It's difficult to find it, buried as it is beneath what C. Trent Rosecrans described as "77 uses of the "F" word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine)," but as I look at Reds manager Bryan Price's epic meltdown from last night, I almost wonder if he has a legitimate question. Even as he chose to make it in the least productive way possible. What good is all the information we're getting from the beat reporters we follow?
There's something perversely compelling about this kind of meltdown. Oh, sure, managers have gotten angry before, but the truly memorable ones stay with us. Lee Elia. Tommy LaSorda. Hal McRae. These are outbursts that have stood the test of time and, frankly, Price's ranks right up there. At the same time, it is wildly unprofessional, especially in this day and age of increased media exposure. The defining image of Price's tenure with the Reds, and perhaps of his entire baseball career, is going to be his response to an otherwise mundane question: Why isn't Devin Mesoraco here?
I don't mean to glorify what Price did, however. Rosecrans was simply trying to do his job as thoroughly as possible. In return, Price was indescribably unprofessional. Two years ago, Rosecrans was criticized by Brandon Phillips for his appearance and, while Price managed to keep his complaints above board, you could argue that the sheer volume (and VOLUME!) of the exchange made it even more abusive.
Bryan Price doesn't understand journalism
Price was also fundamentally wrong when he told Rosecrans "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." That is, actually, quite literally Rosecrans's job. He finds out information about the team and he writes that up to present to a voracious audience. Rosecrans doesn't have a responsibility to sit on information for the good of the team without any additional incentive to do so.
But again, I want to come back to the idea that maybe, just maybe, Price has the kernel of a point buried in there somewhere. For instance, he pointed out that the rapid expansion of available information has made a manager's job more strategically difficult. "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?"
There is a cost to this, though
The truth is that the Reds don't benefit from having that information out in the open. Clubs can relax knowing that Price can't go to one of the best hitting catchers in the majors in a tight spot. They can manage their bullpens differently. Fantasy baseball players can hold him out of their lineups. But the Reds? Nope, this doesn't help them at all.
Ultimately though, I'm more concerned about the human cost to the incessant digging that beat reporters are forced to do to do their jobs properly. As Price indicates, sometimes this results in a player finding out that they've been traded or are being optioned to the minors before the club has the opportunity let him know face-to-face. Again, as Price eloquently put it, "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 heartily agree with that. Who is helped if they find out that 25 year old minor league veteran backup catcher Kyle Skipworth is being optioned back to Louisville? No one has Kyle Skipworth on their fantasy teams. Opposing clubs weren't concerned about how they'd have to pitch to Kyle Skipworth. The vast majority of Reds fans probably didn't even know Kyle Skipworth was a thing, let alone a member of the Reds for a couple days. Doesn't Skipworth deserve to hear the news about his demotion from his manager? Doesn't he deserve the chance to tell his family himself? Isn't that what we would want if we were in his shoes?
What is the solution? Is there one?
Of course teams shouldn't be allowed to sit on news for too long. However, reasonable accommodations should be made to acknowledge that baseball players and management are real people who are generally trying to do the right thing. This is not to say that Rosecrans and his fellow beat reporters were wrong, mind you. I get that the job of a beat reporter is far harder and more competitive than any of us can imagine. If one reporter doesn't run with potential news, another will because no one wants to be left behind in a medium that is struggling to remain afloat and in a world where Twitter followers are currency.
I'm not naïve. I don't think this post will significantly lessen our demand for news about the Kyle Skipworths of the world, and I don't think it would have necessarily prevented Bryan Price's meltdown. Given the way the Reds have played this year, he really seemed like he needed to yell at somebody. I can sympathize with him, however. The way that many players—players who we might care about—are treated by media, fans, and team management as just names on a chalkboard sometimes makes me want to call us all a bunch of f------ motherf------ at the top of my lungs too.