Wednesday afternoon, the New York Mets beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3. The winning pitcher: Noah Syndergaard. The losing "pitcher:" Jay Horwitz, longtime Mets PR head.
Syndergaard left the game after six innings due to elbow discomfort, but the media was not aware of this as his departure happened between innings and, thus, didn’t raise any suspicion.
So as Mets manager Terry Collins fielded questions during the post-game press conference, the issue never came up. He answered queries and was ready to leave. Not so fast. Horwitz stopped him and urged Collins to mention something about his star pitcher.
Clearly perturbed, Collins first addressed Horwitz by saying, "There wasn’t any questions on it." (There weren’t any questions, Terry, but I digress.) He then turned to the media and added, "The puppy dog wants you guys to know that Noah Syndergaard’s seeing the doctor. His elbow flared up on him. That’s why I took him out of the game."
And with that, Collins bolted. He might have left the room, but he did not escape the media’s venom – and deservedly so.
Here's the full video of Terry calling some dude a puppy dog and then dropping that bomb about Noah and running away https://t.co/SouPdAt4r7— KFC (@KFCBarstool) June 22, 2016
He was petulant and unprofessional. He clearly insulted someone who is widely regarded as one of the best, hardest-working PR people in sports. The widespread demands that Collins publicly apologize to Horwitz are totally justified. It was uncalled for.
However, Horwitz can’t be absolved from all blame. These two men clearly knew there was some major news here. They obviously did not communicate before the press conference as to how to handle the situation. It’s crisis comms 101, guys.
Horwitz’s job is to keep the media informed. Collins’ job is to answer the questions he’s asked. Horwitz put Collins in the difficult position of having to deal with something that, in truth, a host of other people – including Horwitz – could have dealt with, maybe should have dealt with.
Collins comes off as a bully here. But if you take the "puppy dog" out of it, are we still lambasting him? Probably not. Is it really the manager’s job to deliver this news to the media first? Or is it the PR director’s job to do that? Or, at least, have a quick conversation with the manager before the press conference to go over scenarios.
A PR head’s job is to put his top executives in the best possible position to deal with the media. Clearly that didn’t happen here. Collins’ insult to Horwitz was bad, but Horwitz didn’t do Collins any favors. Two errors on this play.