Is Dale Sveum Rubbing the Media the Wrong Way?

For the most part, I’ve found Dale Sveum to have done a fine job thus far as manager. He was injected into an impossible situation, and he’s done the best he can. Although I know some don’t agree, and with a few exceptions, I haven’t had much quarrel with his lineup choices or his pitcher management.

His reviews from fans so far have been mixed. Managers are typically the fall guy for a crummy roster, so it’s understandable that the guy in charge of a 25-48 team isn’t going to have hoards of fans screaming his name with glee. But, at the same time, you don’t hear a *ton* of “fire Dale Sveum” type of rabble (“www.firedalesveum.com” has been registered, but not built). You just don’t really hear a whole lot of impassioned opinions on his performance one way or the other.

His reviews in the media have similarly been kind of silent. You feel for the guy as he has to try and answer the same (reasonable) questions game after game, and you feel for the media for having to ask those same questions game after game. It’s a dance that, to date, hasn’t yielded a whole lot of interesting bits, and, indeed, we still don’t really have a great sense for what the media, collectively, feel about Sveum. Maybe I find their opinion/impression more interesting then most, given my job, but I figure that they’re as close to him as anyone else outside the organization, so I’m quite interested.

And, in a recent mailbag, Paul Sullivan offered the first clear opinion.

When asked about his impression of Dale Sveum so far this year, Sullivan turned curt pretty quickly:

It’s difficult to judge Sveum based on this particular team, but yes, he is pretty rigid in his lefty-right matchups, and no, Starlin Castro shouldn’t be bunting because he’s their best hitter and not a very good bunter. I think he’s getting more comfortable as the season goes on, but he needs to be a little more forthcoming with the media when it comes to dispensing information, like saying the Cubs would probably carry three catchers, or that Marmol wouldn’t close again until he regained his command, or hiding Kerry Wood’s shoulder issues in spring training. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen, and wouldn’t under Lou Piniella, whose honesty was always appreciated.

That feels like the kind of shot that’s been percolating under the surface for a while, and one I’m surprised Sullivan expressed so openly. Obviously Sullivan (like me) is an interested party on this issue: the more information Sveum openly and accurately dispenses, the more information he can pass on to his readers. His reaction is understandable.

Sullivan is right in pointing out that, in those particular instances, Dale’s words proved to be misleading with what actually happened. But has Sveum been intentionally hiding the ball?

Even if he is, he could have a very good explanation each time. Maybe the three catcher thing really was on the table, but was scuttled because of some other roster situation that developed. Maybe Sveum really didn’t want Marmol to be the closer again so soon, but was overruled by the front office. Maybe Sveum is hiding things, generally, for the good of the organization. Who knows?

Ultimately, it’s an interesting issue, and something to keep an eye on as the year proceeds, and tensions, inevitably, grow as the losses pile up. And it’s a reminder of the delicate balance that pro sports franchises walk while trying to win: you want to win because that’s what your fans want. But your fans also want to like your team, and feel connected to it. So your fans want access and information. But what happens when that access and information might make it incrementally less likely that you’ll win?

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

99 responses to “Is Dale Sveum Rubbing the Media the Wrong Way?”

  1. Frank

    Brett, I really like the popups you have now that block the top of the article without any way of getting rid of them. Just a good way to piss people off. It’s not like the Cubs aren’t doing a good enough job at it.

    1. Leroy K.

      you have popups?

    2. rcleven

      Refresh will make them go away for about 10 or 15 clicks.

  2. Pete

    I have no complaints whatsoever with what Dale says to the media. I have taken anything Dale has said with a grain of salt, as I am sure a lot of what he says (and whom he plays) is limited by the front office as it does its posturing game in re trades and all the other clandestine stuff they do.

  3. #1lahairfan

    ME niether I’ll judge him in 2014

  4. Smacky

    No offense to those in the media, because I wouldn’t be here without you, but if a manager doesn’t want to detail every move a team is making, that’s his business. The media, at the end of the day, are not owed answers unless it’s written up in a contract.

  5. hardtop

    Huh? Forthcoming? What is there to say? We suck, he’s told you where we suck and why he thinks we suck where and when we suck. There isn’t much else beyond we suck. When you suck this bad there is nothing you can say or do within the course of a season to,make you suck any less. Personally I’ve heard plenty from dale this season, I have no idea why the media wants to here about changing the lightbulbs on the titanic.

  6. loyal100more

    any thoughts in regards to travis woods decal last night? for those that didnt catch it… his decal was upside down like a “u” instead of a “C”…as well as almost on the side of his helmet rather than centered… as is this season.

    1. Cubs Dude

      I thought it was a fitting look, to this years team. I think all the players should sport a misplaced C the rest of year, except Rizzo and Castro…

  7. loyal100more

    a “U” for ugly

  8. coal

    That decal is a rarity in baseball – as I understand it no other teams have a true raised, embroidered decal on their helmets. It’s typically just a vinyl sticker. Maybe that’s why, but I hope T. Wood’s mishap isn’t responsible for the Cubs deciding to change that cool uniform detail.

    1. jstraw

      The Cubs are also the only MLB club with their logo on their pants.

  9. Yohler

    What it comes down to is a lack of objectiveness in the media. He feels slighted, irritated, or maybe it’s just that time of the month so he puts a negative spin on the story for his own personal reasons. Chicago sports analysis seems so knee jerk and like a bad relationship – really high on them one day and down the toilet the next. I find BN to be a refreshing alternative.

  10. Bullpen Brian

    We need to remember Sveum is still growing as a manager, and is doing so with the worst team in MLB. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll learn to handle his team and the media better as the season progresses.

    It’s a fortunate opportunity for Sveum that he’s learning without the added pressure of high expectations in the win/loss column this season.

    But as expectations grow life will not become any easier as manager of the Cubs. Once this team begins competing more and more people will hang on his every word…and baseball decisions as the skipper. So far, so good.

  11. jstraw

    I don’t care what Paul Sullivan thinks or has to say…about anything.