I get that the world of sports media, or any media for that matter, is saying borderline outrageous things to get a reaction, but this is going way, way too far. If you follow baseball at all than you’ve probably heard all about the absolutely insane Wander Franco allegations, but in case you missed it, you can read all the details here.
In short, he was charged with basically grooming a 14 year old girl (with allegations from other minor girls), saying he wanted to (creepily) raise her on his own, and paying off her mother to let it happen, and then said “I took a risk and I loved it” when he was caught, which is enough to send shivers of anger down my spine.
Anyway, baseball insider Ken Rosenthal published a story in The Athletic today in which he talks about the risks of a team investing long term in young players, which is a fine premise, but the comparison he makes between two young players with very, very, different issues is absolutely ludicrous.
He starts the piece by talking about how the Tampa Bay Rays signed Franco to an 11 year, $182 million dollar extension when he was only 20 years old and how they obviously didn’t know he would end up being the type of person he is. Fair enough when making the case the young players maybe should get this huge contracts but then he went on to associate Franco’s behavior with a different young star who’s had some off the field problems early in his career: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Here’s how Rosenthal tied it together.
“Franco was not the first young player to experience such issues, which were relatively minor compared to what was to come. Nor was he the first in recent years to take a step backward after signing a big contract. Consider the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., who signed a 14 year, $340 million contract in February 2021, just after turning 22.
Nine months into the deal, Tatis was in what he later described as one of multiple motorcycle accidents, potentially in violation of his contract, during the 2021-22 offseason. The accident was believed to have caused a wrist injury that eventually required surgery.
Nine months later, Tatis received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. He returned last season and won a Gold Glove in right field, a position he played regularly for the first time. He was not quite the offensive force he was before. But the worst, the Padres hope, is behind him.”
I’m no expert, but getting in a motorcycle crash and taking some steroids is a far, far cry from trying to coerce a minor into an emotional and sexual relationship while paying her mother to look the other way. Sure, Tatis isn’t the poster child for how a young star should act, but mentioning his problems in the same breath as Wander Franco is downright wrong.
Ken, come on dude. You’ve long been one of the go-to voices for baseball reporting but saying things like this will zap your credibility in the blink of an eye. I get sometimes things don’t come off as intended, and you even stated that Tatis Jr.’s actions were “relatively minor in comparison” but this is just a horrible take all around.
Talk about the issues with young players, sure, but don’t say someone who has a little too much fun on a motorcycle is the same conversation as an (alleged) child predator.
As you can imagine, I’m not the only one who has a problem with this, so I’ll leave you with some internet reactions…
After reading this I’m glad the Blue Jays haven’t signed Bo Bichette to an extension. The chances he’s operating a sex trafficking ring are slim but not zero https://t.co/QO8r8VRf7O
Even mentioning Tatis here is reckless (even if it's about the overall risks of big contracts to kids). Especially when one is literal rape allegations; and the others are just stupid mistakes. There's no correlation there. It just continues to suit your narrative of slandering… https://t.co/HYPwUohGcy