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What is the role of journalism in sports?

What are we trying to accomplish here at DRaysBay?

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I had other plans of discussing Ryan Brett for this morning's column, but an interesting turn of events in Cincinnati - coupled with criticism of why have recently begun featuring television discussions on the site - beg a response.

As for the Reds, yesterday afternoon the manager in Cincy launched into a 77-swear word tirade at the beat reporters regarding how much information he's required to share.

"We have a player who's not here. We don't benefit at all from other teams knowing we don't have a player. You don't have to be a Reds fan, but it doesn't help us if our opponents know who's here and who isn't."

Price follows by complaining how the media is able to discern a prospect is being promoted when he hasn't had the chance to talk to the man being sent down.

"I don't get why it needs to be this way."

Not all sports have this problem. In hockey the team declares "lower body" or "upper body" injuries and leaves it at that, as to not give away some sort of competitive advantage. Baseball has a lot more reporter saturation in the clubhouse, and as an activity designed for near-everyday play, injuries are commonplace. As are playing through them, it's standard discussion, as evidenced by the Rays' 10 men on the disabled list.

But that's not really what the concern is here.

C. Trent Rosencrans is the reporter on the other end of Price's Wolf of Wall Street impersonation, which launches in full stride by the two-minute mark above. If you listened to the audio, the question CTR had asked was why Devin Mesoraco wasn't used in a crucial pinch-hit situation when he presumably had the day off from catching duties.

Buried in the tirade is a more important question: what is the role of journalism? And more specifically what is the purpose of DRaysBay?

We here at this site are built around having a conversation.

SB Nation features what is likely the best commenting system on the internet, and in turn we offer up articles both lighthearted and analytical to encourage a response. Our writing is not the end game, it's the conversation that follows. That was my vision for DRaysBay when I was handed the reins in December, and it continues to be my goal for this site.

Then there's the role of sports journalism, which at it's core is an industry of information dissemination, here to whet the appetite for a fanbase eager to learn more. It's a business regarding the exchange on information about a very public thing. It has room for appreciation and criticism, and CTR's question is no different.

Did the Reds make the best decision possible in a game scenario? Should the Royals have sent the runner home in Game 7? Should the Rays have started Steve Geltz? Is [enter prospect's name here] ready for the show?

These questions, these conversations, are not only allowable in journalism but expected. Of us the bloggers, and them the beat writers. We are here to talk about what we just saw, or are about to see. That's our entertainment.

What is Bryan Price claiming to be the role of journalism? Based on his comments, he seem to believe the journalists are part of the organization itself, here to assist the team in its struggles.

Is there information that shouldn't be published? Absolutely there a lines that shouldn't be crossed, and things that are better kept quiet. If a player has stepped away for bereavement, as Grant Balfour did during Spring Training, we might discuss his absence and its impact on the team or his readiness, but there's a line as to what's fit to print. We did not question the length of his stay in Australia or his workout regiment while he was there, not a single Rays beat writer pushed the issue. So certainly there are lines.

But what Bryan Price is arguing is that the media has limited the ability of his team to compete by reporting truthful scenarios about a daily game. His frustration is understandable, media presence is a constant scrutiny, and there are moments when we participate in that scrutiny, but it's not just the media.

Tonight on MLB Network will be the debut of StatCast, the advanced analytics program previously only licensed by teams, now made available to the public. In an instant, we can have a far more accurate conversation about whether the Royals should have sent the runner, because the speed of the player and the flight of the ball would be tracked and immediately available on instant replay.

MLB Advanced Media made PitchFX available to the baseball population to allow the public to interpret raw data and make observations in the same manner as the teams, to aid our analytic understanding, or even criticism. It is well within the right of journalism to ask whether a decision to use a certain pitcher or certain pinch hitter was correct. And in that criticism, if Bryan Price used a sub-optimal bench player because the best player has a nagging injury, it is within the right of journalism to ask that question.

That's why we love baseball. It is a present and constant form of entertainment ripe, for analytic analysis, as well as the highs and lows of passionate fandom. Both are in the culture of the sport, or dare I say, in sport itself.

We are here to have a conversation, whether that be about Ernesto Frieri's delivery and his trustworthiness in high leverage, Tyler Goeddel's bases clearing triple and his ability to become a top prospect, Ryan Brett's crazy athleticism and his ability to become the everyday second baseman Tampa Bay needs, or whether choosing Player A over Player B from the bench was the best decision possible.

Journalism and analysis gives us the freedom to ask indepth questions about who should be catching for any given team, or appreciate how much value that catcher might have added. It also gives us the room to both appreciate the investments of management in the franchise, or question public comments in the fight against local government to escape their current stadium lease.

We might also discuss silly things as well, whether that be the irony of Kacey Musgraves having a song called Biscuits while playing a concert for the Rays, or remembering that time Todd Kalas climbed in the Rays Tank, or considering the consequences of decisions made in Game of Thrones. By subscribing to our writing, by joining us in the comments section, you've become a part of the conversation we're having as a community.

We're glad you're here, and we appreciate your readership. The conversation pushes all of us to be better writers, and to ask the right questions. I might not have dug deeper on Frieri had there not been copious discussion in a Game Day Thread about his proper use. Thanks for joining us for the analysis and for the fun and for the fandom.

To us, that is journalism. A present interaction with life, and more often than not, the life that is being a baseball fan.

Bryan Price lost his cool, and I hope he is not vilified for his words. But that simple misunderstanding of our role in being any part of the media presence - fan, reader, writer, commentator - deserved a closer look.


- Marc Topkin writes there is reason to have faith in Tim Beckham.

Everything you need to know about StatCast from, and the system's capabilities. The link from the front page? "Endless data."

- Continue your reading on the discussion above with Red Reporter's article:"Journalists are not fans."

Journalists aren't fans, they're professionals. So are coaches. We're the only unprofessional ones in this lot, and it'll save a lot of heartache to remember that.

- Apparently the new ESPN K-zone tool is not very popular?

- Hardball Times: The physics of baseball in super slow motion.

- 538: Scouts and stats align like the stars regarding Kris Bryant.

- And finally, look forward to another Game of Thrones recap from Manu later today.