Reporting from enemy territory: The Jacoby Ellsbury press conference, as told by a Sox fan
Being a Boston fan in the New York sports media isn’t as difficult as you’d think. New York is considered the media capital of the world, so people flock from all over just to land a job there. When you’re at a game or a practice or a press conference, it’s not as though you’re sitting among New York fans who are hanging onto every second of the game or every word a player is saying. Everyone is just doing his or her job.
Like adding salt to the wound
But for me, today was different. As an intern at a local news station, I had the opportunity to go to Jacoby Ellsbury’s press conference at Yankee Stadium. Man oh man was it awkward.
Let me state that for the record, I’m a very professional journalist. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are both in journalism, so I’ve had press ethics hammered into my head for four and a half years. But today was rough.
It started off like any other press conference, which is very contrived. That’s not to say that I don’t love my job or enjoy going to things like this. There’s just a lot of planning that goes into an event like this, so it’s very predictable. Yankees execs gave Ellsbury’s wife Kelsey flowers to welcome them. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi spoke about how excited they were to have Ellsbury next season. Girardi even said, “You're no longer a thorn in our side; you're a flower in our clubhouse.” Cute.
It was all pretty standard. Then, when they presented him with his new jersey, Ellsbury got pretty excited, and it made me feel madder than I thought it would. He asked if he could get the hat too, with a big smile on his face, and I was starting to feel like an angry Red Sox fan rather than just another member of the media.
This was not fun to watch.
He spoke, and again, it was standard questions and answers. He said he had a great time in Boston and made lifelong friends. He of course avoided a question about what he was offered from Boston (although sources say there was no offer, and the decision to part ways was mutual). He also talked about wanting to hoist up another trophy with the Yankees, which made me want to scream a little.
But honestly, I ended up getting closure as a fan out of the whole experience. Because I was there as media, I was able to look at the situation as a realist instead of just a fan of the game. Ellsbury was never as tied down to the Sox as guys like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are. Regardless of whether or not you like the Yankees, baseball players want to play there because it’s an historic franchise, just like the Sox. Ellsbury said he grew up rooting for the Mariners, so why does he need to feel obligated to avoid the Yankees?
As much as it made my blood boil a little to see the whole spectacle, it made me see baseball as a business at the same time. It’s like Ortiz said today at his press conference, talking about Ellsbury and Robinson Cano: "One in, one out. That’s the way it is. It’s a business."
Still, I can’t promise that I won’t let out a boo or two come April. I am a Sox fan after all.