Adam Rubin in Saturday's Daily News notes that Tony Bernazard may be a bully. Tony Bernazard may indeed be a major part of whatever the hell is wrong with the Mets. He may indeed need to go as part of a total housecleaning. For the record, I am inclined to think such housecleaning is necessary at this point for a variety of reasons. If Bernazard is fired however, it really oughta be for the role he has played in constructing the monstrosity that's out on the field this season. On the other hand though, I know a journalistic vendetta when I see one -- and this is starting to look a lot like one.
(More below the fold.)
The majority of the original reporting on the Bernazard Follies has come from a single source: The Daily News. Everyone else is really just following up without much new information. I concede that Rubin is telling a compelling tale. Tony Bernazard, unless these incidents are complete fabrications, looks like a classic bully. If he in fact is one this is an important story to unfold, as workplace bullying is an ENORMOUS (and bizarrely underreported) worldwide problem. However, I might note that in the pieces I have read at the News on this matter Bernazard's behavior is neither linked to this broader issue of workplace bullying, nor is it really put into much perspective in the context of baseball or other competitive sports. (Is Bernazard's behavior better or worse than that captured on YouTube displayed by Christian Bale or Chris Berman?) In baseball, an industry where verbal assault is an accepted aspect of the culture, it is difficult to believe that the throwing of hissy fits is limited entirely to the field of play and directed exclusively at umpires and water coolers. That doesn't excuse any of Bernazard's alleged behavior. It is simply to add some perspective that seems missing from Rubin's reporting on Bernazard -- at least what I have read.
It's the absence of such perspective that, for me, makes this story take on the ring of a journalistic vendetta. I'm not even saying that Rubin's reporting is necessarily false. I'm saying that the clear point to the stories are "here are some reasons Tony Bernazard should be fired." There is no wider significance to the reporting on this matter. The entire point seems to be an attempt by Rubin and/or The News to inject itself into the club's decision making. Journalistic vendettas, I suspect, are just part of the NY sports scene. It's the hand you're dealt as an executive for the Yanks or Mets. In this case though, the timing couldn't be worse -- not that it's ever good. First, it's a distraction. Minaya has promised the public an investigation of allegations made exclusively by a journalist -- and to be fair some of the basic facts are still contested even among journalists. But now, Minaya has promised (and promised) an investigation. So, what precisely should it cover? How far (back) should it extend? How precise should it be? And, what should be on the table in terms of outcomes? These are now all legitimate journalistic inquiries into a matter that really should be in house unless alleged victims of Bernazard's abuse file a formal complaint with the club or MLB. This investigation will not end well. It's entirely too open-ended. No one will be satisfied. Further, if the Mets fire Bernazard over this (very doubtful) that certainly would embolden journalists to insert themselves even further unofficially into the club's operations. Whether they have any real influence in this regard is besides the point. Firing Bernazard over these allegations opens the door to more meddling (not more transparency -- there's a difference). I'm convinced that cannot be a good thing.
For my part, I'm never going to say that a reporter should not report or should sit on a potentially embarassing story. (I'm talking to you ESPN.) I'm saying that with this particular story the vast majority of original information has been generated from a single source. Just as Rubin has said about Bernazard, that's enough for me to raise some questions about precisely what's going on.