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Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Stroman Did Another Thing

This All-Star break couldn’t come fast enough.

The story after the Blue Jays dropped three of four games to the Boston Red Sox over the course of the weekend wasn’t starting pitching and their inability to get deep into games, it wasn’t the plethora of defensive miscues made over the four days, it wasn’t even the two grand slams the Red Sox hit. It was Marcus Stroman’s apparent spat with Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani.

Via the Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath:

Toward the end of his scrum after his start, in which he went five innings allowing four runs on five hits, after all the typical game-related queries had been posed, Stroman was asked by Arash Madani about his time with the Blue Jays’ rookie ball team, the Vancouver Canadians, for a feature piece for the TV network.

Stroman politely declined to answer with the cameras and microphones rolling.

Madani: “Just wondering for you, stepping on the field at Nat Bailey Stadium for the first time, what did that mean to you and your career?”

Stroman: “We just lost to the Boston Red Sox. I don’t think that’s relevant at all right now.”

The scrum wrapped up immediately after and Stroman walked away. But moments later, outside the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park, which is steps away from a public area where some fans were still filing out from the afternoon game, Stroman began an angry rant that was directed at the Sportsnet reporter.

Stroman was fuming that the query about his time with the Canadians – back in 2012 — had been posed after the team had “just lost to the Boston Red Sox,” he yelled in front of the gathered media and other team staff members still congregating in the area.

His tirade escalated from there. He shouted “We’re fucking terrible,” along with other obscenities about the team and its losing state.

 

No disrespect to Arash Madani, who is a professional working for the largest sports media outlet in this country, but in the middle of a horrific season for both the right hander and his team, I don’t think there was any way Stroman was going to give anything more than a canned answer after giving up three earned runs in five innings to end his first half with a 5.86 ERA.

If Marcus Stroman was as even-keeled and down to earth as we want him to be, maybe Marcus Stroman doesn’t become Marcus Stroman and our days are spent stressing over another starter in the Blue Jays rotation. The reason why we loved him a few years ago was because he was this brash and cocky, ultimately leading him to major league success. I don’t think we can just pick and choose to validate who he is just because of where things are in the standings, even though it’s human nature to do so. We know he can be rough around the edges, and it’s easy to argue that the team should punt him when things aren’t going well, especially before a trade deadline that promises to look like a clearance sale on Blue Jays.

But as delusional as he can be, he sure as hell isn’t a liar, going as far as calling this team “fucking terrible” multiple times in that post-scrum tirade. Just checking the leaderboard, Stroman said it a handful of times, according to the reports, whereas I’ve said it fifteen times over the course of this weekend just to my dog. The most important part of that quote is that he included the word “we,” meaning that everybody, Stroman himself included, hasn’t had the best first half of the season.

Stroman calling the team that he plays for fucking terrible is a weird thing to be offended about, because they kind of are? I don’t even need to bring numbers into this, can you tell me more than one feared Blue Jays hitter right now? The outlook of the team is so bad that for a while, poor Justin Smoak didn’t get anything to swing at. All up and down the diamond, you see a bunch of stats that wouldn’t look bad if this was the first week of April, and not the final game before the All-Star break. Speaking of which, aside from J.A. Happ and Justin Smoak, who’s currently one of the best in a crop of underwhelming AL first basemen, who else could you seriously consider sending to those festivities that wouldn’t be just out of sheer disrespect to that player’s career? Yeah, the Blue Jays are fucking terrible right now, and it would be extremely alarming if Marcus Stroman, or any other Blue Jay for that matter didn’t think that. It’s good that a guy that can’t possibly hide his feelings is upset by a season like this. Like him or hate him, one constant with the erratic Stroman is that he’ll always let you know how he’s feeling.

Does 6 have a short fuse and blew up prematurely when a short, canned answer probably would have sufficed? Sure. Is he a bit too much of a character both on and off the field? Also yes, but he’s an athlete, and the overwhelming majority of people playing for a ton of money are like that. You don’t get to a point where people are hurling wads of cash at you just by keeping a low profile. Marcus Stroman will be loved when the Jays are doing well and despised during these times, because, for some reason, people usually don’t care for a big personality when the team isn’t going well. I mean, remember the reaction that some of the fanbase had last season when Jose Bautista was rumbling towards the Blue Jays single season strikeout record.

One more thing that we have to understand, even with all the sometimes warranted hate – and believe me, there’s nothing wrong with being rubbed the wrong way by him – is that a lot of these Blue Jays players came up and were a big part of the 2015 and 2016 teams. To them, this is their first real extended taste of pointless baseball. Last year may have felt like an anomaly, but this year probably seems bleak. Yeah, we get to look forward to the kids of tomorrow, but these guys have to sit here while the roof continues to cave in and wonder if they’ll have the same home in two months. And even though I’ll happily take their salary to shoulder that burden for them, I don’t think you want anybody playing for your team that isn’t at least bothered by that type of thing.

He’s since posted on Twitter about this entire thing. He’s young, outspoken, and passionate. I often roll my eyes at the things that he does, but he’s Marcus Stroman. This is who he is, and this is why he became a household name in this country.

Marcus Stroman and his astronomical ERA will be fine, eventually. So will the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, we’re only just past the halfway point of the season, and we still have a lot more of this whole terrible baseball thing to stomach.

  • PastorofMuppets

    Agreed Richard. Love Stroman and his fire – sure it rubs you the wrong way when the team is swampassticly bad, but he’s got a big personality and he takes shit like this to heart, using it to fuel his performances later, as cliche as it sounds.

    I’ll say this, from a media perspective – yeah it was a little dumb for Arash to expect anything, at best, other than a canned answer, but it was still a baseball question posed to a baseball player after a baseball game. I can’t jump on his nuts about it the same way I’ve seen others in the past few hours on twitter, though again, maybe not the best question timing-wise.

  • Rob Ray

    Have to side with Stroman here. Arash should have approached him at another time or place. If he did say “This team is fucking terrible” then at least he still cares. The worst question I ever heard a reporter ask an athlete happened about 15 years ago. The Minnesota Timberwolves had just won and tied their best of 7 playoff series with the Lakers 2-2. A reporter said to Kevin Garnett in the post game scrum “The Minnesota Wild has just defeated the Colorado Avalanche in game seven of their playoff series. What does that do for you and your team? A stunned Garnett said “Nothing. Not a fucking thing” Then turned and said “I’m outta here”.

    • Richard Lee-Sam

      I’m not the biggest fan of Arash, but as a journalism student, I get deadlines. Maybe he only had one shot to get a quote or a little soundbite before Stroman left for the all star break? He’s under more pressure than I ever am, so I get why he tried to sneak in something there. He’s definitely brave for at least trying.

      • Jeff2sayshi

        I feel like I’m missing part of the story here (is the story the question, or the rant?), but if it’s a full piece, then Arash had the time to reach out for a private 1 on 1 about his time in Vancouver. That seems to be the standard way of doing things. Post-game isn’t the time or place for it.

        • The Original Mark

          It’s ridiculous to believe that Stroman could dodge an interview request that’s necessary to produce feature content for the media company that owns the team. I don’t believe that narrative at all. This is Arash being Arash, asking completely irrelevant questions to be used later in the nostalgic narratives he loves to paint.

  • AD

    Stroman is a cocky moron. He thinks he is a top pitcher but doesnt have top shelf talent. A little more humbleness would do him well. Yes it was a dumb question and the team is awful but its not all his fault. We can blame rogers and shapkins for a half assed attempt at competing the past couple years when dealing vets was clearly a bettee option in the winter.

  • fred2

    Arash Madani drives me crazy. I will never for the life of me get why the completely inoffensive Barry Davis was fired and that clown was put in his place. Every question he asks is an inane ‘how did you feel when …’ question. He pronounces statements of collosal tedium and irrelevance with all the gravitas of Walter Cronkite announcing the death of President Kennedy, and somehow Sportsnet seem to fall for the pretense that he has anything interesting to say.

    “Stepping on the field at Nat Bailey Stadium for the first time, what did that mean to you and your career?” Let’s analyse that. Quite apart from the stupid timing, HOW INCREDIBLY INANE IS THAT QUESTION? It meant he was one step closer to the big leagues. I’m sure he was happy, but I’m also sure it was a fairly minor moment in the progression of a player who was already projected to make a quick impression in the bigs.

    Madani is a pompous, self-promoting creep. Bring back Davis or find some other little league journalist to do the job for the love of God.

    • Dexxter

      I have a few friends who know Arash personally. Nothing but great things to say about him both before and after his success with Sportsnet.

      Don’t think they’ve once used the word pompous or creep to describe him. And if your not self promoting in today’s age of social media… you probably don’t have much of a future in the field of sports and entertainment.

  • Matty

    It was a poor question and handled poorly by stroman.

    I don’t particularly care about him flying off the handle but what I do care about was his reaction towards Martin after a visit from Martin (pitch selection convo I imagine) Stroman gives up a hit and then starts barking at Martin.

    I don’t care if HDMH doesn’t respect the media, but he sure as hell better respect his teammates!

  • The Humungus

    So, last night I’m sitting on the couch and my two year old is trying to use me like a jungle gym. It’s the most fun thing in the world, he’s climbing Daddy and I keep tossing him off to the other side of the couch. He’s giggling like a maniac the whole time. I think he’s trying to get the light switch that’s behind my head because hey, when you’re two, turning lights on and off is a lot of fun.

    After like, 10 minutes of this, he finally gets frustrated, and, upon finding a lack of items available to pick up and throw at me, he takes off his underwear and hurls them at me.

    Anyway, what were we talking about again? Shit, I haven’t watched this team in at least a month. I’ve been to more minor league games this year than major league games.

    It would be great if people could just take this year (and last year) for what they are: contract hell, imposed by the previous front office, enforced by the fact that the ownership remains committed to being a budget team. What the front office did was try to get lucky with discount free agents, but not commit anything that would handcuff the team when it’s expected to be ramping up it’s competitive cycle again in 2020.

    Except that it’s not going to be a competitive cycle, because unlike actual small market teams, this franchise has the ability to be continuously competitive financially.

    Stop bitching about stupid shit. Stroman was out of line having this tantrum, Madani (who comes across as arrogant and loving his own voice to me) asked a reasonable question at a terrible moment. Both sides were wrong.

    Now fuck it. Go sit on the deck and have an IPA. These “New England style” ones have been owning my summer. Put the game on the radio if you must. Play with your kids if you got them. Hell, take ’em down to the Dome. No better time to get them to love baseball than when you can get there cheap with secondary market blowouts.

    Love life, guys.

  • Oz Rob

    I don’t know why so many people (not necessarily on this site) seem to be so bothered by this. Stroman is an emotional guy obviously and clearly he’s frustrated, very similar to David Price last year. In some ways it’s a little refreshing to see some real human reaction rather than the robotic stuff we normally get. But I think this incident speaks volumes about the atmosphere of the clubhouse…it obviously ain’t great and the malaise of the season from our perspective is not just ours as fans. What I found amazing the other day is that Pillar gets injured and is out for 6 weeks or so and I did not see one mention anywhere about if this would be a blow for the club etc…it’s as if no-one cared.

          • The Humungus

            It’s like people don’t watch any other baseball, or understand that playing even “league average” defense in CF is a huge value to a team, even if the offensive production 20% below league average for hitters.

            There are 14 CF’s in baseball who are currently offering a WRC+ above 100. Less than half the league. Pillar ranks 20th, which makes him better than the CFs for the following teams that are currently in or near playoff spots:

            Atlanta
            Boston
            Seattle
            Washington

          • The Humungus

            Hit post too early.

            Anyway, my point isn’t even that Pillar is good. Being in the bottom 3rd of starting CFs isn’t what makes him good or bad, though.

            There’s value in knowing that you have a guy who can play the third most demanding position on the field competently despite being a weak bat. On a good team, you can hit that guy 8th or 9th and just hope he sees a lot of fastballs.

            This isn’t a good team, but that’s not because of Pillar. He’s in the “perfectly fine 4th OF if your team needs a right-handed bench bat” stage of his career. I think he’d benefit from a trade to an NL team.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Price behaved like a complete asshole last year, physically blocking Dennis Eckersley’s path on a plane. Price is a POS. Stroman behaved normally and appropriately when asked a completely stupid question by a reporter who was using his privilege to question the starting pitcher after a tough game, to instead look to plug his own documentary. Price was 100% an asshole, Stroman not at all .

  • Oz Rob

    Richard Griffin has a great piece on this at The Star today. Clearly he and Stroman don’t see eye to eye, but it’s nice to see a Journalist speak their mind so candidly. Usually they are pretty guarded when it comes to the athletes they cover.

    • The Humungus

      John Lott put up a great piece on it on The Athletic overnight as well. And he managed to write about it without sounding like an old man yelling at a cloud, unlike Griffin.

      • Oz Rob

        That’s a bit harsh on Griff. He lives on a park bench, haven’t you seen his photo? Just read the Lott article…he’s such a good writer, we’re lucky to have him. I can’t help thinking that this incident in some perverse way has at least made this lost and completely mundane season a bit more interesting.

        • Nice Guy Eddie

          I don’t have a subscription anymore. Does Lott say how misplaced and inappropriate it was for Madani to ask questions not about the game or Stroman’s start, but for his own stupid documentary? Does he point that out? Because if he doesn’t, then there’s nothing worth reading there.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    This is the Media Party complaining because one of their own, Arash Madani, asked an unbelievably stupid question of a starting pitcher after a bad game, and got called out for it. I support Marcus Stroman 1000% on this. Madani should grow up. So should the media. Like Stroman gives a flying fuck about 11 innings on a baseball field in Vancouver 6 years ago. Madani abused his right to ask questions of the starting pitcher to help out some documentary he’s doing. He should apologize to Stroman for abusing his question privileges, and for the controversy that has followed, none of which is Stroman’s fault.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        Who said anything about insulting his family? What an idiotic comment. Madani has some documentary he’s working on and he chose to use the post-game question period for purposes connect to his own documentary rather than Stroman’s start or the game. Stroman wants to know why someone is asking a completely unrelated question. Kinda like your comment about his family. Completely unrelated and stupid. Madani owes Stroman an apology and the writers who are criticizing Stroman, don’t have the guts or the integrity to point out the simple fact of how misplaced Madani’s question was.

        • Moose

          Except that Stroman isn’t available to the media unless it is a day that he pitched. Madani waited until the end of the scrum to ask his question. When else was he supposed to get the answer? Does he have to wait until Stroman wins a game to not get a petulant response?

          • Nice Guy Eddie

            So what? He’s not owed an answer. He’s a reporter. Stroman doesn’t owe anyone footage for their documentaries. Especially something as stupid as a minor league stadium he saw briefly 6 years ago. Who give s a fuck about it! He doesn’t owe Arash Madani some footage for a documentary about Nat Bailey Stadium anytime, and abusing a question period after the game like Madani did, is exactly that. So what if he doesn’t want to answer questions throughout the week from Madani about his irrelevant minor league ballpark documentary,

        • Flash McLennan

          In what world does Madani owe Stroman an apology? “Sorry I asked you about Nat Bailey Stadium at the end of your media availability. I further apologize for offering a simple ‘No comment’ to anyone who asked me about your reaction to the question.’