Price Check: Beat Writers, F-Bombs, and Media Responsibility


♠ “What do I think of his performance!?”  ♠

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”
— Mark Twain
LAKEWOOD, N.J. (JSC) — I’ve had the privilege of covering every level of sports in this country, from high school softball to the NBA and Major League Baseball. When you cover sports, you develop and interesting relationship with the coaches, players, and administrators. You can also be privy to a lot of off-record and private conversations. As a journalist, stuff like that stays in house. I’ve been apart of some hilarious off-record conversations with coaches. Every so often, they end up on record with some fun results. In 2009, while I was covering Wayne State University’s men’s basketball team and after a particularly spirited victory, head coach David Greer (as he was known to do) completely shot straight with me deep in the bowels of the Grand Valley State basketball complex saying about his then-lead guard Byran Wright that “We were running a number of plays for him and the rest of those boys need to get in where they fit in” It was right there where I stopped the recorder and said “Hold up. Did you say ‘get in where you fit in’? I just wanna be sure.” His response: “You heard me. Get in, where you fit in, chief.” You get some awesome moments with coaches, you get some hilarious moments with coaches and managers, and you get some straight up meltdowns. What happened in Milwaukee yesterday with Cincinnati Reds’ manager Bryan Price was the latter. In all of its profane glory, it also provides a quick lesson on what a beat writer’s job really is. Let us proceed.

This is a great way to find out who this guy is. (Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer)
This is a great way to find out who this guy is. (Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer)

As always, I’ll keep this 100: You could’ve had Bryan Price walk into this room in his Reds uniform and introduce himself to me and I wouldn’t have known who he was. I had briefly forgotten that Dusty Baker had been fired after the 2013 season and Price was his replacement. Price, in his second season in Cincinnati, is not handling the daily grind particularly well. Coming into yesterday, the Reds — who started 4-0 — had lost seven of eight and were without their All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco. He had missed a few games due to a hip problem, but wasn’t with the team on Monday due to a family issue. It was the release of the seemingly innocuous information about Mesoraco’s absence, and his subsequently being spotted on a plane to St. Louis with back up catcher Tucker Barnhart (Price had yet to tell catcher Kyle Skipworth that he was being sent down to Triple-A) that basically made the Reds’ skipper go all Hulk Smash on Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans. Here is the transcript of the entire tirade from the point where Price became a legend:

BP: I don’t get it. It’s, you know, look, I don’t need you guys to be fans of the Reds, I just need to know if there’s something we want to keep here, it stays here. We don’t need to know that Tucker Barnhart’s in the f****** airport when we haven’t spoken to Kyle Skipworth. I think we owe that f******* kid the right to be called and told that he’s going to be sent down as opposed to reading that Tucker Barnhart is on his way from Louisville. I just… I don’t get it. I don’t get why it’s got to be this way. Has it always been this way where we just tell f****** everybody everything? So every f****** opponent we have has to know exactly what we have. Which f****** relievers are available, which guys are here and which guys aren’t here, when they can play, and what they can do. It’s nobody’s f****** business. It’s certainly not the opponent’s business. We have to deal with this f****** bullshit.

I like to talk — and I have spoken as candidly as I can with you people, if that’s not good enough, I won’t say a f******thing. I’ll go, ‘yes sir, no sir.’ And I can do that. But f***, I’ve been as candid as I can f****** be about this team and our players, and we’ve got to deal with this shit, every f****** team that we f****** play has to know every f****** guy that’s here and what they can and can’t do? F*** me. It’s a f****** disgrace. I’m f****** sick of this shit. It’s f****** hard enough to f****** win here to have f****** every f****** opponent know exactly what the f*** we bring to the table every day. It’s f****** horseshit. I don’t like it. It’s what I’m saying. To make it very clear, I don’t like the way that this shit’s going — at all. I don’t like it. I don’t think you guys need to know everything. And I certainly don’t think you need to see something and tweet it out there and make it a f****** world event. How the f*** do we benefit from them knowing we don’t have Devin Mesoraco? How do we benefit from that? They benefit from it. I just want to know how we benefit from these f****** people know we don’t have a player here. Can you answer that? How is that good for the Reds?

CTR: I don’t know…

BP: Yeah, well it’s making my job f****** harder.

CTR: I’m sure it is.

BP: Well, thank you. I don’t know if that’s what we’re supposed to do. Are we supposed to f****** open up everything here for everybody to know all the f****** time? That’s all I want to know, what your expectations are, because f*** me. If I’ve got f****** to tell these guys, we gotta go out there and they know we don’t have f****** Devin Mesoraco, what f****** benefit is that to me as a manager? And our team to win a f****** game?

CTR: He hasn’t been there for a week-and-a-half

BP: I just want an answer on how we benefit from them knowing that Devin Mesoraco isn’t here.

CTR: I don’t think you do and I don’t know that that’s my job.

BP: Your job is not to sniff out every f****** thing is about the Reds and f****** put it out there for every other f****** guy to hear. It’s not your job. You want me to be candid with you? I’ve been candid with you. I f****** talk to you guys like men, I tell you what the f***’s going on with the team, I tell you how I’m feeling as candidly as I can and then this s***? You’ve got to watch this f****** shit? I’ve got to f****** read that on a f****** Tweet on our own people in here that we don’t have a f****** player? How the f*** does that benefit the Reds? It doesn’t benefit us one f****** bit. God **** we try to go out there and win f****** games and I got to come in here and then you guys f****** blow it all over the f****** place? Who we can play? Who we can’t? I’ll tell you what you want to know, I’m not going to f****** lie to you. I didn’t tell you f****** shit.

CTR: You did not lie to me and I appreciate it.

BP: Ah, f***. I’m just, I’m f****** pissing up a rope in this f****** business. Because everyone has to know everything all the f****** time. That’s not my f****** obligation, it’s not their obligation. You know why f****** Billy Hamilton didn’t f****** play? The other day? Because his f****** finger’s hurt and he couldn’t hit right-handed comfortably. Right? So that’s something that I need to know and no one else needs to know. No one else needs to f****** know it, and all of a sudden it’s out there. His f****** fingers are sore. It doesn’t benefit us. It wasn’t from you, but it doesn’t benefit us one bit to f****** announce to the f****** other teams that we’re playing to bring in lefties when they need to f****** get Billy out. There’s no benefit. So, I’m f******, to be honest with you, I’m f****** sick of this shit. I’m sick of listening to this f****** shit, I’m sick of f****** the f****** second-guessing bullshit, you guys can do whatever the f*** you want, but I’ll tell you this — I’m not going to f****** tell you everything about this f****** club, because you f****** guys are going to out there and sniff it out anyway. I don’t f****** like it one f****** bit. I bend over backwards to be honest and direct with you f****** guys and you stick it right up my f****** ass— and the f****** team’s ass. And I’m sick of it. What do you got? If you don’t got anything, get out and I’ll do this f****** interview with Marty [Brennaman]. You don’t have anything? Just get out, please.

Welp!

That phone ain't do anything to you, Hal.
That phone ain’t do anything to you, Hal.

So, where do I start? As an avid connoisseur of all things profane, this is f—ing glorious! TELL EM WHY YOU MAD, SON!!!! Rosecrans, who had to sit through that, counted a mind-blowing 77 f-bombs plus an extra 10 shit references. It was a wonderfully filthy rant. It goes right into the pantheon of great baseball manager rages including Tommy Lasorda’s epic 1978 response to a reporter’s question about Dave Kingman’s 3 home run, 8 RBI performance against his Dodgers, Hal McRae’s 1993 implosion following a loss to the Tigers where he famously asks “Do I look like a God-damned Fool!?” before snatching the telephone from his desk and throwing it at a reporter, and the GAWD of them all: Chicago Cubs’ manager Lee Elia going HAM on Cubs fans in 1983 as his team was off to a very Cubs-like 5-14 start.

As hilarious as it was to hear Price go off on this reporter as a guy who loves profanity, as a journalist, Price is as off base as many of his Reds players have been lately. The line that jumps out from all of that angry excreta that he unleashed on Rosecrans is: Your job is not to sniff out every f****** thing is about the Reds and f****** put it out there for every other f****** guy to hear. It’s not your job!”

Actually, Bryan, that is his job. That’s EXACTLY what his job is!  His job is to sniff out any information he can get about the Cincinnati Reds and get it out to the public. He is employed by that paper, not by the Cincinnati Reds. He is not beholden to you or the franchise. I have a really difficult time understanding how he didn’t realize this.

Of all the things I learned as a sports writer, one of the first was not to trust everything a coach or player says about an injury, contract, or absence. Hell, I’ve stood in a locker room looking at an injured football player standing in front of me on crutches with his foot in an air cast and watched that player and his coach say to me that he’s “Not injured.” The NHL has this foolishness where they say a player has an “upper body injury” as if we can’t tell when a dude’s shoulder is hanging or he’s holding his head. The NFL tries this silliness all the time. As a reporter, and I’ve always prided myself on doing this, I report what I see and what I hear. I take what the manager or coach says and keep going. It’s not my job to put over or protect an organization.

It’s not the job of whoever covers the Cardinals for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to withhold information to protect the team. It wasn’t Tom Gage’s job when he was at the Detroit News to protect the Tigers. The beat writers at the Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times, Chicago Tribune, and New York Daily News are not beholden to the Dodgers, Angels, Astros, Rays, Cubs, White Sox, Yankees, and Mets. So while I greatly appreciated Bryan Price formally f—ing introducing himself to the world, I’m gonna need him to chill on chastising reporters for doing reporter shit.

In closing, maybe Price just had a really bad day and the pressure of dropping seven of eight after crisp 4-0 start to the season got to him. But it’s pretty telling that just barely into his second season as a Major League manager (Price went 76-86 last season after taking over a team that had made the playoffs the previous two seasons under Baker) that dude straight lost it like he did. As a reporter, we know what our jobs are and we will do them, even if it means we piss off a few people. If someone doesn’t like it, frankly, we just don’t give a f—!

Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ

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