Kirk Gibson used to walk uphill both ways and the Diamondbacks will too

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Kirk Gibson has had enough of the tomfoolery in the Dbacks’ clubhouse, particularly when it comes to cell phones:

Gibson probably would prefer to keep all cellphones out of the clubhouse. Players can use them up to a certain point in the day, as long as they get their work done.

“You’re talking to somebody in the clubhouse, your phone rings and you go to get it, I think it’s rude, Number 1, OK?” Gibson said. “I just don’t like it. I’m from an era where we had no phones to begin with. It just gets to be too much.

I guess Gibson would be totally old school whenever he managed, but he was playing as late as 1995, so this “back in my day” stuff is kind of rich coming from him.

Still, he’s serious about the cell phones thing. When I was at Dbacks camp last Thursday, the Arizona beat writers were talking about how nuts Gibson is about them. But he does seem to have a bit of a sense of humor about it. Before his little press conference, as a joke, a couple of the beat guys collected everyone’s cell phone and put them up on the podium where Gibson was going to speak so they were all right up in his face.

I thought that when Gibson saw them he’d freak. And I was worried about it because my phone was on that pile. I was half-convinced that Gibson would keep it until the end of the semester as a lesson to me.  But he didn’t freak. He may have seethed a bit — I think Gibson is a big seether — but he didn’t freak.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.