The fallout from the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has inspired an endless number of takes. Unfortunately, many of them have been directed at the ex-Astros pitcher Mike Fiers (who's now with the Oakland Athletics), without whom we would not have heard of many of the details of the team's deception.
The three guests on ESPN's morning program Get Up -- not one of whom is connected to baseball in any way -- weighed in on former Red Sox great David Ortiz's comment that Fiers "looks like a snitch" for not speaking up about the Astros' sign-stealing sooner. Never mind the fact that if Fiers had spoken up,it would have likely have cost him his job and possibly gotten him blackballed for "not being a team player."
By "weighed in," I mean ESPN's hosts "fell into line with" what Ortiz said.
Some choice quotes from this conversation include this one from former NFL defensive end Marcus Spears, who said, "When you go through the annals of history, the silence in the moment is worse when you can get rid of some of the stuff that will happen as a result of what's going on."
Most of the talking heads who share this point of view are former athletes (or, in the case of Jessica Mendoza, team employees) who have their own reasons for doing so -- which are mainly rooted in a locker-room culture that preaches loyalty above all else. That mindset tends to stay with people long after their competitive days are over, and I can't go after them for not going against what they've been taught to believe.
This is not the first time that on-air talent has come forward with this point of view. One of the few remaining baseball personalities, Mendoza expressed this sentiment on multiple ESPN shows and was ultimately moved off of Sunday Night Baseball. Ortiz, a Fox analyst, coming out so strongly against Fiers put his reporting colleagues in a tough spot.
Former players are usually going to sound an awful lot like former players. The trouble lies not with them, but that their voices are amplified on the highest-profile shows to vilify those not worthy of vilification, and praise those not warranting praise.
Yes, this scandal transcends the sports pages. There is a reason Get Up is talking about it, after all. And Colin Cowherd. And Stephen A. Smith. And any number of voices that don't typically gravitate toward baseball topics.
No one expects a Major League Baseball story to overshadow other news in January and February. Baseball isn't the year-round story machine that the NFL and NBA have become. The roster of talent equipped to speak with authority on the issue is not particularly deep. This breeds some awkward pairings of voice and topic, and the occasional cringe.