On Saturday morning Hal McCoy hit up Facebook to share some of his thoughts on several things and one of them was that Bob Castellini was one of the four owners who was a “hard-liner” in negotiations with the players who voted against raising the luxury tax threshold. We covered that here at Redleg Nation, and it was discussed at many other publications as the owners continue to lock the players out and several owners being against a rise in the luxury tax is a big story.
But that’s not what jumped out in what the 2002 Spink Award winner wrote. No, it was his telling of how a few years ago Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini attempted to get him fired from Fox Sports Ohio for writing critically about the team.
I had my own issues with Castellini. He almost got me fired when I wrote for the Fox Sports Ohio web-site, telling them, “That guy is killing us.”
Fox told me they didn’t want to let me go, they loved my work, but because Fox was the Reds’ television outlet they had to do as The Big Man wished.
I wrote a long note to Castellini, explaining that I loved the Reds, but that I had to write what I see, that fans aren’t stupid and I couldn’t look at the team through rose-colored glasses, even if Pete Rose was gone.
The part about how much I loved covering the Reds, that I’ve been part of it since 1973, got to him and he relented and I continued until Fox dropped all of its baseball writers on their local sites.
But my relationship with Castellini since that incident has been colder than a frozen mackerel.
It’s disappointing that Fox Sports didn’t stick up for Hal McCoy in this case. Saying they they didn’t want to let him go and they loved his work, but letting someone else dictate their staffing is something else. Find some backbone unnamed Fox Sports Ohio person.
None of this, however, is surprising. There are a lot of stories out there in sports of things like this happening (and of course, outside of sports, too). BJ Bethel, now at WCPO 9 in Cincinnati, but has also worked at The Dayton Daily News, the Sydney Morning Herald, and WDTN TV in Dayton shared his experience with Reds media relations coming after him for writing critically about how the team had handled Michael Lorenzen, and how this is a common tactic and relayed a story of when Marge Schott barred McCoy from the lunch room at Riverfront.
As pointed out by Eugene Freedman on twitter, something similar happened with Ken Rosenthal at MLB Network, at first a suspension and then him not being brought back when his contract was up.
The suspension of Ken Rosenthal at MLB Network and his subsequent non-renewal is just the tip of the iceberg about how MLB and its owners control the narrative through pressuring journalists. Good press or you're shut out of scoops is nothing when firing someone is possible. https://t.co/VP15VA6gNM
— (((EugeneFreedman))) (@EugeneFreedman) March 5, 2022
Mark this down as reason 214 why many fans keep chanting “sell the team, Bob”.