Why are reporters in locker rooms anyway?


Over at the Wall Street Journal today Craig Wolff writes about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what purpose, exactly, does it serve to have reporters in the locker room before and after games? Read the thinking-it-through parts of it all, which are good, but here’s the central question I think:

In the end, no matter what becomes of this American tradition, it’s probably time to start asking if all this standing around amounts to loitering and is worth the strain it puts on the relationship between press and players. It’s not clear that either side derives much from the transaction.

It used to be that the teams needed the local paper for publicity and stuff. That’s way less necessary now than it used to be, and in fact, the situation has reversed, with papers needing the team way more for circulation purposes.  But are the postgame quotes all that useful to the reader?  Wouldn’t the reporter’s face time be better spent trying to talk to athletes about more in-depth matters in feature stories?  Shouldn’t their gameday focus be more on the game itself, with their own analysis and insight — which in the case of most reporters is considerable because they’ve seen a lot of baseball — rather than transcribing the cliches?

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is quoted in the article talking about how being in the locker room, despite the bad, empty quotes, is important for maintaining relationships, the sorts of which no doubt would lead to better feature stories like I’d like to see.  I get that.  It just seems to me that there’s gotta be a better way.

Hall of Fame will no longer use Chief Wahoo on Hall of Fame plaques

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Last month, in the wake of his election to the Hall of Fame, Jim Thome made it clear that he wanted to be inducted as a Cleveland Indian but that he did not want to have Chief Wahoo on his plaque.

His reasoning: even though that was the cap he wore for almost all of his time in Cleveland, “because of all the history and everything involved” he did not think it was the right thing to do. The context, of course, was the club’s decision, under pressure from Major League Baseball, to scrap the Wahoo logo due to its racial insensitivity, which it appears Thome agrees with.

Hall plaque decisions are not 100% up to the player, however. Rather, the Hall of Fame, while taking player sentiment into account, makes a judgment about the historical accuracy and representativeness of Hall plaques. This is to prevent a club from entering into a contract with a player to wear its logo on the plaque even if he only played with them for a short time or from a player simply picking his favorite club (or spiting his least-favorite), even if he only spent an inconsequential season or two there. Think Wade Boggs as a Devil Ray or Frank Robinson as, I dunno, a Dodger.

In the case of Chief Wahoo, the Hall has not only granted Thome’s wish, but has decreed that no new plaque will have Wahoo on it going forward:

To be fair, I can’t think of another player who wore Wahoo who would make the Hall of Fame in an Indians cap after Thome. Possibly Manny Ramirez if he ever gets in, though he may have a better claim to a Red Sox cap (debate it in the comments). Albert Belle appears on Veterans Committee ballots, but I’d bet my cats that he’s never getting it in. If younger players like Corey Kluber or Francisco Lindor or someone make it in, they’ll likely have just as much history in a Block-C or whatever the Indians get to replace Wahoo with than anything else, so it’s not really an issue for them.

Still, a nice gesture from the Hall, both to accommodate Thome’s wishes and to acknowledge the inappropriateness of using Chief Wahoo for any purpose going forward.