By now, you might have seen the tweet from one Brooks Marlow, of whom probably very few of us had ever been aware ( I know I wasn’t), but with whom we are quite familiar this morning:
Now, it’s one thing to criticize a broadcaster for their style, delivery, diction, explicit homerism, knowledge of baseball, or any number of legitimate attributes. And I think practically all reasonable, intelligent people would agree that not every criticism of a woman is due to misogyny on the part of the critic. But, I mean, come on: Marlow explicitly and categorically stated that “no lady needs to be on espn talking during a baseball game”. It doesn’t matter that he followed up with “specially Mendoza”, or even tossing off a “sorry” for, I guess, impact reduction purposes—Marlow is categorically rejecting the idea that any woman should work on any ESPN baseball broadcast, ever. He is disparaging and dismissing an entire sex for reasons he does not explain, but explanation or no, this tweet is a practically textbook example of misogyny on the part of Brooks Marlow.
The Astros organization, to their everlasting credit, jumped all over this tweet, following up with one of their own within five minutes of the Marlow original:
Good for them. They acted quickly and decisively to stanch a problem that could have potentially grown to who knows what proportions.
And then, a little more than an hour later, the follow-up tweet from Marlow that leaves a lot to be desired:
Wow. There is a lot to unpack here:
Marlow says he “needs” to apologize. Not that he apologizes, or that he wants to apologize—he needs to apologize. Well, yeah, he needs to apologize, because the organization is obviously making him do it.
Marlow also says he needs to apologize for his tweet “regarding Jessica Mendoza”. Note that he is not actually apologizing to Jessica Mendoza. He is apologizing to the Twittersphere about Jessica Mendoza. In other words, Jessica Mendoza is a prop Marlow is using in some apology-resembling tweet directed to someone else, and not a person directly to whom he should be apologizing. Come on, Brooks: Jessica Mendoza is a person, not a thing.
Marlow terms his tweet as being “inappropriate” and “insensitive”, words which looks awfully familiar-r-r-r .. oh, right! Those are the exact words the Astros organization used in their statement! Now, granted, young baseball players are not considered among the most articulate, eloquent or thoughtful writers, but the lazy parroting of team language here makes Marlow’s apology-adjacent statement come off as perfunctory rather than heartfelt.
Lastly, Marlow wraps up with an exoneration of himself: he says the tweet “does not reflect who I am”. This is the funniest and most ironic part of his fauxpology, in that anyone would reasonably conclude that his original tweet reflects exactly who Brooks Marlow is. But even if his internal moral compass is straighter than he displays in that tweet, his self-serving attempt to excuse himself looks, at best, weak. That he ends with this seems to be an indication that how he comes out looking in all this is of greater concern to him than is delivering an honest apology to his target.
Why is it important that Brooks Marlow learn quickly from his many mistakes here? Because he’s a guy who was drafted out of college in the 29th round by the Astros in 2015, and who “hit” .205/.302/.329 in 300 plate appearances as a 23 year old in High A this season. In other words, Brooks Marlow is, to all appearances, not going to be a professional baseball player for very much longer, which means he will be working in the real world very soon, a world in which he is going to have to learn to treat female work associates as beings equal to him in their humanity, and not as objects.
I’ll be rooting for Brooks Marlow to learn quickly.
So it looks as though, finally, Baseball has closed the door on Pete Rose’s reinstatement, locked it, and thrown away the key for good. Did anyone seriously expect otherwise? Maybe those people with big hopes who believe in the kind of magic that changes hardened hearts and minds—maybe they thought there was a chance. Pete’s suffered enough, they say—25 years is a long time, too long. C’mon, he’s the Hit King™, for cry eye, one of the greatest players in baseball history. There are lots worse guys than Pete in the Hall of Fame. Give the guy a break, would ya?
For those of us who, for better or worse, are grounded in the Realpolitik of the everyday world, though, this outcome was always a foregone conclusion.
Maybe there was no way Rob Manfred was ever going to let Pete back into the game under any circumstances, but Pete’s admissions in their meeting made this a far easier task for Manfred than he had a right to hope for.
But this no-brainer decision was not just about Pete Rose. It was also about maintaining the global integrity of Baseball’s position on gambling on ballgames. After all, what would have happened had Manfred relented and let Pete back in? Wouldn’t Baseball have to let back in everybody else who’d ever been declared permanently ineligible for gambling, including all the Black Sox? And wouldn’t Baseball have to forego the permanent ineligibility death sentence, which has been etched into its rules for a century, for all future in-game gambling incidents that might arise? And if Baseball simply ignored such inconsistencies and decided that Pete Rose was a special case for whatever reason, wouldn’t they have to explain and defend that decision over and over again in the public square in perpetuity? That scenario represents a parade of horribles that Baseball wisely wanted no part of. Regarding the situation in that light, it’s easy to see why his continued banishment was a fait accompli.
None of that matters as it relates to Pete Rose, though. That particular horse has left the barn, and it ain’t coming back.
Below is a re-posting of an article we originally published in April, after the announcement that Pete would join FS1’s major league pre-game coverage, in which we originally presented our case that not only would Baseball not reinstate Pete this year, but they in fact can never, ever reinstate Pete Rose.
It was announced this past Saturday afternoon that Pete Rose had been hired by Fox Sports to be a guest analyst on the MLB pregame shows airing on the broadcast network and on Fox Sports 1, as well as being a commentator on several other Fox baseball programs. Since Fox Sports is not part of Major League Baseball—at least not technically—Rose’s permanent ineligibility status does not extend to its game broadcasts.
“No, I am not Elton John. Why the hell are you asking me that!?”
In the FoxSports.com article that broke the story, “Rose said that he is not joining FOX with the idea that it will help him gain reinstatement. ‘I don’t even worry about that. I’ve never thought about that,’ Rose said. “I’m just trying to give back to baseball …'”
If that sounds disingenuous to you, don’t blame yourself for being a nasty person not willing to give poor Pete the benefit of the doubt. Pete Rose is, after all, a proven liar when it comes to how his gambling behavior interfaced with his roles as an active performer either playing or managing in major league baseball contests. At first he claimed he never bet on baseball games he was involved in. But then he said that he had indeed done so, but admitted such only once he believed that coming clean would help his case for reinstatement. But hey, don’t worry, Pete says: I never bet on my team to lose.
We’ll probably never know the truth about that one, though, since Baseball agreed to halt its continuing investigation of Rose once he agreed to accept the permanent ineligibility penalty for the involvement he did admit to. In the final analysis, Pete struck out with his delayed honesty strategy.
I suspect the last couple of paragraphs read as though I am anti-Pete Rose. I’m really not, as far as it goes. It’s true I’m not a fan of the guy—never have been, perhaps in part because I grew up in Detroit as an American League fan. Maybe that’s why I’m not clamoring for his reinstatement as are so many of my age peers who grew up with Charlie Hustle as their #1 baseball hero. I do recognize, though, that other things being equal, a man with his on-field résumé should receive a slam-dunk, first-ballot induction into the Hall of Fame. Other things are decidedly not equal, though, and a Hall of Fame induction can’t happen for Rose until Baseball reinstates him.
And despite that Rob Manfred has said that he will be taking “a full and fresh look” at the Pete Rose case, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict, right now, that there is no way Manfred, or any number of his successors, will ever reinstate Rose. I believe that the only way Baseball can reinstate Pete is if they change the rules and start allowing players and managers to bet on baseball games they are involved in. But as long as they intend to keep the rule intact, they are duty-bound to keep him out.
(There is a third alternative: keep the rule intact for everyone except Pete. But then Baseball would have to explain why they are making an exception just for Pete, though, and they definitely don’t want any part of that exercise.)
I get why a lot of people want Pete Rose in, and I am sympathetic to their argument that after 25 years, Pete Rose has suffered enough and should be reinstated by Baseball so he can take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. But even granting that, I have no sympathy for Pete Rose himself, because since 1921 or thereabouts, posted in every major league clubhouse is rule 21(d):
BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared
ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
This is as clear and unambiguous as it gets. Bet on a game you’re not involved in: one-year ban. Bet on a game you are involved in: permanent ineligibility. Not a “lifetime ban”, mind you. Permanent ineligibility. That’s substantially different.
Pete Rose and his supporters might have a case if his penalty had been applied capriciously or dictated by personal fiat. Neither is the case. The penalty is written in plain black and white and was posted in the clubhouse for Pete to see during every one of the 3,562 games he played and the 785 games he managed. No major league player since since the 1920s can claim ignorance of either the rule or its consequences, least of all Pete himself.
To reinstate Pete Rose would be to open up every other case of permanent ineligibility handed down for gambling on baseball games in which the baseballer had a duty to perform, including the eight men put out for the Black Sox scandal. That might suit many people just fine, perhaps including a few of our friends on the Black Sox Scandal Committee. But it would also call into question how Baseball can maintain this penalty for future infractions. They couldn’t, of course, so they would have to take a considerable amount of time and effort to debate what an alternative proper penalty should be.
Such a debate, in addition to an actual reinstatement of Rose, would dominate the baseball headlines for years afterwards, casting a pall on the whole of the sport, including on all the actual baseball games that Baseball is working so hard to market to fans so they can continue reaping their annual billions in revenue and profits. All this while trying to maintain, with a straight face, that the competitive integrity of the game of baseball is now as ever above reproach, even as they ease up on the strictures and penalties against players and coaches gambling on games they are involved in.
Given that, why on Earth would Major League Baseball ever reinstate Pete Rose? Besides creating a lot of noise around the game for years and years, what’s in it for them? Where is the “there” there?
I don’t think there is a “there” there. Baseball depends on the goodwill of not only its fan base and corporate sponsors, but of Congress, the guarantor of its precious Sherman antitrust exemption. Because although this exemption is worth billions to Baseball, it also gives Congress the right to stick its nose into Baseball’s business when it feels like it, and Baseball can do nothing but grin painfully and say “be my guest” while they do so. So the last thing Baseball wants, or needs, is congressional oversight in the wake of any perceived weakening of its stance on in-game gambling by people in a position to affect the game’s outcome. Just give us our antitrust exemption, please, and you won’t hear a peep out of us. We promise to be good boys.
I just can’t see any other alternative for Baseball, regardless of how well Pete Rose does in his new broadcast gig on Fox. If they want to continue to limit the amount of noise surrounding the game and keep Congress, the majority of fans, its corporate sponsors and random moralists at bay, I don’t see any other practical choice for them but to deny Pete Rose’s request for reinstatement yet again, now and forever.
Bill Shaikin, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has written an article that was given a very contentious headline: “How social media is killing the post game radio show.”
Bad social media. Bad boy. (Swats social media’s nose with rolled-up newspaper.)
Reading through the article, I don’t really see that hypothesis fully supported within. What the article does discuss is how the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I can’t believe I still have to write that whole team name out) made the decision to eliminate their post-game radio show, hosted by play-by-play announcer Terry Smith, only for road games this season, and that hardly anyone has noticed. The decision was made because the calls to the show have been declining precipitously during the past few years.
Yet in the next paragraph, one of the hosts of the post-game show for in-market rivals Los Angeles Dodgers says their own post-game show is “thriving”.
So, whom to believe?
Reading through the piece, it appears to me that the problem might lie with the Smith’s unwillingness to both pre-engage Angel fans through social media to stoke interest in the show, and to expand the discussion beyond the game itself to the state of the Angels team in general.
I do agree that the post-game call-in show has ceded its preëminence as the place for fans to make their opinions known to others, given the rise of online forums, Facebook, Twitter and other digital avenues by which people can make themselves heard. But as with any other medium, it doesn’t have to be an either-or decision: that is, either call in to the radio show, or tweet or post your thoughts instead—choose one. Human expression has never limited itself in that way. We humans use all the tools at our disposal to make ourselves heard, for the simple reason that most of us are hard-wired to make ourselves heard.
So why not use social media to augment the reach of your post-game show by proactively posting thoughts and opinions to stoke discussion? That’s how Marty Lurie does it in San Francisco, and judging from Shaikin’s article, it seems to be working well for him.
If a host is still not willing to do this, the station can pull back on the show instead. But if that’s the decision, it wouldn’t be fair to blame the rise of social media for killing off the show. It would be fairer to acknowledge the inability to utilize social media effectively to increase the audience for the show. That’s not on the social media itself—that’s on the host.
Shaikin’s piece is below. If you’d prefer to read it on the LA Times site, click here.
How social media is killing the post game radio show
It is a rite of baseball, like singing in the seventh inning, or military jets screaming overhead on opening day.
It is the postgame radio talk show — Angel Talk, Dodger Talk, pick your team and talk. After the game, the phone lines open, and fans call in to celebrate, to debate and to complain — about the manager, the general manager, the players, maybe even the hot dogs.
The Angels are trying something new this season. They have eliminated the call-in show after road games — and hardly anyone has called in to complain about that.
“I’m not the only one who feels that way.”
A generation ago, a fan’s voice might only be heard by a call to the talk show, or a letter to the local newspaper.
With the rise of the Internet — with blogs and message boards, with Twitter and Facebook — the hosts of those talk shows are debating whether technology is enhancing their programs, or slowly killing them.
On Angel Talk, Smith said, the volume of callers has declined significantly in recent years.
“You don’t want to have the same people on every night,” he said.
David Vassegh, one of the hosts of Dodger Talk, said his program is thriving. In the car culture of Los Angeles, with fans driving home from the game, he said a postgame talk show is a natural fit.
Beyond that, he said, the program engages a much wider swath of fans than a message board would.
“Baseball is built around that feeling of community,” Vassegh said. “Listening to baseball games on the radio is part of that feeling of community.”
Lurie, one of the hosts of the San Francisco Giants’ call-in show, said social media has presented a challenge for him and his colleagues.
“You have to work harder to engage the audience,” Lurie said, “because they have other ways to express themselves.”
Before a show starts, Lurie sometimes takes to Twitter to ignite a debate. The other night, he asked fans via Twitter if they would trade Madison Bumgarner, Mike Leake and Jake Peavy for the top trio of starters on any other team in the National League.
“I must have had 150 people right away,” Lurie said.
He read the best responses on the air, then invited callers to weigh in.
Smith said he would be reluctant to solicit fans to call in and identify, say, their all-time favorite Angels second baseman.
“The idea of Angel Talk, for me, is to talk about the game,” he said.
On the last trip, the Angels invited fans to use Twitter to ask questions during Smith’s broadcast of the game, with replies from as far away as Australia, England and Italy. Smith said the Angels could consider similarly incorporating Twitter into the call-in show.
He said the Angels have made no decisions about the call-in show for next season — including, for that matter, whether he will be part of the radio team. His contract expires at the end of the season.
Smith, whose 14-year tenure is the longest of any radio broadcaster in Angels history, said he understands the team is focused on finding a new general manager and he expects to resolve his situation in the off-season.
“I have no desire to retire,” he said.
Radio was supposed to die when television was born, but the radio industry continues to prosper. Lurie predicted the call-in talk show would continue to prosper as well.
“Calling in on radio is part and parcel of baseball on the radio,” he said. “I think that is something that will live on.”
In that case, Vassegh is well aware of another tradition that will live on.
“When the team wins, you’re not going to get as many calls,” he said. “When the team loses, everybody wants to call in and voice their frustration.”
SABR’s Baseball and the Media Committee formed a couple years ago for the purpose of researching how the media cover baseball, both as news (journalism) and as an event (in game). The thought was that we would seek to examine, illuminate and celebrate the people who and institutions that bring us the game by the pen and over the air (and through the wires).
The one part of covering the game that did not occur to us at the time was the most basic, and probably first, form of transmitting to the public what happened during any given game: the box score. It is neither poetry nor prose, but it is in the rawest sense the building blocks of telling you, the interested person who couldn’t manage to swing a day off to take in a ballgame, exactly what transpired during those 75 or so minutes. (Hey, it was 1859. Games were faster then.) And for the past century and a half, the box scores in the newspaper have been a staple of the baseball fan’s diet, and often the very first thing that fans turned to when they opened up the newspaper in the morning.
Ed Sherman, a sports media writer based in Chicago, just published a pretty good, tight piece on how baseball box scores are dying. Well, not completely dying. Box scores, in fact, are better and more complete than ever. Just compare the box score for the Tigers-Indians game from September 10, 1915:
To that of the Tigers-Indians game of exactly 100 years later to the day:
Just about the only thing that’s the same is that both are not good news for Tiger fans.
Sherman’s point is that the newspaper box score is dying, which makes sense, since by most accounts the newspaper medium itself is dying. Personally, I don’t believe that newspapers will completely die off, for the same reasons books made of paper won’t die off: people just like holding things they want to read in their hands, especially now that the riddle of how to keep newspaper ink from smudging your fingers has been solved. The newspaper will transform into something that will still satisfy that need for tactility, but might well be very different from how it looked when the Boomers and Gen Xers were kids, or even from how it looks today. But the baseball box score almost certainly will not be a part of the future of newspapers, which Sherman discusses in his article.
Will I miss the newspaper box score? In a way, I guess. It had been an essential part of my own long history of reading newspapers, but I haven’t relied on newspapers for box scores since years started with 19. It’s been so much easier just to buzz on over the Baseball-Reference, where I can see the box score for any game in every teams’ entire histories like *snap*, or my favorite teams‘ websites. Once you have that convenience available to you, it’s hard to picture ever having to rely on the old way ever again.
But that’s just me. How do you feel about the “death of baseball box scores in the newspapers”?
Before you comment on that, check out Sherman’s article here:
By now it’s pretty well known—even by people who don’t care about baseball, media, or baseball media—that Curt Schilling made a horrible decision to tweet the following:
Schilling did not create the meme in question—he “merely” tweeted it out. I put the word merely in quotes because the gravity of his action is hardly mitigated even by the realization that he merely agrees with the sentiment enough to repeat it publicly, rather than authoring the sentiment himself.
You can’t see the tweet live anymore, since Schilling has deleted it from his feed. Too late to reverse the condemnation he has received, of course, but at least he’s not doubling down on the sentiment by maintaining its presence on his feed or, worse, tripling down on it by defending or flaunting it, as some might.
Now comes word that Schilling’s punishment by ESPN is extending to his regular gig on their Sunday Night Baseball telecasts as well, as The Worldwide Leader announced late last night that Schilling is being pulled from this week’s Cubs-Dodgers tilt. No word yet on whether the ban will extend beyond this week, but it’s hard to envision Schilling returning to the booth any time this year, given how raw the original story is at the moment. There’s a lot of noise surrounding Curt Schilling right now, and if there’s one thing megabillion multinational media and entertainment companies despise, its noise of exactly this type.
Curt Schilling is a very smart man, so he had the good sense (and decency) to express a feeling resembling remorse over his bad decision:
I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.
This tweet occurred the same day as his LLWS telecast suspension. It is, at the moment of this post’s publication, his most recent tweet, so we do not yet know publicly his reaction to his removal from this Sunday’s telecast.
Now, articulating “my bad” for expressing an opinion is not the same as feeling shame for having the opinion in the first place. Schilling must certainly understand that difference, and while I can’t read the man’s mind, it strikes me as doubtful that he feels any differently about Muslims (extremist or not) today than he did two days ago. But the bar at hand does not extend as high as prohibiting the most secret thoughts and opinions a man might want hold in his head. It extends only to expressing them in a public forum. In America and most of the rest of the First World, you have the freedom to express such thoughts, but that freedom does not extend to exemption from the consequences of expressing them.
Schilling is smart also because, unlike some knuckleheads imploring him to “NEVER apologize for telling the truth especially if the PC bullies don’t like it“, he understands that when you are the public face of a very high profile organization, the thoughts you express for public consumption, even in your off hours, reflect on the organization you’re associated with. Schilling does not work 24 hours a day seven days a week, but The Walt Disney Companydoes, so there is no off-hours period of freedom from his public representation of them. Plus, The Mouse as a corporation has accountability to an international and multicultural audience that extends far beyond defending the right of their employees and representatives to publicly express whatever they believe their truths to be, never mind any obligation to maintain their full status in good standing within the corporation afterwards.
Whether this will cost Schilling any chance to work a booth at any point in the future is still unclear. What is clear is that any sports broadcasting concern interested in maintaining politics-free output will think twice about hiring someone who, intelligent though he may be, has a history of exhibiting poor impulse control and bad judgment when it comes to putting his innermost political thoughts out there for the purpose of the entire world enjoying them.
After an eight season absence, MLB has broken the bonds of its quasi-exclusive arrangement with DirecTV and Big Cable’s iN Demand consortium and have signed on DISH Network to carry the Extra Innings package starting this season. The most interesting aspect, of course, was the prospect that live MLB games would finally be streamed in-market, an issue which has picked up steam this offseason in particular.
The DISH deal appears to open the door to that possibility by including this in the press release about the deal:
“The agreement provides a path for consumers to have authenticated access to stream live in-market games on digital properties from MLB, local programmers and pay-TV providers. In-market live streaming would require additional agreements between the parties including DISH, MLBAM and programmers with local TV rights of MLB games.”
It has become clear since Rob Manfred replaced Bud Selig in the Commissioner’s chair that Major League Baseball really, truly wants to allow all of their product to be made available on all MLB.TV digital platforms, including the local game streaming within the local market. This is something that has been more or less banned ever since the beginning of Internet-based broadcasts of live games.
But just because the press release says this “path” has been “provided for” doesn’t mean it’s going to happen very soon, or even soon-ish. As Maury Brown metaphorizes in his sharp article about the deal, the broadcasting relationship in place among the parties is a three-legged stool: MLB is one leg; the telecast networks like Fox and NBC/Comcast and ROOT are the second leg; and distributors such as satellite and cable providers are the third. But it is that third leg that is the load-bearing leg that might undermine the whole arrangement if they were to pull out, and they have a good reason to pull out, or at least threaten to, if the other two legs insist on in-market streaming.
In this era of programming in which the majority is time-delayed by watchers so they can view it at their convenience―and, incidentally, be able to zip through expensive commercials―sports programing is considered the gold bar of programming, since it almost always demands live viewing to fully appreciate it. With that live viewing comes much greater viewing of commercials. Because of this, commercials in sports programming are more expensive per viewer than in nearly all other types of programming.
But if local live sports becomes available to viewers on digital platforms (i.e., platforms other than cable and satellite), then that removes a very big reason for people to continue to subscribe to cable services that are, let’s face it, more costly by a factor of multiples than what people are willing to pay. And even though such in-market digital games would be available only by authenticating “your” existing subscription, anyone who has a friend who subscribes to Netflix or Hulu knows that login credentials can be shared with as many people as the subscriber knows. In other words, cable companies in particular know that in-market availability of games will cost them subscribers, revenue, and ultimately profits. And they certainly don’t want that.
The restriction against viewing local games reaches epidemically ridiculous proportions in that it even includes a prohibition against watching out of market delayed broadcasts on the satellite and cable provider itself, or even “classic games” from decades before. I live in Chicago, and I can’t view old Yankee classic games on YES, or Orioles classic games on MASN, because of the deal between MLB and distributors. Why this is, I don’t know exactly―maybe it’s one of those things that distributors don’t really need, but like to have anyway just so they can negotiate away something not so important to retain the thing that is most important in cases like this―that most important thing being, of curse, live streaming of games to local markets.
But make no mistake: as much as Baseball and The Networks want to make the product available to everyone everywhere, distributors have just as much desire to keep local viewers in the dark during local games. Because they believe they have a very fat ox waiting to be gored when that happens, and unless some business arrangement or technical system is undertaken to address it, they have no interest in falling on that ox’s horns.