When is it OK to report what goes on in the clubhouse?

20 Comments

That’s the question a staff writer for the Dayton Daily News asks in the wake of that Jonny Gomes/Adam Wainwright thing:

When do the media go too far? Is every nanosecond of every day fair game for anyone who we christen as a public figure? As a reader, do you even want to know that kind of TMZ.com fodder?

Or are we somehow smarter for daring to report how few others do? As a reader, does that take you to the moment in a more intimate and revealing way that you appreciate more?

Just what are the media rules to play by?

I suppose these are interesting questions — and walking around clubhouses for the last week has me thinking about what’s cool and what isn’t cool to pass along — but they seem a bit presumptuous coming from the Dayton Daily News in the wake of the Gomes thing.

Because the way this seems to be shaking out is that this wasn’t a controversy borne of a reporter reporting what he heard in the clubhouse and people subsequently wondering if it was OK for him to have done so.  It was a case of a reporter misreporting what went on in the clubhouse. Really: there were other reporters around when that Gomes thing went down, and they have different stories than McCoy.

There’s a saying that hard cases make bad law. Given the lack of clarity on the fact itself, the Gomes thing seems like a bad example to use to answer the question poised in the headline. It’s just too messy.  It would be better if the stuff passed along from the clubhouse unequivocally and undeniably happened as it was reported. Then we could have a discussion about whether it was kosher to have so reported it.

Accuracy aside, here’s my only thought on it at the moment: the clubhouse is generally open to reporters for an hour or so, several hours before game time.  If the clubhouse is such a sanctuary — and maybe it should be — why open it to reporters at all?  By making it off limits most of the time, aren’t clubs strongly implying that there is a private time and a semi-public time and that, if they wanted to, they could make it all-private all the time?

But they didn’t. They have chosen to open it to people whose job it is to report what they see that they deem to be newsworthy to their readership.  In light of this it strikes me odd that we would be forced to rely on some amorphous and unwritten rule of clubhouse reporting to take care of this stuff.  Either a space is open to the media for all the good and ill that may lead to, or it’s not.  For now it is open, at least for a little while, each day.

If I waltz into the Athletics’ clubhouse later this morning and hear or see something I think is newsworthy, I’m going to be hard pressed not to pass it along. I’ll make sure I’m positive that what I’m seeing or hearing is what I think I’m seeing or hearing, but really: if you let me in your room — and teams still have total control over who they let in their room — why shouldn’t I be allowed to talk about what I see?

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

Leave a comment

On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.