Major League Gaslighting

By Joseph D'Hippolito Published on May 15, 2023

With the major-league baseball season nearly two months old, recent events show that Major League Baseball has joined the Biden Administration, various government agencies, NGOs and their media lackeys in seeking to manipulate and deny reality.

The worst example took place April 28. That night, the Oakland Athletics’ Ryan Noda hit a home run in the seventh inning of a loss to the visiting Cincinnati Reds. The ball soared into a section of the right-field bleachers that featured homemade banners demanding owner John Fisher to sell the team and calling A’s president David Kaval a liar.

San Jose’s KNTV-TV broadcast a clip of the home run that showed the ball sailing over the banners., however, showed a clip that edited the banners out entirely, preventing viewers from watching the ball’s flight path.

Numerous social media platforms, including The Athletic’s and SFGATE, reported or posted the discrepancy. One day later, restored the edited footage, with a spokesman saying the edit violated policy. But would have made the change without social media exposing the discrepancy? Probably not.

The fact that the leaders of a sport long described as America’s Pastime behave in a manner befitting Joseph Stalin’s propaganda ministry should be disquieting.

Among the Bay Area’s Homeless

The brief controversy provided the latest chapter in a long saga involving the club’s future. For years, the Athletics sought a new stadium in the Bay Area and tried to reach an agreement with the City of Oakland on a waterfront site. But when negotiations stalled, the team explored other options.

On April 19, Kaval announced an agreement to purchase land in Las Vegas for a stadium to be built before 2027. The Athletics could move after next season, when the lease on their current home, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, expires. The team likely would play in Las Vegas’ minor-league stadium while the new home takes shape.

Fans became so angry that they staged a protest April 28, the Athletics’ first home game since Kaval’s announcement. The homemade banners belonged to that protest, which continues.

“Guardian” Angels

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Angels embraced proactive censorship this year. In April, Sam Blum, who covers the team for The Athletic, received notification that he would stop appearing on KLAA-AM’s show featuring beat reporters covering the team. The Angels own KLAA-AM, which broadcasts the games.

Blum said he was told that John Carpino, the team’s president, made the decision “because I bring ‘negativity’ to an ‘up-beat’ show,” he tweeted. Sports Illustrated speculated what that “negativity” might be.

The magazine’s website alleges the club banned Blum because of his March 29 story about the Angels being one of two major-league teams not to send its radio broadcasters on the road. That policy began during the COVID-19 pandemic but was never rescinded.

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Two months earlier, The Athletic published Blum’s story about the Angels de-emphasizing their Spanish-language radio broadcasts in the nation’s largest Latino media market. Blum wrote about how the club downgraded Jose Tolentino, the play-by-play announcer, from full-time to part-time. Tolentino even had to move out of his broadcast booth in Angel Stadium’s press box and call home games from his own home or a sound booth near the ballpark.

“I strive to be fair in my coverage,” Blum added. “Sometimes that means being critical. Sometimes that means highlighting good things/people in the org. I have countless examples of both over 2 years on the beat. It’s worth noting how the Angels can attempt to filter their team-owned media.”

The Fans Aren’t Buying It

The Angels’ fans have noticed, as Twitter suggests.

“So frustrating as a fan to hear positivity when there needs to be honesty sometimes,” Mike Welch posted. “I’ve been saying this for the last couple of years.”

An account called Beyond The Halo elaborated:

I think a lot of #Angels fans would appreciate more public accountability when things go badly. After a game filled with defensive miscues and offensive struggles, I’d rather hear the manager and players say ‘we need to be better’ as opposed to the usual “I’m not concerned.” It seems like the Angels prefer to have a positive, cheery PR approach.

Even a Houston Astros fan named “kitt” supported Blum.

“As someone who follows the Astros, your reporting was always great: fair, enlightening, just a good different voice,” “kitt” wrote. “Fan base rivalries aside, this is not great for that team and your fans. Hope it gets fixed asap.”

“Truth” Brokers, Part I

In another move, any reporter seeking to interview one of Angels manager Phil Nevin’s coaches must now submit questions to the media relations department for screening.

“Requests are denied if possible questions are deemed too negative,” tweeted Blum, who confronted this policy recently when he tried to interview hitting coach Marcus Thames about third baseman Anthony Rendon, an established power hitter. When Blum was researching the story, Rendon had yet to hit a home run. That streak reached 24 games before Rendon broke it May 7.

The Angels “did not permit Thames to speak to The Athletic about Rendon because the potential line of questioning was deemed too negative,” Blum wrote in his May 3 story about the player. “The team said it prefers manager Phil Nevin to handle such questions.” Since Rendon personally declined Blum’s request for an interview, the writer’s next best option would be to speak with the hitting coach, who works directly with players.

“Truth” Brokers, Part II

The Angels’ stance not only represents the condescending paternalism of prior restraint. It imitates the Biden White House’s attempt to protect Joe Biden during news conferences by having him use a “cheat sheet” complete with questions and a reporter’s picture and affiliation, as reported. The cognitively impaired president then can prepare answers in advance.

For such an arrangement to work, reporters would have to agree. By doing so, they sacrifice any remaining shreds of independence and credibility.

Then again, if governments and businesses can make fighting “misinformation” mainstream, why shouldn’t professional leagues try the same thing? Especially if reporters become acclimated to it?

If sports ultimately reflect society, then the United States has drifted far from the ideals President John F. Kennedy once endorsed:

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.


Joseph D’Hippolito has written commentaries for such outlets as the Jerusalem Post, the American Thinker and Front Page Magazine. He works as a free-lance writer.

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