I’ve heard from multiple sources that Damon Bruce posted a tweet early Sunday morning which said something to the effect of how the San Francisco Giants beat writers are bought and paid for by ownership and how, as a result, the national writers think this market is a joke. He soon deleted that tweet, but afterward wrote this:
I listened to Bruce’s show today, and a conversation with Anthony Witrado of The Sporting News included this exchange (about five minutes in), after Witrado mentioned how he started writing a column about Ryan Vogelsong in the 2nd inning of Game 6. They talked about how the local media has barely touched the “disconnect” between Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey, how Andrew Baggarly handled the Melky Cabrera PED story and subsequent apology, as well as the “small town” vibe around here (emphasis mine).
Bruce: Did you mention the word “enchilada” in the column?
Witrado: Hell no.
Bruce: See now, this is where I love you. And I love the conversation, and we’ll amend it from maybe the conversation we had over tequila on Saturday night, to maybe a little bit more palatable on air, nicer friendlier conversation. But national writers don’t have the same obligations let’s say local beat writers do. So much of the story out here has been all the rally hashtags. Watching fans use social media to really kind of mobilize their own town hall and cheer for the team together, it’s almost unprecedented the way the Giants have gone about mobilizing that, and we’ll talk more about that a little more going on today. Social media obviously isn’t impacting the final score of anything, but it’s a forum for fans to connect and whatnot. When it comes to covering this team, asking (chuckles) do you think…
Witrado: Just ask it.
Bruce: Why hasn’t anyone who covers this team locally been able to get to the bottom of the disconnect with Posey and Lincecum? This would not be a ‘we’ll ask no questions, you provide no answers’ type of situation in New York…
Bruce: Philadelphia, Boston or Chicago, or just about anywhere. I don’t think this would go on in L.A., necessarily. I … look at it this way, I think, I find more objection reading about the Giants from a national perspective than local perspective sometimes.
Witrado: I think that’s fair to say. I think outside of a town like New York or Philadelphia, I think that’s usually the case. Like you said, we don’t have those obligations to keep an everyday relationship with certain people. And so, you know, if we see something that doesn’t smell right or we smell something that is no good, we can write it. I’ve been a beat writer for several years and they have some really good ones in the Bay Area, including the guy you just had on, Alex (Pavlovic). And I think that walking that line is incredibly more difficult than I think the general public knows.
Bruce: It is a hard thing to do.
Witrado: And being that the two faces of this franchise, and them … let’s just put it out there, they’re not getting along. They’re not getting along. And for that story to not be out and not be national news, I think is … I think it’s a little bit of nobody wanting to piss off the two stars of the team. Lincecum might have a 5.18 ERA, but he’s the face of the franchise. One of them, along with Gerald Posey.
Witrado: And when those two guys have a beef or an issue, whatever you want to call it, somebody should know about it. And you know what? There’s a chance that those beat writers do know. But they can’t get people on the record to say what’s actually happening, so they can’t write it. So I understand the predicament that they’re in with that. It’s a tough line to walk.
Bruce: I got a ton of respect, and we talked a little about this on Saturday night, I think Andrew Baggarly’s phenomenal at what he does. I think Andy is a very, very good beat writer and he makes no journalistic compromises to cover the team. But he did have to do something, I don’t know if he was asked to do it or he felt he needed to do it to maintain that everyday relationship.
Witrado: He should not have had to do it.
Bruce: When he asked Melky a totally legitimate question for the world that we live in, and then was told no, the fact that he felt compelled to issue an apology for just asking a legitimate question. Again, something that would never happen in New York.
Witrado: I like Baggs. Good dude, and he got the short end of the stick on that one.
Bruce: Cause he had it!
Witrado: I mean, he was following up a Twitter … and those things are tough. The age that we live in with social media, and you were talking about how it can rally fans, but it can also create storms that are very tough to get out from under. When you have something like that pop up with Melky Cabrera, it is somebody’s job to at least follow up on it a little bit and Baggs did that. And when he felt the need to apologize, I don’t know if it was him or somebody said that he should do this, or if it was just him trying to maintain relationships within the clubhouse…
Bruce: Which is understandable.
Witrado: Which is totally understandable. But, he was just doing his job, man. He should not have had to apologize and I felt bad for him because I think that when he first apologized about it, I think he really felt remorse for even having to go up to Melky with that. Turns out it was right. What I liked about the national media was, all over Twitter that day everybody said “Andrew Baggarly was the first one to be asking this question” and he was vindicated for asking the question in the first place on that day that Melky was suspended.
Bruce: It’s just, it’s interesting. As someone who’s been around a little bit, lives here and has to maintain everyday relationships here, I can tell you. The Giants are a little peculiar sometimes. A little tricky to maintain that with. They’re very, very controlling of their own message. There’s no doubt about that. But most Major League clubs are.
Witrado: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Most Major League clubs are. I think what’s unique about this situation a little bit is that the Giants, they live in one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country. You can’t rent a studio for under $2500 or whatever it is. It’s a heavily populated, it’s a dense community, but that’s what it is. It’s a community. L.A. sometimes, where I live, doesn’t feel like a community all the time because it’s so big, it’s so spread out. There are so many movers and shakers and transplants and things like that. This here, and you’re talking about it with the social media again, this feels more like a small town vibe … When you have that small town feel it’s so great on so many levels, but the one bad thing can be is that they feel like the message has to be controlled, and a lot of times people won’t call them on it.
A little history, both recent and not so recent
While Bruce was borderline complimentary about the fans and their Twitter hashtags (#RallyZito, #RallyVogey, #RallyEnchiladas, etc.), but here is what he said during Barry Zito’s superb start on Friday night.
After Game 1, Bruce said the Giants look like “also-rans” and didn’t pass the “eye test,” and also talked about how Hunter Pence looks like he has a problem with a certain drug (20:45 in)
“As soon as Hunter Pence is done taking meth and firing up the dugout … he looks like a meth addict. There’s no other way to say it. Hunter Pence looks like he has a serious meth dependency problem. He has not blinked in the month of October. Has anyone else noticed that? I’m not saying he’s on meth, I’m saying he looks exactly like a meth addict.”
I’m not sure Bruce’s seemingly antagonistic tone in regards to the Giants is because he’s a Chicago Cubs fan. Perhaps it’s because Bruce sees a lack of journalistic fire and energy shown by the people who cover the team closely.
Or, maybe it’s because the “peculiar,” message-controlling Giants threw their weight around with their flagship station a few years ago, back when Bruce upset many on the team with comments about Barry Zito’s desire. That’s what led to KNBR replacing Bruce on Sportsphone 680 with F.P. Santangelo in early 2010, after Bruce had served as the host of that show for over four years. Bruce has been on KNBR 1050 ever since (save for a short stint hosting with Gary Radnich).