When I saw the news about Frank Coonelly’s DUI yesterday, I groaned. I didn’t groan because of the actual crime, but because I knew the fallout from it was going to be ridiculous. Then, I groaned again because of my own cynical reaction to it. DUI is serious; it deserves a serious discussion, and my cynical reaction to the anticipated reaction by other people is unfair to the seriousness of the situation.
Nearly a full day later, though, I’m already worn out by this story. If you haven’t heard by now, late yesterday afternoon word starting cropping up on Twitter that the Pirates’ new flagship station, 93.7, hadn’t mentioned the incident on-air at all except in their newsbriefs every 20 minutes. That story started with Mark Madden, but it was quickly confirmed by more reputable people. Some people chose to heckle the hosts, who I can tell you had absolutely nothing to do with the decision not to talk about the incident, on Twitter. Most people assumed, given the Pirates’ occasional tendency to operate like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth under Frank Coonelly’s regime, that the station had been silenced by the team itself. The story picked up steam and ended up on Deadspin. Shortly after that, Chris Mueller got permission to talk about Coonelly and take calls about it on his Late Shift program.
As it turns out, the Pirates had absolutely nothing to do with the gag order. The FAN was being cautious in their new partnership and it seems like they were probably a little too cautious; in the post linked directly above Dejan Kovacevic indicates that the Pirates were horrified by the radio silence, likely because they knew what a PR debacle it was causing for them and because they know that they’re going to take some blame for it no matter what the truth might be. Still, given what we know about the way the Pirates’ front office tends to control sensitive information, it’s easy to see how the powers that be at the FAN made a decision to err on the side of caution with the club. That in of itself stinks; even if the Pirates aren’t directly controlling the message at the FAN (and for now, we don’t have reason to think that they are), there’s now reason to be suspicious of the relationship between the team and the station. That stinks for the actual fans, that stinks for the hosts who don’t deserve this and weren’t involved; it’s a bad situation for everyone.
And now here I am, feeling like I’m talking about something other than the real issue at hand here. Read Dejan’s column about it. Read this story at the Trib about how seriously Coonelly is taking this. Draw your own conclusions about Coonelly.
But really, is it time for baseball to start yet? Because these sorts of real life issues are the exact things that I like to use sports to escape from.