Something that stuck out the most to me in all of the Red Sox drama last night was Adrian Gonzalez trying to trash Jeff Passan’s report of the coup he and the Red Sox players reportedly attempted last month:
“I don’t know what you’re talking about … I’ve never seen that guy in our clubhouse before. He doesn’t know what’s going on with us.”
Yes, because the only people who can credibly report on stuff that the players would not want to be made public are the guys who talk to the players every day and get on-the-record quotes for their stories.
Sorry, whether it’s politics, sports, entertainment or whatever, it’s way more likely that reporters working from the outside, cultivating sources who don’t normally provide media quotes, are the ones who are going to get the stories that make the powers-that-be look bad. The White House press corps didn’t break Watergate, after all.
It’s just the nature of the beast. Beat reporters who are in the clubhouse every day have a huge incentive to not piss off the players and coaches on whom they report. It’s totally understandable. It’d present a practical (not an ethical) conflict of interest for any of them to report on such things as the Red Sox coup even if they knew about it.
More basically, that kind of dynamite tends to come from leakers and whisperers. If the leakers and whisperers are players, they’re not likely to leak or whisper to a guy who is in the clubhouse each day because people tend to know which players are tight with which reporters and the risk of being busted is too great. Front office people leaking are not limited by who they talk to in the locker room each day because they’re not, you know, in the locker room.
Anyway, point is this: it’s one thing to say a story is false. It’s another thing to kill the messenger like Gonzalez is trying to do here. It’s a non-denial that rings hollow and weak.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball has rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter offer. The league said it has started talks with owners “about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.”
This should be understood as a game of chicken.
The background here is that the the owners are pretty much locked into the idea of paying players a prorated share of their regular salaries based on number of games played. The players, meanwhile, are pretty much locked in to the idea that the owners can set the length of the season that is played. Each side is trying to leverage their power in this regard.
The players proposed a probably unworkable number of games — 114 — as a means of setting the bidding high on a schedule that will work out well for them financially. Say, a settled agreement at about 80 games or so. The owners were rumored to be considering a counteroffer of a low number of games — say, 50 — as a means of still getting a significant pay cut from the players even if they’re being paid prorata. What Rosenthal is now reporting is that they won’t even counter with that.
Which is to say that the owners are trying to get the players to come off of their prorated salary rights under the threat of a very short schedule that would end up paying them very little. They won’t formally offer that short schedule, however, likely because (a) they believe that the threat of uncertain action is more formidable; and (b) they don’t want to be in the position of publicly demanding fewer baseball games, which doesn’t look very good to fans. They’d rather be in the position of saying “welp, the players wouldn’t talk to us about money so we have no choice, they forced us into 50 games.”
In other news, the NBA seems very close to getting its season resumed.