Saturday, August 31, 2013

Freedom of Speech: Without Biast

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In case you slept through fifth grade Civics class, that’s the First Amendment of our Constitution. Since the confrontation a few days ago between Brandon Phillips and Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans, I feel I should add my “two cents worth” with some more depth than the two lines I gave it in my last post.
Mr. Rosecrans has a job to do, write what he sees on the field without partiality, a job, I might add, he does well. The days of a sportswriter employed by the team went out many, many years ago. Some teams were owned by people who also owned newspapers, and those papers dispatched writers who, in essence, sugar coated the bad things the team did, while turning the players into god like characters. The team news you got came strictly from the newspapers.

Brandon Phillips also has a job to do, play baseball, a job he does very well. In my humble opinion, the best second baseman in baseball. Phillips took offense to a tweet that Rosecrans posted about his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, commonly called slash lines. Phillips then responded with a profanity laced tirade during an interview Rosecrans was conducting with Reds manager Dusty Baker.
I try not to get involved with these types of disagreements, but this one bothers me. Maybe Rosecrans was trying to get under Phillips skin, given the latter’s reaction, it worked. I enjoy watching Brandon Phillips play, and I hope one day I get to meet him personally to tell him how much I enjoy his style of play. A co-worker managed to get a couple of baseball autographed by Phillips for my sons. I appreciate Brandon Phillips taking time to do that for me and my boys.

My advice to Phillips is this; you’re in the public eye working a job most people would gladly trade places with. The scrutiny must seem unbearable at times. Yeah, the pay and perks are sweet, but with great ability there comes even greater responsibility. C. Trent Rosecrans is merely making a point about the job you’ve done offensively this season. Your average with the bases loaded in 2013 is bordering on mythical; you’ve done a good job with runners in scoring position, I wish I could say the same about your teammates, but how often do you hit in those scenarios?

C. Trent Rosecrans was not trying to incite you to violence; his job requires him to write the truth about what he sees. Although unbiased, I’m sure he’s about as die hard a Reds fan as any of us who writes blogs on these forums. He’s not there to make friends; he’s there to do his job. As former WLW Radio host Gary Burbank described a reporters job was that “You’re (the readers) right to know supersedes my right to exist.” So chill out Brandon, no harm no foul, if you don’t like for your slash line to be published, do something about it to improve those numbers.

I remember, in 1990, WLW Radio had a sports talk show host named Andy Furman. The bombastic, very controversial host once proclaimed that if Cincinnati won the World Series, he’d allow the team to shave his head, similar to what Marty Brennaman did last year after the Reds won 10 straight. As they say the rest is history. I really believe that was the motivation the Reds needed to get them over the hump to win the championship. The 2013 team has lost its swagger, and I think Mr. Rosecrans knew if he could get you angry enough to do something about it, the team will follow and make another serious run for the playoffs. The way Cincinnati beat down St. Louis on Wednesday night; it looks like Rosecrans succeeded. 

In closing, Brandon Phillips, do the right thing, extend your right hand of fellowship toward Rosecrans, apologize for losing your temper, and buy him a nice dinner sometime.

Dan Howard

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