Astros block Free Press from Justin Verlander’s postgame media session

Chris Thomas, Detroit Free Press
Published 6: 26 a.m. ET Aug. 22, 2019 | Updated 6: 32 a.m. ET Aug. 22, 2019CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideThe Houston Astros blocked the Detroit Free Press from attending Justin Verlander’s postgame media scrum on Wednesday night, violating Baseball Writers’ Association of America protocol and possibly the MLB collective bargaining agreement.The Astros blocked the Free Press at Verlander’s request, according to Gene Dias, Astros vice president of communications, who told the Free Press reporter assigned to cover the game that Verlander was “adamant” in saying he would not speak to any credentialed media if the reporter was part of the postgame media scrum.Verlander pitched a complete game Wednesday in Houston, allowing two home runs in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers. The game ended at 9: 22 p.m.At 9: 35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials.GARBAGE TIME, ALL THE TIME: MLB sees historic spike in position players pitchingJUICED BALL: More home run proof that ball is juicedWhen asked for the reason, one security official, Roy Pippin Jr., who was wearing a team-authorized badge, said he was told by Dias not to allow the reporter inside the clubhouse. “I’ll come and get him when he’s ready to come in,” Pippin Jr., speaking for Dias, told the reporter.The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9: 41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended.Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.Attempts to contact Dias and BBWAA president Rob Biertempfel were not immediately successful Wednesday night.“Blocking a working reporter from doing his job is unprofessional, disappointing and intolerable,” Free Press executive editor Peter Bhatia said. “We will be protesting to MLB and the Astros.”Wednesday’s incident came hours after Dias told the Free Press that the Astros preferred the reporter not attend Verlander’s postgame media session. It also came a day after Verlander refused to speak to credentialed media in a group setting with the Free Press reporter present.Preventing media access runs countercurrent to the mission of the BBWAA, which was established in 1908 to “ensure proper working conditions in press boxes and clubhouses, and to ensure its members have access to players and others in the game so members’ reporting can be accurate, fair and complete.”In addition, preventing a reporter from entering the clubhouse on time could violate Section 2 of the Regular Season Club/Media Relations Guidelines in the collective bargaining agreement, which gives working media access to both clubhouses “no later than 10 minutes following the final out of each game.” In Wednesday’s case, the Free Press was admitted 19 minutes after the game ended and six minutes later than other credentialed media.In addition, Section 6 of the guidelines requires players to be “available to the media before and after games for interviews.” It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Astros’ decision to delay the reporter’s access to Verlander would violate the rule.