The media's role
Like all teams, the Baltimore Orioles have “media” (members) which are either employed by the team or by various networks which directly cover the team (Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer, Amber Theoharis, Joe Angel, and Fred Manfra just to name a few). When I say various networks which directly cover the team, I’m refering to MASN and WBAL. A radio or TV station in town may well employ a beat reporter to cover the O’s for that outlet, however in a sense they don’t cover the team for the team. Nevertheless, my personal opinion is that the “Orioles’ media” does a good job of covering the Birds. There were many times this past season when they were forced to be critical of the team, and I feel that they did that to the best of their abilities. There were other times when the O’s looked good, and they noted that also. However I suppose my question is should the media “demand” more?
Baltimore is far from the zoo that’s seen in NY and Boston. Looking at other sports, we also see media circus’ with teams such as the Lakers, Cowboys, Steelers, and Penguins. Media surrounding all of those teams can be relentless in pursuing their stories and in asking tough questions of players and coaches. And I’m not only talking about the team-employed media; the Boston Globe is nearly eating the Red Sox alive with regard to beer-gate. What do all of the above-mentioned franchises have in common? They’re considered winners. So the question is whether or not that winning is at least partially media-driven.
First things first; no team wins or loses due to the media. It’s ludicrous to suggest so. However let’s dig a little deeper; the media is supposed to in essence be a liason so to speak between the team and the fans. So given that, could you also say that part of this has to do with those fan bases possibly wanting more? Again, no team wins or loses because of the fans. You win or lose based upon what happens between the lines. However I do think that there might be something to be said for wanting to win “for these people” in a sense. The Florida Marlins seem to routinely play in front of 3-4K people. So is there as big of an incentive to win for those people (most of whom probably only came because they got free tickets) as there would be to play in front of 40-50K at Yankee Stadium every night? Is there as big of an incentive to win when you know that a beat reporter is going to just ask you what happened as opposed to making you attest to it?
The correct answer is that there should always be an incentive to win regardless of what the media and/or the fans are saying. However, sometimes I wonder if things aren’t always as they should be 100% of the time. So the real answer to the question with regard to the contemporary athlete is that yes there is more of an incentive to win if it seems that the media and fans are holding you accountable. We see this be the case in everyday life as well in offices around the country. Do you have the same incentive to do the same great job if you know you won’t have to attest to your mistakes in front of the big boss? We would all like to think that we’re doing more than just collecting a paycheck, however that extra push helps sometimes.
So with that said, can the Baltimore media need to do more? First off, there’s a big difference between asking tough questions and flat out being a snake. I can remember when Norv Turner was the head coach of the Washington Redskins, and they posted an 0-8 home record one year. After the final home loss, a reporter asked Turner “how does it feel to go winless at home?” Turner responded by saying, “…how do you think it feels? It feels like s%*t!” Those aren’t the type of questions which befit a professional athlete or coach, nor does it put the reporter in a positive light. I’m not suggesting that the Orioles’ media can or should do more. Quite the contrary in fact; I think that they do a very professional and fair job of covering the team. And that word right there is partially what I’m all about; we owe it to ourselves and to our peers to always be fair in life. They say that life’s not always fair, but we can certainly strive to do our part to make it as such. However if you think the Baltimore media can in fact do more (and that by extension the fans could demand more), perhaps you should also ask yourself why the pl;ayers are waiting to be prompted by the media to do more…