Craig Calcaterra

press hat

Athletes should be treated fairly by the press. Even if they’re not friendly to the press.

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This, from Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail, is really about a hockey player. But it starts out with a long anecdote about Frank Thomas and his time with the Blue Jays.

The overall story is about how the personal relationships and respect of the athlete-reporter interaction work. And as far as that goes — athletes see reporters as annoying wallpaper, reporters see athletes as quote-providing commodities — it rings quite true, sadly enough. But the conclusion that is eventually reached bugs me. And that conclusion is basically: hey athlete, if you don’t want to be ripped in the press, you should probably get to know us reporters as human beings.

Which, while not troublesome on its face — while, indeed, it is quite understandable as a point of human nature — it is a conclusion which should bother folks a bit.

It’s bothersome because the primary example Kelly uses is Frank Thomas ingratiating himself with the Toronto media at first. An ingratiation which Kelly seems to have taken as disingenuous (and it may well have been). But it’s an ingratiation which ended up protecting Thomas from being ripped like the hockey player in the article is ripped. It’s a dynamic which seems to make the formation of some personal connection — even a phony one — the prerequisite for fair treatment from the press.

I understand that the media are human beings and that all human beings are likely to be more charitable to those we know — or at least think we know — than we are to strangers or, especially, people who are rude to us. That’s just part of our nature. But reporters also have a job which inherently asks them to offer a greater level of objectivity than the average human being. Even when writing opinions over mere facts, journalists are expected to put personal biases aside — or at least to be clear and up front about their biases — and treat their subjects fairly, even if they are engaging in critical commentary.

Kelly may be right that the easiest way to not get ripped by the press is to forge some sort of personal relationship with them. And I’m choosing to believe that this article is written from the perspective of someone lamenting a reality but acknowledging that it’s easier to pragmatically short circuit that reality rather than truly change it. But I hope it’s not crazy to say that athletes shouldn’t have to be friendly — fake or otherwise — with reporters in order to get fair coverage. Polite? Obviously. But friendly and ingratiating? I would hope not. Reporters should, on some very basic level, be able to treat everyone fairly. Even if they’re jerks on occasion.

Rusney Castillo diagnosed with an oblique strain

Rusney Castillo Getty
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Following up on Drew’s post from last night, the Red Sox have announced that Rusney Castillo will miss at least one week with a left oblique strain.

This will give more playing time to Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Which is great for them even if it stinks for Castillo.

Now that he’s released, who pays for Joel Hanrahan’s surgery?

Joel Hanrahan Getty
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It was announced today that Joel Hanrahan would need Tommy John surgery. Again. Soon after that the Tigers announced that they had released Hanrahan. Which got me wondering “so, who pays for his surgery now?”

This is stuff covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the minor league Uniform Player Contract. But it’s been too many years since I examined legal documents and I’m lazy, so I asked someone who works with these things for a living about it all. The upshot:

Usually, even with a released player, the team he was with when diagnosed will pay for the surgery. That’s the Tigers. Occasionally, however, a team will try to say that the injury originally occurred with a previous team and make an effort to get that team to pay. The Tigers, I understand, aren’t petty like that and will most likely will pay.

Teams pay the cost of surgery directly. It does not go through the player’s health insurance. However, released players do have to rehab privately, and that rehab is paid through the player’s insurance. Said insurance is private insurance provided via the Collective Bargaining Agreement and administered by the MLBPA.  A player in Hanrahan’s position is also eligible for worker’s comp since they’re unemployed.

This is Regulation 2 of the major league Uniform Player Contract which covers such things for big leaguers:

source:

And here is the minor league provision, which actually applies to Hanrahan given that he was on a minor league deal:

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The more you know:

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Before we laud Curt Schilling too much for his attack on corrosive social media . . .

Curt Schilling
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I’ll say it today just like I said it yesterday: good for Curt Schilling for speaking out, loudly, about the corrosive elements of social media and for going after the jerks who made threats against his daughter. I’ll praise him for doing that seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

But as Christian Arcand writes over at the ESPN New Hampshire radio site today, let’s not get too carried away lauding Curt Schilling’s war on corrosive social media. Mostly because Curt Schilling has contributed greatly to corrosive social media himself:

Accountability is a two way street, and Curt Schilling’s social media postings have crossed that line several times.  So while you listen to masses laud him as a hero for going after the cyber-bullies who attacked his daughter, just keep in mind that most of the people he retweeted have/had just a small handful of followers.  Curt Schilling has a vast audience.  Tens of thousands of people were exposed to his hateful and wildly offensive postings and yet there has been no recourse.  He still works for ESPN and I can guarantee you he doesn’t think he did a single thing wrong by posting any of the three examples I’ve cited.

Arcand provides some good examples of Schilling’s social media transgressions. And no, we’re not talking about his stuff about evolution here.

My hope is that, in light of the awfulness Schilling had to put up with this week, he’ll rethink what his own words on social media mean to people. I’m not counting on it, but perhaps this will lead to some reevaluation by him. He’s a pretty bright guy and the parallels, one hopes, are not lost on him.

But either way, this was a good, thought-provoking read which reminds us that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Klapisch: it’s time to give A-Rod a break

Alex Rodriguez
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Alex Rodriguez is batting second today in a spring training game against the Phillies. And one of his most dedicated detractors has declared that the A-Rod bashing should stop now. Bob Klapisch, folks:

Whether you consider him a snake or a victim, a liar or someone who got swallowed up in a self-created jail, it’s time to measure A-Rod anew. It’s time to see him solely as a baseball player again . . . it’s time to let go of Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch and the historically dishonest interview with Mike Francesa. Like the fans who, perhaps, have been softened by the Florida sun, it’s time to let A-Rod breathe . . .  That’s why we should all hit the reset button. The man has paid dearly. He’ll never get into the Hall of Fame. His reputation is ruined forever. But there’s still one chapter left – getting back on the field. It starts today. A-Rod deserves this final shot.

Now, to be sure, there are a lot of jabs in there, like the one about the fans “softened by the Florida sun,” which suggest that Klap still thinks anyone who doesn’t consider A-Rod to be history’s greatest monster is a sap (he actually uses the words “saps” and “rubes”). But it’s still something to see a guy who has gone out of his way to bash A-Rod — even in stories that have literally nothing to do with A-Rod — calling for an end to that and a reset, if you will.

Will he hold to that? Will he truly treat A-Rod like any other ballplayer going forward and offer that “reset?” I don’t know. It’s possible he’ll fall off the wagon at some point. Indeed, it’s to be expected. The key here is to understand that A-Rod Derangement Syndrome is an illness, and that relapse is part of recovery.