Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Defending 'The King' about Halladay Media Flap





I now know that I don't follow the media so closely in Philly as perhaps I should. Recently, it's come to my attention of a flap between Howard Eskin, a Philly sports media legend,  and the Phillies ace, Roy Halladay. Eskin had accused Halladay of not being available for media interviews recently and after the season ended.

Does, Eskin, who also goes by 'The King', in some circles, have a bona fide argument? I think you could answer: yes. Halladay has been given some 'hit them outta the park' interviews where all he does is basically comment on certain things that aren't that difficult to talk about. When it comes to tough questions I don't think he has been interviewed all that much really, but I don't think Eskin is talking about any tough questions, it's more like there can be no questions because he doesn't make himself available.

In a week, there will be the Philadelphia Sports Writers annual dinner in Philadelphia. Actually it is held in New Jersey, but for argument's sake, this dinner has been one of the longest fund raising events of it's kind for the media folks. Roy Halladay was invited, but didn't really jump at the chance to attend and mingle with the local writers. In fact, he had to be really convinced that he should be at this dinner. He will be, and that's a good thing. Let it be known though that he was kind of cool about the idea. The reasons could be many. An excuse for breaking a 'training regime' shouldn't be one of them. As a guy that is earning the kind of money that Halladay is, he should be more than happy to reach out to the community who supports him.

Whatever your opinions are about Howard Eskin is your own business. Some people like him, and some people don't. He isn't the guy that's going to just let you off the hook all of the time, and that's a little bit of what a free media in a free society should be like. An interview that looks like it's dreamed up from the Phillies PR department is not what the media should be. Be glad we have guys like Eskin around that care enough to say, "Excuse me, but something isn't right here." 

3 comments:

  1. I appreciate your thoughtful comment on this, and can see your point. However, it doesn't sway my opinion that Eskin was wrong to call-out Halladay the way he did...not to mention the fact that his comments were inaccurate.

    Why do I think Eskin was wrong to call-out Halladay? Because to my knowledge, Halladay is only required to provide access to the media after one of his starts. That in-and-of-itself makes him more accessible than the Phillies position players, because reporters automatically have access to him every five days during the season. In the offseason? None of the Phillies have an obligation to speak to the media.

    So, for Eskin to start his commentary by saying that the Phillies fans hadn't heard from Halladay since the season ended; hadn't heard his thoughts on the Lee deal; hadn't heard his thoughts on the Phillies new rotation -- that was a double insult. First, because Halladay isn't obligated to provide his thoughts on these subjects. And second, because Halladay DID, in fact, give his time to the media to provide his comments on these topics and others. (I personally have read, heard and seen several interviews/stories with quotes/soundbites from Halladay this offseason.)

    Just because you might see these as interviews "dreamed up by the Phillies PR department" doesn't negate the fact that Halladay gave his time -- without obligation -- to provide his thoughts. If Eskin doesn't like the media vehicles Halladay chose (i.e. Halladay's not giving his time to him) -- that's Eskin's problem; Halladay put his thoughts out there, through the media, for fans to see/hear.

    In terms of the upcoming dinner -- I read an article at a newspaper website not too long ago that said Halladay "never hesitated in regards to coming to the dinner"; they even quoted the president of the organization, saying Halladay "generously agreed to come to the banquet." But, even if Halladay had to be persuaded to leave his home in Florida and come to Philadelphia in the dead of winter -- the bottom line is, he is planning to attend. So, he's going to -- once again -- give his time to the media, without any obligation to do so.

    I'll also add that he, without obligation or hesitation, attended the NY BBWAA dinner last weekend. (He said in an interview beforehand that he was "looking forward" to attending with his family.) That's hardly someone who, as Eskin wants us to believe, is inaccessible to the media.

    I guess what this long post is trying to say is this: players like Halladay prefer to let their actions on the field speak for them. That's what "a guy that is earning the kind of money that Halladay is" is being paid to do -- not provide a comment or soundbite at every turn in order to satisfy today's instant, up-to-the-minute, 24-hour news cycle. I, and probably countless other fans, appreciate Halladay in large part because he's not putting himself in the spotlight like that. Therefore, him not speaking to reporters when they want him to is no reason for Eskin to rip someone as hard-working and professional as Halladay a new a-hole. In the end, it actually reflected poorly on Eskin and, sadly, probably sports journalism in Philadelphia on the whole.

    So, if it is true that Halladay initially hesitated to attend the dinner next week, Philadelphia sports writers can look at one of their own as an example of why the athletes they cover might not want to speak with them in the first place.

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  2. This whole thing reminds me of how the Philly sports media treated Steve Carlton. The man just won a Cy Young and had one of the single greatest seasons for a pitcher EVER...I think he did his talking on the mound. Which is how most of us prefer our pitchers: Less bombastic (a la Eskin) and more effective (a la Halladay).

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  3. Eskin is a clown. You said Eskin "isn't the guy that's going to just let you off the hook all of the time"...please point to one time he held Andy Reid accountable for anything. Eskin is a blowhard looking for attention at a down time in the Philadelphia sports cycle.

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