10 Questions With Richard Justice
2. Transparency in Baseball
Posted On 05.17, 2013
RCS: The discussion this week seem to have evolved into anger about the lack of transparency in baseball and a demand to know the other 103 players that tested positive for steroids in 2003. Given that Joe Torre's book - the big story the previous two weeks - received criticism because it supposedly broke the clubhouse trust, is there an inherent contradiction in what we demand from baseball? How can players and managers maintain trusting relationships within the locker room and at the same time be more transparent to fans and media?
Justice: There's never going to be enough transparency to please everyone. It's a constant tug of war. Baseball is far more transparent than the NFL, but there are things I don't know. Smart players give no insight into how things work without ever violating confidences. One thing that separates baseball and the NFL is that reporters have amazing access to players, managers, GMs, etc. It's very hard to keep secrets. As you get to know players, they're going to trust you to handle sensitive information. NFL players give you very little, in part, because their contracts aren't guaranteed and they can find their locker cleaned out by simply saying the wrong thing.
A great NBA coach named Dick Motta told me, ''I know what your job is. It's to explain what happens on the court and to take people inside the locker room.'' Dick summed my job up better than any journalism teacher or sports editor ever could. In the 2002 baseball labor negotiations, one of the few things the players and owners agreed on is they wanted the media out of the clubhouse. Bud Selig wouldn't hear of it. When Bud Selig is gone, reporters are going to find their access dramatically limited. So while some secrets slip out now, the day is coming when MLB and the NFL will have the same disdain for the media.