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The Mariners continue their childish boycott of Larry LaRue

May 13, 2010, 8:35 AM EDT

Mariners logo.gifFrom today’s Tacoma News-Tribune Mariners-Orioles game story by Larry LaRue:

For the second day, none of the players would talk to The News Tribune
in the wake of a players-only meeting that followed a report that Ken
Griffey Jr. was napping in the clubhouse during a game last week.

Are there any grownups working for the Seattle Mariners, or do Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey, Jr. run everything now?

I mean, fine, be as mad as you want about LaRue’s reporting, but the spectacle of 25 ballplayers shunning someone who’s job it is to cover the team is a pathetic one, especially in light of the fact that the team’s denials of his reporting were tepid and equivocal.  Unless the Mariners are seriously accusing LaRue of making his story up out of whole cloth, two of those 25 people shunning him LaRue told him what he reported. If the Mariners have a problem with the substance of it, they should be looking within, not lashing out a beat guy from Tacoma. 

Either Don Wakamatsu or Jack Zduriencik needs to tell the Mariners players to get over it and be the bigger men.  Larry LaRue isn’t the first reporter to write something negative about this team, and he most certainly won’t be the last, especially given how poorly they’re playing.  If the team can’t handle that, how on Earth can they be expected to handle the A’s, Rangers and Angels?

  1. YankeesfanLen - May 13, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    So, the team with the lowest runs scored in the AL decides that not talking to a member of the press is their cause celebre. Maybe the clubhouse meeting should have had an additional topic on their agenda.
    Captch: soggiest next- thought we went through this in the ATH.

  2. Mark S - May 13, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    I too was once shunned for not saving the oil from a can of tuna.

  3. will - May 13, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Why do the Mariners have to talk to Larry LaRue? If they feel he breeched a code of ethics, then they are well within their rights. I, for one, am growing tired of reporters leaning on unnamed sources for such trivial matters. The anonymous source is a vital journalistic tool in uncovering matters like government conspiracy and consumer fraud…not whether or not a baseball player took an ingame nap.
    If Wak and Jack are really smart, they wont send waves through the clubhouse over Larry LaRue. Reporters have to stop becoming the story, so maybe this incident will teach him a lesson.

  4. Patrick - May 13, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    No, the Mariners don’t have to.
    Their decision not to is childish. Larry LaRue did NOT “make himself the story”. The Mariners are CHOOSING to make him the story, RATHER than their own issues. Larry isn’t out there beating a drum and beating them up, he reported one event. The Mariners are trying to pretend Larry LaRue is the issue, and thus make him the story.
    Larry’s just doing his job.
    An anonymous source is appropriate in ANY situation where the source feels significant pressure would come from the revelation of their identity.
    In this case, the players were clearly right about that idea of significant pressure.

  5. Mike G. - May 13, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    With all due respect Craig, are you even following this story?

    Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu is saying that Ken Griffey Jr. was awake and in the dugout and available to pinch hit during the eighth inning of Saturday night’s game. That corroborates what Griffey told us earlier, so it isn’t a surprise. Wakamatsu says it was his choice to send .140-hitting Rob Johnson to the plate with two on and two out.
    “I know that the gist of the article was that he wasn’t available to pinch hit,” Wakamatsu said. “He was available to pinch-hit and I chose not to.”

    Please explain to me how this is a “tepid” denial. The meat LaRue’s article was that Griffey was unavailable to pinch hit in the 8th inning. The manager denied it. LaRue got the story wrong.
    LaRue got the story wrong because he didn’t do his job and ask Wakamatsu or Griffey for a response before he ran with the story. That’s unprofessional. I’ll give LaRue the benefit of the doubt and say that two unnamed Mariners told him this. But if he had asked Griffey and Wakamatsu for a response earlier, then there’s no story.
    I can’t say I agree with what the Mariners are doing either. But please, please, please stop spinning this and pretending that the denials are “tepid and equivocal”. The denials have been fairly straight forward. LaRue messed up, the Mariners are mad, and they have every right in the world to be mad given at this point what was initially reported doesn’t seem to have happened at all.

  6. will - May 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    If the sources didn’t feel comfortable putting their name to the story, they should have kept quiet. Not doing so was cowardly. LaRue was apart of that cowardice by reporting a silly story without any attribution. That’s unprofessional and the Mariners shouldn’t deal with reporters who behave in such a manner.
    As for the Mariner’s making LaRue the story, did you read about their “shunning” on Mike Sweeney’s blog, or did LaRue report it himself. Get back to me on that.

  7. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 13, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    LaRue got the story wrong because he didn’t do his job and ask Wakamatsu or Griffey for a response before he ran with the story. That’s unprofessional. I’ll give LaRue the benefit of the doubt and say that two unnamed Mariners told him this. But if he had asked Griffey and Wakamatsu for a response earlier, then there’s no story.

    What do you expect Wakamatsu and Griffey to say? Regardless of what actually happened, they are going to deny he was asleep. It’d be the same if LaRue outed his sources, they’d deny/lie they were the ones as well.

  8. JB (the original) - May 13, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, if LaRue is telling the truth, he should go to ‘Sleepy’ and ‘Sluggo’ and give them the two names (not publicly), and let the clubhouse implode on itself. If he’s not, well, then he’s weeding himself out. The M’s silent treatment is a callout, and I think he should take them up on it, if he has anything to give, that is.

  9. Craig Calcaterra - May 13, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Yes, I’ve been following the story closey. Wakamatsu was asked if Griffey was sleeping at the time of the pinch hitting and he said he was not. Then Wakamatsu was asked if Griffey was sleeping earlier in the game, and if he was, whether him sleeping earlier in the game led to him deciding to go with Johnson instead, and he would not answer and later said he did not know. Griffey likewise refused to answer those followup questions.
    And of course, your analysis of the situation ignores the fact that the team held a tearful, combative team meeting over this subject, which would be quite strange if this was a simple matter of the a reporter making something up. It seems to me that something did happen, even if LaRue’s sources told him that Griffey was sleeping in the eighth inning instead of, say, the sixth or seventh.
    nd of course, every team employs media people to deal with unruly reporters. If this was a totally wrong story that unfairly put the team in a bad ligght, why haven’t LaRue’s credentials been revoked?
    But all of that aside, at what point should a baseball team be expected to take the high road and leave this petty media stuff behind. I’d argue that it was a while ago. Carrying it on and keeping a guy assigned to cover the team from doing his job just seems petty and distracting to me.

  10. Xpensive Wino - May 13, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Look at that team. Decision making is obviously not this organizations strength.
    But, here’s my favorite part of the story: until this whole thing surfaced, other than someone in a 15-team AL-only fantasy league, who the hell even knew Mike Sweeney was still playing? He stopped hitting about seven years ago, didn’t he?
    He and Griffey are on the same team at this stage of their careers…………along with Milton Bradley. Holy crap. The next thing you’re going to tell me is that they would be dumb enough to trade for Jack Wilson……..
    If I was a Mariners fan, I’d be finding myself a new hobby between the middle of February and the first week of October.

  11. lardin - May 13, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Craig, while I think it is retarded that they are not speaking to La Rue, Can you tell me where in their contracts it says they have to speak to the press? They don’t have to, yeah it would be nice if they did but they don’t. They could sit there with their hands over their mouths if they want to. You cant make a player speak to the press. If they want to continue this boycott of La Rue and his paper, that’s their prerogative. La Rue and His paper have options, they can always pull their coverage of the Mariners.
    Actions have consequences.

  12. Craig Calcaterra - May 13, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Of course they don’t have to. No one has to do anything. You said it’s retarded that they’re not speaking to LaRue. I’m simply in agreement with you. Makes the team look petty in my view.
    But they can do it if they want.

  13. Joey B - May 13, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    “If the sources didn’t feel comfortable putting their name to the story, they should have kept quiet. Not doing so was cowardly.”
    You’re being niave. Why do you think so many companies have whistleblower hotlines? It’s because so many people are worried by the chain of command. The people that questioned Lehman’s direction were axed. This happens everyday.
    These were probably two kids making minimum wage that simply got tired of a double-standard, and maybe tired of a .200 hitter with nap entitlements, and maybe wondering if they should have a real PH on the bench instead of guy that can’t make it through a 3-hour game without falling asleep and tired of being in last.
    Of course, the fun part is that now Griffey and Sweeney are safe from getting cut, despite the fact that Seattle is desperate for hitting.

  14. Seth - May 13, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Why are the other members of the press putting up with this? A little solidarity, please. I mean, I know they’re getting paid to write and stuff, but don’t they think this sets a bad precedent?

  15. Mike G. - May 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    I doubt LaRue made anything up and, if I had to guess, I’d say he didn’t. Geoff Baker stood up for LaRue and backed him up as a reporter, and that’s good enough for me, because Baker oozes credibility (btw, I give Baker tons of credit, because LaRue has spent a good deal of time in his recent career trying to throw Baker under the bus that he could have said nothing either way). I think LaRue’s guilty of bad reporting, not lying.
    But the initial story wasn’t a vague “Griffey was sleeping in the late innings” story. It was very specific about when he was sleeping. That story has, in fact, been bluntly denied.
    Meanwhile, Baker and Drayer have both essentially repudiated LaRue’s initial report, punched enough holes in it to drive a Mack Truck through, while being professionally courteous enough not to call him out entirely.
    I can’t disagree with you that the Mariners are behaving very badly and – if I were the manager or the front office- I’d ask everyone to come to their senses and let this one go. But LaRue messed up the story very badly. And, for that, I can’t blame the Mariners for being angry…even if they are, indeed, handling this poorly.
    As far as kicking LaRue out, you need an out and out lie, and LaRue crafted his story well enough that that’s never going to happen.
    P.S. – A little birdie (friend of mine in the national sports media and – ha ha – an “unnamed source”) tells me that a story on LaRue’s past media transgressions is in the works. This apparently isn’t the first time that he’s botched a story in this manner…and this is something I wish had been reported here and elsewhere prior to everyone rushing to slam the Mariners for their behavior while giving LaRue a free pass.

  16. Tom from - May 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Honestly, I think the Mariners are using this entire incident to help obfuscate its poor performance this year.

    No one is talking about how the club is 13-20, or has scored less runs than every other MLB team besides Houston. Instead, the focus is on a scapegoat reporter and Seattle’s boycott of his employer’s coverage of the team.

    Any way you slice it, the team looks really, really bad in this situation — on the field, off the field, and in the clubhouse.

  17. Craig Calcaterra - May 13, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    I’d be curious to read that story, Mike.
    For my part, I’ll agree that this isn’t an instance where the reporting was stellar. I’m highly skeptical that LaRue made this up, and I believe that a couple of players did come to him with complaints. Whether he got it all right is an open question — and at least some of it appears to have been wrong, at least in detail — but the notion the Mariners have put out there through their words and their deeds (i.e. that this was some sort of baseless hit job) is just as wrong. In no event does it seem to call for the response LaRue is getting, as I’ve said above and many other times.
    As for Baker: I was really hard on him in a series of posts at my old blog last year. To his credit, he came over to the comments section and defended himself, interacting with the readers and making a good discussion out of it all. I later met him at the winter meetings. Though he had every reason to tell me to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut, he was pleasant and gracious enough. I disagree with a lot of his analysis, but he seems like a standup guy.

  18. ThatGuy - May 13, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    I agree with Seth, where is the solidarity of the press. Politics aside, i remember a few months back when the Obama administration wanted to black ball Fox News from the White House press corps, and the other major news organizations would have none of it because it is ethically wrong. This is the same thing, a guy ran a story he had confirmed by two sources and is getting black balled for it.

  19. BCTF - May 13, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    I don’t buy the whole “he’s just doing his job” thing. I hear people use that excuse all the time. Just because someone is “doing there job” doesn’t mean you need to let them do it.

  20. BCTF - May 13, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    I don’t buy the whole “he’s just doing his job” thing. I hear people use that excuse all the time. Just because someone is “doing there job” doesn’t mean you need to let them do it.

  21. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 13, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Although you have to admit his defense was pretty poor, but as you mentioned it was good to talk to him on your old blog. Unfortunately he’s also the same writer who accused the Blue Jays of inherent racism when JP Ricciardi was at the helm.

  22. Mike G. - May 13, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    What I’m talking about is Journalism 101. You give Wakamatsu and Griffey a chance to respond, you run their responses (or, if they decline to respond, you mention that as well in your story). Then your readers can decide what to believe.
    LaRue didn’t do that. As a result, his credibility deserves to be in question, even if he didn’t lie (which, as I said above, I don’t believe he did).

  23. Mike G. - May 13, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Hi Craig.
    As typically happens, a quick back-and-forth reveals that we agree on many more points than we disagree on.
    I apologize if the lead to my initial comment under your post was disrespectful in any way, shape or form. I should have let my inner angel prevail.
    Thanks for your measured and well thought out responses. I appreciate it.

  24. Craig Calcaterra - May 13, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Absolutely no reason to apologize. I like lively debate. Even if it’s sharp, as long as no one is calling anyone else names, it’s all good.

  25. Wayne H - May 13, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    This is simply poor journalism, and if the story is wrong, the players have every right to exercise their right to NOT talk to the press. After all LaRue is exercising his right to keep his sources anonymous. Funny how reporters do not like it when the shoe is on the other foot. Bottom line journalism in America is run amuck and some of this stuff needs to stop.

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