Monday, April 18, 2011

Talking the talk

Grady Sizemore is back. That's great news for the Indians. It's good news for the reporters covering the team because it makes the Indians better, more interesting, and more exciting. It does not, however, make them any more quotable.

Grady is a great guy. He's just not a great quote. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that. It's just the way it is. Some players are great quotes, some are not. Grady is not.

Part of a professional athlete's job is to talk to the media. It's a way for the players to talk to the fans. The media is the conduit. So players are encouraged, if not required by their organizations to talk the media. They are not required to give the media dazzling quotes.

Some players love this part of their job. They enjoy talking about themselves, about their jobs, about the games, about the sport in general. Some players hate this part of their job. They don't like talking to reporters about anything, and when they do they talk, but they don't really say much.

Fortunately, every team has one or two "go-to" guys. These are players who members of the media know they can count on, win or lose, great game or ugly game, to be available after the game, and to say something of substance in such a way that it's colorful enough to use in the reporters' story.

Some players are intentionally not very quotable. They know if they talk in cliches and in short, sometimes just one word answers, the media will eventually leave them along, because it's waste of everyone's time. Other players are unintentionally boring quotes. I would put Sizemore into the latter category. He's always very polite, very accomodating. Usually very accesible. He honestly does try. But he doesn't seem to have the personality for it. He just doesn't enjoy talking about himself. That in itself is pretty rare in the world of professional sports, where out-of-control egos is frequently the norm.

Sunday, Sizemore himself was the story. As if playing in his first game back with the Indians after spending almost a year rehabbing from major knee surgery wasn't enough, Sizemore also hit a home run in his first game back.

He was clearly the story of the day. He just didn't say much on either of those two subjects - his return or his home run - that was very interesting. Reporters tried repeatedly to get Sizemore to say something colorful or interesting about his return. He answered all our questions, but without really saying anything colorful or interesting.

So Grady's back. Hopefully he'll continue to do great things for the Indians. He's a fun player to watch. He's a good guy off the field. He just isn't very quotable.

Generally speaking I'd rather cover a good player who's not very quotable than a bad player who is very quotable. In professional sports, winning is what matters most. If a player consistently helps his team win games, it doesn't really matter whether or not he's good at talking about it afterwards.


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