Darren Rovell passes along word that the efforts of TMZ to expand its salacious paparazzi empire into the world of sports have “fizzled.” The problem: there aren’t enough athletes acting like jackasses in public. And people acting like jackasses in public is basically the whole TMZ business model.
And that’s the real dirty underbelly of sports: athletes, for the most part, are kind of boring. Sure, there are a couple of outliers, but those guys don’t remain athletes long due to the fact that being drunk and acting ridiculous in public generally ends sports careers quickly, thereby rendering TMZ’s would-be targets irrelevant to their enterprise the moment they become subjects of it. I mean, beyond Miguel Cabrera, who gets third chances in the world of sports?
Now, if someone could make a media empire that focuses on getting paparazzi video of athletes exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, messing with their cell phones, playing golf, hunting and living in bland, gated planned suburban communities they’d really be on to something. Because that’s what the vast majority of them do.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.