A disgusting, disgraceful, downright deplorable loss to the
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes was the perfect shit sandwich to put an exclamation point on the first two weeks of the season, which have exposed concerning trends that show the Flyers are not yet ready to take the next step and bump themselves up a tier.
And with that, the nut graph in Dan Klausner’s Andrew MacDonald post, our Eagles and Flyers contributor was banned from the Flyers press box… after precisely one game. A Flyers PR rep said Dan was done and not to ask for credentials again. To be honest, I’m not completely shocked by the decision, but I’m surprised it was that paragraph that did it. I figured surely it would have been one of these:
That’s when we’d know things are truly fucked and have to start questioning whether this is some kind of bizarre, insane, actively harmful conspiracy because the Flyers would be making a conscious decision to ice a roster that’s not optimized and does the exact opposite of give them the best chance to win games.
I’m sorry, but Andrew MacDonald is the Flyers’ equivalent of a drunk driver. Bad things ALWAYS happen when he’s on the ice. He ruins EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. He’s the best player for the other fucking team.
MacDonald’s peripheral vision is nonexistent, to the point where the team doctors need to test him for some kind of deficiency. I mean, look at this abortion and try to stop your ocular balls from reflexively bleeding.
This is a bewildering, utter organizational failure.
The email from the Flyers initially pissed me off, no doubt, because I actually thought the piece was quite fair, focused on MacDonald’s on-ice play, and was probably one of the best written Flyers posts of the year, by anyone. But, I get where the Flyers are coming from with this. I don’t agree with them and think they’re being overly thin-skinned about a strong critique and don’t realize that positive pieces will be equally as over the top, but I understand why they want to protect themselves from these sort of colorful takedowns. And they deserve credit for actually credentialing blogs and new media, which is something they’ve done for years. Still, the access comes with a tradeoff.
Here’s what Dan had to say about it: “I’m not meant for traditional media, and that’s fine. If you deserve to be eviscerated, I’m not going to hold back. The Flyers cheated every fan in the building that night. I want to speak for the fan, not to or at the fan. I want them to be able to identify with my emotion because I know that’s how they feel too. My dignity is more important than access where the only real advantage is a live viewing vantage point. Not sure what I’ll miss most between the free soft pretzels, Tim Panaccio’s tie going down to his knees, looking over Sam Carchidi’s shoulder as he tries to compose a tweet, and Rob Parent’s 10x too big sport coat-JNCO khakis ensemble.”
People always ask me if I get credentials to games. I tell them no and explain that, given what we do, I don’t really want them, rarely ask for them, and that I’m extremely more efficient behind my computer screen than trudging to a press conference or media scrum that I can watch live online. But for the purposes of Dan’s pieces, which are more in-depth and focus on on-the-ice or field topics, I thought it would be helpful if he had some additional access to add color and context to his posts. To be clear, I didn’t send him to the Wells Fargo Center last Thursday to cover the Flyers game– I sent him there to gather observations for his weekly posts, which is how I pitched it to the Flyers. I also provided them a link to one of his Eagles posts, which was relatively tame (subsequent pieces were more harsh and similar to his takedown of MacDonald) but written in mostly the same voice and tone as everything else on this site.
I’ve always thought – or at least assumed – that the hesitancy to let bloggers into the press box, locker room and press conference was the fear that they would abuse that privilege and do something absurd– ask a player for an autograph, take a picture they shouldn’t, or write about an obviously off-the-record moment. I’m well aware of the boundaries in that situation and, despite the sort of things I write, and more than willing to be respectful of the access someone might give me. If you’re invited somewhere, even as media, I think it’s only fair to abide by the agreement upon terms, which in this case was an implicit acknowledgement that Dan wouldn’t walk into the locker room and take pictures for a cheeky post on who had the biggest cup hanging from their locker, and that he would only focus on on-ice matters. Which is exactly what he did. He didn’t go there with the intent to rip MacDonald – in fact he wanted to write some sunshiny bullshit about Brandon Manning – but after MacDonald essentially gave up three goals (should’ve been four) on his own and proceeded to backspace two more points away from the Flyers, Dan, like most every other hardcore Flyers fan watching the game, had enough and decided to rip into him using video and advanced stats. He went goal by goal and broke down each one of MacDonald’s failures. He cited multiple metrics to show how advanced stats backed his (and everyone else’s) eye test. And he provided a (colorful) anecdote from the press conference to show how the assembled media didn’t bother to ask the question on everyone’s mind.* I thought it was the perfect way to cover a sport. Dan wrote a scathing, in-depth critique about a particular player whom he felt was hurting the team, he did so with the intensity of a hardcore fan, and he used his access to provide a few additional anecdotes. MacDonald was scratched for the next game. Further, Dan isn’t just some kid off the street. He’s a grown adult with a full-time job who went to Maryland and has a Masters degree in sports management from Georgetown. He was among the smartest people in that press box. His post showed that. It was harsh, but every observation was backed up with video or a stat. A few reporters have said to me that they thought Dan’s piece, while good, could’ve been written without so much piss and vinegar. Sure, but that’s where ultimately there lies a disconnect between reporters and fans. Every Flyers fan reading that piece knew exactly where Dan was coming from. Just because he used big words and choice phrasing doesn’t make it an unfair hit piece. In fact, it made it better.
*If anything, I thought his shot at the media was what came closest to crossing the line. But then again, I can assure you that there are many people in Flyer-land who think the beat writers are a bunch of moronic trolls.
That’s how sports should be covered. Not the way the toons who cover the Flyers on a regular basis do so, with their carbon copy stories about the mundane topic du jour doled out by the team in pre-formatted press emails or player availabilities. For real, the next time you see Sam Carchidi tweet out what seems to be a super interesting stat, know that it most likely came from a Flyers press notes email, which also includes full post-game transcriptions of press availbilites. To say that the presence of most Flyers reporters is redundant in much the same way having a physical calculator is redundant, would be an understatement. They’re literally wasting their time when they hold a microphone to a player’s mouth and transcribe his comments, and think about how much time they spend doing it. That’s all they know. It’s all they’re good for. Because God forbid you get too real in your reporting, a team can simply yank your credential, which for most writers would effectively cost them their career, but for me or Dan just means the same piece will get written next time, probably more aggressively and sans one or two observations.
So while I understand the Flyers’ decision here – since they’re used to Tim Panaccio or Sam Carchidi willfully gobbling up the small morsels they serve them (including free food) and the gaggle of no-name morons trying to make a name for themselves who get off simply by being in the press box and tweet team and league approved hashtags – I think it ultimately rings hollow. And I’d counter it by pointing out that the Sixers still blindly credential the countless idiot columnists who throw around baseless accusations about the ownership group being lying frauds. I’d counter with the Eagles offering up credentials to the many local hot take artists who will excoriate an individual player or coach for one bad play or decision. And I’d counter with the Flyers themselves, who continue to credential assholes who take what I assume are unsanctioned photos of Claude Giroux entering an arena and then write familiar bullshit calling for him to be stripped of the captaincy because he speaks in clichés to the media, or openly complain about the team using social media to break news and then call for group meetings with the PR department because they’re not being coddled on their way to extinction.
Teams credential absolute morons who write way harsher pieces than Dan’s that contain totally baseless observations because they, what, are willing to be herded like cattle from one press conference to another and don’t write so incisively? I get why the Flyers are uncomfortable with what Dan wrote, but I also think it shows why being in the press box is overrated and ultimately hurts good sports writing. Apparently, once your criticism surpasses an eigth grade reading level it is too much. So, Dan will continue to write his Eagles and Flyers posts, with the same intensity as before, and without the fear that someone will yank his credential.