The Toronto Star reports, and Jose Bautista confirms, that the Blue Jays slugger has been boycotting Sportsnet since the broadcaster forced rookie Devon Travis to pay for a suit he purchased as part of a “makeover” segment aired three months ago.
Bautista has avoided giving Sportsnet, the official broadcaster of the Jays, any interviews since the May 19 segment, even as he has spoken to other outlets. He’s told executives that his boycott will continue until Travis is reimbursed for the cost of a designer suit he purchased at a Toronto-area retailer, since he believes Travis—making the MLB minimum—won’t complain himself.
Bautista believes Sportsnet took advantage of Travis — since it was the network’s idea to do the suit-buying special — and that he needs to stand up for his rookie teammate, who is unable to stand up for himself given his lower-echelon status in the league and with his new team.
The Star’s story quotes a journalism professor who believes Sportsnet is in the right here, given that paying for the suit would be an ethical conflict. But there are a couple complicating factors.
- Both the Blue Jays and Sportsnet are owned by Rogers Communications, so the station can’t avoid a conflict of interest when literally every second of Jays coverage is already a conflict of interest.
- Bautista says it was the station’s idea to take Travis shopping. If that’s true, Travis had been in the big leagues for a little more than a month and might have felt pressured to please his employer. Or he may have expected to be reimbursed for the suit, as is standard practice on “makeover” TV shows.
- It’s not clear whether Sportsnet has some kind of relationship with the clothier, though it’s unlikely there wasn’t at the very least a discount provided in exchange for the free advertising the store received from the segment.
Devon Travis, down in Florida rehabbing a shoulder injury, declined comment for the Star’s story.