Game 3 of the World Series is just a few hours away, so hopefully this is the last we hear about this topic for a while, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote an enlightening column this morning on the Albert Pujols situation.
Rosenthal focused specifically on the symbiotic relationship between members of the media, players and fans. I have never been in an MLB clubhouse, so I can’t relate completely to his role as a beat writer, but his commentary is pretty spot on.
Below is a quick sample of his thoughts on the matter, but I highly recommend you go read the column for yourself:
Players give reporters their version of events. Reporters gain a richer understanding of what happened. Readers and viewers benefit from the additional insight.
Yet, it blew me away Friday how many fans on Twitter responded angrily to the criticism of Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina for making themselves unavailable after Game 2.
Anti-media types consider reporters to be pests. Fanboys want to hear only the best about their favorite players and teams. But the daily contact between reporters and players produces not just quotes, but also background information for context. And the checks and balances actually work both ways.
Beat writers and local columnists are the most accountable. You rip a player, you show up the next day to take your medicine. That’s the ethic of the baseball-writing fraternity, and I can personally attest from my days with The Baltimore Sun that it leads to many sleepless nights.
Such accountability is healthy, often prompting restraint. Judging from Twitter, many fans took exception with the other side of the argument, that players should be accountable to reporters. Well, reporters essentially are conduits to fans, means to an end.
I think most of us can agree that Pujols was in the wrong in this situation. As a veteran player, he should know that reporters will want to talk to him following a World Series game, especially when he was involved in a critical play in the ninth inning.
I don’t disagree with Rosenthal’s perspective as a beat writer, he pretty much nails it here, but my main issue is that quite a few prominent columnists went off course and called this a failure of leadership on Pujols’ part. That beat writers were looking for context of a particular play is fine and expected, and Pujols should certainly know better, but there’s no need for such hyperbole and exaggeration. Unless one of his teammates, Jon Jay, for example, calls out Pujols publicly, I have no way of knowing he let his teammates down. We can assume it, but how can we possibly know for sure?