World Series Weekend Goodies

by Jason Epstein

Commenting on the hullabaloo over Albert Pujols and several of his veteran teammates’ avoiding reporters following game two, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out that there are mutual benefits in the media-player relationship.

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.

As for the incident in question:

Often, we’re looking for smaller details, an explanation of how a play worked — or how one went awry. That was what reporters in the Cardinals clubhouse wanted from Pujols, his version of the botched cut-off throw that helped Elvis Andrus take an extra base in the Rangers’ winning rally. Maybe Pujols had nothing of value to say. But you don’t know unless you ask.

Well, Pujols wasn’t at his locker. He was in an off-limits area, and said he did not receive a request to answer questions until 40 minutes after the game.

His cover story, backed by manager Tony La Russa, was disingenuous at best. . . .

Countless others players, famous and anonymous, have done the same. The glare is brightest in the postseason, the media crush occasionally bordering on unwieldy. But an 11-year veteran such as Pujols should understand the give and take.

As it turned out, Pujols accepted full responsibility for failing to catch the cut-off throw when he finally spoke Friday, exonerating center fielder Jon Jay, who had said that his throw was off-line.

Pujols’ remarks offered clarity, if not deep insight. Maybe they comforted Jay, a second-year major leaguer, maybe not. But the question — what happened? — was on the minds of many. And if Pujols had given the same answers in the immediate aftermath, he would have been labeled a stand-up guy.

Meanwhile, former Giants and Royals relief pitcher Bob Tufts contends in his Examiner column that Josh Hamilton of the Rangers has not yet “complete[d] his addiction therapy by reimbursing the Tampa Bay Rays the nearly $4 million in bonus money that he was paid in 1999 when he was the first pick in the draft.” Tufts, a friend of NRO, points out that, unlike poor performance on-the-field (think Carl Crawford), “[t]he use of illicit drugs is a deliberate act that caused the inability to live up to your word as outlined in the contract.”

Right Field

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