MLB Network: Happy talk about the national pastime, all the time. Or else.
The league media arm executed the “or else” recently by not renewing network insider Ken Rosenthal’s contract. His offense? Per Andrew Marchand of the York Post, it was less-than-glowing words he wrote about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on the pages of one of Rosenthal’s other employers, The Athletic, during the COVID-related labor battle of 2020.
Rosenthal, a former Sporting News MLB insider, confirmed Monday night that he was out.
“I always strove to maintain my journalistic integrity, and my work reflects that,” he wrote on Twitter.
Rosenthal cut his teeth in the newspaper business, covering the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun and then moving up to columnist there. He will be critical when he believes it’s warranted.
Speaking as one who in the past has edited Rosenthal’s copy and content produced by MLB reporters, the league’s media properties don’t do “critical.” MLB Network showed with Rosenthal that veering from that mindset has consequences. Sources told Marchand the network pulled Rosenthal off the air for several months over what he wrote about Manfred:
“Manfred and the owners need to figure it out, and quickly,” Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic. “Most owners will be in the game longer than most players, enabling them to eventually recoup their losses from 2020, then profit from their franchise’s resale values. Manfred, meanwhile, is supposed to be the adult in the room, a leader with a sense of the game’s place in our society, the caretaker of the sport.
“If he blows this, it will define him. That should be enough incentive for him to strike a deal, period.”
MLB didn’t give Rosenthal much of a sendoff in the statement it provided to Marchand on Monday:
“As MLB Network continues to look at fresh ways to bring baseball to our viewers, there is a natural turnover in our talent roster that takes place each year. Ken played a significant part at MLB Network over the last 13 years. From spring training to the winter meetings, we thank him for his work across MLB Network’s studio, game and event programming, and wish him the very best going forward.”
To be clear, the other league-owned networks and websites aren’t in the business of providing even-handed coverage, either. That’s the nature of being promotional, rather than probing. MLB is just more overt about it.
This move shows that.
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