Dusty Baker unloads both barrels at Derek Lowe

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Dusty Baker was reached for comment this morning regarding the Derek Lowe stuff. And he let fire with both barrels. John Fay of Cincinnati.com has the story, with these delicious quotes among others:

“I’m not denying nothing. I didn’t order anyone to hit him. I told (Mat Latos) to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That’s what happened. Nobody hit him. Then he hit our guy … What he was talking about was something that he said and did a few years. You got to ask him what that was … Go ask him since he made it public … The word was whatever he did and said probably there was a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark and he don’t remember what he said or what he did.”

Whoa.

For what it’s worth, Baker tends to be a pretty thoughtful and mild-mannered guy. Quiet, even. So to hear all this, especially the “he was probably drinking in the clubhouse” stuff suggests that Lowe REALLY pissed him off somehow.

For his part, Lowe said he was done talking and would offer nothing else today. So … Dusty wins?  I think Dusty wins.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on it as precedent. Finally, it should be noted that in issuing this statement, the Astros have given at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech, which seems less-than-ideal at best.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?