It’s not easy to be locked in sudden confrontation with a manager or player. Baseball interviews tend to be chatty, so it can jolt you when the subject’s eyes narrow, or tone sharpens, or words become accusatory.
Physical intimidation is part of an athlete’s job on the field, and reporters pride ourselves in a more mental/emotional brand of toughness. We’ll boast to one another about our courage, but it’s not always easy to remain focused when a subject decides to come after us, even verbally.
Which brings us to Bryan Price, and his bad luck to challenge a reporter who remains calm during conflict, and is highly knowledgeable about his subject. What we were left with was a manager’s rant for the ages, and a handy reminder of how the fan is served by good beat reporting.
In the post-Bill Simmons age, readers often assume that we’re Mets or Yankees (or Phillies) fans, and even feel that we should be. C. Trent Rosencrans’ behavior last night provided a perfect answer to why this very question is misguided. I try to answer this often, but never as well as Rosencrans did with his actions, so it’s worth pausing a moment to break this incident down.
Rosencrans, who covers the Reds for the Cincinnati Enquirer, had reported that catcher Devin Mesoraco was not available to pinch hit on Sunday. He later reported that Mesoraco and catcher Tucker Barnhart were on the same flight to St. Louis, before Price had told catcher Kyle Skipworth that he was headed to the minors.
As Rosencrans wrote in this story that includes the rant, “The basis of Price’s argument was that he was not fond of sharing information with the media that could be used to his opponent’s advantage,” or that he hadn’t gotten around to telling his players.
As Price put it while dropping 77 f-bombs in less than six minutes, “I don’t know what the importance is for everyone to know if we have a player that’s not here. We don’t benefit at all from the other teams knowing we don’t have a player.”
This reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the media’s job. We are not there to help the team. We are there to dig around for the real answers to fans’ questions. Why wasn’t a player used? Why was a pitcher removed in the sixth inning? The manager or GM will give you postgame spin, which occasionally resembles truth. We try our best to find the actual story.
It would amaze you how many injuries, and how much clubhouse drama, is covered up. Sometimes, teams lie because they don’t want an opponent to know which players are unavailable. Sometimes, teams lie to avoid having to explain a complicated situation. Sometimes, teams lie out of habit, or because information is power.
Anyway, here’s where Price miscalculated. He confronted a reporter who 1) kept his wits when a baseball guy pulled the old intimidation trick from his back pocket, and 2) knows as much about baseball as any of us. This part of the exchange is a clinic in how to diffuse bullies with logic:
Bryan Price: I don’t understand what the importance is for everybody to know if we have a player that’s not here. We don’t benefit from the other teams knowing we don’t have a player. It does — you don’t have to be a Reds fan, but it doesn’t help us if our opponents know who is here and who isn’t. That’s what I want to know.
C. Trent Rosencrans: Well, as a fan, I’m wondering, here’s a spot for Devin Mesoraco, why isn’t he there?
BP: Where was the spot?
CTR: As a pinch-hitter? He’s an All-Star with 25 home runs last year, I know I asked if it was a left-handed bat thing, you said no.
Rosencrans, who a few years ago handled Brandon Phillips’ intimidation attempt with similar grace, had an immediate answer for the “why do people need to know this” nonsense: Because your paying customers, the ones whose passion for the team makes its existence possible, want to know. Period.
Rosencrans then offered a quick answer for the baseball question: Dude had 25 home runs last year. Where wasn’t the spot?
Game, set, match, reporter. And Price is the guy who now joins Lee Elia and Hal McRae as managers defined by a goofy tantrum.
BACK IN NEW YORK
The Mets provided updates on the walking wounded.
Kevin Plawecki will be the focus tonight.
Wally Backman hasn’t heard from the Marlins, Kristie Ackert reports.
AND IN DETROIT
The Yankees got a solid performance from CC Sabathia, but they didn’t hit much.
The Shane Greene trade. Oopsie. As one teammate of Greene’s from last year told me recently, “That was the one move I didn’t understand. You have a guy who is homegrown and can pitch in New York. Why would you give that up?”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.