Jan 5, 2022 - Sports

The problem with league-owned media

Ken Rosenthal
Ken Rosenthal. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

MLB insider Ken Rosenthal is out at MLB Network after more than 12 years, reportedly due to critical stories he wrote about commissioner Rob Manfred.

The backdrop: In the summer of 2020, Rosenthal's columns for The Athletic analyzing the stalemate between MLB and the MLBPA "featured some light criticism" of Manfred, writes NY Post's Andrew Marchand.

  • June 16, 2020: "Rob Manfred finally seems to be figuring out he has no choice: Strike a deal with the union and salvage the 2020 season, or ruin his legacy as commissioner of baseball," wrote Rosenthal.
  • MLB Network unofficially suspended Rosenthal following that piece, keeping him off the air (with pay) for nearly three months. When his contract expired at the end of 2021, the network didn't renew it.

Of note: Rosenthal, 59, is still a senior baseball writer for The Athletic and an on-field reporter for Fox Sports, so he and his famous bowties aren't going anywhere.

What they're saying:

I worked for Turner Sports, which operated NBA TV and NBA.com in partnership with the league, for 14 years. You know what David Stern did when I wrote or said something he didn't like? He called me up and cussed me out. But he didn't go to my bosses and try to fire me.
ā€” David Aldridge, The Athletic

The big picture: We don't know if the decision to part ways with Rosenthal came directly from Manfred, but the fact that it's even a possibility highlights the problem with league-owned media.

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