It seems we finally have an explanation for why Astros pitcher Justin Verlander insisted on having Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech blocked from entering the Astros’ club house after a game last week. You probably won’t be able to guess where this is going.
To recap: After a 2-1 loss to the Tigers last Wednesday, Verlander told the Astros’ communications staff that he would not answer questions from any reporters if Fenech was present in the locker room. The Astros responded by placing security guards outside of the locker room and preventing Fenech from entering, which is a violation of the Baseball Writers Association of America regulations and, the Free Press argued, MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. Verlander later addressed the incident on Twitter, but was cagey while implying that Fenech had earned his mistreatment by doing something unethical.
And what was the ethical breach that Fenech committed? According to the Free Press, he tweeted out Verlander’s thoughts about a solar eclipse without permission:
The relationship began to deteriorate on Aug. 22, 2017, when Fenech joined a conversation Verlander was having with Al Kaline in the Tigers’ clubhouse at Comerica Park. Fenech had just finished an interview with Verlander a few minutes prior, and Kaline’s name had come up. Fenech began talking to the two men.
During the conversation, which was casual in nature, Verlander talked about his experiences travelling to Tennessee and watching the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Fenech posted two tweets about the exchange, saying:
“Justin Verlander watched the solar eclipse from the Path of Totality. ‘It was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life,’ he said.”
“Verlander, an admitted astronomy enthusiast, traveled to Nashville to watch the eclipse in its fullest totality, he said.”
That misstep got Fenech reamed out by Verlander in the locker room, and their relationship continued to sour from there. Their most recent disagreement came in September 2018, when Fenech interviewed Verlander in order to write a follow-up to a Bleacher Report story in which Verlander said the Tigers had misdiagnosed his injury. There was disagreement over which parts of that interview were on and off the record, and also this weird bit in which Verlander apparently thought Fenech was trying to sneakily obtain his phone number:
Fenech handed Verlander his business card and told him that if he needed to add to or clarify the quote, he could call him before the Free Press’ print deadline time. Fenech then told Verlander he wanted to preserve their working relationship. It was during this exchange that Verlander told Fenech he crossed the line. Verlander felt Fenech was using the situation to gain the pitcher’s personal cell phone number. Fenech told Verlander he misunderstood the exchange of the business card. Fenech told Verlander that it wasn’t his intention.
So there you have it: Justin Verlander hates Anthony Fenech because he made him look like a big nerd who loves space and also because he gave him a business card.