Saturday afternoon Carlos Carrasco suffered a fractured finger when his second pitch of the game was lined back up the middle. The injury almost certainly means his season over, a tough break for the pitcher and for the Cleveland Indians, whose starting rotation will also be without All-Star Danny Salazar the rest of the way. Paul Hoynes, Indians beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer (and its internet arm, Cleveland.com), tweeted "Sept. 17: Remember the date because that's when Indians' postseason dreams ended before they began." The purpose of the tweet was to send out a link to his recap of the day's game, which opened with the line, "The Indians won a ballgame Saturday afternoon, but their postseason dreams ended." If you notice how definitive Hoynes' choice of words was, you are not alone.
Sunday morning Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis quote-tweeted Hoynes, adding "The don't bother showing up the rest of the way... Can write from home if you already know how this one plays out!" As it turns out, Hoynes did stay home on Sunday. He explained later it was a scheduled day off, and I fully believe that, but not everyone in the Tribe clubhouse was interested in explanations. Trevor Bauer, probably the team's most-active tweeter, and rarely one to sugarcoat what he's thinking, tweeted, "I noticed @hoynsie wasn't at the game today doing his job like the rest of us were. To say what he did and then not show up for work? #coward"
It's almost possible to read that as a joke, if only because that level of public criticism of a reporter by a player is pretty rare, but a few minutes later, in response to someone else speculation that perhaps Hoynes had taken Kipnis up on his suggestion, Bauer followed up with, "hopefully he doesn't come back. No one here has any time for his BS and no one respects him. He's not welcome here"
Those are very serious words, not so much for expressing Bauer's personal opinion on Hoynes, but for their claim to speak for the entire team. Now, that doesn't mean those words do actually speak for the entire team, but it seems highly unlikely that Bauer pulled that sentiment out of thin air. It also doesn't feel like Bauer's reaction is just about Hoynes' words from Saturday and absence on Sunday; this seems much more like something that's built upon a series of events, encounters, and discussions.
The role of a beat writer for a newspaper or website is generally pretty different from the role of a columnist. Columnists generally don't spend all that much time in the locker room, or speak with players extensively, and their columns tend to be opinion-based. Beat writers interact with players on an almost daily basis for more than half the year, and their columns tend to involve passing along factual information and perhaps some analysis, without much editorializing. In this case, Hoynes seems to have put himself out of bounds, and while he said Sunday night, "I wrote what I wrote because that's what I believe," what he believes isn't of much interest to the people he's responsible for covering during the season, especially if his belief amounts to these guys have no chance, and his comments may interfere with his ability to do his job, and at the very least is likely to make for some awkward moments.
The Indians are off on Monday, but Tuesday they'll be back at Progressive Field, and Hoynes will be there as well. It will be very interesting to see what develops with this situation, as the team closes in on its first division title since 2007.