Holy cow did we have ourselves a brouhaha on Sunday night. An old-fashioned journalism slobberknocker on social media, which Howard Eskin would say “is not social and is not media.”

There are many actors in this digital melee, enough to fill the Royal Rumble, though the meat of the dispute really involves two Phillies writers, a player, and a TV reporter/anchor, so we’ll call it more of a Fatal 4-way matchup instead with a chance at the Intercontinental Title on the line.

The genesis of this goes back to Saturday night, when Jamie Apody posted video of Jim Salisbury and Nick Castellanos having a somewhat testy exchange in the locker room after another loss in which the 2021 All Star went 0-4:

“Yeah man that’s a stupid question.”

What we have here is a 46 second quote with an edit in the middle. You can see it at the 18 second mark. People watched this and took sides, either choosing to support Jim Salisbury for asking what they thought was a reasonable series of questions, or Castellanos for slapping down what they thought was a dumb query. A third portion of fans found this thing to be a total nothing burger.

That devolved into internet arguing, though we’re told that there was a little bit of confusion about the status of the interview, with some people believing it was over, as Salisbury continued to speak with Castellanos off the record. Obviously, however, the Action News camera was still rolling and that portion of the clip made it to the internet.

The story continues with Matt Gelb, a Salisbury colleague and fellow Phillies scribe, calling Apody a “disgrace” for posting a truncated portion of what was a longer clip:

Strong words! Now we’re cooking with gas!

It kicked off a Gelb/Apody kerfuffle that contained this accusation from the former:

“Why did you post a heavily edited video that misrepresented the exchange? You removed all context from a conversation that you weren’t even at. This isn’t taking sides. It is asking for fairness. People deserved to see the whole thing — not some manipulated video for clicks.”

Apody responded by saying that they “posted every single part that was relevant to the question and the aftermath,” explaining that they edited out the middle portion of the media scrum because it “wasn’t pertinent to the initial question about the booing.”  She then dropped a link to the full video, which you can see here:

“It is what it is man… I don’t need to give an opinion on that.”

Okay, so this provides a lot more context. There’s a follow-up question from Anthony that Castellanos answers. Salisbury gets another one in there about the pressure of playing in Philadelphia. This seems rather run-of-the-mill as far as reporter/player exchanges go. If anything, the longer version makes Castellanos look better.

This, however, is the most important part of the story –

When you get to the 1:48 mark, you see the one camera light go off, and you hear a couple of people say “thanks, Nick,” then he himself asks “all done?” That indicates to me that the “on record” portion of the scrum is over, and then Castellanos turns back to Salisbury, Jim obviously thinks this is now off the record, though the Action News camera is still rolling. There’s sort of a blurry line here, because in these situations it’s not EXPLICITLY stated when something switches from on record to off record, so maybe some of the writers in this scrum were operating under that assumption while the camera guy was not. That’s the risk you run with these kinds of things. There’s definitely a gray area because it’s not always announced when something is ON RECORD and when something is switching to OFF RECORD.

This really branched off into multiple Twitter arguments. Gelb and Apody were going back and forth. People were ripping Salisbury and others Castellanos. We had every random person on the planet jumping into the fray and sharing an opinion, like Mikey Miss:

And Mike Barkann:

(Castellanos) was supposed to be a stud. Was supposed to be a real baller. $100 million contract. Has the nerve to say anything to the great @JSalisburyNBCS after playing as he has for nearly the entire season.

At this point, I feel like it’s worth pointing out the difference between television and scribal sports journalism. You’ve got your beat writers, like Gelb, who are there at every game. They do features, game stories, ask the manager why Castellanos can’t hit the baseball right now, etc. On the TV side, you’ve got your Jeff Skversky types, who operate on a visual medium and work with surface-level soundbites – basic questions like “how did it feel to play in front of this crowd?” and stuff like that. The beats go deeper than television, which is serving a wider-ranging audience. People like Jamie go from team to team and float around sort of like the columnists do, while Gelb and Salisbury only cover the Phillies. Essentially, these people are doing different jobs and seeking out different quotes and different content to post on different platforms.

Regardless, the full context adds to the video. Maybe it changes a few Salisbury and Castellanos opinions, but the exchange really wasn’t that big of a deal. These locker room spats are more common than fans probably realize. I once watched Marc Narducci and Peter Nowak yell at each other for 10 minutes in a hallway, and then it was all good. This stuff happens and everybody gets over it and life goes on.

Now to the observations. What did we learn from all of this? –

  1. The edited video doesn’t strike me as some sinister malfeasance, like it doesn’t truly smear anybody, but the full video provides so much more context and probably should have been released initially.
  2. The second portion was, in my mind, off the record.
  3. Baseball writers seem kind of miserable.
  4. One baseball scribe said to me something like this (paraphrasing) – “it’s a long season, it’s 100 degrees out, the Phils just got swept, and people seem to be on edge talking to the same folks over and over again, this happens every summer
  5. A lot of fans don’t give a shit about beat reporters or locker room quotes in 2022. They think the job is unimportant and don’t look at sports media the way they used to 10-20 years ago.
  6. We ripped Jim Salisbury for the Juan Soto MVP ballot thing, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the most well-respected reporters in this city and has a track record of being a top-notch scribe. Maybe he could have presented his line of questioning better, but there wasn’t anything wrong with what he asked.
  7. I’ve noticed that when Salisbury is criticized, people come hard to his defense. It’s a little odd actually, almost sycophantic.
  8. People attacking Matt for going after Jamie because she’s a woman are really reaching. This has nothing to do with being a woman. He was talking about proper journalism procedure and when people spin this into some attack on gender they are wrong.
  9. Calling Jamie a “disgrace” is too much. That was unnecessary.
  10. This was the best media fight since 2019, when Jeff McLane, Howard Eskin, Josina Anderson, and Mikey Miss threw down over the Alshon Jeffery leaking story. 

As a final thought, we know that Action News doesn’t peddle in clickbait or sensationalism. It’s interesting to see Gelb say that Jamie wasn’t present there (which we’ve confirmed), so I believe the 6 ABC camera person probably deserves the most blame here. There should have been recognition that the conversation shifted to off record, but camera men and women aren’t necessarily “journalists,” right? If camera person was a beat writer, they would have read those cues (thanks, Nick / all done?), and known not to give that video to Jamie, and only go with the first portion instead. If that’s how the story goes, which we think it does, then there are actually two issues – one, sharing pieces of an off-record conversation, and two, making the initial edit. The former I think is more of a concern than the latter, but maybe this person just wasn’t sure if that portion of the convo was shareable or not, so the benefit of the doubt remains in play here.

Let’s just chalk it up to a misunderstanding. A miscommunication. Everybody associated with the Philadelphia Phillies media corps now needs to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Take a 15 minute break: