The players and the press

When you think about it, ballplayers and sports writers/media need each other. The players’ interviews get to the fans through the media. The media needs to get players’ quotes to enhance their stories.

For the most part, the relationship is cordial and works well. That is definitely true with the Orioles. I can hardly think of one time where an O’s player was disrespectful to reporters or was known to duck the media.

This topic comes to mind after reading some of the stories critical of several of the St. Louis Cardinals - including Albert Pujols - for ducking out after their World Series game two loss and not doing any interviews.

Click here to see an story on that topic.

The players are under no obligation to speak to reporters after the game. They can leave anytime they want. But it sure looks bad when you have just made a critical mistake that leads to a loss and you are not around to talk about it afterward.

I remember the many times that Mike Mussina kept reporters waiting and waiting and seemed to take special joy in that. I remember Erik Bedard’s one and two-word answers and his smirk as he provided that. Bedard could answer any question in a few words and usually did.

Albert Belle just chose not to talk to reporters and he seemed to hate all of us. He put tape on the floor around his locker at one point and that was supposed to signify an area off limits to reporters. Just to get under his skin, I used to stand sometimes with one foot on the tape. It was my little way of showing Belle I could play his game and be just as big a jerk as he was.

Ah, the Albert Belle-Orioles era. Good times.

But I digress.

It is fair to point out that baseball players are called on often for interviews and I would guess, much more often than athletes in most other sports.

Major league clubhouses are open to reporters 3 1/2 hours before every game. In Baltimore, when the Orioles take batting practice, the media is not allowed in the clubhouse. But we can be in there asking questions both before and after BP and also after the game. That is three different times in one day that the players are made available to the media.

Yes, that is a lot of access, but of course not every player is interviewed every day and some can go days between times they are sought for an interview.

Demanding or not, it was disappointing to see several Cardinal players skip out on the post-game interview after they lost to Texas on Thursday night.

The World Series is the game’s biggest stage and a player that gets a key hit needs to be heard from after the game. So does a player that makes a key error like Pujols did in the ninth-inning as Texas rallied to take the lead.

Answering a few questions about how you played in the game, whether it was good or bad, doesn’t sound that difficult to me.

I’m sure it’s likely more than just a few questions when it’s the World Series but most times, like during the regular season covering the Orioles, these post-game interviews are pretty short and the players get a few questions during a three-to-five minute session.

Pujols insists now that he didn’t avoid the media, but that no one from the Cards’ PR staff told him reporters wanted to talk to him. That is lame on Pujols’ part. He had to know that, after making a critical error during the pivotal ninth inning, that there would be questions coming his way. He has been around long enough to know that.

When it comes to baseball players and reporters, we both have jobs to do. Ours includes asking questions and that includes both times when they are the hero or they are the goat.

What is your take: What do you think about the media and its job in the post-game interviews? Do you gain knowledge from the post-game quotes? Does it bother you if a player skips out on the interview? Does the press demand too much from the players?

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