As a puzzled Don Wakamatsu asked the reporter to repeat the question, Paul Panisko, Blake Hempstead and I looked at each other in disbelief.
“What,” the reporter said once again to Wak, who was then the manager of the Seattle Mariner, “is the key to a good bunt?”
The Mariners had just won a game in which one of the key runs came home on a squeeze play, which, for the sake of some Mariners fans reading, is a bunt with a runner on third base.
Paul, Blake and I were fully-credentialed reporters for the game because we made the trip to Seattle to cover Butte boy Rob Johnson when he was a catcher for the Mariners.
Wakamatsu looked at the reporter like the boys on The Sandlot looked at Scotty Smalls when he said, “Who is she?” when talking about Babe Ruth.
If the manager had a thought bubble over his head, it would have said something like “Go ask your Little League coach.” Or, “You’re killing me, Smalls.”
The reporter might as well have asked the manager about the color scheme of the Mariners uniform. By the time any player turns 11, he or she knows the key to a good bunt.
Instead of pointing and laughing at the reporter, Wakamatsu, who is a very polite and friendly man, tried to answer the question as best he could without calling the reporter an L7 weenie.
You have to wonder how Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would have handled that question.
Cam, you see, thought it was funny to receive a question about the route running of one of his receivers because the question came from a girl.
A female reporter asked the very intelligent football question, and Newton giggled before saying, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes, like … it’s funny.”
Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer asked the one asking, and by her question you can tell she has a solid understanding of the sport.
She did not ask, “What’s the secret to a good handoff?” Or, “Why did you chose to wear the No. 1?” She asked a solid question about football.
You have to wonder what Cam found so funny about hearing a question from a female. Was he surprised she wasn’t asking if he wanted another cup of coffee?
Judging by Cam’s seemingly sincere apology (and his B.S. “sarcasm” defense), I don’t think this was entirely about the quarterback acting like Dabney Coleman on the movie “9 to 5.”
“You’re a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
Instead, it seemed like Cam just has a hard time fielding such a question from someone he does not see as a football equal. The question was coming from somebody who never played the sport at a high level, something that was made clear by the soft voice.
But if Cam really isn’t a male chauvinist, and let’s give him that benefit of the doubt, then he should be laughing at just about every question at his post-game press conferences. Well, at the pressers when he is not crying like a little girl, that is.
It isn’t just the girls who are covering sports that they never played at a high level. It’s hard to believe, Cam, but those boys who tend to ask some extremely stupid questions didn’t play, either.
That does not, however, mean that they cannot report on the game.
Howard Cosell, a television announcer we should all have a new respect for now that we’re stuck with Joe Buck, titled his memoir, “I Never Played the Game.”
The press box at every football game is filled with reporters — men and women — who never played the game they are covering above the youth level. That’s because, relatively speaking, very few people play any sport at a high level.
According to scholarshipstats.com, a high school football player has a 2.5 percent chance of playing for an NCAA Division I school. Prep baseball players only have a 2.1 percent chance of a DI roster spot, while high school basketball players have a 0.9 percent chance.
Even Lloyd Christmas doesn’t like those odds.
The media members who did play the game usually do not attend the press conferences, either. They are usually working as the color commentator and saying something that makes us quickly search for our mute button.
This isn’t like John McEnroe being asked if Serena Williams can compete with men. Women can clearly write and report just as well as the best men in the business. They have, and they do.
When it comes to color commentators and studio analysts, fans definitely like to hear from people who played the game, and right now, in my opinion, there isn’t anyone doing it better than former softball All-American Jessica Mendoza for ESPN.
Mendoza never played Major League Baseball, but she understands the game, and more importantly, knows how to convey that understanding to the viewers — at least to the viewers who aren’t sexist pigs.
Would Cam laugh at her for asking a question about the batting approach of Aaron Judge?
Would he laugh at Peter King, the long-time respected NFL reporter, for asking the same question Rodrigue asked?
Judging by their physique, Rodrique would run a much better route than King ever could.
When it comes to sportswriters, writing ability and knowledge of the sport is much more important than the writer’s 40 time.
Call me crazy, but I like to read sportswriters who actually went to journalism school and know that a pronoun is not a noun that lost its amateur status. (That is a Calvin and Hobbes reference, by the way.)
More than anything else, that is the mistake Cam made, and he is getting beat up pretty good for his insanely stupid reaction to the question. He lost his endorsement deal with Dannon, the pro-woman yogurt.
What might be just as bad as Cam’s response was that the press conference room was mostly full of men who sat silent as the quarterback disrespected one of their colleagues.
Not one of those “men” had the courage to ask Cam a follow-up question like, “What in the blue hell is that supposed to mean, Cam?” That is the question we all would have liked to have heard.
Had one of the fellas asked that question, we wouldn’t have had to listen to Cam try to explain and then re-explain his costly faux pas.
Instead, they sat there, dumbfounded, like Paul, Blake and I did in Seattle.
— Bill Foley, who referenced a Jane Fonda move two columns in a row, writes a column that appears Tuesday on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74