the way.

It’s easy to ignore the Sun-Times because of it.  It’s just not worth the effort.  And maybe it was because of that irrelevancy that they thought it was OK to publish what they did about Starlin Castro.  Maybe it was because they hoped it would stir up some controversy and remind people they still exist.  Most likely, they just don’t know any better anymore.

But what they did was the epitome of terrible, unscrupulous, lazy writing.  They let Gordon Wittenmyer stop–for just a moment, I’m sure–bleating on about debt load and how much Jon Lester makes, and they had him confront Starlin with unsourced claims that the 25-year old has undiagnosed attention deficit disorder.

Here’s how the article starts:

It’s called attention deficit disorder, or ADD.

“I know what it is,” Starlin Castro said.

I can only assume that the full quote had one more word1.

So you think, “wow”, who on the Cubs told Gordon that Starlin either has, or is suspected of having ADD?  That seems pretty irresponsible of whoever that was.  So you read on to find out.

Throughout Castro’s career, mental lapses, moments of lost focus and inexplicable errors on routine plays have raised speculation among fans, scouts and even some in his organization – including the clubhouse — that he has a form of the common disorder.

Oh, so nobody.

When you start with “raised speculation among fans” you might as well have held the delete key down for a while and then started over.  “Raised speculation.”  That’s journo talk for “let me pull something out of my ass.”

But he hasn’t been tested for it, and doesn’t want to be, he said, even if a diagnosis and treatment could raise his performance – even as a three-month slump has called the three-time All-Star’s playing time into question down the stretch.

This is also a doozy.  It’s basically saying, “I’m not a doctor, but it’s apparent to me that if Starlin took some Adderall he’d start hitting ropes all over the field again.  What am I basing this on?  I have no fucking idea.”

Is it possible that Starlin has ADD?  Sure.  It is possible he ate lead paint as a kid and is slowly going blind?  Sure.  It is possible he’s been so emotionally distraught over Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s break-up that he can’t focus on the field?  Sure.  It is possible that he’s actually left-handed and that’s contributing to his difficulty hitting and fielding?  Sure.

Hold on, I have four stories to pitch to the Sun-Times.  They’ll eat this shit up.

ADD/ADHD drugs such as the amphetamine Adderall have even been used as performance enhancers by athletes who don’t have medical reasons to take it.

About 10 percent of major leaguers have therapeutic use exemptions for that drug – or about twice the national adult prevalence of ADHD.

Other people have it, and apparently twice as many baseball players have it than the general adult population…so…PRINT IT!

How about this for a change?  I’m not even going to blame Gordon for this.  I’m going to blame his editor.  Either Gordo pitched this weak shit and the editor said, “Sure, get a quote from Starlin, and get one from Joe–that crazy bastard will talk about ANYTHING–and we’ll run it,” or the editor dreamt this up and told him to do it.

Either way, even at the glorified news aggregator-blog that the Sun-Times has become, there’s somebody above the writer who decides what actually gets “printed.”  Gordon alluded to the chance that maybe, possibly, somebody in the organization has openly speculated that Starlin has ADD, but read that part again.  This is not a writer with any source strong enough to cite emphatically:

raised speculation among fans, scouts and even some in his organization – including the clubhouse — that he has a form of the common disorder

Given this, why would the Sun-Times run it?

Because they don’t give a shit.  They’ve got nothing left to lose.

Castro, 25, said he doesn’t take drugs for any conditions and doesn’t like the idea of starting. In this case, he said, team officials have never asked him to be tested.

“If somebody tells me, `You need this, go try it,’ I’ll go try,” he said. “But I don’t think I want to do it on my own.”

Said manager Joe Maddon: “I’m glad to hear that, actually.”

Joe.  You’re not helping.  The correct answer to any question about this issue was the one Lou Piniella would have given.  “Whattaya want me to do about it?  I’m not a doctor.  You’re not a doctor.  Go away.

The article that should have been written is what this one sort of hits on at the end.  When Miguel Montero comes back…presumably tonight, the Cubs are going to have to find a way to keep playing Kyle Schwarber.  If he plays left when Miggy catches that forces Chris Coghlan to the bench, and as much as I don’t like the guy, they can’t not have his bat in the lineup.  So does he go to right and Jorge Soler sits on the bench?  Does he (I can’t believe they’re actually considering this) play second with Addison Russell playing short and Starlin on the bench?  What happens when Javy Baez comes up?

But no.  Instead we get the “are you still beating your wife” 21st century version question.  “Why won’t you seek treatment for a medical condition that you might or might not have?”

The Sun-Times has done a lot of things to make itself easy to ignore.  With shit like this, they’ve stepped it up and they’re making it a necessity.

Check out their mission statement.  Try not to gag.

Deliver Chicago’s truths, fiercely urban character and trending buzz.

Log off, Sun-Times.  You’re done.

Here are those annoying footnotes.

  1. “I know what it is, asshole.”