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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.
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.

Go deeper

NYT CEO: Athletic investment is a bet on subscriptions

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The New York Times on Thursday said it was using more than half of the whopping $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet to buy The Athletic, a sports media startup that currently loses a lot of money.

Why it matters: "It's about accelerating our long-term strategy," Times CEO Meredith Kopit Levien told Axios. "If we didn't think it was a sustainable, engaging product already, we wouldn't be here having this conversation today."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker