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The press does not cheer

Jul 19, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Not Amused

I was at the press conference at Citi Field on Monday when Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer were introduced as the All-Star starters. The conference was hosted by Brian Kenny. It took place in an area of Citi Field which, at the time, was restricted to press and baseball officials, so there were no fans there.

After introducing the pitchers and managers, Kenny — standing at a lectern in front of the assembled press, in a setup that is very much like some sort of dinner event with guest speakers or a Dean Martin celebrity roast or something — said “let’s hear it for Matt Harvey and Mac Scherzer.”

Dead silence.

Which was absolutely predictable, as “no cheering in the press box” and its corollary “no cheering by the press” is a Cardinal rule of baseball writers. Really: you cheer in the press box and you will likely be expelled. If not, you will certainly be mocked and shunned. It’s like a Klingon Discommendation ceremony. Even I, who often thinks of ways to be subversive in situations like that, would never mess with that rule. Not because I think it’s necessarily an important rule, but because it’s very, very clear how seriously everyone takes it and there are limits to how subversive I’ll be.

In the past couple of days, Kenny has taken to Twitter to talk about it some and he was joined in debate on the matter by Ken Rosenthal. Yesterday they took their debate to Kenny’s radio show on NBC Sports Radio, and it was some entertaining stuff:

For what it’s worth, I’m sympathetic to Kenny. I mean, sure, he misread his audience and never should have expected that he’d get a round of applause from them at a news conference. And I totally understand that the rule is never going to change. But it does strike me as kind of silly that there are no exceptions to it.

We’ve accepted, generally, that one can be a fan and retain their objectivity. Why can we not accept that one can appreciate an accomplishment or show some restrained respect in the form of applause without losing that objectivity too? I didn’t cheer for Harvey and Scherzer when Kenny asked us to, but I could see a situation in which I applauded while wearing my press pass. Someone finishes a 27 strikeout perfect game or something. I don’t know. But I could see it happening.

Would that mean I don’t take my job seriously? I’m sure many would think so. But my job is to talk about sports and sports can be pretty fun and inspiring sometimes. Do we want the press to be 100% immune to that? Or, worse, to not be immune to that but to pretend that they are?

  1. spencersteel - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    What a ridiculous thing. No cheering makes sense when you’re in the press box doing your regular job, as to cheer would intimate that you have a rooting interest in one competitor over the other. In the instance you cite, you’d be applauding the accomplishment of the two men in having had first halves worthy of being selected as the All-Star Game starters.

    • kopy - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      I always figured the rule was in place to keep peace and order in the press box among all the journalists. If someone has a rooting interest (like virtually all local media) and they let it spoil their work than their career will suffer on its own even if they don’t let the others in the press box know about it.

    • smoothaswilkes - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      It was a press conference, which is part of the writers and reporters “regular job”. If they wanted applause they should have invited fans.

  2. chacochicken - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Of similar importance, the cardinals can’t cheer or subjectively support papal candidates. Huh, maybe baseball writers think they are running this business like the Catholic Church? Unwritten rules are as useless as the nonexistent space they take up if they were written rules in the first place. Cheer, young man, cheer.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      The Catholic Church is the single best business model of all time, if you really think of it in those terms.

      The press could never, ever, come close to that.

      They’re more like the Westboro Baptists.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Democracy!

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Viva La Friday!

      • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        I love that democracy gets thumbs down. Or, is it because Westboro Baptist makes them hate democracy? Hmmmm.

      • chacochicken - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        Don’t forget, if you follow Pope Francis on twitter he’ll decrease your time stuck in purgatory. I sincerely wish I was joking but people undoubted believe in this shit. Again, I’m so happy that baseball writers are totally subjective and are physically incapable of clapping.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        If they weren’t braindead, they could formulate some kind of argument that democracy is designed to keep them down.

        But I think in this case we are dealing with the brain dead, for clearly they have the inability to type.

        As far as the writers go, maybe they’re just practicing stoicism for their Shakespearean stage acting careers.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      No, you have to wait for the house to fall so you can take his red shoes. That’s when you cheer.

      • anthonyverna - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        historio – you’re bringing the cynicism out today.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        All apologies. I shall return to silliness.

      • sametalker - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        I am cheering loudly for this comment

    • chacochicken - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      I’m suggesting the writers are taking themselves far, far, far too seriously. Baseball is a game, cheer once in a while. Hell, its not like we think most of the writers are all that objective anyway.

  3. blahandshhh - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Maybe it’s just me but I always find stories by the media on media life topics to be only interesting and important to those in the media. I’d wager to guess 99.9% of fans could care less if you cheer or not or your opinion of said rule.

  4. daburghdabest - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Writing childishly biased & grudge filled columns…OKAY
    Clapping at a press conference….NOT OKAY.

    Got it.

  5. stex52 - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    I see zero problems with an occasional cheer from the sports media. It’s about love of the game and the overachievers who play it at the top level.

    Just don’t go all Hawk Harrelson on us. We’d have to kill you.

  6. yahmule - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Cheering in the pressbox is forbidden.

    Having a personality like Jay Marriotti, wearing $89 suits and attacking the buffet table like a slavering dog gets a pass.

  7. paperlions - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    So…..at the HOF ceremonies, does the press cheer? If so, what are they cheering for? How can I be sure press people that cheer maintain their objectivity? How can I be sure that any press that doesn’t cheer maintains their objectivity?

    ANYONE that has ever read anything from the MSM knows the vast majority of those guys wouldn’t know objectivity if it bit them on the ass….why the charade?

    • stex52 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Particularly from the sports media. C’mon, there is an obvious, though never quite stated, role for them in encouraging enthusiasm for the games they cover. Charade is the right word.

  8. historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    You’d think some polite applause at an introduction would be okay. There’s a big difference between that and cheering.

    • cur68 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      Ah, young Larva, you speak of context. If context bit some of the press on the ass, context would soon die, foaming at the mouf and raging ….raging!

      • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        I see you sent Craig a picture of a cat playing with your monocle again. Don’t you two ever get tired of trading cat pics?

      • cur68 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:48 AM

        Morris says; Don’t be a hater! Love the monocle: the monocle MAKES the Cat.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Fluffy McPusserpants, Esq salutes you.

        /hacks hairball

      • anthonyverna - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        But I’m wearing glasses today.

  9. amhendrick - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    “a Cardinal rule of baseball writers”

    I wonder what rules the other teams have for writers

  10. Shayna - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    You wrote: “We’ve accepted, generally, that one can be a fan and retain their objectivity.”

    Maybe you have, Kimosabe, but I certainly haven’t. I perceive an inverse correlation between fandom and objectivity.

    Granted that in the new blog-o-rama everybody’s-a-journalist era in which we are immersed, objectivity is no longer perceived as necessary or even a worthwhile goal. But I’m a sentimental fool; I like to think that when I read something in the paper or hear it on radio or TV, it’s there at least in part because it reflects a piece of reality that I was personally unable to observe but that the reporter is trying to relay faithfully. And by faithfully, I mean faithful to the reality as he or she observed it, not faithful to personal prejudices or advertisers’ expectations or team pressure. To me, fan though I am, fandom is just another type of personal prejudice.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      I am amused that anyone believes in objectivity anymore.

  11. amadorjon - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    all I can think of is the Duras sisters and the cat with a monocle overseeing Worfs and Arods discommendation ceremony-

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Looks like the press showed up to this thread to thumbs down. Guess that’s better than an occasional clap.

    When Cal Ripken broke the streak and did a lap around the stadium, members of the media had absolutely every right to clap and cheer. And should have done so. What’s wrong with acknowledging a key lifetime achievement, which is all the clap really is. Acknowledgement and approval.

    Applause as defined by Merriam-Webster: approval publicly expressed (as by clapping the hands).

    What’s the big deal? I never understood this rule, and never will. How is this any different from an announcer showing obvious favoritism, or a writer berating a player for some perceived slight? It’s OK to hate on some players (And even vote against them for the Hall of Fame) for not liking the media, but it’s not OK to cheer when someone does something special?

    Journalists are a special kind of hippocrates.

  13. beachnbaseball - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Brian Kenny is a wipe. Worst thing ever to happen to the MLB Network. In watching MLB Now in the afternoons, I’m amazed that Harold Reynolds doesn’t just reach over and punch out his headlights.

    Kenny = Tool bag

  14. mrmcl - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    It’s odd that sports reporters consider themselves journalists. They write about sports! They’re one notch above your local gossip columnist.

  15. chip56 - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    “We’ve accepted, generally, that one can be a fan and retain their objectivity”

    Actually, in the media anyway, we’ve just seen more and more of the outlets that cover specific organizations embrace homerism – whether it’s in the form of Hawk Harrelson or John Sterling.

    We’re also seeing, on the national scale (ESPN and TNT) a trend towards bringing in people who are in no way even pretending to be objective. Having Curt Schilling call a Yankee/Red Sox game or Reggie Miller courtside for Knicks vs. Pacers. We’re seeing fanboys like Bill Simmons getting more national press – he doesn’t pretend to maintain objectivity.

    So no, I haven’t seen evidence or acceptance of the notion that members of the press can be fans and objective. I’ve just seen evidence and acceptance that objectivity doesn’t matter anymore.

    • macjacmccoy - Jul 19, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      I dont get why everyone gets on Hawk, yea hes a homer but hes suppose to be. Local announcers should favor their local teams thats the way its set up. I dont want to hear Merrill Reese compliment Tony Romo or Keith Jones sing the praises of Sidney Crosby while Im watching the Eagles or Flyers lose. Anyone who pretends like that’s what they want to hear are liars and hypocrites.

      • chip56 - Jul 21, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        Nothing wrong with having homers for a regional broadcast – but having them for national ones has become more prevalent. Whether it’s Troy Aikman, Curt Schilling, Reggie Miller or Bill Simmons.

  16. chiadam - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Cheering is out.

    Dressing like a homeless man and shoveling free crackers and meats from team spreads into your pockets is OK.

    Oh, and no one ever gets in on the first ballot.

  17. gloccamorra - Jul 19, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    But! Chris Matthews can get a tingle up his leg when Obama speaks and still remain objective. Why can’t sports “journalists”?

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