Max Scherzer is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And he’s not happy about how the story — with the cover headline “Mad Max’s $144 million bet” — turned out:
“To be on the cover is a very special moment, but I’m also frustrated that they chose to put the contract stuff on the cover,” he said Sunday.
“When they approached us, (Tigers media relations) and I, we specifically asked not to make the story around the contract. … They assured us it wasn’t going to be like that. They chose a different route, and we felt like we were lied to and misled.”
Sports Illustrated said they made no such assurances and, given that Sports Illustrated is a respectable media operation, I’d be shocked if they did. It just doesn’t work that way when you’re dealing with a legitimate journalistic operation. My guess is a game of telephone or some misunderstanding led Scherzer or the Tigers folks to believe the story would not mention his contract status.
But this does seem to be an increasingly common refrain from the celebrity class lately. That they were someone treated poorly by the media or that they had some sort of understanding that a story would be about X and not Y or that Z topic would not be broached. Lorde of all people got into this sort of dispute with a magazine criticizing her music recently, claiming that criticism is somehow unfair, hateful and illegitimate.
It’s all nuts to me. A low blow is one thing, but suggesting that criticizing one’s work — or, in Scherzer’s case, pointing out a totally legitimate and relevant thing about his contract status — is off base is to confuse journalists with publicists. If you want to get your message and your message only out, go through the latter. If you can’t handle mention of things you don’t want mentioned, avoid the former.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”