Wednesday, May 06, 2009
You have to feel bad when someone gets fired, but the way in which David Steele was let go from the Baltimore Sun was just downright evil. Steele, and others, were told via phone that they were being let go, but even worse while in the press box covering an Orioles game.
Well Steele has penned his first account of the events for Real Clear Sports, and here are some of the highlights, er lowlights....
Not long after that, around 2 p.m., one of the other writers pulled me aside: “Maese just sent a text saying he got laid off." It was a perfectly legible sentence, but it made no sense to anyone there. It’s the middle of the game, they just had layoffs yesterday, he’s a prominent columnist … huh? It wasn’t anything to joke about, but it didn’t sound true at all. But he had, for the moment, disappeared from his seat.That is just the lowest of the low right there, and a chilling account of what went down. Growing up in that area, the Baltimore Sun has always been dysfunctional, but hearing something like this just signifies the end of the end. You would have thought that the way it was depicted on "The Wire" would have been the nail in the coffin, but gutting the Sports Department seems to be the final straw. There's really no other reason to read the thing.
I went back to my seat and saw that there was a message on my cell from the office. I hadn’t turned the ringer back up after the manager’s pre-game press conference, so I hadn’t heard it. The message: call back as soon as you get this. Good, I thought, we’ll straighten out this business of who is writing for the next day. Which, technically, is what happened. Still, apparently, I was either completely clueless or in total denial, I’m still not sure which.
It didn’t matter. I called back and got the voice mail. At 2:34 p.m. (that time-stamp is kind of stuck in my head for the time being), the office called back. I went into a hallway behind the press box and answered it with something like, “Hey, what’s up?’’ Or “What’s going on?’’ Along those lines.
My editor greeted me, paused, took a deep breath. “David, I’m sorry you have to be told this way …"
I actually doubled over. It wasn’t a sharp pain, and it wasn’t like I was about to get sick. It was more like a knot in my stomach. I know I said, “Aw, shit,’’ but I don’t know how loud I said it, apparently not loudly enough for my editor to take note of it. The rest is a little fuzzy, something about just now getting the list and the union and not wanting me to hear it from someone else and getting paid through the end of May and severance and human resources and return your possessions to us and thank you for your hard work and professionalism and blah blah blah.
Press Box Layoff: How the Baltimore Sun Fired Me (Real Clear Sports)