from the swing-and-a-miss dept
We’ve talked a great deal about Major League Baseball here at Techdirt. Notably, for a long time those discussions have positive in nature, whether it was MLB’s interesting pivots once COVID-19 went global or the expansion of its excellent streaming services. Now, while the league has also had issues playing IP enforcer in the past, or the more recent self-own the league conducted in response to its players lockout, the fact is that commissioner Rob Manfred has generally been a fresh voice of modernity and technological progress for the league.
That makes it all the more perplexing that Manfred is currently being introduced to the concept of the Streisand Effect. At issue is the ousting of famed MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal is, perhaps, one of the most respected baseball reporters in the industry, and was apparently fired from the MLB Network as a result of a scathing piece he did on Manfred’s handling of baseball’s 2020 season as it relates to working something out with the Players’ Union for handling COVID protocols. Rosenthal was quietly suspended from MLBN airtime for three months over that article. Now, he’s out entirely.
MLB Network has cut ties with insider Ken Rosenthal in what is believed to be the end result of acrimony that peaked in the summer of 2020 after Rosenthal criticized commissioner Rob Manfred, The Post has learned.
Rosenthal, 59, remains at Fox Sports, where he is a fixture on its weekly coverage and is a dugout reporter for its top games, including the World Series. He also will continue at The Athletic.
What is interesting is that at least one of Rosenthal’s colleagues at The Athletic has been making the rounds on local sports talk radio pointing out that the piece critical of Manfred had barely any legs at all. It survived something like a day or two in a busy news cycle and very few people paid it much attention. Aside from Manfred, of course, who, those same colleagues at The Athletic are also insisting, did all of this to Rosenthal personally due to skin so thin it’s nearly translucent.
In June 2020, Rosenthal’s analysis of Manfred for The Athletic featured some light criticism, but it didn’t appear to delve into anything personal. In one piece, Rosenthal wrote, “As if the perception that Manfred is beholden to owners and out of touch with players was not bad enough, he was trending on Twitter on Monday after performing a massive flip-flop.”
Since then, Rosenthal’s role was slightly diminished at the network. Now, he’s out entirely.
And now that story is getting far more burn than it did initially. Streisand Effect. Also, Rosenthal has plenty of outlets to continue to criticize Manfred and MLB, whether it’s at The Athletic or on Fox Sports.
And the MLB Network has lost at least some of its credibility. For years, it has worked to build itself up as a credible news venture — even as it was owned by the league — and seemed to try to bend over backwards to demonstrate the independence of its reporting from the league’s own direct interests. But now all of that is shot. This is playing the short game rather than the long game, opting to punish someone critical without understanding that having critics on staff gave MLB Network far more credibility than it has now.