Something to Think About: do we really need to know everything?

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Sometimes a comment can hurt as much as a thrown ball.Tacoma Times (1904), Photographer unknown

By Alexis Brudnicki

Throughout 2021, as an audience we read, saw, and heard numerous stories of women publicly disclosing their experiences of victimization in baseball—among other sports and industries—the difficulties in combating the power dynamics that exist, and their fears relating to reporting. Public disclosure is and has been a mechanism for cultural and organizational change, and sometimes it appears to be the only option when the existing systems fail victims. But it shouldn’t be necessary.

Some women shared their stories through the media. Few used their names, while others did not. It stands to reason that additional women came forward privately, as punishments were brought down and shared by Major League Baseball’s office of the commissioner throughout the year.

For certain fans, seemingly nothing was satisfactory. Women who shared their accounts of incidents were deemed attention-seekers, those who shared their names became targets, and those who didn’t were presumed to be dishonest. As more information was made public, the further the theories of collusion were floated. With little or no information about some punishments or offenders, somehow the level of distrust increased.

A significant portion of people existing in the baseball sphere was upset. Maybe they felt as though their heroes could do no wrong, or their favorite team could not possibly bear any responsibility, and the decisions made just couldn’t be just. Perhaps they wanted to know why individuals hadn’t come forward sooner or gone to different authorities, or what their motivations were in reporting such wrongdoing. Maybe they felt entitled to more details than were given. And perhaps because they didn’t have the level of detail they desired, or that we have all become accustomed to, they didn’t trust the decisions made.

As previously mentioned, public disclosure can be a mechanism for cultural and organizational change. But perhaps personal justice can also be achieved on the pathway to the change. What I am certain that at least some people saw, read, or heard was a way for offenders to be punished, for them to be taken out of the positions of power in which they might offend again, without the victims or survivors having their personal details or the details of their trauma shared. Audiences shouldn’t need the personal traumas of others laid bare time and time again to understand that the problems exist, and to be motivated enough to try to do something about them. The paths chosen by those who came forward could create avenues in which sanctions were proven, but instead, some were wary. People wanted more. Some indicated that it was their right to know more.

But what rights do we—as an audience, as members of the media, as fans of the game—have to the lives of others, to their traumas, and to their details? There is no right to know what was done to a person just because someone deemed important was punished, by their employers, for what they did.

Of course, if victims or survivors are so inclined, they can share what it is they want an audience to know. What they are willing to disclose. What they have been thinking about for far longer than an audience has been thinking about what was done to them, or what the fallout of that was. And they should be able to do so without being deemed to be seeking attention.

Media can help shift the conversation. It can move the needle from the constant need to know more to understand when enough is enough. It can help its audience understand that diving deeper may not be the healthiest choice for all those involved. As members of the media, we can work for change. We can create better environments. We can start thinking more about women and other diverse members of our industry than we do about robot umpires and enhanced spin rates. We can start taking the perspectives of others, of our colleagues who are not male, not white, not straight, not everything we picture when we look back at the history of who holds power in this industry and beyond.

We can be supportive without asking questions. We can understand that we don’t know what others are carrying with them every day, while they simultaneously get the job done. We can acknowledge our abilities to ignore the issues at hand when they don’t directly affect us, the fact that we can put off thinking about what others are going through and take time to formulate a measured response, that we can sit back and watch the issues play out, because we have that privilege. We can simultaneously do our jobs as members of the media without ignoring, putting off, sitting back, and while acknowledging our own privileges and taking steps toward equity.

Numerous members of the baseball media seemingly felt slighted that they didn’t have more information about certain incidents, punishments, offenders, or offenses. Many shared entitlement to details of what women went through. One labeled a survivor a “delicate flower,” also upset that they didn’t have more information handed to them about what had occurred. Some mislabeled incidents or offenses, at the very least not aligning with official statements about them, always minimizing mistaken identifications.

Members of the media should consider, even for a fleeting moment, that victims and survivors might be among their audiences. We could also consider that we might not be covering these issues as well as we could be. If this might be you, and it is likely all of us, one suggestion is to pick up a copy of Jessica Luther’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct. She did the work. She laid out how we can be better, and who among us could not be better? These issues are borne out of a sports culture that all of us in the industry contribute to and continue to perpetuate. We all can be better, and we need to be active in our efforts to do just that.

The industry should be grateful for all those who have shared their experiences, and all the things they do and have done that should never have been required. They aren’t the ones who need our words, though we shouldn’t take for granted that they might be reading them. Personally, I have been inspired by the women who have come forward, though those beacons of inspiration might have never wanted, or asked, to be as much. And it’s not because of what was done to them, but it is because of who they are, who they were before it was done, and who they will continue to be.

And I hope they inspire us all to continue to be better.

Alexis Brudnicki is a Canada-based Baseball Development and Special Projects reporter for MLB.com. You can find her on Twitter at

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