Tony Clark, the executive director for the MLB Player’s Association, hasn’t been the biggest fan of the media. A former major leaguer himself, Clark would like to reduce the media’s access to the clubhouse when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated, John Perrotto notes in a column for Today’s Knuckleball. Clark is also unhappy with the media following the Dexter Fowler snafu.
It was initially reported last Tuesday that Fowler had agreed with the Orioles on a three-year, $35 million deal. Both the national and local (Baltimore) media tweeted confirmations of the report. It turned out, however, that Fowler wanted an opt-out clause in his contract and the Orioles wouldn’t budge, so the veteran outfielder signed with the Cubs on a one-year, $13 million contract on Thursday.
Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, released a statement on Thursday as well. He blasted the media, using terms such as “irresponsible behavior”, “recklessly spreading rumors”, and “willful disregard of collectively bargained rules”.
Given his role, it’s not surprising to see Clark take aim at the media. And it’s a rather convenient cudgel for him to wield so that he might get his way and reduce media access through the next CBA.
Perrotto makes a great point in his column for Today’s Knuckleball, arguing that reducing clubhouse access isn’t going to help the sport grow. Craig has done yeoman’s work here refuting the claim that “baseball is dying,” but the sport also isn’t very popular with the younger crowd. The Washington Post found last year that baseball had the highest average viewing age among the four major sports. Additionally, young people didn’t list any baseball players in the top-30 of their list of favorite sports figures in ESPN’s Sports Poll.
Even if Clark and Close are right that the media screwed up big time with the Fowler situation — and I’m not sure that’s the case — it would be short-sighted to use it as the striking blow to close off access once the current CBA expires after the season.