Price wasn't first manager to crack, and he won't be last
If you asked me which current manager was most likely to go off on a 5-minute, 34-second, profanity-laced rant against reporters, the Reds’ Bryan Price certainly would not be my first choice.
Price, like most current managers, is cerebral, well-spoken and generally even-tempered. The salty, old-school types are all but gone, but the pressure of the job, in an age of social media and nonstop information, is greater than ever.
The job turned seemingly rational men irrational long before Twitter ever existed (remember Lee Elia’s legendary tirade against the fans at Wrigley Field in April 1983?). Add to the fact that reporters and their subjects often are at cross-purposes, and frankly it’s surprising that more managers don’t crack the way that Price cracked before Monday night’s game.
Price was wrong to suggest that the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans and other Reds reporters should withhold information that might not benefit the club. I suspect he knows that. I suspect he will apologize. But the damage is done.
Honestly, this isn’t all that complicated. For all the changes in media in recent years, the essence of the job hasn’t changed. A reporter’s job is to uncover information. A reporter’s first obligation is to the readers. No good reporter simply takes the word of the entity that he or she covers at face value.
Price was upset when reporters noted -- accurately -- that catcher Devin Mesoraco was not in St. Louis on Sunday for the Reds’ game against the Cardinals. Well, that is news. And if it benefited the Cardinals, that’s the Reds’ problem.
The Reds control who is on their roster, so they are not exactly in a helpless position. Mesoraco has not played since April 12 due to a left hip impingement, though he missed Sunday’s game for personal reasons. He is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday, Price said, but might not be able to resume catching.
No doubt, information on Mesoraco’s status is important -- he was an All-Star last season and is one of the Reds’ most valuable players. The team, however, already had been playing without him, so his absence was not exactly a deep-rooted secret. If the Reds want to stop playing a man short, they could place Mesoraco on the disabled list retroactively, and he would be eligible to return one week from today.
Price, though, also had another complaint -- that Rosecrans reported on Friday that he flew from Cincinnati to St. Louis on the same plane as Mesoraco and catcher Tucker Barnhart. The problem, from Price’s perspective, is that the news on Barnhart became public before the Reds could inform catcher Kyle Skipworth of his demotion.
Again, too bad.
If the Reds don’t want people spotting their players -- and any fan on the plane could have tweeted the news on Mesoraco and Barnhart as easily as Rosecrans -- then fly the players on private jets.
Or if they want to avoid having their players receive disappointing news in awkward fashion, then communicate with them faster.
Yet, as ridiculous as Price sounds on the audio -- Rosecrans reported that the final tally included 77 F-words and 11 uses of a vulgar word for feces -- I don’t want to be too hard on him.
I’ve known Price for more than a decade and think highly of him. I imagine most reporters do. Price answers most questions thoughtfully. Rarely is he cranky, and I never have found him to be antagonistic.
If anything, his rant only adds to my admiration for even-keeled veteran managers such as the Giants’ Bruce Bochy, Athletics’ Bob Melvin and Dodgers’ Don Mattingly, and that’s just to name a few.
Until Monday, I would have included Price in that group. But a manager cannot be defined by one very public slip, unless that slip proves a sign of things to come.
The job is difficult. The job will exhaust a man’s patience.
Price wasn’t the first to crack, and he won’t be the last.