There have been many cases of people trying to limit critical media coverage in sports, whether that’s from owners or administration figures, coaches, or GMs. The latest one comes from the Cincinnati Reds, where famed writer Hal McCoy (who’s been covering the Reds since 1973, most recently for the Dayton Daily News and for his own site, and who received the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s J.G. Taylor Spink Hall of Fame career excellence award in 2002) revealed Saturday that Reds’ owner Bob Castellini (seen above in August 2021) once tried to fire McCoy when he was working for Fox Sports Ohio (the Reds’ local rightsholder).
This came in response to an Athletic article from Evan Drellich Friday, which indicated that Castellini was one of four MLB owners (along with Chris Ilitch of the Tigers, Ken Kendrick of the Diamondbacks and Arte Moreno of the Angels) who objected to raising the competitive balance tax levels to the level MLB ultimately proposed. Here’s what McCoy wrote about that:
The owners’ counter-proposal is $220 million over the next three years, then $224 million and $230 million.
Castellini and three other owners didn’t even like it going from $210 million last year to $220 million this year, believing the $10 million increase is too high.
I had my own issues with Castellini. He almost got me fired when I wrote for the Fox Sports Ohio website, telling them, “That guy is killing us.”
Fox told me they didn’t want to let me go, they loved my work, but because Fox was the Reds’ television outlet they had to do as The Big Man wished.
I wrote a long note to Castellini, explaining that I loved the Reds, but that I had to write what I see, that fans aren’t stupid and I couldn’t look at the team through rose-colored glasses, even if Pete Rose was gone.
The part about how much I loved covering the Reds, that I’ve been part of it since 1973, got to him and he relented and I continued until Fox dropped all of its baseball writers on their local sites [ed note: in 2015].
But my relationship with Castellini since that incident has been colder than a frozen mackerel.
—QUOTE: From Reds owner Bob Castellini when his group purchased the Reds: “We will not rest until you are happy. The Reds are, after all, your team. You buy the tickets. You watch the games. You support us financially and emotionally. Without you, the Reds cannot be great.” (We all must assume that Mr. Castellini is suffering a severe case of insomnia.)
As noted above, there have been quite a few cases of team and league officials pushing for media coverage changes. And that’s perhaps especially true at rightsholders like Fox Sports Ohio, where teams play a significant role in determining staffing. But it’s still definitely interesting to see McCoy spell out how Castellini once pushed to push him out, even if that didn’t ultimately happen. And that’s not a great look for Castellini.
[HalMcCoy.com; 2021 photo of Castellini from Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer, via USA Today Sports]