The last time my radio show had a guest from the Pirates was early last season. Pitching coach Ray Searage. Great baseball mind. Great guest.
Since then, nobody.
I don’t ask frequently. Mostly, I want to talk to team officials. Neal Huntington, the GM. Frank Coonelly, the president. Especially Bob Nutting, the owner. No dice, not with any of the above.
Earlier this season, I requested second baseman Neil Walker. PR flack Jim Trdinich told my producer, Bob McLaughlin, that Walker didn’t want to do it. But a mutual acquaintance of Walker and myself told me that Walker would gladly appear on my show. Trdinich never asked Walker, according to my source.
So, McLaughlin asked Trdinich, “Will the Pirates provide any guests?”
Trdinich replied by e-mail:
“You know, I like Mark as a person. Funny. Quick-witted. Intelligent. But how can I justify putting players or coaches on his show when all he does is rip us, and hates the ownership and club in general? Very tough for me to do.”
Actually, it’s not tough at all. In fact, it’s your job.
Trdinich’s professionalism has long been in question.
When I worked at ESPN 1250, he sent management an e-mail that included an obscenity regarding my show. Last year, on Facebook, he referred to Milwaukee’s Miller Park as a “freaking joke of a stadium.” Trdinich also said the Brewers “have to be doing some illegal [expletive] there.”
I couldn’t imagine Steelers’ PR Burt Lauten acting in remotely similar fashion. I’ve certainly been critical of the Steelers, but Lauten has always provided guests, including Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, the team’s two biggest stars.
I’m not whining because my show is being denied guests. The success of a sports radio program is determined by the host’s charisma. Everything else is secondary. I can do with or without guests. In short, I don’t care.
But my treatment of the Pirates has been fair. I call Andrew McCutchen the best player in baseball. I say the Pirates should sign Walker long-term. I think the Pirates should re-up Russell Martin. I say Josh Harrison is a flash in the pan, and he might yet be. I support Pedro Alvarez better than the Pirates do. I feel Clint Hurdle is the perfect manager for the franchise.
I think every decision Nutting makes considers money first. I believe the Pirates could have done more in free agency, and at the trade deadline.
I don’t hate ownership, Jim. I just don’t trust it. I don’t hate the club. I just want the Pirates to win. I don’t care about Nutting’s profit margin.
I am funny, quick-witted and intelligent. You’ve got me there.
Tell me where I’ve been unreasonable. Jim? Anybody? Feeling that ownership and management act primarily to benefit the bottom line instead of the standings certainly isn’t unwarranted. Even if you disagree, it’s surely a plausible notion.
If being critical means my show can’t get guests, then what are the criteria for getting guests? For getting assisted by the Pirates’ media relations department?
It seems logical to think you’ve got to go in the opposite direction. You need to be one of the Pirates’ bought-and-paid-for “media partners.” You need to suck up, curry favor and kiss butt. You need to rubber-stamp whatever the Pirates do.
There’s certainly plenty who qualify. It’s easy to see why Trdinich might feel the Pirates don’t need my show, however highly-rated.
Sadly, it’s the way sports “journalism” seems headed. Witness ESPN’s muted criticism of Ray Rice’s mere two-game suspension for knocking out his wife. Hello, broadcast partner. Change my pitch up…