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The last word on the Albert Pujols-media thing

Oct 22, 2011, 1:41 PM EDT

Albert Pujols

Game 3 of the World Series is just a few hours away, so hopefully this is the last we hear about this topic for a while, but Ken Rosenthal of wrote an enlightening column this morning on the Albert Pujols situation.

Rosenthal focused specifically on the symbiotic relationship between members of the media, players and fans. I have never been in an MLB clubhouse, so I can’t relate completely to his role as a beat writer, but his commentary is pretty spot on.

Below is a quick sample of his thoughts on the matter, but I highly recommend you go read the column for yourself:

Players give reporters their version of events. Reporters gain a richer understanding of what happened. Readers and viewers benefit from the additional insight.

Yet, it blew me away Friday how many fans on Twitter responded angrily to the criticism of Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina for making themselves unavailable after Game 2.

Anti-media types consider reporters to be pests. Fanboys want to hear only the best about their favorite players and teams. But the daily contact between reporters and players produces not just quotes, but also background information for context. And the checks and balances actually work both ways.

Beat writers and local columnists are the most accountable. You rip a player, you show up the next day to take your medicine. That’s the ethic of the baseball-writing fraternity, and I can personally attest from my days with The Baltimore Sun that it leads to many sleepless nights.

Such accountability is healthy, often prompting restraint. Judging from Twitter, many fans took exception with the other side of the argument, that players should be accountable to reporters. Well, reporters essentially are conduits to fans, means to an end.

Well said.

I think most of us can agree that Pujols was in the wrong in this situation. As a veteran player, he should know that reporters will want to talk to him following a World Series game, especially when he was involved in a critical play in the ninth inning.

I don’t disagree with Rosenthal’s perspective as a beat writer, he pretty much nails it here, but my main issue is that quite a few prominent columnists went off course and called this a failure of leadership on Pujols’ part. That beat writers were looking for context of a particular play is fine and expected, and Pujols should certainly know better, but there’s no need for such hyperbole and exaggeration. Unless one of his teammates, Jon Jay, for example, calls out Pujols publicly, I have no way of knowing he let his teammates down. We can assume it, but how can we possibly know for sure?

  1. obpedmypants - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Wrong. So wrong, and just because the people who are in the wrong are the only ones who get to wield a pen in their own defense doesn’t mean they’re right.

    But since no one in the media will actually cover this situation form an unbiased perspective, then fans are left to fill in the blanks for themselves. And those blanks are best explained when you look at this as members of the media being egotistical goons who try to extort players by damaging their reputation for being ‘disobedient’.

    • Old Gator - Oct 23, 2011 at 1:06 AM

      Clearly, some sportswriters never passed high school biology, since they don’t know the difference between “symbiotic” and “parasitic.”

  2. cur68 - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Oh, what, we’re being all reasonable now, is it? Well fine then. Let me give my reasoned opinion; I don’t give a crap. I wish fewer people gave a crap. I wish Pujols had said as much, too. As in “Hey, media people, I don’t give a crap. I’d just played ~4 hours in the cold, my ankle hurts like hell and I gotta go pack, see my kids, wife and deal with important stuff. Y’know, as opposed to yakking away here with you nitwits.”

    …now that would be a story, as opposed to this here dead horse we seem to keep beating.

    • Old Gator - Oct 23, 2011 at 1:07 AM

      Maggots are great for trout fishing, though. And you,with all those beaver ponds to choose from, should appreciate that if anyone should.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    The entire aftermath of “mediagate” wreaks of a jilted girlfriend (reporters) lashing out a boyfriend (Pujols) after being dumped.

    Get over it fellas, you need him much more than he needs you.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      I disagree. Without the media there’s no way Albert comes anywhere near the $30 million year he’s looking for. So he does need the media whether he likes it or not.

      • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        The media writ large and the post-game inteview guys are not the same…without TV and radio, Pujols doesn’t get $300M; without 3 million fans showing up to watch games, Pujols doesn’t get $300M; without ever doing a post-game interview, Pujols gets the same money he would have otherwise.

        Baseball players are not obligated to do post-game interviews, unlike some other sports. Indeed, a well known player never talked to the media from spring training through the end of the year and he made over $200M during his career.

        People spend money on baseball, go to games, watch it on TV, and listen to it on the radio to experience the game and the great plays made by great players….not because a beat reporter wrote about a guy. A long time ago the only way for many people to take in baseball was to read the local paper, that isn’t anywhere close to true anymore.

      • okwhitefalcon - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        Beat reporters stories have absolutely no bearing on what Pujols get’s paid – zilch.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        Maybe you consider the post game interview to be a waste but either way its part of the big picture of why these guys get paid a lot of money. If he doesn’t want to be accountable he can always go play ball in one of those hardball leagues. Hope he wont be to sore to wake up and get to his job at the mill or the office by 7am then.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        This is the World Series. You think its just a beat reporter he ditched out on? He ditched out on the national media not just some guy from the lpcal news.

      • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I know, and still don’t care. The media acted like a bunch of spoiled brats because they didn’t get to interview exactly who they wanted to interview, exactly when they wanted to interview him/them.

  4. badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    If reading about the game and the players is meaningless, why are we all here?

    • fearlessleader - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      The media will find something to write about (and we’ll sit here and read it) whether the players stick around to spout cliches or not. The beat writers got much more mileage out of Pujols’s mild snub than they would have out of another round of “I mean, you know, that’s baseball, it is what it is, we gonna come out here Saturday ready to play, this is a great team, I mean, nobody said it would be easy.”

    • paperlions - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Because we enjoy talking about, thinking about, and debating things about baseball. I can’t recall the last time I read a game summary written by a local guy or put out by the AP. If I didn’t see the game and want to know what happened, I look at the box score and play-by-play, maybe check out pitch FX, or I watch the condensed game on Do people really still bother to read those things?

      You may not have noticed, but almost none of the posts here make reference to post-game interviews, and few rely on things players said. Except for things related to this incident, I don’t think there is a single story on the first page that used quotes from player after a game or any time at all…they are just stories about things that happened or might happen.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 22, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        Yes, I concede this is really much ado about very little, but…..

        I read a number of sportswriters and columnists–both local and national–for insight and perspective on things I might not have seen in a game. Very little of this depends on any direct quote from a player, but it does depend on time spent with that player. I have no patience for the lazy “how do you feel (after losing the game, striking out, etc.)” questions, but some in the press are better than that. Clearly, some reporters are worthless, but that doesn’t mean they all are.

        That said, AP isn’t new to the game, or even to the World Series. His unavailability–even to spout some worthless platitudes–put the onus on the young guys to answer the questions (and not throw him under the bus). Not a capital offense, but not cool.

  5. stabonerichard - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    “That won’t happen again. I’ll make sure — if I have to stand in there — that one of us is available for comment, win or lose.”

    Berkman gets it, thanks in large part to the example he saw from Bagwell when Berkman was the young player in Houston.

    The Cards, big Al included, will be available for post-game comment from here on out. And then we can move on from the silly hyperbole flying from both sides of this topic.

  6. jeffrp - Oct 22, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Look, we all know it was a dick move but it wasn’t the end of the world. If it hadn’t happened before an off day it would be dead by now. Here’s to the first pitch tonight.

  7. tuftsb - Oct 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Berkman also saw someone that faced the press after a “mistake” during his time in Houston.

    Brad Lidge gave up a 3 run HR and blew a save in Game 5 of the NLCS. He stood by his locker and answered questions for almost an hour, according to reports.

    And Pujols hit the HR about which Lidge was asked to comment.

    Stand up when you win and when you lose.

  8. jamie54 - Oct 22, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    They certainly took enough time when they won the first game, and for crying out loud its the World Series, the championship of your profession which pays you millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars over the course of your careers. Be a man, not a wuss, and get over yourselves. If you can take the adulation when you perform well, then man up and take the criticism when you screw up. Period.

  9. franklapidus316 - Oct 22, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    I like Ken Rosenthal’s stuff probably more than anyone else in that genre. And yes,, Pujols was wrong. And Rosenthal’s piece is a well written description of what they do.

    That all being said, Beat Reporter is a dying industry, much like the newspapers they write in, There’s an ever smaller segment of the population that consumes their baseball from the morning paper. I’m sure I’m not alone in not caring the least what a player has to say after a game. And to the extent I cared what a player had to say, I’d just follow them on twitter or whatever. Beat reporters are just an outdated filter.

    And no, Pujols $30 million/year doesn’t depend on answering repetitive questions with a bunch of cliches. The only reason this is even getting publicity is that beat writers are having a hissy fit.

    • 1historian - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:23 AM

      Good point and a thumbs-up, but you could have just written the last sentence and it would have been sufficient.

  10. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 22, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Rosenthal focused specifically on the symbiotic relationship between members of the media, players and fans

    Spoken like someone who’s a part of a dying industry. I’m a Yankees fan living in NC, so I rarely get to watch games unless it’s the Sun/Wed night on ESPN or the game on Sat on Fox. I also refuse to read 99% of the articles on ESPN and completely avoid the NYP/NYT/NYDN/etc. Yet I manage to keep up with all the comings and goings because there are other writers out there, without any face to face time with the players.

    The writing is better, the analysis is 100x better, and the discussions are far better. For it to be a symbiotic relationship, I as the fan would need the reporter to get me information. Point out where they do because it’s few and far between. Do I really care about what [essentially prepared] statement Pujols should have given? Jeter has been with the Yanks since ’96, and the next time he says something that doesn’t sound canned it’ll also be the first.

    Should he have been there? Probably. To say he was in the wrong for not is idiotic. If you want it to be like football, that has mandatory press sessions, make it mandatory. Fine the players. However, if you think there’s anything enlightening to be gained from these interviews, I have a few bridges in Manhattan I’d like to sell you. I could even do a package deal.

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