Why are reporters in locker rooms anyway?

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Over at the Wall Street Journal today Craig Wolff writes about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what purpose, exactly, does it serve to have reporters in the locker room before and after games? Read the thinking-it-through parts of it all, which are good, but here’s the central question I think:

In the end, no matter what becomes of this American tradition, it’s probably time to start asking if all this standing around amounts to loitering and is worth the strain it puts on the relationship between press and players. It’s not clear that either side derives much from the transaction.

It used to be that the teams needed the local paper for publicity and stuff. That’s way less necessary now than it used to be, and in fact, the situation has reversed, with papers needing the team way more for circulation purposes.  But are the postgame quotes all that useful to the reader?  Wouldn’t the reporter’s face time be better spent trying to talk to athletes about more in-depth matters in feature stories?  Shouldn’t their gameday focus be more on the game itself, with their own analysis and insight — which in the case of most reporters is considerable because they’ve seen a lot of baseball — rather than transcribing the cliches?

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is quoted in the article talking about how being in the locker room, despite the bad, empty quotes, is important for maintaining relationships, the sorts of which no doubt would lead to better feature stories like I’d like to see.  I get that.  It just seems to me that there’s gotta be a better way.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.