Some people just can’t take the heat and instead turn to throwing people out of the kitchen. They aren’t capable of rolling with the punches, even when the criticism coming their way is warranted and documented.
In the case of Rob Manfred v. Ken Rosenthal, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball acted rashly in the face of a not-so vicious attack. Instead of just turning the other cheek, or looking in the mirror, Manfred decided the league-owned MLB Network needed to fire a long-time, credible and respected journalist. Rosenthal confirmed the news via his Twitter account. He also indicated that he is still employed by Fox Sports and will continue to report on the sport for that network.
Commissioners of the “Big 4 Sports Leagues” are supposed to have thick skin. Criticism, skepticism, and whatever other ism’s you can think of, come with the job. Generally speaking, these commissioners make big bucks and in the eyes of fans, never have their collective backs.
Nobody said these jobs were supposed to be easy. You aren’t going to please everyone, but why make matters worse?
Rosenthal was relieved of his ‘insider’ duties at MLB Network Monday. It was revealed by the New York Post that Rosenthal’s article posted to the The Athletic led to a double secret probation of a few months and ultimately his termination. The article, posted June 16, 2020, was critical of Manfred and his handling of the start of the pandemic plagued 2020 baseball season. On the surface, the so-called attack was mild in nature and was filled with truths. Manfred waffled back and forth about the length of a season and then having no season. It led Rosenthal to lines like these from his posted column.
- “As if the perception that Manfred is beholden to owners and out of touch with players was not bad enough, he was trending on Twitter on Monday after performing a massive flip-flop.”
- “Granted, the commissioner is forever in a tricky spot, empowered to act in the best interests of the game, but employed by the owners. Still, how does Manfred in a span of five days go from telling ESPN the season “unequivocally” would take place to saying on the same network he was “not confident” it would happen?”
- “Yet for a guy who suddenly is looking for peace, Manfred sure has a funny way of showing it.”
- “He and the owners, supposed stewards of the game, are turning the national pastime into a national punch line, effectively threatening to take their ball and go home while the country struggles with medical, economic and societal concerns.”
- “If he blows this, it will define him. That should be enough incentive for him to strike a deal, period.”
I guess the truth hurts. Especially the last line. Was the commentary out of line? Nope. Was the commentary a personal attack on the man? Nope.
MLB Network wasn’t set up to be “state run” television. Yes, you have to be careful not to cross that invisible line in the sand. To me, the comments written by Rosenthal don’t really cross any lines. I don’t have inside knowledge about how the other league-operated networks do their business, but they’ve never been in the headlines for something like this.
I’ve written before about the precarious situation some play-by-play and color analysts are in when they are working for the team they’re calling games for. That’s an entirely different situation than this one. Broadcasters who are on the air every day understand going in that being overly critical could have repercussions. At the same time, there is an issue of credibility. If a team is bad and the announcers are talking about how great things are, well that’s a recipe for disaster. The fans will call you a shill and really call into question a lot of things that you’ll say. We as broadcasters need the support of the stations and teams we work for, to be able to call into question things that need to be questioned.
In this case Rosenthal, who is about as respected a journalist as there is in the sport of baseball, was suspended and fired for telling the truth. The commissioner, who represents the owners and ultimately the ownership of the network, couldn’t handle it and flew off the handle instead.
It’s sad really, because Manfred is doing the viewers of the network a major disservice. Rosenthal is one of the kings of breaking news in my mind. I often can’t wait to hear his reports because they are filled with valuable information. This information isn’t opinion, its fact based as it’s gathered from credible sources and delivered by an equally credible source.
The game of baseball is in enough trouble already. It has an image problem. Manfred has an image problem. Things that seem petty like this unwarranted dismissal play right into that narrative. Why would you try to make things worse with something like this? It’s not like Rosenthal is one of those people that continually stirs up controversy. He is above that. His reporting is not sensationalist.
Manfred’s job is not an easy one, I’ll give him that. He has to deal with the egos of some owners that don’t want to give an inch. As the lockout continues, without an ending in sight, the chasm between the fans and baseball continues to widen. I would never tell the man how to do his job, but I will say, if you alienate the fans enough, your sport is finished.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.
1010XL Jay Fund Radiothon Raises Nearly $250,000 For Pediatric Cancer Research
“In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 billion for the Jay Fund.”
Jacksonville’s 1010XL used its airwaves to raise money for the Jay Fund for the fifteenth year earlier this week. The radiothon was a smashing success, raising $249,784 to fight pediatric cancer.
This year’s total is a new record for the event. In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 million for the Jay Fund.
“I’m truly amazed at the generosity of the 1010 XL listeners in times when a carton of eggs cost six dollars,” said General Manager Steven Griffin, “and equally amazed how the hosts, producers, radio staff and volunteers come together with a singular focus to year-after-year produce these results in one broadcast day.”
Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in memory of Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while playing for Coughlin at Boston College. The organization has helped over 5,000 families and given away over $16 million in grants in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.
Parkins & Spiegel Wonder If Trent Dilfer Will Still Appear On Their Show After Taking UAB Job
“I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Former ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has been hired as the new head coach at UAB. However, Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel wondered if that meant Dilfer would no longer be making his weekly appearances on Parkins & Spiegel on 670 The Score.
“Our guy is no longer gonna do a radio show out of Chicago?” Parkins joked, referencing an incident last month where Dilfer failed to say “Parkins & Spiegel“ during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
“I don’t know that that’s the case,” Spiegel replied.
“We don’t know that yet,” producer Shane Riordan said. “We have only shared a couple of text message — Trent and I — this morning and I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Later in the show, Parkins and Spiegel jokingly wondered what jobs they could have on UAB’s staff, with Parkins balking at being a sports information director. He did say he would welcome being the offensive player caller, but believed that job might fall under the purview of Dilfer.
Mike Milbury: Jack Edwards Is ‘Awkward’ and ‘A Different Breed’
“Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Boston Bruins television play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards has come under fire for recent comments he made about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and his weight. In turn, Maroon donated money in Edwards’ name to a mental health organization. On The Greg Hill Show Thursday, former NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury both slammed and defended Edwards.
“Jack Edwards. Who’s Jack Edwards? He went through all of junior high school being picked on and bullied,” Milbury said. “Now he’s trying to get even. Wouldn’t you want to smack that guy, Wiggy? Skinny, scrawny, mouthy son of a bitch.”
“Jack is screaming at the TV all the time,” he continued. “I gotta turn it down half the time.”
When asked by Courtney Cox if it was appropriate for Edwards to make comments about Maroon’s weight, noting that the comments were “awkward”, Milbury said Edwards is a divisive presence.
“Jack is awkward. I think half of Boston hates him and half of Boston loves him. He certainly loves the Bruins and is passionate about it but he’s a different breed of cat. Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Milbury was “cancelled” after saying NHL players in the league’s playoff “bubble” weren’t being distracted by their wives and girlfriends being present. He was dropped by the NHL on NBC after the comments and has not resurfaced on a major network.
The comments and questions to Milbury came after Cox and co-host Jermaine Wiggins disagreed about whether Edwards’ comments were warranted.
Wiggins said he “thought hockey players were supposed to be tough”, adding “he’s got a few extra LBs. It’s a joke.”
Cox countered by saying “it’s not a joke. No one should be talking about it. Jack Edwards went on for like five minutes about it. It wasn’t funny.”
Hill said when Wiggins was in the NFL, nobody cared what television broadcasters said about them. Cox argued by saying “in your day, nobody talked to a therapist, either”.