Forget the infamous rant, Hal McRae was great to work with
APR 26, 2013 7:12p ET
As I looked at Eskew, I finally noticed that he was bleeding from about a 1½-inch cut on his cheek. McRae, meanwhile, stepped out of his office and began ranting at his players, challenging them and daring them to come get a piece of him.
It then ended when McRae — I always found this hilarious — shouted, "Now, put that in your (expletive) pipe and smoke it."
Eskew was tended to by the Royals trainer, but Eskew's biggest concern was whether or not he was going to make his first deadline, the early state-edition one. He ended up missing that one, by 18 minutes, but he later made his city-edition deadline.
One of the most interesting developments came the next day when Eskew's phone began ringing constantly — numerous radio stations and newspapers from Tampa, Fla., to Toronto wanted to interview him about the experience.
Eskew declined them all — which I always admired.
"I'm not part of the news. I cover it," he said then.
Eskew, who now freelances for The Associated Press, still feels that way today, though he admits it would be harder to avoid his 15 minutes of fame.
"With all the social media there is," he said, "it would have been on Twitter that night, and people would be texting me and Tweeting and emailing and everything else. It would have been tougher to get away from it."
Eskew and I also agree on something else: The entire incident gave McRae an unfair reputation, at least from afar, that he was difficult to work with.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As beat writers, we felt McRae was as good as it gets to work with. He answered our questions honestly and openly, had great respect for our deadlines, and trusted us enough to have routine off-the-record conversations.
As good managers do with beat writers, McRae helped teach us the game from his inside perspective. That's a valuable source of information any journalist should covet. There was never any animosity between McRae and the Kansas City media, despite what the "rant" would imply.
In fact, when McRae apologized to Eskew the next day. Eskew laughed and told the skipper, "Thanks, but no need to. Just buy me a crab dinner the next time we go to Baltimore."