This has little to do with the KC Royals, but it needs to be addressed. We need Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal.
Y’all, I want to report a crime—not against the KC Royals, but against baseball in general.
It is a crime that Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal are unemployed writers at the moment. The punishment? Apparently, the death of quality sports journalism.
If you’ve been living under a rock—or are one of those people the multi-media conglomerates are currently catering to who love and demand internet videos over quality writing, in which case I’ve no idea what you’re doing here—Stark’s was one of the high-profile pink slips handed out by ESPN in late-April. During the All-Star break, we found out that Rosenthal would no longer be writing at FOX Sports’ website, owing to that medium’s shift to all-video.
As writing makes its long, inglorious move from writ of the masses to niche hobby, it’s become cliché to opine about how unfair it is to writer’s that their jobs are constantly being re-evaluated, how they’re constantly first on the chopping block while bloviating talking heads yammering on split screens continue to find gainful employment.
As usual, that’s only half the point.
While it’s true that I don’t find much value in the Skip Bayless’ of the world and their never-ending quest to provide the hottest possible take on every subject imaginable (“Up next on Undisputed: Skip on why Cool Ranch are the only viable Doritos for modern America!”), I get it. Some people really enjoy watching other people argue about sports. I don’t have to like impressionist art to get why it’s important to some people and I don’t have to like Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock constantly saying some of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard to understand that Speak For Yourself is some people’s jam.
And if that’s you, know that I’m not against your form of entertainment. I’m a Star Wars nerd who reads books, drinks beer and writes about the KC Royals.
I’m in no position to crap on someone else’s hobby.
What I take umbrage is with media companies deciding that both can’t share a platform in some way. Maybe the erudite Rosenthal doesn’t necessarily fit with FOX’s… whatever it is they’ve elected to do with Bayless, Cowherd and the like, but so what? Why can’t they both exist? How is having a broad appeal with varied opinions on multiple platforms—with sharp writing, strong visuals and nuanced opinions—a bad thing?
I spend a lot of time making fun of Ken Rosenthal (because he’s short, hahaha LULZ) but if I want to run down whether a trade rumor might be true, I look at Rosenthal’s Twitter. If he’s chimed in, there’s something to it. Similarly, Jayson Stark is one of the smartest, most analytical writers who has ever lived and crafts sentences and arguments in the same way Mozart composed symphonies. Baseball needs those guys in the same way it needs sunflower seeds.
I get it—cable companies are taking a bath. Cord-cutters have shrunk the cable network profit margins on the heels of some of the most lucrative TV rights deals in history.
Cost has to be cut, and that’s going to suck because it sucks anytime somebody loses their job.
But to lose two of the giants (excluding Rosenthal because he’s pocket-sized… I kid, I kid) in baseball writing during the season doesn’t sit well for the future. Every single one of us who has ever written a word about baseball has done so in an effort to emulate one of those guys or read one of their pieces and thought, “One day, I’d love to write one thing as good as they just did.”
Writing about baseball isn’t going to go away, but the pool of eloquent, well-reasoned logic is more shallow without Stark and Rosenthal. All so we can get more video of Skip Bayless yelling at someone. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem like the best direction for sports consumption.
(We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled KC Royals news in the next post.)