August 4, 2011

Former Manager Says Bedard "Doesn't Like People Asking Him Obvious, Stupid Questions"; No Wonder Some Of The Media Are Already Sharpening Their Knives

On Monday, I posted quotes from Seattle radio host Mike Salk, who said that having Erik Bedard on the Red Sox will be a "disaster".
I can't see a way in which this ends well. ... I just don't think he likes baseball that much. ... I don't think he really cares that much whether or not he pitches well.
Salk believes that Bedard pitched poorly last Friday so no other team would want to trade for him. In other words, Bedard lost a game on purpose, so he could possibly stay out of the spotlight of a bigger city. That is a fairly serious allegation, and I doubt Salk has any actual evidence to support it.

SoSHer Pandemonium67: "I've listened to enough Mike Salk to know that he thinks it's his job to throw out exaggerated, inflated, overly dramatic opinions in the hope of stirring up shit storms. He does that well. What he does not do well is provide balanced, reasoned, intelligent commentary."

Not living in Boston, and not listening to sports radio, I have no idea to what degree this meme has taken hold. But it was not only Salk who spread it around.

Even before his start on Friday, there were intimations that Bedard would sabotage any possible deal. SoSHer NYCSox posted on Friday night: "On MLBN earlier today someone quoted Jim Duquette as saying that he was convinced that Bedard would either beg out of tonight's start or 'deliberately' not pitch well in order to kill his trade value."

Duquette, former general manager of the Mets and former vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, is the co-host of "Power Alley" with Kevin Kennedy on Sirius XM's MLB Network Radio. (Duquette, whose baseball acumen is debatable, is best known for trading Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano.)

Boston Dirt Dogs, which is affiliated with the Globe, had this banner up the day after the trade:
A Sports Illustrated feature in early 2008 stated that Bedard "likes attention about as much as Thomas Pynchon does". He says he feels most comfortable on the mound and in his small hometown of Navan, Ontario.

ESPN magazine ran an interesting Q&A in 2008 in which Bedard agreed to answer some questions from teammates and coaches:
Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mariners reliever: "I'm always fighting myself on the mound, while you're always so tranquil. Nothing seems to faze you. How do you do it?"

Bedard: "I learned early in my career that if you let things faze you, you get off track and give up the big inning. ... Some people like the fact that I don't show emotion, and some people don't. You get criticized either way. ... Some of my friends and family want me to show more emotion when I do good. They want me to jump around, but it's just not me. I give a little tap of the glove every once in a while when I'm excited, but that's it. I think it might be different in October."

Sam Perlozzo, Mariners third base coach: "Do you have any fun out there?"

Bedard: "I might be having fun, but you'll never know it. I might be miserable, but you'll never know it. Obviously, I love playing baseball, or I wouldn't be doing it. I love the competitiveness and the pressure."

Aubrey Huff, Orioles DH: "Why do you hate the media?"

Bedard: "I'm not going to answer that one. That just stirs up stuff and leads to more questions."
The year before that, in 2007, ESPN's Amy K. Nelson wrote that Bedard, then with the Orioles, was "one of the best pitchers in baseball you know the least about".
"I don't want to reveal anything about myself," says Bedard, who's revered by teammates. "If you want a quote, don't come to me. I won't give it to you. Anything baseballwise, that's fine. Other than that, don't ask me any other questions. I don't want my life to be out there." ...

Bedard is at times rude, standoffish and disinterested, and perversely takes pride in his attitude. "Stupid question, next," is a frequent answer from the 28-year-old. ... That brusqueness ends, however, once reporters put down their notebooks or turn off the red light. Unlike Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez, whose abstention from the media is nearly unmatched, Bedard will gladly engage in conversation as long as it's not for posterity.
Former Orioles manager Dave Trembley:
He's very, very private. He's not a [bad] guy. He just doesn't like people asking him obvious, stupid questions.
Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone:
He doesn't have time for meaningless conversation. He doesn't like to play many games. He can weed out who he thinks can help him a little. He can weed out the ones who he thinks are full of it.
So Bedard is a quiet guy who likes his solitude and does not suffer fools gladly. No wonder other people in the baseball industry are highly suspicious. ... You know the drill. A player can be quiet, but not too quiet. Loud, but not too loud. Spend time alone, but not too much time. He can read, but nothing with big words in it. But don't read only comic books. You can know a bit about food or wine, but if you know too much, you'll be be a snob. ... This insanity is probably as amorphous as the "unwritten rules" about how to act on the field.

Interestingly, Mr. Jim Duquette is quoted in the article! He was working as vice president of baseball operations in Baltimore at the time and is quoted as saying "It's not acceptable [to avoid the media], but for some reason he thinks it is." While Duquette may know something about Bedard that most of us do not, he may also have a personal grudge against him. (You probably know where I stand on that question.)

Reading the comments at SoSH after Bedard's first press conference in Boston was interesting. Some thought he was "comfortable with the media and got off to a good start" while others thought he "came off as someone who had to do something he loathes". (It seems like both could be true, actually.) Here are two fuller quotes:

I've heard ex-teammates (Millar on EEI last week was one) who describe Bedard as being extremely introverted and shy. That with his teammates in the clubhouse or dugout, he's perfectly comfortable and gets along just fine with them, but with the press or basically anyone he doesn't know, he experiences a lot more anxiety. ... That seems to explain why a few members of the media seem to think he's a jerk or abrasive, and have really gone overboard in their criticism of him. They view pretty much anyone who doesn't really want to talk to them as jerks, don't they?"
joe dokes:
One of the reasons he may have appeared to be uncomfortable -- in addition to just not liking the whole group interview thing -- is that he was walking into a room of reporters, many of whom have already called him a pussy. Maybe he was perfectly "comfortable," but he was doing the grown-up thing and suppressing his anger that a bunch of lazy slobs who've never met him have already made up their minds about him.


Jim said...

Bedard's "small hometown of Navan,ON" is actually a suburb of Ottawa. Would Eric be taking the piss out of the interviewer, knowing that he would be too lazy to look it up? And who believed that his favourite place to pitch is Fenway? Really? More piss-taking, I think.
I like him already. Of course, I'll like him even better if he pitches for the Sox the way he did against them when he played for Baltimore. Here's to his good health, regardless.

allan said...

Bedard's "small hometown of Navan, ON" is actually a suburb of Ottawa. Would Eric be taking the piss out of the interview

Should I have known that? I looked it upon on a map when he was traded. Seemed like it could be rural.

Wiki sez "Navan is a village within the city limits of Ottawa in eastern Ontario, Canada, located south-east of Orleans. ... About 3,025 people live in the vicinity of Navan (Canada 2006 Census)."

That seems small.

Jim said...

It's urban sprawl. Everybody drives pick-up trucks.

laura k said...

Ah, I see Dirt Dogs is still the classless piece of shit it always was.

FenFan said...

Ah, I see Dirt Dogs is still the classless piece of shit it always was.

The only reason BDD remains on the landscape is due to its ties with the Globe, which enables it to remain high in the search rankings. I don't think I can sum up its worth any better than what Laura already stated.

allan said...

First sentence stated as fact - no evidence, no attribution, no nothing. Shitty journalism. ... Later, the players "seem" to like him. Cannot state *that* as a fact, though.

Peter Abraham, Globe:

Bedard has a bad reputation in baseball. But every player deserves a clean slate when he changes teams, if only because every environment is different.

In 2006, when Bobby Abreu was traded to the Yankees in July, he arrived from Philadelphia with a reputation for being moody, bad with the media and kind of lazy on the field.

Abreu spent two and a half years with the Yankees, played all but a handful of games and was universally respected in the clubhouse. He also maintained good relations with the media from the day he arrived until the day he left.

Bedard deserves the same chance. Here is what can be reported so far: The players seem to like him, he has treated all the staff guys with respect and his interactions with the media have been cordial. It may sound silly, but when he got done with his post-game press conference tonight he said "Thank you" before leaving.


Michael Holloway said...

Great article. It's one thing that's really missing from the 4th estate - Who watches the watchers? Nicely done, well researched. Top notch.