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Firing Ken Rosenthal Is Another Reason For Fans Not To Trust Rob Manfred

“Nobody said these jobs were supposed to be easy. You aren’t going to please everyone, but why make matters worse?”

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Some people just can’t take the heat and instead turn to throwing people out of the kitchen. They aren’t capable of rolling with the punches, even when the criticism coming their way is warranted and documented.

In the case of Rob Manfred v. Ken Rosenthal, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball acted rashly in the face of a not-so vicious attack. Instead of just turning the other cheek, or looking in the mirror, Manfred decided the league-owned MLB Network needed to fire a long-time, credible and respected journalist. Rosenthal confirmed the news via his Twitter account. He also indicated that he is still employed by Fox Sports and will continue to report on the sport for that network.

Commissioners of the “Big 4 Sports Leagues” are supposed to have thick skin. Criticism, skepticism, and whatever other ism’s you can think of, come with the job. Generally speaking, these commissioners make big bucks and in the eyes of fans, never have their collective backs. 

Nobody said these jobs were supposed to be easy. You aren’t going to please everyone, but why make matters worse? 

Rosenthal was relieved of his ‘insider’ duties at MLB Network Monday. It was revealed by the New York Post that Rosenthal’s article posted to the The Athletic led to a double secret probation of a few months and ultimately his termination. The article, posted June 16, 2020, was critical of Manfred and his handling of the start of the pandemic plagued 2020 baseball season. On the surface, the so-called attack was mild in nature and was filled with truths. Manfred waffled back and forth about the length of a season and then having no season. It led Rosenthal to lines like these from his posted column.

  • “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.” 
  • “Granted, the commissioner is forever in a tricky spot, empowered to act in the best interests of the game, but employed by the owners. Still, how does Manfred in a span of five days go from telling ESPN the season “unequivocally” would take place to saying on the same network he was “not confident” it would happen?”
  • “Yet for a guy who suddenly is looking for peace, Manfred sure has a funny way of showing it.”
  • “He and the owners, supposed stewards of the game, are turning the national pastime into a national punch line, effectively threatening to take their ball and go home while the country struggles with medical, economic and societal concerns.”
  • “If he blows this, it will define him. That should be enough incentive for him to strike a deal, period.”

I guess the truth hurts. Especially the last line. Was the commentary out of line? Nope. Was the commentary a personal attack on the man? Nope. 

MLB Network wasn’t set up to be “state run” television. Yes, you have to be careful not to cross that invisible line in the sand. To me, the comments written by Rosenthal don’t really cross any lines. I don’t have inside knowledge about how the other league-operated networks do their business, but they’ve never been in the headlines for something like this. 

I’ve written before about the precarious situation some play-by-play and color analysts are in when they are working for the team they’re calling games for. That’s an entirely different situation than this one. Broadcasters who are on the air every day understand going in that being overly critical could have repercussions. At the same time, there is an issue of credibility. If a team is bad and the announcers are talking about how great things are, well that’s a recipe for disaster. The fans will call you a shill and really call into question a lot of things that you’ll say. We as broadcasters need the support of the stations and teams we work for, to be able to call into question things that need to be questioned. 

In this case Rosenthal, who is about as respected a journalist as there is in the sport of baseball, was suspended and fired for telling the truth. The commissioner, who represents the owners and ultimately the ownership of the network, couldn’t handle it and flew off the handle instead.

It’s sad really, because Manfred is doing the viewers of the network a major disservice. Rosenthal is one of the kings of breaking news in my mind. I often can’t wait to hear his reports because they are filled with valuable information. This information isn’t opinion, its fact based as it’s gathered from credible sources and delivered by an equally credible source. 

The game of baseball is in enough trouble already. It has an image problem. Manfred has an image problem. Things that seem petty like this unwarranted dismissal play right into that narrative. Why would you try to make things worse with something like this? It’s not like Rosenthal is one of those people that continually stirs up controversy. He is above that. His reporting is not sensationalist.

Manfred’s job is not an easy one, I’ll give him that. He has to deal with the egos of some owners that don’t want to give an inch. As the lockout continues, without an ending in sight, the chasm between the fans and baseball continues to widen. I would never tell the man how to do his job, but I will say, if you alienate the fans enough, your sport is finished. 

Sports Radio News

Cumulus Announces 790 The Score in Rhode Island is Officially On The Air

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

Jordan Bondurant

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After reporting last week that Kevin McNamara would be the station’s only local host in the programming lineup, 790 The Score in Providence, Rhode Island is officially on the air.

The station, which was last on the air in the market in 2008, has been revived and will serve as the market’s first sports and sports betting station.

“The station features a lineup of expert personalities that deliver unique sports talk and sports betting insights that entertain, inform, and engage,” said Holly Paras, VP and market manager of Cumulus Providence. “We think Providence sports and sports betting fans will love 790 THE SCORE!”

In addition to shows like Bet MGM’s The Daily Tip and others like Bet QL Daily, listeners can catch some of the top national talent on the airwaves throughout the day and night. This includes hosts like Jim Rome and Amy Lawrence.

McNamara will host his show Kevin Mac Sports Hour daily from 5-7 p.m.

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Sports Radio News

Paul Finebaum Will Make $700k Advance Ahead of Nick Saban-Jimbo Fisher Book

Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Jordan Bondurant

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Paul Finebaum

Though there’s still some time before a finished products reaches bookshelves, but ESPN’s Paul Finebaum is reportedly set to get a nice six-figure advance by Penguin Press.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, Finebaum will make $700,000 plus royalties for the deep dive into the rivalry between the two SEC head coaches.

Back in the spring things came to a head between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, as the two engaged in a verbal spat in separate press conferences over name, image and likeness.

Saban said Fisher and his staff utilized NIL and “bought every player” in the Aggies’ spring 2022 recruiting class.

Things got so heated and drew so many headlines that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had to step in and try to get the former colleagues to cool it.

Finebaum is teaming up with Alabama beat reporter John Talty to write the book.

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Sports Radio News

Sports Gambling Podcast Network To Stage 24-Hour Fantasy Football Draft

“The event begins at 3 pm on Tuesday and is dubbed Draft Day 2.0.”

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Sports Gambling Podcast

If you’re serious about Fantasy Football, the Sports Gambling Podcast Network is bringing back a tradition you’ll want to pay attention to. 

For the second year in a row, Ryan Kramer will draft 24 different teams over the course of a 24 hour marathon that will be streamed across multiple video platforms. 

“Fortunately, the analytics research is done so I can focus now on news coming out of the camps to sharpen my views and deliver the well-reasoned selections that people need to get an edge in their drafting,” Kramer said in a press release. “It’s a bit of an audacious undertaking, but the growing phenomenon of Fantasy Football deserves this level of commitment and our SGPN audiences always respond.” 

The event begins at 3 pm on Tuesday and is dubbed “Draft Day 2.0”. All of the content will originate from the Sports Gambling Podcast Network’s studios in Los Angeles. 

The marathon will also be a fundraiser. The network is using GoFundMe to raise funds for a colleague named Darryl injured in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. A portion of proceeds generated from the sale of Sports Gambling Podcast Network branded apperal will also go to the effort. 

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