A little nugget today over at The Good Phight by Liz Roscher, who dug up this press invite to an Iron Pigs offseason event featuring Gabe Kapler, Nick Williams and others:
IronPigs Charities will be hosting its eleventh annual Phillies Winter Banquet presented by The Air Products Foundation, Abarta Coca-Cola Beverage Company, and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications on Thursday, Jan. 18, at Sands Events Center in Bethlehem. As in the past, there will be a media session prior to the event from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Working media* is invited to attend the session for interview and photo opportunities with our featured guests, who appear below:
Gabe Kapler, Phillies Manager
Gary Jones, IronPigs Manager
Nick Williams, Phillies Outfielder and Former IronPig
Mark Leiter Jr, Phillies Pitcher and Former IronPig
*Per request of the Phillies, bloggers will not be credentialed for this event.
God forbid bloggers soil the sanctity of an offseason event at the Sands convention center.
It’s almost like the Phillies don’t want enterprising bloggers asking Gabe about sunning his balls and freeing his boys through the wonderful benefits of luscious coconut oil. Surely no credentialed media member would broach such a topic.
This is my all-time favorite Philly sports media moment: pic.twitter.com/n9CEhKrPzA
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) November 2, 2017
Liz, rightfully, dug in against the Phillies, specifically naming head of PR Bonnie Clark, who, over the years, has had a less than cozy relationship with blogs, including this one, as the person responsible for this. I’m not sure where, or from whom, this directive came, but I can say that, last year, the Phillies had made it a priority to embrace new and social media, something that was long overdue.
Leslie Gudel had reached out to me about doing some Phillies stuff for us. I was intrigued, but warned her that the Phillies likely wouldn’t be on board since I was of the opinion (I think rightfully) that they mostly hated what we did. That turned out not to be the case– or at least the Phillies were willing to start with a clean slate, and welcoming in Leslie, who obviously had as much access as anyone during the WFC years, was a good, safe way to dip their toes into working with blogs without, you know, having me in there snapping pictures of jock straps, because obviously that’s what bloggers do. We had no issues, and in fact the Phillies were pleased with the mostly positive content we put out. Leslie even wrote a piece – carefully filtered through the Phillies’ director of marketing, Michael Harris – about them turning over a new leaf and joining the 2010s.
Similarly, Kevin has been covering the Sixers on an almost daily basis while they’re at home, and I’m hard-pressed to find someone who is doing a better job with their access. Anthony SanFilippo, who obviously used to work for the Flyers, is doing the same. Not only have there not been problems, but I know those teams actually appreciate the type of coverage we’ve provided and are able to separate my sometimes colorful nature from the work that Kevin and Anthony do.
So, this little press release comes as a surprise, especially in light of what seemed to be a change in direction. It’s also downright backward-thinking. What separates working media from bloggers? In case the Phillies hadn’t noticed, the mainstream media industry is not what it once was. Longtime Phillies reporters Kevin Cooney and Ryan Lawrence were let go by their respective publications last year. Upstart online-focused outlet Billy Penn just laid of its sports person. And Philly.com is behind a paywall that I would be shocked to learn is a success. Those are the working reporters. That doesn’t make blogs or bloggers any better or worse, but trying to draw a professional distinction between the two is like Bam Bam fraternizing with dinosaurs but not the newfangled crocodile because one was once big and powerful (though rapidly approaching extinction) and the other is smaller and kind of gross but may stick around for a little while.* The Phillies are quite literally living in the stone age if they think there is a clear distinction between the two. Never mind the fact that they have been teetering on irrelevance for a few years now and, like the Flyers have pretty much always done, should be thrilled to get basically any publicity at this point.
This is all perhaps muddied by the existence of Howard Eskin, who sort of fills the space between relevance and obscurity like water seeping into the cracks of an old pipe. He has a Saturday morning radio show (I think?) and maybe works for a TV station, but mostly just attends press conferences to get himself off and glad-hand with coaches and players, who pretend to act like they know who he is. He’s the one who broached ridiculousness in Kapler’s introductory press conference when he asked about coconut oil (truth be told, I wanted to hear the answer). He’s the one who routinely shits on the Sixers, often without merit or factual basis, and then shows up at practice trying to befriend Joel Embiid, which I can assure you doesn’t sit well with a forward-thinking Sixers front office that has little time for relics like Eskin.
The point is, there are plenty of dipshits in mainstream media. And in blogging. Perhaps I’m one! But at this point you could make an argument that there is better, more inventive work being done in new media than there is amongst the dwindling unkempt masses of yesteryear. And yet, the Phillies still appear to be choosing sides in the matter. I wonder if they realize there’s, like, four real reporters left.
*I may have just butchered millions of years of history, but you get the point. I think. Right, Bam Bam?