The Art of the Interview and Erik Bedard

DMZ · May 14, 2008 at 7:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The issue of a player’s responsibility to give decent post-game interviews came up with Felix now that he’s been ducking the press, putting him in the same company as Bedard, who doesn’t care for that stuff at all.

There are two ways to look at this.

One, they’re paid to play baseball, and that’s their job. If they don’t speak English, don’t like talking to reporters, can’t be bothered to pretend they enjoy baseball particularly, don’t do charity work…. doesn’t matter. Judge them by their play on the field and leave them alone. If they want to give interviews, good. Always ready with a cliche, good. If they’re college graduates who can speak intelligently, even better (actually, no, they get pegged as nerds and mocked throughout their careers).

Or two, they’re in the entertainment business, and it’s part of the job. People pay to see a good game, and part of that experience is the ballpark, the press coverage, the parasite-infested mascot, the team’s community relationships, and so on. As part of the team, a player has an obligation there.

It’s like expecting movie stars to show up for grueling publicity where they give 5m interviews to every local entertainment reporter in the country for eighteen hours.

These are both entirely valid. If you’ve been around for a while, you know I generally come down on the first side, which is a little weird since I devour all coverage of the team. But I understand that the team’s selling a product, and those things help. It’s why friendly faces who will make themselves available to the press during the 7th game of a losing streak are valued by their teams beyond their value on the field.

There are two problems that affect this that we don’t often talk about.

First, only the “players need to give good interview” viewpoint is ever presented, because the people who cover the team are strongly in that camp. Their jobs rely in large part on that access and ability to cover the team. Players who have bad relationships with the press get ridiculously bad coverage uniformly. They don’t get to be anointed team leaders, their contributions are often played down compared to their peers, and when they mess up they get harsher coverage.

I’ll skip Barry Bonds to avoid starting that conversation, but look at the career of Eddie Murray, who refused to talk to reporters. Compare the favorable treatment Derek Jeter has always received in the New York and national press with that given to his more-guarded teammates. It happens over and over.

Whether or not you feel it’s a player’s job to talk to the press, no one should think that that’s fair. But it happens, and because it does, it contributes to the general lack of respect for the press by players. No one respects the boss that plays favorites, and it’s hard to respect the favorites.

Second, the quality of interview is absolutely atrocious. It’s no wonder that players give crappy answers, because the questions are almost uniformly awful. I have all the sympathy in the world for players who try and get out of the post-game interviews. Watch one post-game press conference from start to finish and see if you don’t agree with me.

Much of the interviewing that goes on, particularly on the TV side, goes:
1) Corner player
2) Stick mike in player’s face
3) “Tell me about the home run in the 7th.”
4) Wait

That’s not interviewing. It’s not even an interrogation. It’s laziness. There’s no context, no insight, not even really anything for a player to start with. No wonder they often just open their mouths and start talking in cliches. They’re being asked cliche questions by unprepared, annoying people over and over.

Seriously– if you asked me the kind of questions Bedard gets asked, you’d get a lot worse answers out of me.

“Derek, it looked like you really had the chicken cooking for dinner. Was the chicken cooking?”
“Derek, in your last post you said the defense is awful. Do you think the defense is awful?”

It’s horrible.

And it doesn’t have to be this way. If you look at the times Baker’s posted really interesting, pointed questions to players/coaches, the answers can be great (which, if I may — how many times did Finnigan ever take a controversial question on core fans’ minds and chase the manager around to get it? Never. Never, never, never. Be grateful for what we have, that’s all). Ichiro likes to give weird, cryptic remarks that need to be unwrapped like a little candy, but we’ve seen repeatedly that if you ask him something intelligent that requires insight, his replies can rise to the occasion.

From a player’s viewpoint, then — the bulk of their job is preparation for games or playing the games. Then they have an additional duty to talk to people, many of which they don’t have much reason to respect and who from all evidence appear to be totally bored with their jobs and lean heavily on the players to do it for them.

After the next game, watch the post-game press conference. I’m totally serious. Watch the whole thing. And then think “If I was a pitcher and I just had a really horrible game while trying to stop a bad team’s losing streak in a season that’s already lost, how would I feel up there?”

Because I find it’s made me a lot more sympathetic to the people answering questions than the people asking them. And if players are ducking interviews, the reason may not just be “they’re jerks” but something a little more complex that requires some recognition from the people wielding the cameras, micorphones, and steno pads that they’re not without blame for the state of relations.

Comments

57 Responses to “The Art of the Interview and Erik Bedard”

  1. lailaihei on May 14th, 2008 7:20 pm

    I actually prefer the “ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer” policy that some players (Ichiro) use when being interviewed.
    When Raul Ibanez comes up and says “Yeah yeah the team played great, I was really glad when I hit that homerun, we’re a good ballclub” it really isn’t even entertaining in the slightest.
    When Ichiro says that he’d punch himself in the face if he said he would be excited about going to Cleveland, or Bedard telling the press that they can ask him four questions, it’s at least somewhat entertaining.

  2. Badbadger on May 14th, 2008 7:32 pm

    I’m on the side of it not being the player’s job to give interviews. Because it isn’t. They aren’t chosen for their ability to interview, there isn’t anything in their contracts about giving interviews (at least I don’t think so. There isn’t, is there?), and they don’t get fired for not interviewing. So…unless the M’s want to make some official demand that players do good interview work, then it’s pretty much up to the players what they want to give.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t think they should be generous and do it, I just don’t see any reasonable grounds to act like it’s their job.

  3. jspektor on May 14th, 2008 7:41 pm

    2 – Those are all very good points DMZ … although (I don’t remember for sure) I believe Randy was also terrible with the press. It really does depend on the person, and it won’t necessarily determine their legacy.

    People who like to be in the spotlight will want to give interviews and interview better, regardless of the questions.

    Look at athletes such as TO … he lives for it.

    Anyways, I know you like/think its the players obligation to answer poignant, directed questions however it comes down to each player individually. Regardless of the questions being asked.

  4. HamNasty on May 14th, 2008 7:43 pm

    I don’t think they need to. The questions and answers are so thought through we could probably fill in the answers ourselves.

    My real problem is with media that starts to turn against guys that don’t give perfect rah rah answers or many answers at all. In a regular job if someone you work with doesn’t give you exactly what you need to make you look better without doing any actual work are you going to vilify and turn on them? That would never work in about any job besides newspaper writing.

    In fact I like Bedard more because he doesn’t deal with the media and that goes for about any player in any sport. It falls back to the Charles Barkley role model speech, pro athletes wouldn’t be such role models if they would stay out of the media. The farther off the radar they are in the media the better in my eyes, good or bad influences.

  5. joser on May 14th, 2008 7:52 pm

    “poignant, directed questions”? Like, how did you feel when your pet died as a child? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you meant to write pertinent

    “Don’t think, it can only hurt the ballclub”

  6. msb on May 14th, 2008 7:55 pm

    My real problem is with media that starts to turn against guys that don’t give perfect rah rah answers or many answers at all.

    and I have to say, this is my worry with Baker re: Felix– his description of Felix’ delay in talking to the press was just a bit too bitchy, especially next to ‘Raul Ibanez, Stand-Up Guy’

  7. jro on May 14th, 2008 7:58 pm

    I would actually prefer fewer daily player comments in exchange for more substantive conversations spread out.

  8. HamNasty on May 14th, 2008 8:04 pm

    jro- I agree. The only time I read or listen to player comments are usually in human interest pieces in ESPN the Mag or a 5 minute interview where they discuss how they got through the Minors or delt with a career threatening injury. Not how losing feels, we all know it sucks.

  9. BlazerD on May 14th, 2008 8:04 pm

    How about this classic:

    “Both teams played hard”

    -Rasheed Wallace

  10. jinja on May 14th, 2008 8:17 pm

    Derek, I think you’re ducking the real issue here. Was the chicken cooking?

  11. Mat on May 14th, 2008 8:37 pm

    After the next game, watch the post-game press conference. I’m totally serious. Watch the whole thing. And then think “If I was a pitcher and I just had a really horrible game while trying to stop a bad team’s losing streak in a season that’s already lost, how would I feel up there?”

    That sort of reminded me of Iverson’s concluding marks in his infamous practice rant press conference:

    A lot of y’all can’t put your feet in my shoes because you can’t handle it. But just try to stick your feet in my shoes. It does not have to be a [expletive] day, just try for a minute and try to deal with what I do in my life. My best friend is dead and we lost. And this is what I have to go through for the rest of the summer until the season is all over again. This is what I got to go through…this is my life in a nutshell. Now y’all come home and live your lovely life, live it up and live your life to the fullest.

  12. Teej on May 14th, 2008 8:40 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’m a newspaper editor who’s becoming disillusioned at much too young an age, but this post was great. Pretty much sums up how I feel about the state of sports journalism — well, at least the sports interview.

    If you watched the game, you can probably write the game recap yourself. You have the general events and pacing of the game, then you make up some generic, safe quotes about how a player’s “stuff was working” or he made “mental mistakes.”

    Sometimes you just don’t need quotes. And I think that applies to most game recaps. Just write what happened, and save the interviews for the feature pieces. You’ll get better answers because you’ll (hopefully) have an idea what angle you’re taking instead of just asking, “What happened today?” And the players might be more apt to speak openly and have some fun if it’s not the fifth time this week they’ve had to answer your questions.

    With the NBA or NFL, it makes a lot more sense to talk to players after every game. But in baseball, it seems a bit much.

  13. Mat on May 14th, 2008 8:42 pm

    They’re being asked cliche questions by unprepared, annoying people over and over.

    Absolutely. The very worst people at this seem to be the field level/courtside reporters, who 99.9999% of the time ask an awful question (if they even manage to form a question rather than a statement of fact) and just generally waste everyone’s time.

  14. scraps on May 14th, 2008 8:42 pm

    Not only do I think that giving interviews and being nice to reporters is not part of a player’s job, I think that interesting baseball writers shouldn’t need them. One of the surest ways to identify a baseball writer who has nothing insightful to say, for instance, is an inclination to take potshots at Barry Bonds at every opportunity. As a fan, I don’t give a hit about the writer;s personal opinion of Bonds. I want to read good writing about Bonds as a player. It’s sad that only a small fraction of baseball writers have anything insightful to say about the game. The large majority of them are no better than celebrity journalists.

  15. Roger on May 14th, 2008 8:49 pm

    Which brings up the question: If we seemingly all agree that interviews are an optional part of being on a team, why the hate of BB or other “pariahs?” After all, the only information you have on them as people is through their interviews. Because, objectively, if you simply want to judge people by what they do on the field, a lot of players who are loathed should be revered, and a lot of “scrappy” players should be seen for the mediocre baseball players they are.

  16. Mike Snow on May 14th, 2008 8:52 pm

    I still find Bedard’s “You get four questions” spring training line hilarious in its own way. It was a better insight into his personality than any number of questions could have been. And still, I think if you left it entirely to Baker’s devices, he could make good use of those four questions.

  17. Steve Nelson on May 14th, 2008 8:56 pm

    I liked the mention of Finnigan, Derek. After reading Baker’s post the other day about cliques in the clubhouse, I realized what a contrast that was from the Finnigan days. While I often have issues with Baker, those really are minor compared with the pleasures of having a beat writer who doesn’t provide superficial coverage and who doesn’t simply repeat what the team is feeding him.

  18. rifaco on May 14th, 2008 8:58 pm

    Have you ever read Jonah Keri’s interviews (he calls them Q&A’s) on ESPN? It’s not he’s like a beat writer having to come up with good questions after every game, but his questions are very intelligent, and evoke some excellent responses.

  19. Go Felix on May 14th, 2008 8:58 pm

    I don’t care how a player interviews for anyone. Play the game on the field and don’t get arrested are my two rules for judging players.

    I don’t care what is the mind set of any players on the Mariners as long as they just win on the field. Even if they lose it’s not their job to think of the “right” answers to say to a writer. Prety much the only person that should handle interviews is the manager and front office, that’s it. Let the players play and let the coaches take the heat for what happens on the field.

  20. wabbles on May 14th, 2008 9:02 pm

    I left journalism for several years after my first job because, in part, in an age before e-mail and voicemail I had extreme difficulty catching up with many sources. It was extremely frustrating. Reporters need sources. In this case, that’s the players in the locker room after the game. I never met a sports fan who doesn’t make fun of cliches but we all eat up the postgame comments, especially if there was a controversial call or game-changing play. So yes, it’s part of the job description. How much they talk with the press should kinda depend upon how much they like it and how good they are it, like anything else. (OK, I’ll do the engineering, you prepare the PowerPoint, you prepare the budget and then everybody shut up and let Smith give the presentation to the bosses, he’s the best at it.) The reporters should ask better questions, of course, but post game interviews often are virtually the same and everybody should know that. But the players need to do them because (as a minor celebrity myself in our six stoplight town), I can tell you that without the fans they might as well be playing in their backyards.

  21. NBarnes on May 14th, 2008 9:03 pm

    One of the reasons that I’m a pretty much in-the-pocket Barry Bonds fanboy is that he obviously loathed the baseball press, for which I can only respect him. Ichiro is the same way to me, really; he just enjoys playing with their tiny press minds like cat toys, as opposed to Barry’s utter contempt.

    I mean, I don’t think less of players that are good at media relations. But I can’t other than cheer for players like Bonds and Ichiro.

  22. DavidE on May 14th, 2008 9:05 pm

    I don’t have a single problem with what Felix did after the game last night. He’s obviously frustrated about his performance and after the butcher-shop that was our defense, he has a right to be pissed. Add in the fact they only scored two runs and I can see why he’d want to sit in the players lounge, sip his brew and stew in his pissedoffedness. I don’t know what Baker wanted him to say. His answers were just cliches but I’m sure he had more on his mind but wasn’t willing to throw his teammates under the bus like the so-called grizzled veteran that is Washburn.

    As far as the overall question about player interviews, I think garbage-in, garbage-out is the way to go. Ask stupid questions, get stupid/cliche answers. I love Ichiro’s interviews and it’s too bad more players can’t do what he does in interviews. But I guess not everyone can produce Ichiro-quality interview goodness.

  23. DMZ on May 14th, 2008 9:32 pm

    Have you ever read Jonah Keri’s interviews (he calls them Q&A’s) on ESPN? It’s not he’s like a beat writer having to come up with good questions after every game, but his questions are very intelligent, and evoke some excellent responses.

    Jonah’s a friend of mine, I’m sure he’d be happy to hear you’re enjoying those.

  24. enazario on May 14th, 2008 9:37 pm

    I guess I will disagree with the majority of people posting on this blog today. First, I do agree that most questions by beat reporters are inane and lazy. Reporters owe the public and the players as much preparation and dedication as the athletes that they cover have for the sport they play.

    That said, while the players certainly don’t owe anything to reporters -I believe they owe the public more.

    I could write that they owe us because we pay their salaries. I could also write that being adored and paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a kid’s game is reason enough to do interviews after every game. They should get up every morning and thank god and the Universe that they were blessed with such great fortune. But that would be a facile reason since it is not a strict employee/employer relationship.

    Yes we employ them but we as fans get a lot of enjoyment out of watching incredible human beings perform feats of athleticism we can only dream of and never achieve. So they don’t owe us anything because we pay them to perform. Most of them earn their salaries (or at least a fraction of it) because of what they do on the field.

    They owe us more because many fans give more than money -they open up their hearts. They make connections with players and with experience of baseball that go beyond the simple economic transactions of buying tickets and nine dollar beer. If you don’t believe me talk to my son after Ichiro gets a hit or Felix gets a strikeout. Or talk to anyone who’s come to a game to bond with their father, their kid or their spouse.

    I’m a sentimental guy though I don’t think I am sappy. I think the players owe me more because I believe fans -many of whom are on this blog- give a lot of themselves. While no one denies that they do it willingly, is it really so hard to expect the same in return?

  25. fetish on May 14th, 2008 9:52 pm

    I think there is an onus on the players to be courteous with the press, certainly those who are given credentials to be in the locker room. The reporters in this case are guests of the team whose work will ultimate help sell the product.

    I don’t think players need to give interviews all the time, but they need to be able to say “not tonight” rather than be confrontational or dismissive. At the same time, the media needs to do a better job of respecting the players requests, and to ask better questions rather than force the players to repeat the same stupid stuff over and over.

  26. whiskeychainsaw on May 14th, 2008 9:58 pm

    Eddie Murray, great reference. Particularly when connecting to his teammate and fan/media favorite Cal Ripkin. Far ends of the spectrum there!

    They owe us more because many fans give more than money -they open up their hearts. They make connections with players and with experience of baseball that go beyond the simple economic transactions of buying tickets and nine dollar beer. If you don’t believe me talk to my son after Ichiro gets a hit or Felix gets a strikeout. Or talk to anyone who’s come to a game to bond with their father, their kid or their spouse.

    I’m a sentimental guy though I don’t think I am sappy. I think the players owe me more because I believe fans -many of whom are on this blog- give a lot of themselves. While no one denies that they do it willingly, is it really so hard to expect the same in return?

    Interesting thought, thank you. I somewhat disagree though, on the “interview factor.” I would rather the player make contact with the fans themselves, even if only a few of the fans, than to stand on a podium and give cliches.

    I still remember an article from the back of SI from when Rickey Henderson was with the A’s and there was this little girl who sat in LF bleachers and always brought a sign for him. She cried when he was traded to the Jays, and this player who had a surly reputation with fans and the media came over to her his first road game back to Oakland and took pictures, etc. That article was one of the many reasons Rickey was one of my favorite players when younger, even if his interviews were… less than ideal perspectives on the human condition.

  27. enazario on May 14th, 2008 9:59 pm

    By the way, I don’t know if the Mariners is one of these teams, but many teams do put it in the player’s contract that they need to do marketing and press activities

  28. Gerald on May 14th, 2008 10:01 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I always have a hard time expressing exactly how I feel about it.

    One thing I’d add is that I understand it’s not easy being a reporter in the clubhouse everyday. Pretty much all of them get treated like crap at some point and no one in that position deserves it.

    All that being said, Baker was being an asshole simply because he used Felix’s dodging of the press to justify his ranting about how Felix isn’t a very good player. Where the hell does he come off?

  29. Seth on May 14th, 2008 10:02 pm

    Post-game NFL press conferences are just as stupid, as pretty much every answer is some variation of “I’ll have to look at the game film.”

  30. Zobmie on May 14th, 2008 10:05 pm

    I don’t mind players ducking reporters after games. I mean, good lord. I rush to my remote immediately after the games on FSN because the reporting is just so mind numbingly insipid. If I was a player you can bet your bottom dollar I wouldn’t be giving many interviews.

  31. Gerald on May 14th, 2008 10:06 pm

    A little addendum to my post:

    I somewhat understand now why Carlos Delgado didn’t talk to the guy for a year.

  32. Turbopotamus on May 14th, 2008 10:08 pm

    A great writer can produce a darned good profile with no access to the subject whatsoever. However, it sure does help. (Caple’s video blog with R.A. Dickey is completely captivating and a total delight.)

    Print beat reporters have less access to players than ever, and they’re adjusting. Few can rely on post-game scrums to get their stories: they’re busy with a filing deadline, a plane to catch, a blog to maintain… I think that leaving the radio and TV guys to pick up the cliche of the day may be good for print journalism in the long run. We may actually see reporters incorporate statistical analysis into their pieces and let the players’ performance on the field speak for itself. That’s how you deal with a guy like Erik Bedard, who just wants to be left alone: focus on results, trends, evidence.

    Unfortunately, that approach involves too much work. So here’s what we get:

    a) the only enterprising sports journalism I see today involves amateur athletes, “the business of sport,” or scandal; and

    b) radio and TV is dominated by shows where journalists interview each other instead of talking to people with first-hand knowledge of the game and how it’s played.

    So I have to hand it to Geoff Baker when he offer a glimpse of how the players relate to one another in the clubhouse. I wasn’t surprised by what he wrote, but that he wrote it all all. Most of the stories about clubhouse cliques come from agents or anonymous (and probably disgruntled) players, not the reporters themselves, who fear “losing access” because they betrayed some sort of “trust.”

    Which brings up one more point, and it’s relevant to the discussion about Felix. I wonder whether Baker’s “Toronto White Jays” article dogs him at all with Latin players. I think the guy is a good reporter, and he opened a fascinating can of worms in Toronto. I was living in there in 2003 when the piece was published, and its treatment by The Toronto Star was, uh, inflammatory. This link won’t take you to the article — I can’t find it. But I bet Carlos Delgado has a copy.

  33. Typical Idiot Fan on May 14th, 2008 10:58 pm

    So what’s up with Triunfel? Back in Peoria for some reason, but Churchill says it’s not to be traded. The “math” adds up to disciplinary action, but what could it be?

  34. brianf on May 14th, 2008 11:11 pm

    You left out my all time least-favorite lazy interview question — used *constantly* in post-game interviews of M’s players:

    “Could you talk about xxx”…

    Sometimes xxx is another player (usually asked about the manager) or sometimes xxx is a partiular at-bat/situation (e.g. your 10 pitch at-bat in the 9th).

    It’s the pinnacle of laziness by a reporter. Shameful.

  35. Zero Gravitas on May 14th, 2008 11:16 pm

    One thing missing from this equation that I think is important is the impact of the PR staff of the teams. MLB is a big business and the players I’m sure are given at least some media training every year. PR people are generally ok with people telling the truth in interviews, as long as it doesn’t reflect on the brand they’re protecting in any kind of negative way. This ends up being pretty much impossible especially if the team sucks, so the players don’t have much PR-acceptable commentary that is safe to use in an interview. I think this is part of the reason the cliches get used so much – the players know what an ‘acceptable’ answer is from a PR perspective, and they’re trained to play it safe and not screw up the brand.

    Also, I don’t think it’s accurate to say it’s not the players’ job to talk to reporters. I’m quite sure this is a contractual obligation for them, and their contracts are very large, so ducking this is uncool in my book. I can see it being frustrating, and just wish more of them could be more Ichiro-like and have some fun with it. I realize that is asking a bit much though.

  36. philosofool on May 14th, 2008 11:31 pm

    Before I write this, let me just say that I’m no defender of the media.

    However, imagine yourself the reporter in a good comeback game for the Mariners. You know exactly what happened: two players got on base and the one behind them got a double that scored the two runners. Then the relievers didn’t cough up a run. And in the ninth there was a walk off homer.

    You, the reporter, can try to spin this in some way, but you know that the real story is good fortune–as with any run scoring events in baseball, they’re pretty much random. These one happened in leverage situations, but they didn’t happen because the player did something other than what he usually does. 162 games a season, you’re editor wants information about this game and next game. There’s just not much you can ask. Can you thin of 162 distinct interesting questions about the most recent game to ask Raul Ibanez this year?

    That’s no excuse for presenting a guy as a jerk in the local paper, but when I think about this stuff from the perspective of the reporter, I find myself more sympathetic to their stupid questions.

  37. Breadbaker on May 14th, 2008 11:31 pm

    Driving home from the ballpark in the early 00′s, we used to predict what Lou would say at the start of his “press conference each night.” It would go something like this, “McLemore made a fine play in left tonight. We got six good innings out of Freddie then Kaz came in and closed the door.” I swear he was trying to make sure he was as predictable and unmemorable as he could be.

  38. Anthony on May 15th, 2008 12:11 am

    I had a friend who used to work for some small TV station, and he’d occasionally go to college games and be in the locker room for the interviews. We were talking about this one day, and he said they were trained to ask those types of questions, because they WANTED the short, cliched answer. These reporters are thinking about the 11pm news, where the highlights will get 30 seconds and interviews maybe 15 seconds. They’re looking for sound bites to fit in that spot.

    Living in New York, I love catching Mike Mussina’s post-game interviews (though I missed it tonight). He’s the ultimate “stupid question/stupid answer” guy, because he will first stare at the reporter with disbelief and pity, then answers as curtly as possible. A reporter once asked him where the “Moose” nickname came from. “Uh, it comes from my name.”

  39. John in L.A. on May 15th, 2008 12:53 am

    “I’m a sentimental guy though I don’t think I am sappy. I think the players owe me more because I believe fans -many of whom are on this blog- give a lot of themselves. While no one denies that they do it willingly, is it really so hard to expect the same in return?”

    Fans have a real tendency to think they are owed by the people the root for… if the player doesn’t sign enough autographs, for example. (I believe this is part of a larger societal sense of entitlement that is growing at an alarming rate, but I’ll save that for U.S.S. U.S. dot com.)

    I personally think that players owe fans pretty much one thing… effort. After that is is gravy. Players that are fan friendly are rewarded plenty for that, they don’t all have to be cut from that cloth.

    In fact, scratch that… the fans are owed nothing. The team is owed effort.

    I’m not a big fan of the “we pay his salary”-type arguments. I think if I took every dollar I spend in a year and broke it down into all the groups it went to (bought a hamburger – I pay the salaries of the Wendy’s workers, plus the corporate salaries, of course, plus the rancher that raised the beef and the farmer who grew the lettuce and the paper mill that made the wrapper and the lumberjacks who cut down the trees, etc. And then add in all the taxes I pay and where they go – everyone in the military, the post office, government, on welfare, on corporate welfare, etc.) I would bet that I could make an argument that I pay most everyone in America’s salary in one way or another. And support them if they don’t have a salary.

    So make me a sandwich.

  40. sewerjew on May 15th, 2008 12:53 am

    I think the masses expect these athletes (and I do use the term loosely as Vidro and Silva come to mind) to act as politicians with the press when they clearly are not. Baseball players have spent their entire lives mastering the game, not the interview, pass judgment on them for it. Would you want to answer asinine questions about how you fudged one number on your accounting report or didn’t order enough shingles for your roofing project? Of course not. It’s just ridiculous.

    As hilarious as I’ve found interviews from Carl Everett to Vidro, it’s still a choice for the individual player. I would love to hear what Felix thinks. However, I don’t think he would enjoy sitting in front of a microphone with a look of frustration on his face wondering why he is answering questions better suited to the intelligence level of a 4th grade classroom.

    As much as the general public would like to think otherwise, the members of any professional team are just people with talent at throwing a ball, returning a serve, or catching a pass.

  41. Gerald on May 15th, 2008 1:01 am

    I’d argue that the players don’t owe the fans anything. The players owe it to themselves and their employers to perform. Their employers are the ones that owe us.

    Boy do they owe us.

  42. John in L.A. on May 15th, 2008 1:04 am

    I love the post, DMZ.

    I think the thing that troubles me most about the subject is that it is a worthless, self-sustaining system. It provides NOTHING.

    I don’t know a single fan, no matter how casual, who cares about the filler locker room questions. Zero. But the system values them, so they keep being produced.

    Now, that is separate from fluff pieces, which people like, and from interviews on specific subjects.

    But just the everyday bullshit questions you’re talking about… I don’t know anyone who values them except the system that produces them.

    And a lot of that is because baseball works really, really hard to keep them meaningless. It’s self-sabotage in a way, because they are more afraid of gaffes then they are hopeful for interesting.

    Just useless.

    And who can blame the players? One misstatement and they are liable to be crucified. The media is now predominantly a game of don’t-screw-up. If we want people to be interesting, we have to cut them more slack when they say something bad.

  43. scraps on May 15th, 2008 7:10 am

    we all eat up the postgame comments

    Nope.

    Nearly all sportswriters, it seems, justify their anger and resentment at uncooperative athletes with a pretense that the sportswriter is representing the fans, that the athletes owe the fans their cooperation. The truth is, the sportswriter feels the athletes owe the sportswriters, because the sportswriters owe the fans a story. But that’s the sportswriter’s responsibility.

  44. joker on May 15th, 2008 7:34 am

    Side note: lost in the fact that she’s unbelievably hot, Erin Andrews has to be the best sideline reporter. Of course there’s some fluff in there, that’s unavoidable for post-game interviews, but it seems she actually asks questions that have non-cliche answers: probably because it seems she actually watches the game and doesn’t just look at what happened.

    I realized this I-can’t-remember-when but she was asking some kid at the College World Series who hit a big home run something along the lines of “now you got that homerun on a 2-2 slider, what was your mindset there were you looking for that or just reacting to what was thrown?” and forced the kid to give a real answer about his thinking during the at-bat…not just some BS answer to “how did you feel?”.

    Though my favorite Erin Andrews moments are when she interviews David Ortiz, not because the interviews are especially good or anything, but she actually addresses him as “Papi”. I’m like a deer in the headlights there’s so many jokes on that one…

    Plus she’s really hot.

  45. msb on May 15th, 2008 8:01 am

    Drayer weighs in on Felix post-game

  46. Jeff Nye on May 15th, 2008 8:38 am

    Derek, I really think you gave it 110% in this post.

    You made the post the right way, and let the rest take care of itself.

    However, it’s only one post; there’s a lot more posts to get through for the rest of the season, and it’s important to take them one post at a time.

    Now that you’re done with this post, it’s time to get ready for the next one. You have to be prepared for each post like yesterday’s never happened; you can’t take yesterday’s post into today’s.

  47. fetish on May 15th, 2008 8:44 am

    Does anyone think the USSM writer/commentor reaction would be different if it was Carl Everett or Richie Sexson ducking interviews, rather than one of the ‘approved’ players?

  48. Wallingfjord on May 15th, 2008 8:45 am

    > Drayer weighs in on Felix post-game

    Wow, that one’s pretty warm and fuzzy.

  49. msb on May 15th, 2008 8:45 am

    as she herself admits ….

  50. Jeff Nye on May 15th, 2008 8:51 am

    Does anyone think the USSM writer/commentor reaction would be different if it was Carl Everett or Richie Sexson ducking interviews, rather than one of the ‘approved’ players?

    No.

  51. msb on May 15th, 2008 9:03 am

    not to pile on Baker, but reading the piece about the clubhouse– he certainly makes it sound much more isolated than others have made it sound. As Drayer has mentioned, Washburn & Johjima have actually spent time together (those magazines Joh is reading are fishing magazines), Cairo may be hanging with Yuni & Lopez more because he has fallen into the mentoring role that Carlos Garcia used to have, a clutch of the guys hang because they have that hunting thing in common, and no where does he mention that they actually do go out as a team and eat on occasion …

  52. themedia on May 15th, 2008 9:22 am

    As my screen name would decree, I have an inside perspective on this issue (and if you watched a recent episode of Costas Now, you would have seen a segment dedicated to the relationship between the press and the players).

    It’s a difficult job on both sides — there’s no doubt about that. Both parties are constantly judging each other, and neither wants to come off looking stupid. That’s why there can frequently be a combative atmosphere.

    The key, on my side anyway, is to develop a working rapport with players and coaches. You don’t want to burn them unless you don’t have a choice, i.e. talking to Bedard in a friendly way only to turn around and slash him for a bad outing wouldn’t be a good idea. Players and press are vindictive. They’ll almost always hold a grudge.

  53. donger on May 15th, 2008 10:11 am

    This reminds me of the UFC post fight interviews. These have to be the worst example of lazy reporting, asking a breathless fighter to “take us through this knockout on the big screen.” The guy can barely string two words together much less give a realtime play by play

  54. Steve T on May 15th, 2008 11:03 am

    I don’t care whether the players “owe us” anything or not. They don’t ever deliver, so who cares? Seriously, I don’t think I have EVER heard an interesting or insightful comment from a player to a reporter, either on air or in print. Exceptions would almost entirely be flamethrower attacks, like Iverson’s, or ice-cold showdowns like Barry’s fantastic interviews (he’s as good an interview as I’ve ever seen; the more hostile the better).

    Whose fault is that? Reporters. Because they’re not really reporters at all. Their job is to present the illusion that you’re in the clubhouse with the guys getting the straight dope. But it’s all bullshit, 100% of it. It’s pure, undistilled cliche, rote formulas that were first written in the 1920s. It has nothing to do with the players and nothing to do with baseball and how it is actually played.

    I’m sorry, but anyone who wants to know how Player X felt after hitting the homer is a moron.

    It’s a boring and stupid ritual. I could go on about how it plays into exactly the kinds of problems this team has — questions about chemistry and grit and trying harder and slumps and streaks and all the other bullcrap that gets in the way of seeing how to win baseball games.

    Everything you need to know about baseball reportage and player responses is in “Bull Durham”. Everything.

    There is also a completely bogus assumption that it’s “inside baseball”, that talking to the guy who hit the home run gets you closer to the truth than, say, looking at the pitch data. Most fans aren’t interested in pitch data; they want fake drama — because a constant diet of fake drama increases the appetite for it. Insider baseball? There is in fact usually an inverse relationship between inside access and valuable baseball writing. Roger Angell was great when he wrote about being a fan in his car on lonely New England roads; since he’s become a grand old man who gets to wander around the clubhouse he’s the most boring writer on earth. He cares what players think. But players don’t think — they play baseball. You can’t know what that’s like.

    Now, if you REALLY want to see mindless repetition of identical cliches, watch the interviews with Premier League managers after English soccer games. Absolutely mind-numbing; makes someone like Edgar Martinez (the dullest baseball interviewee ever) seem like James Brown at the Apollo.

  55. Brady H on May 15th, 2008 1:51 pm

    36 – Great point. The same situations are bound to happen numerous times in a season, therefore the questions are going to be repetitive, bland now and then.

    …which makes me wonder what the question was that sparked Carl Everett’s “I dont believe in dinosaurs” rant.

  56. nwtrev on May 15th, 2008 4:44 pm

    46 – Well done sir.

  57. fermorules on May 16th, 2008 10:47 pm

    Great topic, as usual…..

    I don’t care if players speak to the media or not, but I must add this personal observation….

    The whole Erik Bedard thing….I just think the guy is extremely creepy….

    When he does speak, he’s such a jerk about the whole thing that I’ve gotten to wondering. I just find it hard to believe that somebody so dour could be a good teammate. A guy like Jack Morris, sure he was a jerk, but at least he showed some inclination to battle on the mound.

    And a guy like Mark Langston, yes he was more interested in his stats and his big contract than anything else.

    But at least they seemed like real people.

    Bedard’s behavior is condescending and creepy. I’m a huge Mariner fan, and usually I could care less about a player’s behavior so long as he played hard.

    This Bedard guy, I just can’t get behind him. He really, really gives me the creeps.

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