Astros ace, and former Tigers ace, Justin Verlander might be , but he took a tough loss Wednesday night in one of the . After the game, Verlander had an issue with the media, specifically, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials ... The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to [Gene] Dias (Astros vice president of communications) regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander's media session had ended ... Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: "I'm not answering your questions." When asked to comment on Wednesday's loss, Verlander walked away.
There's zero issue with Verlander saying he's not answering someone's questions. He has that right. He does not, however, have the right to decide who among BBWAA credentialed writers gets in the clubhouse or not, nor do the Astros. That's a decision Major League Baseball and the BBWAA work on.
Verlander explained his side of the story Thursday morning on Twitter.
I declined to speak with the @freep rep last night because of his unethical behavior in the past. I reached out to the @freep multiple times before the game to notify them why and to give them an opportunity to have someone else there. Ironically they didn’t answer.— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) August 22, 2019
There are a few issues here. First off, he didn't make clear what the unethical behavior was. Secondly, he reached out to them multiple times before the game? That just shows a misunderstanding of how media works. The Detroit paper isn't sending out a backup reporter to Houston the day of the game because a player on the other team decided he doesn't want one reporter there. Newspapers don't print money like baseball teams do. Even if they did, Verlander doesn't get to control the paper and decide how it operates.
All Verlander has to do is ignore the guy. Instead, he went out of his way to get his team to ban this person from the clubhouse, undercutting his ability to do his job, because of "unethical behavior" in the past we don't know about?
The Astros released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
Again, they tried to completely bar him until MLB intervened.
The BBWAA (of which I'm a member) has issued the following statement:
"The Baseball Writers Association of America is alarmed by the Houston Astros' decision to restrict the clubhouse access of a reporter from the Detroit Free Press after Wednesday's game against the Detroit Tigers. This action by the Astros violated the MLB club-media regulations, which are laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the BBWAA expects MLB to respond accordingly and promptly."
The league did. Here is MLB's response:
"Per our Club-Media Regulations, the reporter should have been allowed to enter the clubhouse postgame at the same time as the other members of the media. We have communicated this to the Astros."
Verlander and the Astros here are clearly in the wrong.
The fact that Justin Verlander is making $33 million to play a game for a team that's been comfortably in first place all season doesn't negate his humanity, but man, that should make it a lot easier to tolerate someone he doesn't like and to simply say "I'm not talking to you" instead of going to the lengths he has. I fully support his right to ignore reporters or tell them he's not talking to them. Past that is just too far and pretty weak.