Fox Sports is aware of the news about the death of Edinson Volquez’s father but do not plan to report it on broadcast while he is in game.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 28, 2015
In the aftermath of last night’s World Series game, a real mystery continues to swirl around the starter for the Kansas City Royals’ starting pitcher. What did he know about the health of his father and when did he know it? And why did we know it first?
It’s an incredible tale of drama which the TV broadcasters decided not to mention but felt compelled to report it on Twitter instead, while congratulating themselves for keeping it a secret.
Edinson Volquez took the mound to start the game, hours after his father died in his native Dominican Republic.
The best and the brightest in the news media still can’t seem to get on the same page, however, on the question of whether he was informed of his dad’s death before the game, or whether the decision was made not to tell him.
ESPN said the Royals manager, Ned Yost, declined to tell him about his father until after he was finished pitching.
“We found out about an hour before, and we said, ‘What do you want us to do?'” Yost said. “And the family said, ‘We don’t want you to tell him. We want him to pitch this game.’
That conflicts with what ESPN’s own reporters are still saying, even in the face of evidence to the contrary: that the young man was informed just before starting the game.
“One player, however, told me he was ‘100 percent’ sure that Volquez knew during the game, and other players suggested as much with their postgame comments,” FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal insists in his column today.
The New York Times, however, says some other players were told — notably another potential starting pitcher — but not Volquez.
According to the Royals, Roandy Volquez, the pitcher’s wife, told General Manager Dayton Moore what had happened and asked him not to tell her husband until after he had finished pitching the biggest game of his career, his first World Series start. The team then asked the broadcasters on Fox not to announce the news, because Volquez routinely goes into the clubhouse between innings, and the broadcasts of the game are usually on.
Shortly after that, news reports began to circulate that Volquez’s father had died, and even as Volquez went to the mound unaware of what had happened, many people around him knew.
All of which brings up a distasteful, ethical question for broadcasters and journalists: whether to withhold a big part of a story from an audience?
Why did it matter? Because the same journalists who were keeping it a secret on TV were tweeting about it, which put the rest of us in an uncomfortable position of knowing a person’s father had died before the son knew.
Some sad news ahead of Game 1 from @ESPNDeportes: Game 1 starter Edinson Volquez's father has reportedly died in the Dominican Republic.
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) October 28, 2015
“You see Eddy out there competing his butt off, and you keep thinking, ‘Well, what’s coming next?’ ” Yost said. “The news is coming next. It kind of put a damper on things for us.”
Well after he had pitched his six innings, the team told Volquez, and Fox later announced the man’s death.
It’s a family’s decision, of course, when to tell a son his father is dead. We cannot judge anyone in such a difficult time. But if a family and team had made a decision in their best interest, sportswriters should have kept their mouths shut on Twitter.
Just as local sportswriters proved by keeping the condition of Flip Saunders a secret, the rest of us had no right to know.
Update 2:48 p.m. Rosenthal’s comments to the Washington Post defy all logic.
“Maybe he knew. Maybe he didn’t. We weren’t going to take the chance we were going to tell him. I’m convinced today it was the right move. I’ll always be convinced it was the right move. We have a special responsibility. We’re not Twitter.”
That’s a not-very-veiled slam against Twitter, I suppose, but it’s worth pointing out that the person primarily responsible for the “irresponsibility” on Twitter was Rosenthal, who, incredibly, was not asked by the Post to explain why he felt it was OK to publicize the father’s death on Twitter, but not on TV, particularly when most of the fans in the stadium have more access to Twitter than FoxSports on TV.