adam rubin, espn

Adam Rubin was known as one of the most dogged and committed beat writers in baseball, so it was a bit of a surprise when the longtime Mets reporter announced in February that he would be leaving ESPN for a job in PR.

But in an interview for Jared Diamond and Mike Vorkunov’s newletter The -30-, Rubin revealed there was slightly more to that story than we knew at the time.

As Rubin tells it, he was planning on moving on from journalism anyway when he received word that ESPN wouldn’t renew his contract.

I’ll break a little news here and reveal that ESPN declined to renew my contract, so I would have been out later this year anyway. ESPN seems to be bleeding money because of cord-cutting, so my salary was unattractive to them. And the new MLB editor at ESPN wants to get away from “thorough” beat coverage—that’s the precise word she used—and I suppose I was the sacrificial lamb to hammer home that point. Anyway, ESPN agreed to give me a buyout to leave now. And I get to do what I planned to do anyway. So it worked out tremendously.

Rubin wound up with a job in the athletic department at the New York Institute of Technology, which competes in Division II for most sports but Division I for baseball.

Since ESPN dismantled its local sites (ESPN New York, ESPN Chicago, etc.), its beat writers have been tasked with more feature-type content and less day-to-day minutiae, which was Rubin’s specialty. Later in the interview with The -30-, Rubin bemoaned that last season his editor prevented him from publishing a rapid reaction. He estimated that he drove 30,000 clicks a day to ESPN from his Twitter account alone.

We know that ESPN, no doubt feeling pressure from a decline in cable subscribers, is planning a round of layoffs for on-air and online talent. Whether or not Rubin was to be officially part of that initiative, the fact that he wasn’t offered a new contract might shedd some light on ESPN’s priorities these days. It makes sense, as Rubin points out, to de-emphasize reporting when aggregation is just as easy, and ESPN might be drifting more in that direction.

Or, maybe Rubin is wrong and ESPN declined to renew his contract for reasons having nothing to do with cord-cutting and aggregation.

Anyway, now Rubin can enjoy his new job at NYIT, ESPN.com can cover baseball the way it wants to, and we can monitor what that means for the site in the big picture.

[The -30-]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10 and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • He hasn’t been replaced yet. So odds are he is right.

    Real pity to lose him, and also that the Mets are the first team who fans suffer.

  • JeffinOKC

    ESPN is profitable. Name any other network that can endure direct national roll outs of new competitors NBCSN, CBSSN, Fox Sports1 and Fox Sports 2, as well as streaming migration of subscribers, and only lose 12% of their cable subscribers? I would suggest a better explanation is the explosion in sports network jobs created a bubble of high salary and staffing levels that is naturally correcting after 2 years.

  • Ichabod Crane

    I wonder what all these content aggregator sites are going to aggregate once all the reporters are gone…

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