I’d had this week circled on the calendar for months for three words: Pitchers and Catchers. That cherished right of spring reminds me that baseball is the subject of much of my favorite digital media. The MLB mobile app is one of my favorites, allowing me to fall asleep to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully and Jon Miller. This week I’ve focussed my podcast listening on newfound pleasures from FanGraphs, WEEI (I’m not a Red Sox fan– yet– but it is the best team-based audio coverage I’ve found), Baseball America– I’ve even taken to ESPN’s Baseball Today weekly cast– though I may reconsider now that Seth Everett’s gone.)
This excitement for digital baseball content was lessened with the revelation that MLB.com has decided to function as a PR agency instead of a news organization. Like Craig Calcaterra, I was skeptical but open-minded when Major League Baseball launched its own reporting agency. I’ve found it to be a mostly useful service: yes, the reporters worked for the teams they were covering, but I saw less puffery in its coverage of the Chicago Cubs, say, than I did in coverage from WGN Radio (which until recently shared the same corporate owner as the baseball team.) Calcaterra has the story at NBCSports: Chicago White Sox Mark Buehrle criticized Michael Vick in quotes published by MLB.com. After publishing the article, MLB had second thoughts, MLB had second thoughts and deleted a Buehrle quote– without any explanation from Mark Merkin, the author of the story, or anyone else. Murray Chass identified a similar questionable editorial decision late last year.
Granted, in this world of ours, reporting about grown men who hit balls with sticks is not a high priority. Nevertheless, I feel like a sucker. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways for me to scratch my baseball itch, so I can scratch MLB from my RSS feed without worry.