SNIDER: Nats' Santangelo needs a better view

Rick Snider
April 03, 2018 - 5:27 pm
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A favorable column has fans calling me a homer. A critical one has me labeled a hater. Funny, I’m just writing what I think based on 40 years of covering sports.

Thomas Jefferson, who penned our goodbye letter to King George, often criticized the press. But when pressed on the Fourth Estate’s worthiness, the third U.S. president wrote: "A government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

So some advice for Nationals announcer F.P. Santangelo – people deserve a fair press. Sometimes it's ugly, but it's usually worth the pain it may cause.

Fans want independent and fair-minded analysis, and sports-talk radio and print and online media should strive to be such. While local fans dominate the Washington market, there are many transplants who prefer opposing teams. As consumers, they deserve balanced reporting and analysis.

Sometimes the analysis isn’t pretty. After all, the Redskins were the area's the last pro team to win a title in Jan. 1992. That the Nationals have been one of Major League Baseball’s dominant teams the last six years without one postseason series victory brings fair skepticism. Same for the Capitals, who are notorious postseason busts. The Wizards and Redskins haven’t often played to expectations, either.

That’s OK. Arguing is part of the fun of sports. To call someone critical of teams a hater is being simple minded.

Santangelo recently told Northern Virginia magazine, "Why would you want to hear a broadcaster who is negative and critical? If you do, listen to sports talk radio. That’s what they do. That’s not what I do."

Most team announcers are either direct team employees or approved by the team. Thus, it’s not easy to criticize your employer knowing it will lead to a pink slip. As the legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker said of a wild pitch in the stands – "Just a bit outside."

But fans want balance. If a team stinks, it’s all right to talk about the problems. It’s OK to wonder if perhaps Ryan Zimmerman shouldn't have sat out nearly all of spring training when he then goes 1-for-12 in the season's first four games. That’s not being critical, it’s being fair minded. That Santangelo doesn't want to criticize people he knows and likes, well that’s why you’re not part of the media.

Santangelo: 'My job is not to be critical'

Sports talk hosts and the media aren't perfect. Plenty of poison has come from my pen. But unlike Twitter trolls who never leave their mom's basement, the real media deserves the respect of doing a job much harder than blind followers like Santangelo prefer.

After all, people deserve to know when "There goes the no-hitter."

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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