On Sunday night New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier mishandled three plays which single-handedly contributed to the loss against division rival Boston Red Sox. Clint’s on-field play paled in comparison to his mishandling of the media after the game – he flat out denied any post-game interviews with reporters.
As a coach in baseball, football and wrestling, I would tell my youth athletes to “flush it” whenever they made an error or mistake in a game. The metaphor is designed to keep the player focused on the next play and not dwell on the previous setback. Clint could have used this advice on Sunday. Instead, he flushed media requests, and then when asked a day later if he regretted the decision, he doubled-down.
According to this ESPN article, Clint’s exact words were: “No, I don’t regret it. And to be fair, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation, because it’s not a rule that I have to speak.”
Bad move Clint.
While it is not technically a rule, the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ union encourages speaking with the media. The appropriate approach is to face the media – in good times and bad. Sure, it is easy to do so when you hit a game-winning homerun or engineer a come-from-behind scoring drive with seconds left on the clock. But character is defined on how you handle adversity, especially under the bright lights of professional sports (and the media that cover it).
In any profession, making three errors within a day’s work can be mentally exhausting and agonizing. Feeling dejected is par for the course. But as a professional athlete, media interaction is part of the job and not addressing reporters will never make a bad situation disappear. It only fuels it.
So, if Clint were to do it all over again (hopefully he will never have a repeat lack of performance again), what advice can we give him?
First, be available and accessible to the media. There are certain parameters reporters must adhere to after a game in terms of when they can get in the locker room. Use the time to collect your thoughts.
Second, in collecting your thoughts, acknowledge the mistake and take ownership. Doing so will help create more empathetic storylines of the media coverage.
Third, reiterate the need to fix the mistake and provide an action plan. In this case Clint needs to continue arriving to the field early before games to practice, practice, practice.
Finally, communicate early and often. Accessibility equals transparency which will enable you to build relationships and trust.
By the way, in the next game after the on and off the field debacle, Clint hit a homerun. That is a good start.