MLB denies Twitter crackdown, but facts say otherwise

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After posting my story last night about MLB.com writers being banned from using Twitter for non-baseball topics and MLB players being told their tweets will be monitored, I was contacted by a spokesperson for MLB who essentially said I was 100 percent wrong. In fact, he went so far as to say my story was so “factually inaccurate” it had the good folks at MLB “mystified by all of this.”
Prior to posting the story I spoke to multiple MLB and MLB.com employees, each of whom made it very clear that the beat reporters were told to cease using their current Twitter accounts for anything other than coverage of the team. Several MLB.com writers even made announcements to that effect on their Twitter pages, although within hours those messages had (coincidentally, I’m sure) been deleted.
Beyond that, it was the talk of press boxes across baseball last night, with dozens of non-MLB.com beat writers tweeting about the fact that their MLB.com colleagues could no longer post non-baseball notes on Twitter. White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen also spoke to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the players angle. In other words, the notion that my story could have possibly “mystified” anyone at MLB was absurd and struck me as an attempt to mislead.
Eventually the MLB spokesperson pulled back the reins a bit on the denial, but still insisted that no policy changes have been made. That flies in the face of everything I was told by multiple sources involved, all the notes posted on Twitter last night by both MLB.com and non-MLB.com reporters discussing the issue, and the fact that several MLB.com beat writers chose last night to create new, personal Twitter accounts.
I asked MLB for an official statement, but they refused and simply continued to insist my story was inaccurate. If and when they’d like to clarify things on the record I’m willing to clarify, update, or correct my reporting, but in the meantime what’s going on here seems rather obvious and I’m more than comfortable letting things speak for themselves.
UPDATE: In addition to deleting any tweets about the Twitter ban issue, MLB.com writers have now deleted their posts about creating new, personal Twitter accounts. Just another coincidence, I’m sure.

Former trainers also allege discrimination by Mariners

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Dr. Lorena Martin was recently terminated as the Mariners’ director of high performance. Following her ouster, she alleged that members of the Mariners’ front office and coaching staff, including GM Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, and director of player development Andy McKay, made bigoted comments against foreign-born players. While the Mariners strongly denied Martin’s accusations, MLB opened an investigation into the matter.

TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that former trainers of the Mariners, based out of the club’s complex in Boca Chica (Domonican Republic), claim the club’s treatment of Latino personnel changed once Dipoto took over as GM. Those trainers, Leonardo Santiago and Jose Valdez, did not speak specifically to Martin’s claims, but did say their experiences with Dipoto and McKay could relate with hers.

Through an interpreter over the phone, Santiago said, “It seemed like Dipoto and McKay would talk to just about everyone who was of American descent and talk to them more personally and try to be involved with them. But never with me.” When asked if it was because he was Latino, Santiago responded, “Under God and before you and in my mind and in my heart — yes. Because I am a Latino of color.”

Santiago continued, “I felt like, ‘Wow.’ They have relationships with all the Americans. They would talk with all of them, but they never came near me. Andy McKay never stopped by, even though he would stop by every other area.”

Furthermore, Santiago commented, “Before Dipoto and McKay came, everything was in order. I didn’t feel discriminated against. Everybody respected everybody from different areas. But when they came, everything changed. In the past,  the previous regimes, the general manager would come and talk with us. They would visit more often, specifically the farm director. Andy McKay never came by my office. He never said anything to me. He never looked for a way to see how I worked, to see if I was good or bad at what I did. He never found a way to talk to me, but he would talk with everybody that was American.”

Per Cotterill, the Mariners apparently found it problematic that neither Santiago nor Valdez were certified. Santiago wondered why his lack of certification was never an issue for the previous 10 years he worked for the Mariners or the previous 15 he’d worked in baseball. The Mariners were paying for his training for certification in physical therapy. He has one year remaining. Valdez also said the club was paying for him to obtain his certification.

Valdez said through an interpreter, “It felt like the relations between the American employees and Latino employees within the club, it felt like they were different. Almost like one was superior to the other.” Though Valdez declined to name specific examples, he said, “It was just [McKay’s] demeanor. He would arrive, see us and not acknowledge us. He wouldn’t want to talk or be with us. He would arrive to the staff meeting and that was it. I never exchanged words with either [McKay or Dipoto].”

To date, neither Martin nor the trainers have provided concrete evidence of the discrimination they claimed happened while working for the Mariners. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and it doesn’t mean the Mariners can’t face some kind of punishment by MLB. You may recall that MLB does not need a convinction in order to levy a punishment against players accused of domestic violence. Martin, in particular, risked a lot for what will likely amount to very little. She has burnt to a crisp her bridge with the Mariners and other organizations, even outside of baseball, will likely view her as a risky hire. She appears to be doing what she thinks is right by her and her former coworkers, which is commendable. Even for Santiago and Valdez, it would be a lot simpler and safer career-wise to stay quiet, which is why we should take these accusations seriously and give them the benefit of the doubt.