The post-game interview is the ritual at the center of inside baseball. James doubted it had much information value. After all, the players knew the sportswriters' methods. (Just as political players know the ways of the press.) The foolish athlete gets into wars with the team writers and vows not to cooperate. "Silence, though, is but the ultimate weapon, the last line of defense," James wrote, "The first line of defense is the cliche."
How do you feel today Jim I'm optimistic I've always had good luck against Lefty Grove what did he throw you that you hit into the seats I think it was a breaking pitch that didn't break is this the biggest day of your life no this is just the first step we still have to win the series has Willie helped the team Willie has added a dimension to the team that we didn't have before and how about Frank Frank has adapted to his role well and hasn't complained at all about not being used more why did you fire Charlie I've the greatest respect for Charlie but sometimes a change just has to be made...
"An army of sentries encircles the game, guarding every situation from which a glimmer of fresh truth might be allowed to escape." James wrote. From his angle, the sportswriter is less interested in dispensing knowledge than in monopolizing analysis and discussion of the game. This is done by popularizing the sportswriter's cliches until they become the sound fans expect to hear.
"My goal when I started writing wasn't to create a lot of statistics," he told USA Today. "My goal was to create a field of knowledge." This alternative field was the "outside" view, "what baseball looks like if you step back from it and study it intensely and minutely, but from a distance." The outside view didn't require locker room access. It was there in the action itself, in the part of baseball the fans could see for themselves, or read in a box score.
I hope other journalists confronting the political puzzles of 2004 will read Adam Nagourney and Jim VandeHei and hear their defiant cry: Horse Race Now! Horse Race Tomorrow! Horse Race Forever! And I hope other journalists will ask themselves: must this go on indefinitely?