MLBPA director denies report about media access

MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark’s tour of Spring Training camps to meet with membership took him to Lakeland on Tuesday for a meeting with Tigers players. As with previous stops around Florida, Clark followed by meeting with local media, which led to a question about an online report this week that he wants to close clubhouses to media access before games and limit postgame access to three players in an interview room.

Clark issued a lengthy and vehement denial.

“What was reported yesterday never came out of my mouth,” Clark said. “What I have said at every meeting we have had with respect to media is the following: If there is anybody who understands and respects the relationship between players and media, it is me. For those that have been around a long time, my relationship with the media has always been professional and above board, and I’ve always been available as a result. I understand, therefore, the relationship that exists, the responsibility that inherently exists between the players and the media, and I think I have an idea as to the level of integrity and responsibility the media should have in entering a locker room and having dialogue with players. Yesterday[‘s report], to me, was an example of all the things that concern me about the media and what’s offered publicly. The range of agitation, disappointment, anger and ire over what happened yesterday unfortunately pushed me further down the road of being concerned about the relationship between media and players. As I share with players to be educated on the issues, as I share with players the inherent responsibility they have with respect to the media, the idea that I would find myself in the middle of something like that is mind-boggling to me, particularly when having conversations with the media much like this … and I offer the same thing at each one. …

“The way that I found out was remarkable; I flip on the TV and I’m watching MLB Network, which is what I watch in the afternoon, only to have what was offered on there to lead the show as a news hit: ‘Can’t believe this is happening, but there seems to be a bigger issue in bargaining than we thought.’ Here I am thinking this is news, I’m going to be in the middle of this, maybe I should listen to what this issue is, only to find out that I’m shutting down all media access to the locker room both before and after the game, and I’m going to look to put in certain criteria with respect to who the media can talk to outside of the clubhouse after the game, all of which you haven’t seen in any other conversation because I have never said it.

“I understand the responsibility between the media and the players. I also understand and respect the access that currently exists. I do think there are things that we can collectively get better at, that help the media do their job and allow players to do ours. Some of those things may be related to credentialing in general. Some ballparks have huge areas. Some ballparks have small areas. But there really is no standard of credentialing. In addition to that, both processes on the front end with respect to the access and what’s provided, process-oriented on the front end, has some value to take a look at. We appreciate that on the front end and the back end, those are two different sessions, having a standard across the board in every clubhouse so that everybody appreciates that it’s not one standard here and then another standard over here, and then another standard over here. So having that dialogue has value. But I will also share with you that there are a lot of different items on the to-do list, and right now, media access is not that high on the agenda. It is a topic of conversation as it always is, but there are other topics of conversation that are ruling the room when we sit down with players. You can put that in as bold of print as you possibly can; that would be fantastic.”

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