Baseball and newspapers are cruel

The days of the Gold Watch are over

Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

Veteran journalists and star baseball players are striking out at the workplace.

On Dec. 8, 2009, the Arizona Diamondbacks sent pitcher Max Scherzer to the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team trade with the New York Yankees. Arizona acquired pitchers Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson in the deal.

Kennedy hadn’t even heard of the possibility of a trade until just a few hours before his start in 2013, a game that turned out to be his last with the Diamondbacks. He was sent to the Padres.

Whether Kennedy, who struggled on the mound at Chase Field, knew he would be traded only he knows, but he said he didn’t expect it. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”

That same year, Lori Baker was laid off at The Arizona Republicas part of  another round of newspaper layoffs occurring within media outlets owned by Gannett Co. She had worked for The Republicfor 35 years.

Baker had never applied for a job, and she told Rose Law Group Reporter she was too young to retire.

Kennedy, on the other hand, got a job with a new boss in a new city and he got to wear a different company suit.

Max Scherzer / Keith Allison on Flickr

2018

The Denver Post is in open revolt against its hedge fund owner, and hedge funds also play a role in Salt Lake City journalism.

Journalists at the 125-year-old Denver paper took the extraordinary step of publicly blasting its New York-based hedge fund.

“News matters,” an opinion piece said. “Colo. should demand the newspaper it deserves.”

The bold tactic was born out of a dissatisfaction not uncommon in newsrooms across the country as newspapers grapple with the loss of revenue that has followed the decline of print. The move at The Post followed a prolonged, slow-burning rebellion at The Los Angeles Times, where journalists agitated against the paper’s owner, the media company Tronc.

Newsroom complaints about Tronc’s leadership helped lead to the sale of the newspaper to a billionaire medical entrepreneur, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who had been a major shareholder in Tronc.

The Salt Lake Tribune newsroom lost a third of its staff through layoffs and retirement. The 34 positions include reporters, editors, photographers, and others. When Paul Huntsman bought the Tribunefrom a hedge fund in 2016, many hoped local ownership would make a difference for the struggling paper. But circulation and ad revenue continue to fall.

Athletes come and go at quite a pace, and salaries and changes in team ownership are sometimes behind roster changes. Some players just quit or are released over salary issues, but trades are often based on performance.

And trades often backfire. Scherzer has three Cy Young Awards since leaving Arizona.

Moral of the story: Whether you’re an athlete or a newspaper reporter, no matter how experienced, you’re expendable.

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