Kirk Herbstreit vs. Ken Rosenthal

On Monday, C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal published a piece on The Athletic about how, despite the fact that Jonathan India is considered “the heart and soul of the team,” the Cincinnati Reds might soon find themselves in a situation where the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year is displaced at second base for star prospect Elly De La Cruz. 

While the article notes that this is a “good” potential problem to have as the Reds’ rebuild seems to be progressing sooner than expected, a lot of people took offense at the notion that Cincinnati should consider moving or possibly trading India. That includes ESPN and Amazon football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, a big Reds fan, who quote-tweeted Ken the following day to share his disappointment with the piece. 

“This team hasn’t had a leader that pushed his teammates every day since Scott Rolen left in 2012 and we finally have that guy and you write this article???,” asked Herbstreit. “India’s value goes far beyond the numbers. As excited as we all are about the young talent coming up India needs to be the ROCK and catalyst for years to come. Put De La Cruz in the OF and move on.”

It’s not uncommon for Herbstreit to throw his opinions around but that’s almost always in the college football realm. To see him publicly take two notable baseball writers to task certainly stood out.

Ken responded to Kirk’s tweet during an appearance on the Foul Territory podcast Tuesday, saying that he welcomes all reader comments, though he suggests that Kirk and other critics read the article more closely to see that it is more positive about India and his future than it seemed.

Kirk, meanwhile, responded to a separate tweet saying that he did indeed read the article and did not accept its basic premise.

“Of course I read it and while that was covered why even address this as an “issue”?? What appears to be a logjam in the IF is an easy fix..guys learn to play other positions. As bad as they’ve been they’re FINALLY playing with an edge and India is the heartbeat to that. Now he’s answering questions from the media about potentially getting moved? Complete b******. He’s the Alpha leave him alone-why create unnecessary drama??? Team is finally trending in a good direction!” wrote Herbie.

That brings us to Thursday when Herbstreit appeared on Foul Territory and shared his thoughts on why he decided to publically call out the article.

“I don’t get into a lot of arguments on Twitter but I just read that article and it just kind of…here’s a team that’s finally, FINALLY showing a pulse and shown a little bit of grit, which is really what they need to compete with these bigger markets,” said Herbstriet. “And I’m just picturing Jonathan India at his locker and all of a sudden he gets asked questions about ‘What are they gonna do when they bring Elly De La Cruz up? They could end up having to move you,’ and it just kinda infuriated me that we’re contemplating that when this team is finally playing competitive baseball.”

That caught the eye of Rosecrans, who tagged Herbstreit with a reaction of his own, noting that the ESPN and Amazon analyst doesn’t seem to know the particulars when it comes to the team he claims to follow closely.

Funny, [Kirk Herbstrit] says he “doesn’t know anything about Elly De La Cruz” and says he likes Matt “McCain” — but he knows how to do my job, which he seems to think is to promote the Reds and help them win,” tweeted Rosecrans.

Herbie saw that and responded with the old “I don’t even know who are” before accusing Rosecrans, who has been a Reds beat writer at major outlets for well over a decade, not to mention the former president of the BBWA, of being a “troll” writing the article for “clicks.”

“Never told you how to do your job-i don’t even know who you are,” said Herbstreit. “I’m a fan who loves his team you’re a troll looking for attention. Hustle back to creating clicks and causing trouble!”

‘”Well, see, [Kirk Herbstreit] didn’t even get past the byline of the story he claimed to read. Or apparently read about the Reds in the last 16 years or so,” responded Rosecrans.

For his part, Rosenthal initially welcomed Herbstreit’s comments during the podcast appearance, though he changed his tune as soon as he saw the way he replied to his colleague.

“I was nice to Kirk in my previous tweet,” said Rosenthal. “Now he is being ridiculous.”

That’s where things stand at the time of this article. We’re gonna have to give the win (for now) to Rosenthal and Rosecrans. While Rosenthal is correct in that anyone can respond to a reporter’s articles with fair criticism and disagreement, Herbstreit crossed the streams regarding his personal fandom and his professional awareness. Surely, Kirk is aware that he’s said things on ESPN that have caused some uncomfortable conversations for the athletes and coaches he covers. That’s part of the job if you accept it. And accusing a fellow media member of being a “troll” and doing something for “clicks” just because they wrote about your favorite team is a bit out of bounds.

And as for Kirk saying he has no idea who Rosecrans is, well, for someone who claims to be a die-hard Reds fan, that’s a pretty big own goal.

[Ken Rosenthal, C. Trent Rosecrans, Kirk Herbstreit, Four Territory]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to