Mark Mulder traces Bryce Harper drama to Strasburg Shutdown


(By John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

When Jason Bishop asked Matt Williams earlier this week whether it was a stupid idea to suggest sending Bryce Harper to the minors, it was inevitable that before the end of the week an ESPN analyst would be prompted to rekindle the Strasburg Shutdown discussion and a MASN play-by-play guy would suggest unpaid interns not be allowed to ask questions at press conferences.

Sure enough, Williams was miffed. And then — before Harper walked off the Mets and Williams apologized — ESPN’s Mark Mulder talked about the latest Nats Town soap opera.

“I almost feel like this team’s kind of done it to themselves with the whole Strasburg thing, shutting him down a few years ago,” Mulder said. “It just feels like there’s always drama. And you can tell that Matt Williams is done with it. I mean, he’s frustrated, and he should be, because it seems like there’s constantly somebody saying something.

“Whether it’s Harper’s comments about the lineup. no matter what it is, there’s just always something that this team is dealing with,” Mulder said. “And it all started with the Strasburg thing. Well, we’re shutting him down. Well, you’re the best team in baseball. Well, we’re gonna shut him down. Well, what if that’s your only chance to win? Well, we don’t care. I feel like they’ve brought it on themselves. But you can tell Matt Williams is over it, and wants this done with. He just wants to play baseball. Guys, go play baseball.”

Meanwhile, the Harper flap led MASN play-by-play man Bob Carpenter to offer a few thoughts on journalism ethics while appearing on Daniel Snyder’s radio station.

“I’m a play-by-play guy, but to a certain extent, I think we all consider ourselves journalists to a certain degree,” Carpenter told Thom Loverro and Marc Sterne on Friday. “Maybe as a play-by-play guy I’m not as much of a journalist as a writer would be. You know, my college degree is in what they called Radio, TV and Film at my university. It was pretty much a broadcast degree. I didn’t go to a true journalism school. But I have a thought to share on this.”

“In my opinion, if you’re not being paid to do your job, you may not be the person who needs to be speaking up and asking a major league manager or a major league general manager questions at a press conference,” Carpenter said. “I have a little bit of a problem with the amateur aspect of this thing.”

[Brief aside: The question that led to Williams's angry-ish outburst on Wednesday was indeed asked by an intern for an organization that covers the Nats. Not The Post. But with some Nats fans abuzz over what Williams had said Wednesday morning, it would have been sort of silly to ignore the issue entirely. Further, I'd submit that merely being paid is no guarantee of professional excellence, nor of consistently good judgment.]

“Hey, and I’m all for helping the kids get into the business, showing them what it’s like and having them be a part of this whole thing,” Carpenter went on. “I think that’s great. I wish I would have been given that opportunity in college to be an intern, which I never did, because it wasn’t that big of a deal 35, 40 years ago.

“Now, if an intern has a recorder and approaches a player or a club executive or a coach or a manager, whatever, for a one-on-one interview, you know, that’s building his resume tape, whatever purpose he has for that,” Carpenter said. “That’s fine. I’m not sure we should have interns that are unpaid working for a couple of months or maybe even a couple of weeks, doing things like that at a press conference. That’s just my opinion.

“That’s not a MASN thing, that’s not a Nationals thing — that’s my opinion,” Carpenter said. “Because I think the professional journalists like [Loverro] and Adam [Kilgore] and James [Wagner] and in the past Amanda [Comak] and all the people who have come in from the local papers and the local media, to me that’s their time with the manager, and I’m not so sure that’s an intern time.”

[Kilgore, for what it's worth, started at The Post as an intern. I guess he was a paid intern. But again, I'd suggest one's competence is not determined by the size of one's pay check. Man, I'm leaving so many potential jokes on the table, by the way.]

“Bob, we’re one step away from having the public sit in on press conferences and asking questions,” Loverro added. Also, one step away from having mainstream outlets sign content and marketing partnerships with the teams they cover.

“Well said, and I consider that the icing on the cake of what I just said,” Carpenter responded. “And I love the fans. I love the participation of the fans in blogs, on Twitter, whatever. Not much is sacred anymore, and you know this. To me, a general manager’s press conference or a manager’s daily presser — like Davey did, like Riggleman, Manny Acta, Frank Robinson, like all of them have done — to me there’s still [something] a little bit sacred about that. And that should be reserved for the professional journalists and reporters in the room.”

Anyhow, this was a good week.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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