Sportress of Blogitude

Jose Bautista is boycotting team’s broadcaster due to snit over rookie’s suit

Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista has been boycotting Sportsnet for the past three months because he’s upset over the team’s official broadcaster refusing to pay for a suit purchased by rookie Devon Travis during a profile piece earlier this season, the Toronto Star reports.

Bautista has refused to conduct one-on-one interviews with Sportsnet since the Travis segment aired on May 19 to protest what he perceives as the broadcaster taking advantage of the rookie “since it was the network’s idea to do the suit-buying special,” the report reads. He is still doing one-on-one interviews with other media outlets.

The slugger apparently felt compelled to stand up for his rookie teammate because he feels Travis didn’t feel able to do so for himself.

Bautista declined to comment for the report but did confirm that the paper is accurate in its characterization of the matter. Travis, who is in Florida on a rehab assignment, also declined to provide comment through a team spokesperson.

The report goes on to seek the opinion of a journalism instructor, who believes Sportsnet paying for the suit would have represented a conflict of interest.

“If Sportsnet had’ve paid for the suit, it could have given the appearance of having too cozy a relationship with Travis and the Blue Jays,” said Carleton University’s Janice Tibbetts. “It’s a lot fuzzier than out-and-out paying for news, but Sportsnet and the Jays already have the same owner, so there’s the perception already that they’re too close, that there’s an ethical conflict or there could be some threat to journalistic independence. So it just looks better if he pays for his own suit.”

As noted elsewhere, including Deadspin and Hardball Talk, the Blue Jays and Sportsnet are both owned by Rogers Communications, so the purported conflict is arguably nonexistent. Other mitigating factors further complicate the notion that paying for the suit would have been a conflict of interest as well.

In the end, it’s an awkward situation for both Bautista and Sportsnet. It’s also worth noting that Travis is earning a major-league minimum $507,500 this season. Perhaps Bautista could solve the problem and do what Alex Rodriguez does for every incoming New York Yankees rookie.