The Yankees use Cam Newton as an example of how not to talk to the media

Associated Press

Every team starts spring training with media training. As in: “hey, here’s how you deal with the media, you guys.” It’s understandable. When ballplayers say interesting or off-message things or if they react negatively to negative things, however understandably, it tends to create news stories and followup stories and, if things break just wrong, distractions. Far better it is, from the team’s perspective at least, to teach players to be kind and pleasant ciphers: always present and accommodating to the media, but ultimately offering very little outside of cliche.

The Yankees are no different. ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand reports that this year the Yankees’ media training involved showing their players video of Cam Newton’s and Russell Wilson’s recent Super Bowl press conferences as the wrong way and the right way to deal with defeat. Newton, you’ll recall, was surly and visibly disappointed during his presser, much to the chagrin of everyone.

I know I’ve been slamming the Yankees a lot lately, but I’m not going to slam them here. I don’t have any problem with a team telling players to be empty, cliche-spewing automatons with the media. I wish they wouldn’t, but they’re trying to limit headaches and worry constantly about bad press, so I see what they’re trying to do. As with many things, Crash Davis was right about this.

That doesn’t mean that we should validate them simply for doing so, of course. When a player does stray off script, we should enjoy it. Even celebrate it. At least to a degree. I mean, if the player’s off-script message is to talk about how Stalin wasn’t really that bad and how Ayn Rand’s books are anything other than simplistic, sophomoric tripe the substance is worthy of criticism. I’m just saying that we should, at least on some level, appreciate that the player gave us a gift in this regard. Slam them for the substance for which they are responsible, but not simply because he didn’t stick to the talking points. You and I don’t work for the team, remember. The talking points are to obscure things from us, not to help us.

The football press was pretty bad about this with Newton and with others in the past. Some of them got bent out of shape in the same way a team or league PR person might, taking issue with the off-message comments simply for being off-message. As if the NFL were law enforcement instead of a party trying to sell something and of whom we should be critical. Baseball reporters tend to be way better about this and appreciate the gift they’re given when someone goes off-script. It probably has a lot to do with them enduring, like, 200 days worth of press availabilities a year and appreciating the change of pace.

To sum up: good for the Yankees for trying to keep their players from stepping in it, rhetorically speaking. Here’s hoping the training is an abject failure.

(h/t to CBS Eye on Baseball)

Olson blasts two HRs, Acuña has 4 hits as Strider, Braves overpower Phillies 11-4

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – Given a seven-run lead in the first inning, Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider could relax and keep adding to his majors-leading strikeout total.

“That game felt like it was over pretty quick,” Strider said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in three runs with four hits, including a two-run single in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-4 on Sunday night to split the four-game series.

“Getting a lead first is big, especially when you get that big of a lead,” Strider said. “… When we’re putting up runs, my job isn’t to be perfect. My job is to get outs.”

Following the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced right-hander Michael Soroka will be recalled to make his first start since the 2020 season on Monday night at Oakland.

Matt Olson hit a pair of two-run homers for Atlanta, and Strider became the fastest pitcher in modern history to reach 100 strikeouts in a season.

“It’s incredible,” said Acuña through a translator of Strider. “Every time he goes out to pitch it seems like he’s going to strike everybody out.”

Acuña hit a run-scoring triple in the fifth before Olson’s second homer to center. Acuña had two singles in the first when the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate, collected seven hits and opened a 7-0 lead. Led by Acuña and Olson, who had three hits, the Braves set a season high with 20 hits.

Strider (5-2) struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander fired a called third strike past Nick Castellanos for the first out of the fourth, giving him 100 strikeouts in 61 innings and topping Jacob deGrom‘s 61 2/3 innings in 2021 as the fastest to 100 in the modern era.

“It’s cool,” Strider said, adding “hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Olson followed Acuña’s leadoff single with a 464-foot homer to right-center. Austin Riley added another homer before Ozzie Albies and Acuña had two-run singles in the long first inning.

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and left fielder Kyle Schwarber each committed an error on a grounder by Orlando Arcia, setting up two unearned runs in the inning.

Strider walked Kody Clemens to open the third. Brandon Marsh followed with a two-run homer for the Phillies’ first hit. Schwarber hit a two-run homer off Collin McHugh in the seventh.


Michael Harris II celebrated the one-year anniversary of his major league debut by robbing Schwarber of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the second. As Harris shook his head to say “No!” after coming down with the ball on the warning track, Strider pumped his fist in approval on the mound – after realizing Harris had the ball.

“He put me through an emotional roller coaster for a moment,” Strider said.


Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, setting the stage for his final step in his comeback from two torn Achilles tendons.

“To get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” Snitker said.

Soroka will be making his first start in the majors since Aug. 3, 2020, against the New York Mets when he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. Following a setback which required a follow-up surgery, he suffered another tear of the same Achilles tendon midway through the 2021 season.

Soroka suffered another complication in his comeback when a hamstring injury slowed his progress this spring.

Acuña said he was “super happy, super excited for him, super proud of him” and added “I’m just hoping for continued good health.”

Soroka looked like an emerging ace when he finished 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 and placed second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.

The Braves are 0-3 in bullpen committee games as they attempt to overcome losing two key starters, Max Fried (strained left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the injured list in early May. Each is expected to miss at least two months.

RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who gave up one hit in two scoreless innings, was optioned to Gwinnett after the game to clear a roster spot for Soroka.


Phillies right-hander Dylan Covey (0-1), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, didn’t make it through the first inning. Covey allowed seven runs, five earned, and six hits, including the homers by Olson and Riley.


Phillies: 3B Alex Bohm was held out with hamstring tightness. … LHP José Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) threw the bullpen session originally scheduled for Saturday. Manager Rob Thomson said there was no report that Alvarado, who was placed on the injured list on May 10, had any difficulty.


Phillies: Following an off day, LHP Ranger Suárez (0-1, 9.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Kodai Senga (4-3, 3.94 ERA) in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series in New York.

Braves: Soroka was 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He allowed a combined four hits and two runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA in 2022) is scheduled to make his 2023 debut for Oakland as he returns from a finger injury.