Over the past several seasons, the Cardinals have substantially increased their number of ‘themed’ days and nights.
Some, like ‘Grateful Dead Tribute Night‘, night are fun distractions to break up the monotony of a long season. Others, like ‘Transplant Awareness Night‘, draw attention to causes like organ donation that I’m pretty sure everyone can get behind.
And on Friday, August 25th, the Cardinals will present ‘Pride Night‘ for the very first time in collaboration with Pride St. Louis.
First, though, was ‘Christian Day at the Ballpark’ on Sunday (July 30th).
Via the Cardinals.com website:
Join us for Christian Day at the Ballpark presented by [sponsor redacted] on Sunday, July 30th at 1:15pm when the Cardinals face the Arizona Diamondbacks! This year’s featured post-game speaker is Lance Berkman, former Cardinals All – Star Outfielder and 2011 World Series Champion. Current Cardinals players and Manager Mike Matheny will also participate in the post-game outreach event.
As promised, Berkman and Matheny appeared at the post-game talk. They were joined by Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, Adam Wainwright, Zach Duke and announcer Rick Horton.
Why is this noteworthy?
Because Lance Berkman’s participation has drawn the ire of many LGBTQ+ groups, including Pride St. Louis, who issued this statement to Outsports:
“Pride St. Louis is disappointed by the decision of the St. Louis Cardinals to provide a public platform for Berkman, an individual whose words and actions towards the LGBTQ+ are divisive and demeaning. We know that the Cardinals can do better, and we want to extend an offer to help them by co-organizing their official LGBT Pride Night at Busch Stadium. Let’s work together to promote love, diversity, and inclusion.”
Yes, that is the same Pride St. Louis group co-hosting an event in less than a month with the Cardinals.
Agree or disagree with Berkman, his previous statements or his inclusion in ‘Christian Day at the Ballpark’, his mere appearance was going to be something that should be covered by a diverse media set.
But not without issues.
The previously mentioned Outsports was denied a press credential for yesterday’s game:
Chris Tunno, the St. Louis Communications Coordinator, wrote me (Erik Hall) that “Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites. … Major League Baseball and its member clubs credential only those media wishing to cover teams and their players, where a theme night would not fall under that category.”
Tunno told me instead to buy a ticket. So I did.
According to the site’s founder Jim Buzinski, this is the first time Outsports was denied a media credential in its 17-year history. A history that includes credentials to Super Bowls, Final Fours and the ESPY’s.
I wrote the article’s author (Erik Hall) and asked him if he had heard from the team since publication and he said no. I also asked him if he felt that he got the chance to fully explain what his site was and present its resume before being denied.
“The email denying the credential made it clear that Mr. Tunno had looked at the site to determine if Outsports should receive a credential.”
I emailed Mr. Tunno today at 11:43a CT with questions about the denial and have yet to get a response. I’ll update this post below if he or anyone from the Cardinals communications team issues Cards Diaspora a statement.
Outsports is part of SB Nation, who, according to Quantcast, has 11.2 million unique US visitors monthly. This includes their entire network of sites, so Outsports’ individual site traffic would be substantially smaller.
For context, STLToday.com (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) has roughly 1.8 million unique US visitors monthly.
Both SB Nation and STLToday.com most likely would dispute the numbers above. Internal reporting always tends to be higher than Quantcast or comScore (or any other 3rd party site traffic tracker) reports, but the point stands… there are blogs (like this crap one for instance) and then there are BLOGS.
I sit here a few times a week and type out lousy opinions and analysis for the 12 people left who think it’s cool to know someone who ‘has a website’.
SB Nation and Outsports, though? They’re legitimate digital media organizations that deserve to be treated with the same gravitas as a newspaper, TV station or radio station.
The Cardinals rejection of their credential under the pretense stated in Mr. Hall’s article lays bare a stale methodology that is preventing the Cardinals from being covered the way the fans want the team to be covered.
The denial of their credential on a night where Cardinals fans should expect and want all viewpoints?
Mr. Hall did his best to produce a complete story about the event, but had he been privy to the same access as other members of the press, it probably would have been fuller and more insightful. At the very least it would have brought some balance to the overall coverage canon of the event.
Understandably not every blog can (or should) be given media access to a professional baseball team. But the Cardinals owe it to their fans to put an honest effort into including more digital media into their credentialed lists. Especially around events that deserve outside and differing views from the day to day tick-tocks of beat writers and broadcasters.
The media landscape is changing.
The Cardinals need to keep up.
Photo: Diamond Diaries