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Time to end the MLB in-game interviews

Even though it may be a part of the networks’ television contract with Major League Baseball, it is time to end the in-game coaches interviews.

In the early innings of Sunday night’s Game 2 of the National League Division Series from Philadelphia, viewers were shown the image of a visibly angry Tony La Russa stalking the St. Louis Cardinals dugout. The manager clearly did not like the strike zone being called by home plate umpire Jerry Meals.

In fact, La Russa made an unusual trip to the mound – likely to jaw at Meals, rather than offer wisdom to his struggling starter Chris Carpenter, going on short rest. The veteran skipper knew that was the best way to get his message across to the umpire given arguing balls and strikes is prohibited.

The obligatory in-game television interview followed shortly after, as the Cardinals were down 4-0. After having lost Game 1 as well, one could not expect the emotional La Russa to be wearing a happy face.

“I would add – which could get me in trouble, but I’m going to add anyway – is that we are pitching to two different strike zones,” La Russa said. “I guess for this club or any club, that’s an advantage you don’t want to give up.”

After the game, in which the Cardinals came back to win 5-4, La Russa was asked to explain further.

“Well, I don’t think there’s a manager around, coach, that doesn’t watch the game and think about how you want it to be,” La Russa said. “You know, we care. I care, our team cares, and it’s not a great comment to make, but I was upset.

“I’ve never had a problem with Jerry before, ever. The only thing I had a problem with – one of the things, you go out there, whatever the strike zone is, it makes no difference to us, we’ll adjust to it. That was my only point. He had to figure out what the strike zone was,” the manager concluded.

By the camera having been thrust upon him while he was still angry, La Russa was put on the spot. Because he spoke openly about his concern, he could end up being fined. Other repercussions are also possible, though more difficult to assess.

In the post-game show on TBS, former Cardinals closer Dennis Eckersley was very vocal in his view that La Russa was working the umpires and seemed to have been successful. Eck was neither surprised nor upset about it, and in fact, offered praise.

TBS analyst David Wells was less sure, wondering out loud if the umpires may take exception. Noting the arbiters do not like being shown up, the ex-Yankees pitching star wondered if they might remember this when calling Game 3 in St. Louis on Tuesday.

La Russa always takes these in-game interviews himself, in contrast to some managers. For example, on Sunday, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel sent his pitching coach, Rich Dubee, in front of the camera instead.

But it doesn’t matter who it is, the La Russa episode is a reminder that interviews are best held before and after the game, rather than during the heat of battle.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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72 Responses to “Time to end the MLB in-game interviews”

  1. RCWarrior says:

    I thought it sounded bad but it was more of Tony being Tony. It just sounds whiny but Tony can do some of that from time to time.

    I actually had no problem with Tony going to the mound and waiting on Meals to tell him what he thought, thats part of the game, and I thought Meals gave the Cardinals the more favorable strike zone after that.

    The stuff said during the tv interview sounded bad, and I just don’t think Tony understands how bad that stuff sounds when he is saying it.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The real story is the Cards got in a tough hole, down 4, in Philly, Carp knocked out, Cy Lee on the mound, yet we rallied. Jay smacked a catcher. We showed some spunk.

      TLR showed spunk too. What fans find out from an interview is TLR wants to win. They are exposed to Tony’s spirit. That makes for good, realistic, combat TV. They ought to mike TLR up for all 9 innings, 162+ games per year. Terrific!!!

      • JumboShrimp says:

        TLR does this all the time. I remember back in June 06 when we were clobbered in back to back games in Commiskey by the WSox. TLR and DD got going about the home team stealing signs. But who needs to steal signs against Mark Mulder and Jason Marquis? They were terrible.
        But TLR covers for pitchers who are getting battered and comes up with a scapegoat, like the umpiring or sign stealing. This protects the confidence of his players. Smart.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Cliff Lee had a monster season. Yet we spotted him 4 runs and whupped him in Philly. That’s the only story.
          We have to hope out team stays mean and does not let Philly out of StLouis alive.

          Francona had huge success in Boston, but now is bounced for losing on the final day of the season. Baseball is cruel and they fire managers and GMs often for things far beyond their control.

          If TLR wants to fire up his players and chew out umps so we win, great.

        • Nutlaw says:

          Mulder at the mound. Molina signals for a softly thrown pitch over the center of the plate.

        • Nutlaw says:

          Though, I dunno, Jumbo. You don’t find those who blatantly misrepresent the truth to not only lack integrity but insult the intelligence of those they address?

          • Bw52 says:

            Nut-Haven`t you heard of gamesmanship? Toying with the head of the other team.Why do managers argue with umpires or NFL coaches challenge calls ? Motivational tools.Using any tool to help motivate and fire up the team.Calling out the umps brought attention to the inconsistency IMO.

  2. crdswmn says:

    The strike zone was weird but I have seen worse. I guess being postseason, tensions are higher than normal. What’s funny is that at first I was really pissed at TLR for making those comments and subjecting the team again to criticism. But after a while when the firestorm by others (esp on Twitter) reached a crescendo, I found myself wanting to defend TLR. I guess I got to the point where I was thinking, he’s a jerk, but he’s our jerk, so shut the hell up. 🙂

    • blingboy says:

      Taking a page out of WC’s book, lets see it as a marketing ploy to play up the ‘most hated team’ angle for the national audience. Any press is good press as they say.

      • crdswmn says:

        It may not be a problem for the team but it is for the fans. Hearing so much vitriol spewed about our team is not a pleasant thing to take. The worst part for me is hearing all the terrible things being said about the players, (granted, mostly by other fans) when the bulk of the criticism should be going to TLR because he is the one that stirs things up. TLR may not care, the players may not care, but most of the fans do. This team doesn’t get any respect as it is, but to pile contempt and disdain on top of it is painful.

        • RCWarrior says:

          This is an excellent post imo.

        • blingboy says:

          Setting up an ‘us against the world, circle the wagons’ vibe in the clubhouse and with the fans of cardinal nation. Brilliant. You juris doctors are something.

          • crdswmn says:

            I have to believe there is a better way to motivate this team than causing mountains of scorn to be brought down upon their heads. But, if they win the WS because of it, I guess I can live with it. 🙂

            I just get tired of hearing, “____________ (insert player name) is a ______________( insert ugly putdown) from other fans, when it is so far from reality. And every comment or action from a player or even TLR is magnified ten fold when those comments or actions are fairly innocuous or no different than what other players and managers do. I am not usually this sensitive, but it starts to wear on you after a while.

            • Bw52 says:

              crdswmn-why care what other teams fans say or like? Seriously that doesn`t affect how you root for your team.So why worry?Philly fans commenting about anything is just plain funny with their history of abuse and scorn they heaped on players over the years.Hang tough and the hell with what Joe fan from Cincy or Cubville says.

              • crdswmn says:

                It is not so much what they say, it is the snowballing effect this kind of thing has. At first, it was just the
                “whiny” moniker hung on the Cardinals by the Reds. In these days of social media these things take on a life of their own. Now the national media has jumped on the bandwagon. Just the other day, on TBS, Dennis Eckersley was taking shots at the Cardinals for being complainers. I see it more and more everyday everywhere on the Internet. And it concerns me because how do we know that individuals who have the power to affect what happens to the Cardinals (umpires, MLB officials, etc) are not in some small way influenced by this?

                Maybe I am overreacting and I acknowledge that possibility, but at the same time you have to wonder. People are human and the media is a powerful thing.

                • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                  Its a full contact sport CRD…………think of how poorly people might view our ” attitude” dominated players if they didn’t have a shield like Tony………………….. And didn’t the Reds get theirs…….. yea they did………… Phillies are in danger right now……..TV wants the Yankees and the Phillies………. I’m also guessing that MLB is content with the resolution of the AP anomaly as it stands right now ……….. wild guess says that Tony understands that to have any chance of winning this series……..were going to have to knock that team out………..we ain’t winning any split decisions………….

            • Brian Walton says:

              I find that stepping away from Twitter during a game is a good idea. Too many uninformed people spouting off emotionally after every pitch. 99 percent are not worth paying attention to, let alone responding, IMO.

        • RCWarrior says:

          Tony makes it easy to dislike him, doesn’t he? And as smart a baseball guy as he is it is a shame imo.

          But I watched Andy Rooney’s final episode on 60 minutes last night and he was quirky as well. I recommend viewing his final show as it was a touching finale. But I thought of TLR when I was watching last night.

          • blingboy says:

            Nice, likable guys are boring, RC. No ratings in that. Nice, likable guys out here in the middle of fly-over country are even worse. Need to have an east coast friendly story line in place in case we advance. Tony’s a player.

            • RCWarrior says:

              Point is nobody cares if Tony’s nice or not, me included. I’m pulling for the Cardinals to win this thing and Tony is on his game at present. Like I said, I know he’s a prick in real life but he is managing like he forgot how to be Tony LaRussa this last month+. He is managing like he’s trying to win and I like that.

              • blingboy says:

                Not too many Cards fans in the big east coast TV markets, RC. At a certain level, its not about baseball, its about moolah.

                For somebody who is not a Cards fan, you sound like a Cards fan. Right now, with the Cards winning, its like crdswmn said, he’s our prick so back off.

                • blingboy says:

                  I didn’t mean you back off, meant all the Card haters.

                  • RCWarrior says:

                    Well I’m a baseball fan first but I have found myself pulling for the Cards this year after Colby was freed. And in that I am a baseball fan I do recognize when someone is doing a better than average job, and Tony has done an excellent job down the stretch. It very well be one of his better managerial jobs.

                    • blingboy says:

                      Well, he is going to be a free agent.

                    • RCWarrior says:

                      I believe Tony and the Cards have a mutual option for next year so technically he is not gonna be a free agent. I believe Mo wants Tony back and Tony wants to come back as well. Tony has improved this year in his ability to get along with his players. This has been a learning year for him and he has responded by improving his managing.

                    • blingboy says:

                      Mo has done a better job of getting rid of guys Tony doesn’t get along with.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      RC, while technically that is true, think about it. Other than window dressing, what difference is having a mutual option from being a free agent? Only if both sides want it, does it happen.

  3. Bw52 says:

    Enough of the mid-game BS.Let them play the game.The network sticks a camera in somebody`s face ain the heat of action and expects a Sunday school response ? Another thing……..the umpires don`t walk on water and feed the masses.They should not be above reproach.Right Don Denkinger.

    • RCWarrior says:

      My response would be this………How can saying anything on national tv that disrespects the umpire help the team in any way? All that could happen would be for the human element to play out in the upcoming games when the umpriring crew could very well squeeze the Cardinal pitchers. Its like I have said all year about TLR, say what you want to say behind closed doors and nobody cares but when you make everything a public issue it just doesn’t make me all warm and fuzzy.

      Tony going to the mound was absolutely the correct way to address the situation with Meals, the crying out loud on tv was not. Just my opinion.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    TLR is an emotional guy. He is what he is. Putting him on camera, especially at that point, was not going to lead to anything positive. Since an interview was required, he would have been better off passing it to one of his hopefully less-upset coaches, but that isn’t TLR’s style.

    Let’s face it. These in-game interviews are often painful to watch and almost always content-free. Who cares about them, anyway?

  5. easy says:

    The strike zone was indeed weird but I don’t think it affected Carp as much as Lee. Lee had his usual good stuff but didn’t know what the call would be when he was hitting his spots. Carp had zilch to start with so a few weird calls didn’t really matter.
    “Our jerk’s” decision to start a 36 year old who led the NL in innings pitched, who’d just thrown a complete game and has a list of injuries as long as his right arm will be after all of this was predictably wrong. Tony is, indeed, a jerk and it just galls me that he’s won a couple of thousand more baseball games than I have in spite of and partly because of being a jerk. It was a great win though, wasn’t it?

    • RCWarrior says:

      Well I actually thought Lee hit the blue box on the telecast numerous times and got a ball call, while the ball calls that had Carp and TLR upset were actually balls. Tony is a jerk, but he is also a pretty smart baseball guy. Ty Cobb was also a pretty nasty individual but was a pretty good player. Fortunately being a jerk doesn’t preclude one from being a good manager or a great player. 🙂 I just wish he would be able to control what he says to the media just every now and then.

  6. Bw52 says:

    BB-like you said.Probably fired up about many things;Strike zone,Carp,lack of hitting etc;Who knows? Obviously he was mad enough to talk about it.

  7. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Nice thread………………………. Gen info………….. Doobie always does their mid game interviews…….Charlie’s style doesn’t exactly flatter his real abilities…………..just out of the dugout, all teams monitor the strike zone with current technologies………. they Know whats going on…..and that information is available…… word of mouth………..

    When an umpire wants to express an opinion………..a liberal/irregular/inconsistent strike zone for both sides allows for the “grooming” of the money pitches in a ball game………… was that being done? I don’t know……….wasn’t watching that closely…………

    MLB has planned for the Phillies to move on…………getting around that is going to take a real let down by them………………… thats possible………Hammels and Ozwalt are doable………Halladay is not………….with all the influences at play………. Tony made waves….we need to be surfing at this point…so whats the problem……..

    Carpenter would not have been different with an extra day……… you all heard the description of his workout schedule……… thats just marketing……….. just like Albert getting a hit and then doing the interviews………….. Chris got tagged……not squeezed……..these guys were looking at balls..swinging at strikes……….. we won because they couldn’t get to Salas and company………….and we started taking Lee OPO…….or stroking under control…………..

    Tony’s message was intended for MLB……….not crying about the umpires………

  8. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    It can leap up and sting you……at any time…… or flare up on a DP ground ball………. but usually not in those run downs…..luckily……………..

  9. blingboy says:

    Here is a somewhat lengthy cut from an SI article (which features a photo of Jay bowling over the catcher with an elbow to the face, said photo having nothing to do with the article.) Love it.

    “The Cardinals won the game, in some measure, because of some crazy managerial alchemy that could only have been the work of Tony LaRussa. His night included the pulling of his best pitcher, starter Chris Carpenter — starting on three days’ rest — in the third inning, which was just after Carpenter had seemed to settle down after allowing the Phillies to race out to a 4-0 second-inning lead. It included the decision to pinch-hit for Carpenter with Nick Punto, he of the career .652 OPS — .664 in 22 at-bats against Lee — with men on second and third and one out. Punto struck out swinging.

    It included the criticizing of the strike zone of home plate umpire Jerry Meals on national television — LaRussa suggested during an in-game interview Meals was giving Lee a more generous strike zone than Carpenter, a contention that PitchFX data confirmed as unfounded. (“It’s not a great comment to make, but I was upset,” he later explained.)

    It included the use of six relief pitchers — four in the eighth inning.

    For good measure, LaRussa’s night included the sending of Albert Pujols, his superstar whose injured heel has made it so he currently not so much runs as staggers, to second base on a ninth inning hit-and-run. He never made it, as Lance Berkman struck out and Pujols was, mercifully for him, gunned down. “We keep things real simple,” said LaRussa after the game, without any apparent irony.”

  10. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    I’m reviewing the game at this point. Bottom of the forth. Things to note.

    Tony recognized Carps was finished……..or would be ineffective in the 2nd………. his mound visit was about helping to save some face for a struggling Carp……….. if he has a strength, it is this one. He was asking Carp and Molina about the pitch calling…………..his comments to Meals was offered as ego cover for Chris……….who has one……..Salas was already loosening………. bottom line……..Tony was asking Dave for an opinion on Carp as the 4th inning rally began to unfold………Dave was on the phone after the Theriot double………… Jay hadn’t seen a pitch………. they were going with a pinch hitter if the opportunity was provided……………. as much a justifiable resolution to end the CC start as a tactical decision to score more runs…………… that was the right call……..Carp was bailing the strike zone all day……….. that was the point in the game to save face………. keep Carp’s head up so he might find the courage to take the hill in a pressure situation………..that would be Friday is it came to that………………… what his intention are with Westbrooke and Jackson……….I have no idea…… Garcia will be on as short of leash as was Chris…………. Phillies have to help……Hammels is a mental guy……he will feed off the Lee struggles unfortunately……we have a bunch of them………Ozwalt is vulnerable……. I am going back to the game…………

    • blingboy says:

      Reasonable analysis of the mound visit/Carp hook scenario. But I would add that the face saving efforts were not solely for Chris’s benefit, it was Tony’s decision to put him out there on short rest. No harm saving his own face a little.

      I agree that the rotation management decisions by both sides will be interesting.

      Tony made some headscratching moves, as mentioned in the SI article. Can’t wait to see what kind of in-game moves he comes up with next. And what the next in-game interview consists of.

      I wonder how truthful the gloomy Holliday prognosis is? And how much hobbling on the bad ankle Albert will do (until he takes off to steal second in a critical situation??)

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Its actually what happened BB…………. reasonable? I don’t know……… as AP needs a gimmick……. so the management of Holidays “marketability” needs “grooming”……….. its a business……. he is not as good as his replacement all things considered………… he’s hurt……… they moved him on deck as a decoy……that means he was prepared for that “roll”…….and played it…….. personally, I could think of a few taping schemes with a specially fitted glove that ought to give him at least a pinch hit capacity….. there are obviously other considerations………….

  11. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    looks like I’ve got a hanger………..don’t know why

  12. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    I thought the Umps did a fair job………….. BP did great……..Motte was a little wild….which turned out to be perfect for some hungry hitters………thats what a lead does… the playoffs……… I’m curious to what Manuel does…………… does he throw Ozwalt in 4…….his rookie……..or does he try to short rest Halladay followed by Lee if its a must win……….. same for Tony…..he has some decisions to make….

  13. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Here it is…………the dope………… including the AP injury…………………. Lohse will piggy back positive scenarios………..Westbrooke………the negative………..all the way out……… Its what I might have guessed………Tony isn’t going to set Lohse up with a short rest alibi……..thats smart… tells me he is playing to win……….Lohse is the veteran……….. that makes him available all the way through Friday if necessary……….

  14. blingboy says:

    Buster_ESPN Buster Olney
    Sabathia has been charged with 5 walks, season high. I’m wondering if Girardi will take the same approach as La Russa and complain mid-game.

    • Bw52 says:

      Tigers beat Yankees and Texas beats TB,Brewers up 2 games.Network has to be crying the blues if Cards upset Philly and the other playoffs end up the way they are now.TV people have got to be sweating.

      • blingboy says:

        A St. Louis-Milwaukee NLCS would have to be a big loser nationally. Detroit-Tampa or Detroit-Dallas/Fort Worth would be an equally bad ALCS. Any combination of those in the WS would have trouble attracting the less than hard core viewers. The closer it gets to happening, expect more promos hyping contrived story lines and mushy human interest pap. Like in the Olympics when we get the pieces about the Jamaican bobsled team and the life at home of the athletes in some obscure sport. Perhaps we will see some story line building by the TBS guys tonight, they have the NLCS too.

        • RCWarrior says:

          I think you have something Bling…..and I do believe that we will see the Cards against the Brewers for the NL pennant. The networks may not like it but I am excited about watching those two clash one final time this year.

          • blingboy says:

            I hope the Cards win, but its all gravy as far as I’m concerned. It does point up the value of being hot at the right time. Facing off with a division rival would be great.

            I think if the Cards do win the WS, sooner or later we’ll see #10 up on the wall with Whitey. That would make 4 non-players up there, including Gussie and Jack. Maybe the hot dog vender of the year will be next.

  15. blingboy says:

    Dynamic ticket pricing isn’t just for baseball fans. Obama is in town today for a fundraiser. This from an article in the P-D last week.

    “Whatever the reason, Democratic party officials have slashed the admission price to see Obama at an event next week in St. Louis, from $1,000 to $250.”

    Read more:

    The story mentions traffic problems for the baseball crowd so this post is about baseball not politics. 🙂

    • RCWarrior says:

      Selling Obama short arent we? My guess is St. Louis is an Obama stronghold so there is no reason for the dynamic pricing to kick in for this fundraiser. I say charge em the 1000 bucks Barak so you can drop by Mike Shannons and get you a nice Filet. 🙂 Man I’m gonna miss those steaks from Shannons.

  16. Brian Walton says:

    As expected, TLR was fined by MLB for his remarks. Amount not announced.

    • crdswmn says:

      And Joe Girardi made similar comments yesterday and was defended by ESPN. Who wants to bet Girardi is not punished?

      • RCWarrior says:

        I didn’t see the Girardi comments but what made Tony look even worse was when he went to the mound to complain about the inside FB’s that both he and Carp thought were strikes it was obvious to everyone watching that those pitches were clearly outside of the box that tbs had showing the strike zone.

        I believe there were pitches, probably 2-1 that touched the box called balls for Cliff Lee over Carp. In other words the zone was bad for both guys.

        If I didn’t want the Cards to win this thing I would hope that the Umpires made Tony pay a fine in balls and strikes to show him that was mickey mouse to whine like he did. The whining about everything stuff is one thing about TLR that drives me crazy. For as much as he speaks of doing things the right way he needs a refresher in right way on the field imo.

        • crdswmn says:

          I am not defending TLR or saying he should not be punished for what he did. I just get sick and tired of the double standard that is sometimes applied to “favored” teams like the Yankees.

          • RCWarrior says:

            No I completely understand what you were saying in regards to the way things are handled by MLB at times.

            But you will agree that if somebody complains all the time they are more likely to get punished for doing it. And man oh man Tony has complained about it if it can be thought of. Lights at a stadium, balls not rubbed up, throwin up and in, and I could go on and on but I’d have carpal tunnel when I finished. Tony is the boy that cried wolf.

            It reminds me of the geico comercial I believe where Abe Lincolns wife asks Abe, “does this dress make me look fat” ? Abe can’t tell a lie I guess so he doesn’t answer and his wife storms off. Thats Tony, if you ask him a question he just has to answer the question because he believes deep down inside that his answering the question makes him appear smarter imo.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            Tony’s exact words……….”I shouldn’t say this”…………… by any measure of film room analysis, it wasn’t true that there was a biased strike zone……….. the shelter he set up for Carp was created, and has been maintained, by Tony…….he has plenty of money………. in todays paper, the AP excuses, which Mo avoided for a few days, finally had to be addressed by the GM……… what could he do? His “no comment posture” when Tony first “recognized” the situation, is now history…… to continue ignoring it would have become “revealing” in it postural logic …………. Tony/AP win nothing by this in the big picture……….AP just looking 33/34 and tired in the market place…………

            Hellikson is getting a rookie baptism…………lets hope it the only one of the day………….

            • crdswmn says:

              Don’t disagree WC, but there was no evidence of a biased strike zone for CC Sabathia either. And Joe Girardi made the comments twice, during the game in an in-game interview and again after the game in the presser. No question that what Tony did was worse, but that distinction should be addressed in the amount of the fine, not in a lack of punishment at all for Girardi. Or as we say in trial parlance, the objection should be addressed to the weight to be given the evidence, not it’s admissibility.

              Now if MLB does fine Girardi, I take it all back. 😉

              • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                Joe didn’t say………I shouldn’t say this………….. If you deliberately hit a batter…..and don’t say anything, even if you are tossed…….you likely won’t get a fine……….if you even suggest that it was your intension, even if you weren’t tossed………they will fine you………..same thing…….Tony wanted the story………the story continues to “shelter” Chris………… as was his purpose…… he knew at that point Carp was finished for the day…………….

                Nice collision at the plate……….runner won……its the game……..

                • crdswmn says:

                  Again not a distinction that eliminates the rule. Questioning the strike zone has inherent intent, you can’t “unintentionally” question a strike zone. Intent to hit a batter is on the other hand inferred unless you admit to it.

                  • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                    I’m not at a loss to see your point………… Tony made waves….so he could use his surfings skills……….knowing full well that Carp doesn’t swim well………….. Girardi did the same….he just wasn’t holding his surfboard when he said it…………… its all just pissing in the ocean………..Tony was standing ankle deep………Girardi remembered to to stay in deeper water………. no, its impolite to warm the water, your right.

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