It started with White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez struggling with an ankle injury and immediately tearing a ball into the gap in the center left. Laureano sprinted against the wall, bringing the ball together, and exclaiming as he threw into second place, “Damn it! He can run. “
“He’s injured,” said Laureano after the play. “That’s why I wanted to throw it.”
In response to the statement, commentator Dave Flemming offered, “Well, that’s part of watching live television.”
After Jiménez was visited by the White Sox coach and left the game after apparently worsening his ankle injury, Laureano said, “He’s too young!”
For Laureano, however, it was just the beginning. After catching a flyball, Luis Robert from Chicago was in the middle. Laureano gasped, “Oh yeah” as he attacked the ball and then released a throw on the plate with an audible grunt.
Though James McCann hit easily, Flemming and broadcast partner Jessica Mendoza received an immediate response from Laureano.
“Did you think you had a chance to get it?” Laureano was asked.
“It was too slow,” said Laureano, referring to the speed of the hit. “It’s okay.”
He added, “That Robert is on fire now.”
In-game interviews have become ubiquitous on national baseball television shows. They traditionally consist of managers who offer milquetoast observations on topics such as commanding their pitchers at the start of the game. But the stations have experimented with chatting with local players in recent years: Fox interviewed players during the All-Star game, and ESPN did the same during spring training. Mookie Betts, then with the Boston Red Sox, delivered a memorable moment in March 2019. Speaking of his little daughter’s dirty diapers, he said, “Man, she’s angry. Nobody ever explained that. … you don’t really know what goes in those diapers. So public announcement: get ready. It’s no fun. “
But in a do-or-die playoff game, Laureano’s comment provided a new dynamic. It was a remarkable window for viewers into a player’s mind with the season on the line. And it was quickly criticized.
Before the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of their series on Thursday night, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters he would no longer allow his players to participate in live in-game interviews after third baseman Justin Turner during The game had been miced up at Game 1. Roberts said he found out that Turner would be wearing the microphone an hour before the game, signaling that there might be friction between players who want exposure and teams who forehead might frown.
Mark Gross, senior vice president of production at ESPN, said the network met with MLB reps during the off-season asking for more access to the players. The network began experimenting during spring training when two players simultaneously carried a microphone during a game and were able to speak to each other and to the announcers.
During the regular season, players were interviewed live from the field during the ESPN television broadcasts on Sunday evening. Gross said ESPN has received approval from MLB to continue making requests from players for the playoffs. Sometimes the answer comes back yes, he said, and sometimes it’s no.
When asked about Roberts’ criticism, Gross said: “That’s fair. We don’t want to intervene or get in the way. Almost all of the players have said, ‘No problem; Talk to me.’ But we definitely respect the fact that they work. “
Ultimately, according to Gross, the interviews are a great way to present players in a sport that is struggling to market its stars. “People go away with a better feel for the A and are in the midfield,” he said. “I give Major League Baseball the honor to be more aggressive.”
ESPN has no broadcast rights beyond the first round of the playoffs, so it is unclear whether viewers will receive more on-site interviews. TBS and Fox said they are still finalizing their broadcast schedules for the divisional series, championship series and World Series.