Ken Rosenthal is widely regarded as one of the league’s most accurate reporters, but we learned today that MLB Network has cut ties with Rosenthal due to his criticism of commissioner Rob Manfred. Rosenthal is a contributor to The Athletic and FOX Sports, so it’s no surprise that he’s written about Manfred before. As with most Manfred talk, however, it wasn’t praise. Major League Baseball, which is currently in a lockout, has had a number of issues recently that have damaged its image. Manfred, a commissioner, has found himself in the center of them: the COVID outbreaks, Astros scandal, and juiced balls, just to name a few. There’s a large distrust of Manfred among the media and players, and firing Ken Rosenthal isn’t going to make it better.
We’ve seen Manfred’s ineffectiveness to make any sort of decision that makes sense. Whether it’s lying about the baseballs used or the inability to prevent this lockout, Manfred is everything he doesn’t want to hear. If he doesn’t want people to criticize him so much, he should either step down or do better.
While Manfred is the one to blame, MLB Network finds itself involved with another messy firing.
Déjà Vu For MLB Network
The firing of Ken Rosenthal isn’t too different than the firing of Chris Rose. He was featured on Intentional Talk with Kevin Millar, and after he was inexplicably let go, he landed a job with Jomboy Media and now runs a very successful podcast in the Chris Rose Rotation. Sure, maybe they wanted to get a new voice on that show, but why just let go of Rose? It blew up in their face, and they’ve fallen further behind in the MLB content race. With the emergence of podcasts and YouTube, MLB Network just cannot to keep making these boneheaded firings. This loops back to MLB and Rob Manfred, since their inability to properly market the sport has been a nightmare as well.
When you fire good content creators and fire people who badmouth Manfred, you drive people away. Quite frankly, it might be the only thing Major League Baseball truly does well.
MLB and Rob Manfred Worsen Their Image Problem
Ultimately, Ken Rosenthal being fired isn’t going to change what Ken Rosenthal does. He has a job with The Athletic and a job with FOX Sports, you’ll see him plenty. That being said, by driving people out of MLB Network and onto other platforms, it makes MLB Network more obsolete, defeating the purpose of the network. Whether they realize it or not, this is the negative press that continues to worsen Manfred’s image. Sure, Rosenthal criticizing the commissioner on the Network itself may not be appropriate, but handle that internally. It’s too late to undo that. The cat’s out of the bag, and people reading about Rosenthal’s firing think less of Manfred today than they though they could before.