Kirk Gibson is going to work for the Tigers while broadcasting their games

Getty Images
12 Comments

Kirk Gibson has been a part-time broadcaster for Tigers telecasts on Fox Sports Detroit for the past couple of seasons. This year he has been hired full time, replacing the fired Rod Allen as the top analyst for Tigers games (he’ll split time with Jack Morris).

But, as of today, that’s not Gibson’s only job: Jason Beck reports that the Tigers are hiring him as a special assistant to general manager Al Avila. Beck says he’ll “assist in on-field duties in Detroit and minors, and will be involved in all personnel meetings.”

I know we’re way past the point where we pretend that baseball announcers are somehow objective. Heck, maybe we were never even at that point. The broadcasters may not be employed by the teams whose games they call anymore, but most of them tend to have clear sympathies for them and refrain from criticizing players harshly if at all. It’s a pretty cozy relationship.

But it does this not seem to be something of a conflict of interest to you? No, I’m not suggesting that a baseball analyst should hold themselves up to Woodward and Bernstein-level ethical standards, but does this not impact the way Gibson might approach his job? What if Gibson is at one of those personnel meetings and finds out that his boss is trying to shop a player on the trade market? Aside from simply knowing that and not saying something, can he even properly analyze him? What if he discloses — or declines to disclose — a weakness he sees in the guy’s swing or pitching motion? There are a lot of things a front office might not want to have said about a player and the front office now has authority over a guy Fox Sports Detroit is paying to say insightful things about players.

I don’t imagine many people will squawk about this — and I do not think that a TV broadcaster is all that stands between us and some Great Important Truths — but this just seems like a pretty basic conflict of interest to me. I’m surprised that the Tigers and Fox Sports Detroit are fine with it.