Jay Blue: Bautista was a leader in sticking up for Travis

Mum’s the Word for Jose
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away

When you’re a beat writer for a big league baseball team, you’re always on the lookout for fresh stories. When you cover a team of 40-50 players (including those who come in and out of the roster) for seven-plus months of the year and there are 12 (or more) other beat writers covering the same beat, there comes a point where it’s rare to see anything new or inspiring.

The Star’s Brendan Kennedy definitely found some fresh fodder at why Jose Bautista has been boycotting Sportsnet TV for 1-on-1 interviews since May 13. According to Kennedy’s reporting, Bautista’s ire stems from a segment that Sportsnet produced with Hazel Mae taking Blue Jays’ rookie Devon Travis suit shopping and making Travis pay for the designer suit himself.

Kennedy went to journalism instructor Janice Tibbetts who teaches at Carleton University, who believes that, ethically, “Sportsnet was right not to pay for the suit.”

So the questions arise: should Travis have paid for the suit? Was Sportsnet evil for making the rookie, who will make $500,000 this season, pay for it?

Most people will agree that Travis, who was asked to do the segment and the airtime went to benefit a sponsor, GotStyle, shouldn’t be roped in to paying for what was probably a very expensive suit when GotStyle and Rogers made the request from him. 

Clothing companies furnish the outfits that the anchors wear on the pre-game show with Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun and probably for the other “sit at a desk and talk” programs that are on Sportsnet so why not now?

But this little isn’t about Travis and his suit. I want to talk about why Bautista isn’t giving 1-on-1 interviews to Sportsnet. What motivated his boycott? Is it moral principle? Sticking up for a rookie teammate? Being the team leader and showing that even the players with the least service time are meaningful?

The issue that the rookie, who makes the least amount of money on the team, got stuck with a bill is not at stake here. In team “initiations,” it’s very common for the rookies to get stuck with a massive, multi-thousand-dollar bill at a restaurant, even though the veterans can afford it much easier. The fact that Travis got stuck with the bill is not the issue that bugs Bautista. It’s the fact that Travis got stuck with the bill by Sportsnet.

Bautista is showing himself to be a leader here. If he was after the attention, he would have made a big announcement after the incident and called attention to it right away. Instead, he quietly took a stance and stopped doing 1-on-1 interviews for Sportsnet. It took the digging from to pry the information, three months after the fact. Bautista wasn’t staying mum to draw attention to himself. He did it to support his teammate who does not have the clout to speak up for himself.

The day after the story appeared things were patched up to Bautista`s satisfaction, although no one is talking and Bautista was a post-game guest after the Jays beat the Detroit Tigers Friday night.


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