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Ballplayers: paid to hit and pitch, but they talk to the media anyway

Jul 15, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

Media Day

We’re in the middle of the NL player availabilities right now. The AL players will be made available in a few minutes. Somewhere right now there is a press conference about the Home Run Derby about to start. I’m not going to it because no one will be honest and say “Well, I’m just gonna try to hit the ball really far and see what happens.” Who needs it?

These events are really for the folks who live on player quotes. We, obviously, don’t live on player quotes here at HBT. Unless they’re funny or controversial, of course. Then we go to town. But hearing and repeating that it’s an honor to be selected to the All-Star game and that they’re soaking it all in and they’d like to thank the fans who voted for them, well, that doesn’t do a ton for us. And I’ve never been the fan of “ask the ballplayer the off-the-wall question!” school of journalism. Let’s leave that to gimmicky NFL people on the Super Bowl media day. Baseball and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog don’t mix that well.

Still, I went down and talked to some NL players and will talk to some AL players later because, heck, maybe someone would say something funny or controversial. No one did to me (we’ll have to wait for stories from other reporters before we know for sure). I talked to Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman and Andrew McCutchen. I was in a giant scrum around David Wright. I listened in on about a dozen other players being interviewed by other reporters. Among the highlights:

  • Jim Leyland had said earlier that, no surprise, Mariano Rivera will close the game out if necessary for the AL. I asked Kimbrel if Bruce Bochy had given any indication of the closer pecking order for the NL. I told him that he can answer quietly so Jason Grilli, sitting nearby, wouldn’t hear. Kimbrel said that he had no idea as he landed in New York about ten minutes ago and that I was like the fourth person he saw. When asked (by someone else) what his favorite park to pitch in was, he said “the big ones.”
  • Freeman is disappointed by the fact that a day or two after he won the Final Vote thing he got hurt and now isn’t able to play. I almost think winning the vote for him was the most fun part about it, though. He figured he’d get killed by Puig in the voting and thinks his family back in Orange County stuffed the ballot box like crazy. I told him 19 million people voted for him. He laughed and said “well, they helped.”
  • Jason Grilli is honored to be here. He also is unaware of any closer pecking order for the NL. Nor does he know if he’s the pitcher that Bruce Bochy has chosen to hold out of the game in case it goes 16 innings or something. I said that that’d probably be a starter. He said “yeah.”
  • Unsurprisingly, Andrew McCutchen does not think the Pirates are going to collapse this year. I asked him if that question bugs him. He added that it’s way better to be asked about a team collapsing than never having the team be good enough to inspire that question in the first place. He didn’t put it quite like that — he sort of got to that point after many words — but that was the idea. I feel like it was one of those things that, back in the day before tape recorders and media scrums, one single sports writer — a Damon Runyon type — would craft it into a more pointed and witty quote and attribute it to McCutchen all the same.

Sometimes I’m kinda sad we don’t live in those days, actually. I like to think of ballplayers as witty raconteur-types. But they aren’t. They’re ballplayers and they’re paid to crush baseballs, not say witty things to sweaty reporters. And therein lies my basic issue with the game of player quotes.

  1. sdelmonte - Jul 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    You have no future as a beat report, Craig.

    This is not a bad thing.

  2. Detroit Michael - Jul 15, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Well, maybe they are paid a little bit to talk the media. They are, broadly speaking, in the entertainment business so publicity counts for something, even for a team sport.

    Thanks for all the coverage, Craig.

  3. ianrbarbo - Jul 15, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    The Mets should have ponied up $20 and a cross-bow and/or a bag of Doritos to have John Rocker sit in during the media day to answer questions about being back in NYC. There’s all your money quotes right there.

  4. provguard - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    I’m pretty sure the players have no choices. Their organizations fine them for not making media appearances, I believe….

  5. heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    Let’s see if I can beat some idiots to the punch:

    ” bargle, fargle, your a loser Craig. Bargle, another useless article, baseball playerz dont like to talk to you because you worship a PED statue. Argle, Bargle, Fargle. ”

    / ( yells upstairs ) ” mooommmm,! I’ll be up to eat my macaroni and cheese in a minute!”

    How was that, did I get the grammar and punctuation right?

    • moogro - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      Those kids are trying to ween us off the comment board so that we focus more on the blogs.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        I’m under the assumption everyone who comments here, reads the blogs. At least I do.

        The comments section then becomes a secondary benefit of gaining viewpoints and knowledge from all walks of life, as well as some fun in the process. I get to find out about the rest of the league, and baseball history, from both the blog and the comments.

        So the kids, in my estimation, should go to Camp Crystal Lake for the summer.

  6. royalintx - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Maybe would be more interesting if you could get the players to say sweaty things to witty reporters.

  7. dcarroll73 - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Hey Craig, don’t leave out Yogi, the great exception to your rule. He could crush baseballs with the best of them, but he was a sort of Zen master raconteur.

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