As a younger broadcaster, when I was a reporter at KMOX, I liked to think of myself as a conduit between the player and the fan…kind of the fans representative in the clubhouse, asking the players questions that fans would want to know the answer to.
With that as the case, I was always frustrated by players that either didn’t talk at all or would duck out of the locker room after a particularly rough outing. I understand the concept of needing to cool off, but in my opinion, part of what a player signs up for is to be responsible to the people that are paying for tickets.
Tuesday night at Busch stadium, I was heartened by the action of a Cardinal player. Skip Schumaker had made a key eighth inning error that let Washington tie the game at two before Ryan Ludwick won it with a homer in the bottom of the inning. It was Schumaker’s fourth error in two games, and he hasn’t had a stellar year offensively, either.
With Ludwick and Felipe Lopez having homered, and with Chris Carpenter and Ryan Franklin having pitched well, there were plenty of guys for the media to talk to. We didn’t NEED Schu, although his input would complete the telling of the game’s story.
Lo and behold, when the media group was finished talking to Carpenter, a fully dressed Schumaker walked through the crowd toward his locker, stopped, and said “I guess you want to talk to me.” He easily could have skipped out without anyone having seen him. He was already showered, dressed and ready to go. But, he understands that, good or bad, it’s not going to kill him to answer three or four questions.
We’re supposed to be objective in the media…so that we can be critical or hand out praise equally. But I’ll tell you this. Schumaker earned major points with me with that one, simple interview that took four or five minutes of his time. He answered every question, nobody beat up on him, he explained himself and showed himself, as he always has, to be a standup athlete.
I’m a fan, and that action is going to stick with me. Carpenter pointed out that he didn’t need to say anything to Schumaker after the errors because he’s such a hard worker, and that no player would ever question his preparation for the game.
If Carpenter and his teammates tell us that, if we see that the guy always hustles, and Schumaker is going to explain his errors when they occur, I’ll never have a problem with him. All I can ask of a player his that he tries hard and is does everything he can to be the best he can be. And this guy IS a really good player. It’s a bonus when he understands that communicating with the fans through the media is a good thing
Some fans may not like hearing this, but unless Schumaker changes dramatically for the worse, which would shock me, I feel the same way as his teammates. I’ll have his back, too.