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Jeff Bridich’s criticism of baseball beat writers is grossly off base

May 31, 2019, 9:48 AM | Updated: 12:30 pm
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)...
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Drew Goodman released a book about the Colorado Rockies. In it, the AT&T SportsNet announcer told stories from his time calling the team’s games on television, providing an inside look at the inner workings of the franchise.

It’s a fascinating read, as Goodman and co-author Benjamin Hochman provide tales that live up to the book’s subtitle, “Stories from the Colorado Rockies Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box.” Fans can pick it up via Amazon for less than $15.

One excerpt, however, has caused a little controversy. In the book, Jeff Bridich takes a shot at baseball writers, dismissing their ability to accurately analyze his work. While nobody is going to get too riled up about the Rockies general manager poking at the media, there is an arrogance to the comments that is tough to ignore.

“I think I’m personally blessed with a capacity to not really care what is said about me all that much. I don’t really buy into the whole media evaluation.”

So far, so good. Typically speaking, anyone who has a job that puts them in the public eye has to have the ability to block out day-to-day criticism. The gig is about having a vision, believing in that plan and staying the course. Listening to outside opinions can cause a derailment, which isn’t good.

“The reality is – and this is going to sound petty and bad — if you just objectively look at the people who are evaluating us every day, you know they’ve never come close to doing this job and all the work that goes into it. And most of them, probably 99 percent of them, they’ve never even led anything in their lives.”

Well, Bridich got one thing right; his comment does “sound petty and bad.” This is one of the most-tired retorts in sports. Athletes, coaches and general managers dismiss criticism by saying those who are doing the evaluation have never walked a day in their shoes. While true, it’s a moot point. It doesn’t take a chef to know a bad meal. It doesn’t take a director to determine a crappy movie. And it doesn’t take a former general manager to evaluate the moves made by a current one.

“They’ve worked for themselves. They’ve been self-interested beat writers who have worked for themselves and they have a job to do every day. I had the good fortune of seeing that for a long time before taking this job. So I knew not to put a whole lot of time and energy into what they think about me.”

This part is just confusing. Technically, they don’t work for themselves; they work for a media company and are following the direction of editors, providing the coverage that the newspaper, magazine or web site believes its readers will enjoy and consume. Also, this quote is a little disingenuous, given that Bridich obviously has spent some time and energy thinking about beat writers. Case in point…

“It’d be like if I went to a hospital every day and wrote a blog about the job done by one of the surgeons and the things he screwed up. That’s crazy. I know nothing about brain surgery, nor have I ever even worked on the path to become a brain surgeon. That’s what goes on in this industry and other sports industries.”

In a way, Bridich is comparing his job to brain surgery by using this example. In his mind, the two professions are similarly complex, making it difficult for a layperson to accurately access and review what’s being done. That’s a bit over the top, given that one gig involves watching people throw, catch and hit a ball, while the other is about life and death. But it’s also grossly inaccurate.

If Bridich went to a hospital every day and watched brain surgeries, he could write a blog about what transpired. He’d be able to say what went well, what went poorly, who is reliable under pressure and who he wouldn’t let open up his cranium. And the more he saw what happened in the operating room, and listened to what was discussed before and after each surgery, the more accurate his analysis would become.

Beat writers are no different. They become pretty astute baseball people by watching a ton of games, hanging around batting practice, being in the clubhouse and traveling with the team. They’re more than qualified to analyze the job being done by Bridich, manager Bud Black and any of the players on the field.

That’s why the comments ruffled so many feathers. They were extremely dismissive of people who’ve worked extremely hard to provide insight into what’s happening with the Rockies.

While there was a lot of feedback on social media about Bridich’s rant, one of the best came from Dan Szymborski. The FanGraphs senior writer used stats and numbers to prove being a general manager isn’t exactly brain surgery.

Ouch.

But Szymborski is spot on. It doesn’t take a former general manager to realize that Bridich hasn’t done a very good job when it comes to signing free agents. In fact, he’s been pretty ineffective at it; the numbers prove that point.

Jeff Bridich is a smart guy, evidenced first and foremost by his Harvard education. And he’s a very good general manager, proven by the fact that he’s built playoff rosters in both 2017 and ’18. But he needs to pump the brakes when it comes to his self-evaluation.

Running a baseball team isn’t brain surgery. If it was, the Rockies general manager would have a lot of unhappy patients.

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Jeff Bridich’s criticism of baseball beat writers is grossly off base