Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price was angry.
It wasn’t at the fact that his team had lost seven of its past eight games, all of which came against National League Central foes. It wasn’t that the St. Louis Cardinals held the Reds to just four runs in three games in a resounding series sweep. It wasn’t that the Reds have already blown a league-leading four saves this month.
Bryan Price was angry at Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter C. Trent Rosencrans for (accurately) reporting that All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco was not with the team for the series in St. Louis.
Price went ballistic on Rosencrans and the media at large, launching into a profanity-laced rant that included 77 uses of the f-word in just over six minutes of dialogue. Price fumed at the fact that he would give away the team’s secrets, as if Rosencrans—who does not work for the Reds—owed anything to the team that he covers.
“To make it very clear, I don’t like the way that this s—t is going—at all,” Price said before Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. “I don’t like it. I don’t think you guys need to know everything. And I certainly don’t think you need to see something and tweet it out there and make it a f—king world event.”
In essence, Price was mad at the media for finding out too much information about his team and making it public knowledge. He doesn’t think that it’s Rosencrans’ job to dig up every minor detail about the Cincinnati ballclub.
He couldn’t be more wrong—that is exactly the media’s job.
Price’s freak-out was not an isolated incident, either. Following a 2-1 loss in the NHL Playoffs on Monday night, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford snapped at Pittsburgh Trib Live columnist Rob Rossi for having opinions critical of the team’s management.
While Rossi’s role is slightly different than Rosencrans’—the former only provides opinion—both episodes are representative of the fact that teams incorrectly expected “sunshine and rainbows” news, even when the organizations were struggling mightily.
These days, more and more professional sports teams employ beat reporters to write content for their own media platforms. Frankly, it’s in their best interest—the team will still release important updates and break news to fans, but it can avoid all the negative press by having the reporter answer directly to the team.
While this might work best for the organization, it has created an expectation of cooperation between the reporter and the team, even when there should not be one. There obviously needs to be some level of cordiality between the two parties, but beat reporters owe nothing to the teams they cover.
Last week, Sports Illustrated published a piece asking a number of sports media personalities what changes they would make to the industry if they had the power to do so. Many said increased player accessibility, shorter commercial breaks, and the like.
Mike Florio, a football insider for NBC Sports and the founder of Pro Football Talk, said he would immediately ban teams or leagues from hiring reporters, because it creates “an inherent conflict of interest for those covering the leagues and/or teams that employ them.”
Sports journalists do not work for the organizations they write about—they write for fans that otherwise could not obtain the information. In the end, dumbing down the content of the article, just to ensure that the subject of the story is not painted negatively, hurts both the reader and the writer in the end.
Rosencrans should not be criticized for doing his job, and doing it well. The mark of a good sports journalist is one who can dig for stories without receiving them from spoon-fed press releases. Just as teams shouldn’t expect anything from reporters, the opposite is true as well.
Sports teams and the media need to keep a friendly but distant relationship. Reporters should be amicable with players and coaches, but not best friends. Price is looking for Cincinnati’s media to cooperate with him in managing the team, but they have an obligation to the fans to report significant news in a timely fashion.
Price’s rant is reprehensible not for the language—okay, maybe for the language—but mostly for his message. His attempt to intimidate the media into working in cahoots with him is misguided, unethical, and wrong.
It just goes to show that the Price ain’t always right.
Featured Image by David Kohl / Associated Press | Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphic