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TELANDER: Carlos Marmol only latest to learn anything can be made public

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

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Updated: May 16, 2013 10:19PM



You can run, you famous athletes. You even can walk, skip or whisper.

But you can’t hide.

Isn’t that true, Carlos Marmol?

The Cubs reliever met with his agents for what he thought would be a casual, off-the-record discussion in a community lounge Wednesday in his Chicago condo building. But an alleged ‘‘neighbor’’ took sneaky photos of the visit, apparently jotted down notes, then posted the stuff — via Twitter, of course — on a Cubs-related blog.

Boom! It’s a story!

What did Marmol and his posse — allegedly, as reported by an anonymous human — say? Only that the agents were trying to figure out how to get the struggling Marmol traded, so he could start fresh somewhere else, and that Marmol himself ‘‘can’t wait’’ for that to happen.

Marmol, whose first language isn’t English, claims that it’s all untrue, that he loves Chicago and the Cubs.

Maybe he does. Who the hashtag knows?

Nor is it like Marmol and his 13 walks in 15 innings and 5.40 ERA are doing anything to make Cubs fans pray he doesn’t get on the next bus to Cleveland.

But the larger issue is this: The citizen snoop is out there, and famous people — all of us, really — have all the privacy of a turtle minus its shell.

Players can be sheltered at the fields and arenas by PR flacks who wave away credentialed journalists, but the real world looms outside the walls — and citizen eavesdroppers don’t need passes.

Of course, Big Brother is there. The government can track people through so many Internet, satellite and audio transactions that it’s silly. Prescriptions, subscriptions, cellphone records, credit-card bills, mortgage payments (or non-payments), medical records, police reports, GPS links — everything’s there for the sifting.

Indeed, any halfway competent hacker freely can take available stuff, such as your home address, birthdate, phone numbers, family members and license-plate number, then hook it up with your (fairly easy-to-find) Social Security number and employment status and sail away with . . . you!

Oh, and videotapes. Chicago has thousands of cameras watching citizens in public areas, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he wants more. Combine those with the surveillance cameras in banks, stores, restaurants, schools and, yes, even restroom areas, and your entire day can be reconstructed.

And if all that doesn’t work, why, the Justice Department can steal your phone conversations (hello, Associated Press!) without asking.

Brave new world, for sure. Well-told, Mr. Orwell.

So what we have now, increasingly, is what social psychologists call ‘‘anticipatory behavior.’’ That is, citizens are modifying normal actions because they don’t want to stand out, because they know someone is watching.

But when it’s your ‘‘neighbor’’ watching — and disseminating to the world — in a place where you thought you were safe, it can be pretty unsettling. Especially if you can’t prove what was said about you didn’t happen.

We live in the world of the smartphone — an instrument that is actually a small communications studio in one’s palm — and you can’t be sure anything you do isn’t photographed. Smartphones shoot backward and underwater, you know. Some victims have found out.

Marmol now will be more wary. Maybe he and his people will speak only in Spanish or in code. Or only in a padded room.

Still, the citizen scoop-seeker is out there, and codes can be cracked. Places can be bugged.

In truth, they are. The guy at the bar next to you, the teenager on the other side of the street, what are they but information collectors?

It’s all unfiltered because of the connective ether, which means a tweeter somehow gets as much credence — for a few minutes, at least — as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.

You remember the photo of Bears quarterback Kyle Orton guzzling from a fifth of Jack Daniels while back in Iowa? We don’t know the context. Maybe he was sober as a nun.

Think if there had been smartphones back in the day, back when players didn’t have limos or bodyguards and they closed bars down. How long would Babe Ruth have been seen in public?

The public might have seen Joe Pepitone without his hairpiece or heard Ron Santo rip Leo Durocher to shreds.

I was with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Billy Martin in a Holiday Inn bar in Gainesville, Fla., back in the late 1970s. Maris owned the Budweiser distributorship there, and the cans were flowing. Roger and Mick were happy. But Billy, who had not long before slugged a marshmallow salesman, was getting feisty.

If there had been smartphones around him, somebody probably would have eaten one. And somebody else would have caught the brawl on, say, Google Glass.

Sorry, Carlos.

Mum’s the word.



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