Coronavirus and the changing landscape of MLB journalism
By Kevin Henry
On Sunday, I shook hands with Colorado Rockies second baseman Ryan McMahon after we finished an interview. On Tuesday, Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers and I bumped elbows. Welcome to the new world of Major League Baseball media coverage in the age of coronavirus.
Such is the world as we know it today. On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that its teams would have the clubhouses no longer accessible by media in hopes of keeping the coronavirus away from the players. In the span of a few hours, how we did our jobs covering sports for you, the reader, changed.
It doesn’t mean we in the media can’t do our jobs. It just means we have to do them a little differently and adapt. It also means that, for now, we have to put the potential safety of the players we talk with regularly above how we talked with them a few days ago.
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We don’t know what the next few days or weeks will hold for the coronavirus and how it impacts our society, including the games that we love to watch. All of us, media and players included, know we have to do whatever we can to keep the virus from spreading and, for now, that means keeping our distance when asked to do so. It also means me refraining from any of those handshakes that have often ended my interviews in the past.
Call me crazy, but I think handshakes and looking people in the eye are a sign of respect. That’s what I was taught growing up and that’s what I did on Sunday after talking to McMahon for this article. Maybe looking them in the eye from six feet away will be enough for now.
As a note, Rodgers and I almost shook hands on Tuesday morning before our interview but then stopped just short. The awkward laugh as we instead bumped elbows was now part of the reporter-player dynamic.
Rodgers and I were able to have a one-on-one conversation outside of the media scrums that will become very common. I am thankful to the Rockies PR department for helping make this bridge between what was and what is as smooth as possible.
Am I griping about this change? No. Am I whining? Not at all. I’m trying to explain to you that, for what will hopefully be a short span of time, how we and every other media outlet brings you coverage will be different. And we are all going to be trying to figure out the same puzzle … and that’s how to bring you quality, exclusive coverage as we have all done in the past.
It also changes our relationships with the players we cover, at least temporarily. That’s honestly the biggest adjustment I see during this time, which I hope will be very short-lived.