The Toronto Blue Jays are in a tight race for the American League wild card, and last night’s loss to the Orioles didn’t make things any easier. They are now facing a three-game series against the Red Sox, and need to hold off the Tigers and Mariners, who are 1.5 and two games back, respectively. It appears that the stress of the season’s final push has affected the team’s relationship with the Toronto media.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Buffery has decided to supply us with some hot gossip from inside the Blue Jays’ locker room, where the players have apparently been taking some childish and passive-aggressive swipes at the reporters covering the team:
Why, for example, would the leaders on the team allow someone to put up on a wall photos of two Toronto sports writers with an ‘X’ scratched on their face and the a message written on top reading, ‘Do not grant them interviews’ (or words to that effect)?
And it’s not just those photos. There have been a number of incidents inside the Jays clubhouse recently that suggest that there may be a bit of panic setting in.
Things like: Someone cranking up the music just when the media arrives to conduct pre-game interviews. That’s happened more than a couple of times. It happened again on Thursday. Again, on the surface, silly, stupid. But, again, unnecessary. The media have a job to do, just like the players. Fans almost always take the side of the players when there’s an issue with the media, but teams with confidence and swagger don’t need to pulls stunts like putting pictures of writers on a wall.
The baseball season is impossibly long, and it’s not uncommon for players and reporters—two groups that often necessarily have an adversarial relationship—to get tired of each other by the end of the summer. Throw the famously harsh Toronto sports media and this thin-skinned Blue Jays team into the mix, and you’re all but guaranteed to have incidents like this.
The writers certainly bear some of the responsibility here, too, particularly the one Buffrey claims followed closer Roberto Osuna into a restricted part of the clubhouse in order to scream at the young closer for not answering questions. The “reporters have a job to do, too!” complaint can only go so far when writers are faced with an outright hostile clubhouse, and it certainly doesn’t excuse telling off a struggling player.
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So how can the team and the writers move on from this? The best solution is for the Jays to win some games and go on another long playoff run. Success can heal a lot of wounds.