I call them the phantom opponents. Win or lose, these opponents disappear after every game with the Arizona Diamondbacks. At least that’s what you would suspect by reading the next day’s coverage in the Arizona Republic. There is not a peep from the opponent’s locker room after the game. It is as if opposing managers and players were immediately beamed up to their hotel rooms after leaving Chase Field. All the Republic‘s attention goes to the local pro team, the Dbacks.
Take last night’s home game with the Philadelphia Phillies, a game won easily by the locals, 9-5, even after giving up five runs in the last inning.
The Dbacks beat writer, Nick Piecoro, wrote the game story without a single quote from the Phillies exasperated manager, Charlie Manuel, who has seen his vaunted team lose three in a row and six of the last 10. The Phillies won more games last season than any team in Major League Baseball. He may’ve dished out some choice words for the local media — if they’d been there.
Nor was there a quote from the hapless starting pitcher, Kyle Kendrick, who was blasted for four runs in the first inning and left after the 3rd with three more runs yielded. Left the game, yes, but was Kendrick too beamed up to the Hyatt or wherever his team is staying? In weird Arizona anything seems possible, but Star Trek moments seem a tad far out.
Nor was there a single quote from the injured Phillies stars, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and ace pitcher Cliff Lee. I definitely saw Utley on the Phillies bench. Barring the bizarre, Utley should’ve been available to speak or at least grunt.
Then there was the sidebar written by the usually-able Scott Bordow. If you read it, though, you quickly realize it was written BEFORE the game and the only person quoted was Dbacks manager Kirk Gibson. Oh, Bordow did mention the Howard and Utley injuries at the end of his sidebar. But of course it was Gibson, not Manuel, that commented on them.
Bordow did stick around to write “Rewind,” a series of post-game notes. He devoted his attention totally to the Dbacks: winning pitcher, Wade Miley, the struggles of reliever Joe Paterson and the repeal of Aaron Hill’s “home run.” But, alas, nothing on the Phillies.
This snub of the opponent happens at almost every game and in all of the other local pro sports: Coyotes, Cardinals and Suns. It has to be policy, a bad dream of an idea generated by in-office editors with too much time on their hands. It is a standard practice among sports writers to trade quotes with the opposing team’s writers. Those meddling editors ought to at least encourage the game story writers to do that much. Juicy stories often come from the opponent’s after-game comments.
It seems strange that an organization like, Gannett, which owns the Republic and I suppose adheres to the industry norm of “fair and balanced” reporting, would allow this lapse of judgment to continue. But that may be what happens when corporations like Gannett get too big for their pants. Like Wal-Mart, the people at the top have no idea what the tail is doing.