I’ll be the first to admit, postgame television interviews aren’t always compelling. The players are just coming off the field. They’re often still in the moment, and not always introspective.
I do these interviews every night in the postseason, and one, in particular, stands out as my all-time favorite. It’s relevant because the subject, right-hander John Lackey, starts Monday night for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the Division Series against the Dodgers.
The interview took place after Game 5 of the 2009 ALCS between the Angels and Yankees. Angels manager Mike Scioscia had removed Lackey with a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning, and the TV cameras had captured Lackey yelling as Scioscia approached the mound, “This is mine, Sosh, this is mine!”
Lackey had grown upset earlier in the inning when plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth had called a borderline 3-2 pitch to Jorge Posada a ball. And he surely became even more upset when his replacement, reliever Darren Oliver, gave up a three-run double to Mark Teixeira.
The Angels went on to win, 7-6, but Lackey was still fired up afterward. Here are the highlights of the interview, and the text doesn’t fully capture the way Lackey barked out his answers.
Me: John, you were obviously upset to come out of the game. You told Mike Scioscia, “This is mine.” How long did it take you to calm down?
Lackey: Not completely there yet, I’ll be honest with you. We won the game, that’s all that counts right now. We got another shot.
Me: The walk to Posada, 3-2 pitch.
Lackey: That wasn’t a walk. Let’s be honest. That wasn’t a walk.
Me: How much did that upset you?
Lackey: I mean, it’s a big game, big situation. It was a big spot for sure. But you know, I felt like I had a lot left.
To recap:Still mad at Scioscia, maybe even madder at Culbreth, and still mad at Scioscia even when asked about Culbreth.
This was not a heat-of-the-moment type thing; Lackey had been removed from the game a good while earlier. But one of Lackey’s most compelling attributes is his fierce competitiveness. Another is his bluntness.
Yeah, he can be prickly. But on one night, at least, he was a great interview.