Much ado occurred earlier this week when Clint Frazier had a particularly poor game and then “dodged” the media after rather than endure their attempts to force him to relive it live on camera. He later apologized but included some remarks about times he felt the media had misrepresented him or lied about him. But the aftermath of the whole thing is irrelevant, today. All that matters is that Clint Frazier chose not to speak to the media after a bad game and this was a problem for many, many people.
Post game interviews are a staple of sports in general and baseball is no exception to this rule. Interviews primarily go to players who had particularly good games or particularly bad games. It makes sense. But honestly, what’s the point?
The above is a post-game interview from a vitally important game in 2014 where the Royals beat Cleveland thanks to Mike Moustakas hitting a “little league inside-the-park home run” and Nori Aoki’s walk-off single. Have you ever stopped to listen to these interviews? Mike Moustakas spends most of his part of the interview describing the only play anyone cared about. After that he briefly admits that running around the bases at full speed like that is hard work, he mentions how important it is to score runs when the opposing pitcher is pitching well, and then throws some credit to Nori Aoki. In other words, he doesn’t really tell us anything new or interesting.
And this is pretty typical of the genre. It’s frowned upon to say anything negative of the other team. Note that Moose never mentions Ryan Raburn by name. He also doesn’t use nearly as many derogatory modifiers as most of us would use; for example, I was fond of saying that Raburn “fired it directly into the ground and chased it across the field.” So you can’t express disdain for the other team. And the process of baseball is pretty much identical for everyone; in fact, a common refrain when someone is asked about a big hit goes something like, “Well, I just tried to put the bat on the ball and hope something good happened.” So you also can’t get any particularly interesting insight because when you boil it all down baseball is a game of doing the same thing everyone else is doing and hoping it works for you this time.
Even when there is an interesting strategy to describe it often doesn’t come out in immediate post-game interviews. Take, for example, when Lorenzo Cain scored from first on an Eric Hosmer single to right field in order to help the Royals win the 2015 ALCS. Most of us are familiar with the story, now. Mike Jirschele noticed that Jose Bautista had a tendency to miss his cut-off man on similar plays and that he could send someone like Lorenzo Cain home on a play like that. But when Lorenzo Cain was asked about the play after the game all he had to say was, “I was shocked. I was really shocked that he sent me.” It only came out in later interviews that Jirschele had been doing some excellent coaching, scouting, and general preparation to make that moment happen.
So post-game interviews after wins are pretty useless as far as actually getting anything useful out of guys. But what about after losses? There’s a formula for those, as well, and it’s just as useless. Guys almost always have one of two responses. They “take responsibility” for their poor play, talk about shaking it off, and how tomorrow is another day. Or they’ll give credit to the other team. Sometimes pitchers will tell you that they actually had a really good night but the other guys just kept finding holes. Hitters will talk about how the other guy was just hitting his spots and there was nothing they could do. Tip your cap and tomorrow is another day.
Here’s Bailey from his poor start against Texas last weekend:
“There were some pitches there that I thought we made fairly well that were ground balls through the infield,” Bailey said. “Obviously, the one to Gallo -- I probably could’ve gotten inside a little bit more on that one. I made some pretty decent pitches, and they just found holes.”
And here’s Jason Hammel from 2017 with similar sentiments:
And here’s Jakob Junis from his start earlier this week against the Red Sox:
Over and over and over again. And this isn’t me ragging on them for not taking responsibility. This is just...how it’s done. I don’t know if there is an underground course that all the pro baseball players take to give the same generic interviews for the same situations or if the same genes that make you good at baseball also make you give the same interviews as every other baseball player but they all say roughly the same things over and over and over again. Which brings me back to my original point.
Post-game interviews are pointless.
If they ever had a point it’s long since been lost in generic speeches and cliches. No one will say anything to them if they give the same speech over and over again. On the other hand, they could get themselves in trouble with their coaches, teammates, or opponents if they say something too untoward. And beyond the fact that it makes sense to play it safe, there just isn’t that much to be garnered from an interview that takes five minutes immediately after a game before a guy has even had time to process everything, anyway.
I’m not going to call for the death of post-game interviews. For the most part, they aren’t hurting anyone. But I will say that, especially after a guy has a bad night, they’re pointless. At least interviews of guys who had particularly good nights can give fans a chance to feel like they’re celebrating with the player in question. But what good comes of talking to a guy who had a bad night? It’s basically asking a player to publicly flog or defend himself and there’s no reason to believe that whichever route he chooses means anything when the speeches are so sanitized by catchphrases and meaningless sayings. So if a guy has a bad night and he doesn’t feel like playing up that pointless public spectacle then I say leave him alone. Even if he shows up he’s not going to say anything worth hearing, anyway.