Clint Fraizer had a bad night on Sunday and made it worse by not talking to the media afterward. We went over that and have gone over that many times in the past. Our view: it’s totally understandable why Frazier wouldn’t want to talk and it’s not like anything he could’ve said would’ve been particularly illuminating, but there are rituals and expectations in place that, rightly or wrongly, make life far more difficult for a player who doesn’t adhere to them than one who does. Especially in New York.
The Yankees were off on Monday. On Tuesday, Fraizer — in the lineup as a DH — called the media to his locker before the game to talk about his not talking on Sunday. You can read the entire Q&A session here. In the session he took responsibility for his poor defensive play and said that there was no point in talking about it given how obvious it was that he helped cost his team the game. The most relevant portion, though, came after he was asked if he regretted not talking:
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. I know that it came out that I was ducking the media, but that was not what I am trying to do. I have owned up to my mistakes in the past, saying that it shouldn’t happen. You know, since I got traded over here, it’s been some stories that shouldn’t have come out that have come out. And it’s difficult because the way I am perceived by people is not how I think I really am.
Stories that shouldn’t be stories have been stories. It started with the hair. Then it started with me asking for a number that I didn’t ask for. Then it started with another guy saying I should be out on the field playing through a concussion. And it’s been difficult and I don’t feel like it’s been fair at times. I don’t owe an apology for not talking.
Fraizer here refers to the stuff about his long hair when he was traded from the Indians to the Yankees, which was portrayed by the press as a controversy when, in reality, there wasn’t anything particularly controversial about it, internally speaking, with the club. He’s also talking about how it was falsely reported that he asked for Mickey Mantle’s number 7 when he arrived. He did not do that. Finally, last year, Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay criticized Frazier on-air for not recovering more quickly from a concussion. Kay later apologized.
So, yeah, it makes a lot of sense that Frazier is not terribly enamored with the New York media (at least part of it; see below). And, in some way, it takes some serious guts to come out and say this stuff to them like Frazier did yesterday.
But it also takes a good bit of naiveté, because I strongly suspect that his comments are gonna make his life with the media worse for him now.
The takeaway from this will not, under any circumstances, be the New York press engaging in self-reflection as to whether it has given Frazier a fair shake in the past. Rather it will result in — heck, it already is resulting in — the New York press questioning whether Frazier’s skin is too thin and whether he’s too sensitive to hack in in New York. His comments yesterday have been couched as a “call for help” by one columnist and a source of greater concern by another. Whatever Frazier hoped he’d accomplish with his comments yesterday will not, in all likelihood, turn out the way he wanted it to, even if those words made some objective sense.
Which is not to cast Frazier as some sort of victim, hero or anything like that. In the past couple of days I’ve heard some rumbling from people in a position to know that, however the state of Frazier vs. the Media happens to appear on the surface, Frazier has, actually, genuinely rubbed some people the wrong way in ways that are worthy of some criticism. He may hold some grudges against a couple of people in the media about a couple of unfair stories, but beyond that he’s actually been given an easier time of it than some others have been. This is especially true given how poor his defense has been (see how the knives were out for Gary Sánchez’s catching woes in the past, for example). Despite poor play all year, it was not until Sunday — when it became totally unavoidable — that his defense was a major topic, and that’s when he bailed.
The upshot is that whatever Frazier’s grievances are, they don’t stand in the way from being very friendly with the press when things are going well. For him to duck the press the first time he’s likely to take some heat for his play and then to air the grievances as if they apply to the entire New York press contingent is not gonna sit well with them. And it’s understandable if it does not.
However one comes down on that, though, it’s hard to imagine that things will go better for Frazier going forward. Even if, like he did last night, when he homered, he continues to hit.