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Rafael Soriano’s media snub is a legitimate problem

Apr 6, 2011, 9:34 AM EDT

New York Yankees pitcher Soriano flips a ball during a workout at the team's spring training camp

UPDATE: Our long national nightmare is over: Soriano has apologized.

9:34 AM: There is a lot of back and forth on the Internets this morning about Rafael Soriano‘s decision to dress quickly and leave the clubhouse before the reporters could get to him after last night’s debacle. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News, Joel Sherman of the Post and many others have gone after Soriano for the snub.  Brien Jackson over at IIATMS and most of the commenters over at BTF think this is much ado about nothing. The media making itself the story, the tempest-in-a-teapot nature of the New York press or what have you.

Nine times out of ten I side with the guys at IIATMS and my friends at BTF because, you know, they’re almost always right. But this time I have to differ. I think Soriano’s bail-job is a legitimate issue, not a media-created one.

There was a situation with the Mets a few years ago in which Billy Wagner spoke out about how certain players wouldn’t face the media after a bad game and how it left others to do the talking. He wasn’t mad because the snub of the media created a silly controversy. He was legitimately mad at having the snub for its own sake.

Yes, it’s the Mets and there is always rancor there, but players legitimately dislike it when the people who the reporters really will want to talk to — especially goats of the game — pull a disappearing act. Track down some of the game stories from last night’s Yankees-Twins game. There were several “I guess” or “you’ll have to ask him” kinds of things said when Yankees players talked about Soriano and the eighth inning disaster. I could be imagining it, but I sense some low-level aggravation there. Aggravation that players don’t need when they’re already upset about the loss and their own failures in the game.

The Yankees have made a point to give their players media training. A big part of this is facing the music after a bad game. When Soriano doesn’t do that he’s both ticking off his teammates and not going along with the team’s program. That’s a problem.  Maybe not as big a problem as it will get blown up into today, but it’s real.

  1. aburns77 - Apr 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    As much as I’d like to agree with IIATMS because I don’t really care about the media, this is simply not the way you handle adversity while playing in the New York market. After all, Soriano has not exactly been embraced with open arms by most of Yankee fandom and I think the worst thing he can do is stink up the joint and then skip out to avoid the wrath of th media; that’s not the way things work in New York, and if you want the Steinbrenner money you have to take the crap that goes with it and Soriano flat out isn’t doing that.

  2. davebrownspiral - Apr 6, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Cashman is sipping his latte this morning with the smug sense of “I told you so” satisfaction aimed towards Randy Levine and Hal, and I can’t blame him. I didn’t agree with the move when they made it, and even if Soriano pitches lights out this season, $11 million a year for a set-up man is ludicrous, even for the Yankees.

    • Andrew Zercie - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      All I could think about last night as I watched this situation unfold was Brian Cashman thinking to himself, “I told you so.”

  3. yankeesfanlen - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    I’m guessing that clubhouse politics will prevent this from happening again The on-field performance better not happen again either, but some other Yankees are probably going to bring him to task (I’m thinking Mo). No one wants to be interviewed to have to defer criticism away from a missing teammate.
    And a great game by CC wasted by this nonsense.

  4. trevorb06 - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    Maybe there is some slight truth about players not being able to hack it in New York. It’s hard to be motivated when you KNOW you’re an elite player like Soriano yet the whole fan base dismisses you like an outsider before the season even starts. I guess if I got transfered to a new department after being the best worker in my old department only to be hearing that nobody thinks I’ll be worth a damn I’d have a hard time being motivated. New York media and fans should embrace new stars coming aboard, they’d probably get better results.

  5. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    It doesn’t matter if this isn’t a big deal anywhere else, it is in NY.

    They should have Jeter handle the media training for now on, he can talk for hours and say absolutely nothing.

  6. Jonny 5 - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Still media created imo. All Soriano OWES anyone is his best effort every time he’s pitching. Sure when he cuts out so he misses reporters, it puts some of that onto others, but its still the media doing the irritating. Should he stay and take the heat so his team doesn’t get it in his place? Probably. The media doesn’t need to puke out the same old lines anyway. The man tried his best. He failed on this rare occasion. End of story. It’s like booing Cole Hamels for imploding. He tried and failed this time. Give him a break.

  7. larryhockett - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    I’ll never understand what’s so hard about facing the media after a bad outing.

    “I did not play well tonight. I feel terrible about letting the team down. I’m a professional and I know that bad games will happen from time to time. I have to work harder to keep this from happening again but in the meantime I need to forget about it and go out there the next night and get the job done.”

    You’re welcome.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

      Ever had to talk to your boss after you @#*$ed up? Man, does it suck. Now imagine that you have 30 bosses. And they’ll ask each ask a slight variation on the same question: WHY did you mess up?

      • larryhockett - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        “I didn’t TRY to mess up. I did my best and it wasn’t good enough tonight. We can talk about the specifics of it all night and it won’t change the fact that I didn’t play well and I cost the team the game. I feel terrible about it, worse that you do. As a professional, I need to put it behind me and get the job done next time.”

        Plus, it’s okay if your boss yells at you when you have a contract that he has to pay you for the next three years. Yelling beats the heck out of firing. :-)

    • wtknsots - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      It’s not that it’s hard, it’s that it’s totally ridiculous that any sport figure must repeat this type of statement ad nauseam every time they don’t perform perfectly. Does this really need to be said over and over again for the fans? The media? Not really. The media is just looking for that time, that happens every so often, that one of these guys finally loses their cool and says something stupid, or in Soriano’s case, ‘snubs’ them, thereby robbing them of a chance to have something ‘news-worthy’. It’s complete BS.

  8. three6three - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    This isn’t new for Soriano…this was a legitimate knock on him when he was with the Braves, as well.

  9. The Baseball Idiot - Apr 6, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    So what you’re saying is that we need more Curt Schilling types, who screw up a game, and then stand around for several hours putting the blame on someone else and making sure they look good in the eyes of the media?

    Unless this has been a problem in the past, or is specified in his contract that he has to do it, I don’t understand why this is even a story. Sometimes, people have bad days at work and aren’t ready to face up to the questioning. Maybe if more ball players would walk out of the clubhouse instead of shooting their mouth off, there would be more about the game and less about ballplayers shooting their mouths off.

    This wouldn’t be an issue on a team in the center of the country, only the East Coast and Los Angeles.

    Every company I’ve ever worked for had highly controlled rules about speaking to the media, and I was always happy not to do it. Sports is one of the few places where the employee is regularly required to speak to the media without it being planned out in advance. Some people can’t handle it as well as others. Freedom of speech is a great thing, but the freedom not to speak is just as valuable.

    And I’m missing something. Unless Soriano was in the line up, playing the field, or pitching the entire game, he’s not the only one responsible for the loss. Maybe instead of throwing him under the bus, his teammates should step and explain why this high-powered offense only managed 6 hits and 4 runs, all on two home runs, and none after the second inning.

    No one player wins or loses a game, and when someone does have a bad day like Soriano does, he shouldn’t be required to speak to the media unless he wants to. Ballplayers come from every walk of life, just like every other profession, and some aren’t cut out for it.

    This is nothing more than media hubris.

  10. purnellmeagrejr - Apr 6, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Sportswriters are the whiniest bunch going – when athletes don’t kiss their butt they freak.

  11. spindervish - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I always had my doubts about this guy in NY. I believe he’s well-known to be a sensitive type; if I’m not mistaken he has some sort of personal rules about how he’s to be used and stuff like that. And even when he was dominating in Tampa, he just had a sort of deer-in-the-headlights look to him. If you can look thin-skinned and shaky while striking out the side, he did it. I think he’s probably a similar personality to Manny without the wackiness or sense of humor. He likes to do his job and say nothing and then go home. A perfectly reasonable position, but one that is not accepted as such in NY.

    Obviously, mere speculation. But it just seems like sometimes guys chase the money without considering the auxiliary factors and then end up in a negative or uncomfortable situation, and this might be the latest example of that dynamic.

    Of course, assuming he gets his fastball back, Soriano is pretty damn nasty, and if he gets his shit together none of this will matter.

  12. wallace1286 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    when a batter goes 0-4 on the night nobody says anythiong but when a relief pitcher walks in a run and then gives up a three run double to tie the game , a game that was totally dominated by your starter. he didnt intentailly lose the strike zone and then proceed to walk the planet. Joe insted of taking responsibility for the move and give a better answer then he gave , comes out with hes my eighth inning guy. Why not go to robertson and then to joba in the ninth, which is what I would have done. You do not set patterns, you go with your gut and with the scouting report and how the pitcher and hitter matchup. I thought that it was serious mistake on joes part. also why didnt he try to manufacture any more runs, Ive noticed it alot about the yankees lineup. they score three or four early on and then they sit back and the bats go to sleep the rest of the game. they are going back to being pull happy instead of trying to hit to all fields. what happens instead of brining your hands in and hit to the left field you try to pull a pitch that is on the hands and you ground out or hit into a double play.. What Im saying is that the team let them hang around until CC left the game and then jumped all over sorriano, his velosity was down and he lacked any kind of control and the ump was not giving him the corners

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:38 PM

      You’ve said something important here about the offense. I like HRS better than the next guy but we better not get into the habit of doing it early and then somehow forget bats the rest of the game.I think we saw the 4-0 lead as insurmountable and played out the string.
      Nerve racking as it is, I’d prefer to see the power later in the game. Come from behind ,marked the ’09 team, and a little more small ball during the 4-5-6 would give more insurance.
      Any pitching irregularities can be solved by continuous scoring throughout a game.

  13. ronjon77 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Not giving an interview is the tip of the iceberg. He did an interview about how it felt to be Mariano’s setup man. His answer said one thing while it was obvious he thinks he should be the closer. He seems nicer to hitters than people in general. I think this is suppose to be the other way around.

  14. crpls - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    Honestly, I wish more guys would ignore the media post-game. Especially in New Yawk. Though I wish they’d so regardless of the win/loss.

  15. crpls - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    “I usually agree with my buddies at those two blogs, but I’m paid by Comcast for this site, so I can’t!”

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      Yes, because I’ve clearly shown myself to be unable to agree with bloggers and unwilling to criticize the mainstream media as a result of the corporate structure in which I work. I’m a total shill for the big money press, I tells ya.

      • crpls - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        Calm down, Craig. I was being a smartass.

  16. cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    This dude is the other end of the teeter totter that Schilling was on. I think Soriano’s gotta stay, give the standard “I screwed that up. I’ll do better next time” speech and take his medicine like a man, which is not something Schilling did either. At least Raffy doesn’t have to give his answers in English; the Sammy Sosa approach worked for Congress it’ll work for the NY media.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      I think Soriano’s gotta stay, give the standard “I screwed that up. I’ll do better next time” speech and take his medicine like a man, which is not something Schilling did either

      Why? What possible good, other than announcing he knew he performed poorly, does this do? Everyone who watched the game, read the recap, saw highlights knew he pitched like crap. What does having him say he knew it do? Don’t mean to pick on you, but a lot of people are making similar comments. Whether he gives a post game conference or not changes nothing for that game or the next one.

      Personally, I’d prefer the approach that commentor Sam Hutcheson maybe a troublesome pinko, but… mentioned on that BTF thread:

      Some enterprising player – maybe Brian Wilson without the hipster baggage – should set up a web cam in his locker and answer every question in sarcastic deadpan. Have a bad day as a reliever? “Well, you know, I really didn’t want to be out there at all. Had ‘Dancing With The Stars’ TIVO’d and wanted to see Kirstie Alley fall ‘live,’ ya know? But Skip wanted me out there, so I had to go. Figured the best way to get out fast was to groove a couple of BP fastballs. So that’s what I did, but that guy didn’t get any lift on the ball, so it was just a 2-run double. Was hopin’ he’d jack that out and the game would be over, ya know? But he doubled, friggin’ tied it up. Like what I needed was extra ####### innings, man! I still haven’t gotten to the TV yet! They say that fall is hilarious.”

    • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      Could work. Be freakin hilarious, and I need the laughs. Anyways, in my defense, I did say Rafael Soriano could have replied to everything in Spanish; he wouldn’t get half the heat and might even get a few laughs just like your deadpan web-cam work.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:25 PM

        Maybe it’s just all the years of listening to Jeter open his mouth and say nothing. I really don’t care what athletes say anymore. If it’s not something dumb (JFK Conspiracy or Birther Conspiracy to name two), it’s something with no content (everything Jeter has ever said).

        Stealing another comment from that thread:

        When I was young my father told me the story about goalie Jacques Plante who, when asked how he felt after losing a game, answered “How would you feel if every time you made a mistake at work a red light flashed over your head and 20,000 people booed”.

      • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        Well I’d be more sympathetic to Rafael Soriano but every time I screw up at work we almost certainly gotta get an xray, probably have to consult with a specialist, maybe even have an inquest, and (the absolute worst) I gotta tell the kid’s parents. THAT sucks. Usually someone catches it before it all goes pear shape but not always…
        As such I’d rather converse about screwing up a ball game in Spanish but clearly I have very narrow reasons that only apply to me and others like me. It just seems to be a small price to pay and keeps you in good with your teammates and manager.

  17. LPad - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    The NY media and whatever potential players that have a problem with this is just going to have to get over it. Soriano rarely talks to the media after a game period. He doesn’t talk to them when he does well or when he stinks it up. He didn’t talk to them in Seattle, Atlanta, or Tampa so don’t expect him to talk in NY.

    Also, I highly doubt that the Yankees didn’t know about this. So I don’t think anyone in the front office has a right to be upset. They may be, but they knew beforehand he didn’t talk to the media.

  18. dirtyharry1971 - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    most of the media are jerks, i wouldnt want to talk to them either. Most of them never even played the game and can not ask a intelligent question and real fans are not even interested so whats the point?

  19. BC - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Regardless of the media training they get, or whether they’re a superstar, or a scrub, or a role player, not everyone is Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia or (fill in name) and can stand up there after a bad loss and hold it together. The guy’s 5 games into his Yankees career. He was probably p—ed beyond belief and just felt he couldn’t hold it together and bailed.
    Would you rather have another Bonilla-Klapisch thing? Or Hal McRae going bezerk? Or a Bob Knight press conference?
    Give Soriano a break. I’d rather have him walk away and cool off if that’s what he needs to do, than to have him say or do something stupid postgame.

  20. macjacmccoy - Apr 6, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    Soriano is probably thinking well it might be a problem to them but not to him, he already got his $36 million.

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