The Mets, Carlos Beltran and the problem of media access

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Yesterday Adam Rubin of ESPN New York made a series of tweets regarding that flap from 2010 about Carlos Beltran not visiting Walter Reed Hospital.

You remember it: Beltran didn’t go, he had permission not to due to other charitable obligations, the team said it was OK, but then stories came out about how mad the team was at him and how selfish and awful he was.

Yesterday, Rubin defended the media’s role in all of that thusly (read from the bottom up):

source:

When I saw it I was astounded. Astounded that Rubin seems to be saying that it’s inevitable that team smear campaigns are going to be parroted by a credulous or complicit press.  My view yesterday was that it doesn’t have to be that way. That, rather than oblige the smears by reporting them at face value, you offer context or criticism or, at the very least, identify them as the smears they are. Tell the full story rather than serve as a conduit for team sources.

Today there is a much richer take on all of this from Matthew Callan at Amazin’ Avenue. After making a similar observation I made, Callan notes how access to teams and clubhouses and stuff is part of the problem here:

The only reason I can come up with as to why this story was put out there unquestioned is because it came straight from ownership. So failing to report the “story” could not only mean getting scooped, but losing access as well. I understand that in journalism access trumps all, but what good is access if all it buys you is closer proximity to lies, half-truths, and axe-grinding? And what is a reporter’s job if not to question the “official” story? In the case of the Walter Reed incident, there was precious little reporting and a whole lot of dictation.

Journalists will tell you that there is nothing more important in the reporter’s craft than his objectivity, and I presume that their response to what Callan writes will be to say that calling out the Mets’ ownership’s official line in the story would somehow not be objective because, hey, what they said is what they said and when we reported that, it was totally true.

Seems to me, however, that such objectivity can — as it did in this case — mislead readers as to what is actually going on.  And that is way worse in my mind than reporting news with some critical skepticism towards the source of that news.

Athletics place Sean Manaea on disabled list with a left shoulder strain

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The Athletics placed left-hander Sean Manaea on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder strain, according to a team announcement on Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 27, when Manaea was lifted from his last start after experiencing shoulder tightness. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he only expects Manea to miss one start during his stint on the DL, as the team is planning to utilize right-hander Sonny Gray in his place on Tuesday.

Manaea, 25, has yet to find his footing in his sophomore season with the Athletics. Over five starts, including his abbreviated outing against the Angels last Wednesday, the left-hander carries a 5.18 ERA, 3.28 FIP and 10.0 SO/9 through 24 1/3 innings. Even when healthy, control issues have spoiled some of his more dominant outings, doubling his walk rate per nine innings from the 2.2 BB/9 mark he posted during his rookie season in 2016.

With Manaea due back in the rotation by May 7, the A’s will eventually need to clear roster space to accommodate him. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle speculates that the decision could come down to right-handers Jesse Hahn and Jharel Cotton, though the team is still several days away from any formal announcement. Cotton has looked like two wildly different pitchers over his last five starts, tossing two-hit shutouts on his good days and getting shelled with 5-6 runs on his bad days. Hahn, meanwhile, has been a steadier presence in Oakland’s rotation, and his 2.08 ERA and eight-inning shutout should keep him in the majors a while longer, especially if he can replicate those results against the Astros on Sunday.

Noah Syndergaard refused an MRI for his sore biceps

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Mets’ right-hander Noah Syndergaard will take the hill on Sunday afternoon, just three days after he was scratched from a start due to right biceps tendinitis and shoulder discomfort. Syndergaard told reporters that he refused recommended medical testing on his arm because he felt “ready to go” after taking anti-inflammation medication and tossing a bullpen session on Friday. “I think I know my body best,” the right-hander said. “I’m pretty in tune with my body, and that’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI.”

It’s an unusual decision for a pitcher who has already succumbed to several serious arm issues, some as recent as last season, but as club GM Sandy Alderson told the New York Times’ James Wagner, the Mets aren’t in a position to force the issue.

This is a tense time for the Mets, whose lineup has been fraught with injuries of nearly every variety, from Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issue to Steven Matz‘s elbow inflammation and David Wright‘s cervical disc herniation. Syndergaard’s setback last week didn’t appear too serious, but it would make sense for the team to take things slowly with their best still-healthy hurler. Instead, they’ll push forward on Sunday against the Nationals and hope that Syndergaard’s read on his biceps issue is an accurate one.

The 24-year-old righty is 1-1 through his first four starts of 2017 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.0 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 in 26 innings. He’s scheduled to make his first start against the Nationals on Sunday at 1:35 PM ET.