Bay still teased about Derby doughnut
PITTSBURGH -- For many All-Star players, Monday is mostly a day of rest and few obligations. For Jason Bay, it's live TV interviews, baseball clinics, seven radio interviews in 60 minutes, and about 10 family members in town.
It's just after 10 a.m., and Jason arrives at the Westin hotel and meets with his agent, Joe Urbon. Here's what his day is shaping up to be:
• Live "Cold Pizza" interview
• Baseball drills clinic with kids at the Fan Fest
• Media Day interviews
• A Century 21 rapid-fire radio session, lasting 90 minutes
• Endless ribbing about his O-fer at last year's Home Run Derby
A team of PR people and security guards arrive for Jason, and they shuttle him through the back corridors of the hotel for his scheduled 10:40 a.m. interview with "Cold Pizza." This is the first time some of the guys start teasing him about his homer drought in Detroit.
"I think a lot of people felt bad for me," Jason tells them, adding that's mainly why he isn't participating this year. "But the bottom line is I just stunk."
Next up at 11 a.m. is a drills clinic, where Jason helps co-host a 30-minute show at Fan Fest with children. He speaks to the kids and goes to each station as they take grounders, hit line drives and practice their sliding. One employee looks on and tells of a former major-leaguer who showed up one year and stood against a wall because he was so hung over.
"Fred Lynn was the exact opposite," the employee says. "He'd get all into it and slide into the bases." Jason, on par with his general demeanor, instead takes a more casual route: choosing to walk to each station and give tips to all of the kids while shaking all of their hands.
After the Fan Fest session a quick TV interview in the green room ends, and Jason's whisked back to the hotel. He's told not to stop and sign any autographs. People yell his name and clearly look agitated when he doesn't sign. "He can't do it all the time," Urbon says as the entourage disappears behind a curtain.
Jason checks his cell phone and sees a humorous text message from teammate and All-Star Freddy Sanchez. "He wants to know what I'm wearing," Jason says, as he writes back a description of his exact outfit. "And I saw some guy with a FredEx T-shirt on," Jason writes to his third baseman. "He told me that he made it because you always deliver."
It's now noon, and Jason's gone two hours straight without a break. Time for the 60-minute session of media interviews, a cluster of print and electronic media peppering him with the same questions, including ones about his derby disaster. The highlight comes when a Japanese TV reporter has an interview translated, and is essentially yelling the questions at Jason in Japanese. "That was my first interview of that sort," he dryly says to the media. "First interpreted interview. That was neat."
After the session, Jason sees his family for the first time. His wife, Kristen, her parents, his parents and family friends are waiting. He gets more flak about his derby performance last year. "The only thing worse than a doughnut is two doughnuts," jokes his father, David.
The last stop of his day is the most intense: the Courtyard by Marriott hotel for seven quick-hit radio interviews in an hour. Jason's agreed to be the Century 21 Home Run Derby celebrity spokesperson, and his liaison, Peter, sits down with Jason and reviews exactly what he should say during the interviews. Peter hammers home that Jason needs to make sure he repeats the Century 21 motto: It's a perfect combination of America's favorite pastime and the American dream of owning a home.
Beginning at 2 p.m. Jason sits in a room by himself on a phone as an operator connects him first to local Pittsburgh radio, then onto Jim Rome's nationally syndicated show and later CNN. Peter uses the interludes to remind Jason to pump the "Century 21" brand as much as possible.
The interviews are mercifully over, and it's a quick walk back to the Westin before boarding the team bus to the ballpark. It's Home Run Derby night, and Jason's looking at two hours of signing autographs for fellow players once he arrives at PNC Park.
But Monday was just a prelude to Jason's All-Star Tuesday. He's scheduled to meet Peter at 5:20 a.m. in the Westin lobby to begin a six-hour session of Century 21 television interviews.
"I'm tired, but it wasn't that bad," he says before getting on the bus.
Amy K. Nelson is a writer/reporter for ESPN The Magazine.