Cubs manager David Ross was careful with his words when discussing mic’ing up players during games.
But in his role as a manager whose team is facing an elimination game, it doesn’t sound like something he’s embracing.
“It opens an avenue for criticism if something were to go wrong with that player,” Ross said Friday. “That [a player is] trying to do something for the fans and the backlash if there’s a moment there of just making a mistake, which happens in baseball all the time, whether you have an earpiece in or not.
“It opens up a lot of criticism.”
Mic’ing up players during games has gained traction this season but doing so during playoff games has brought mixed reactions. On the one hand, it gives fans a unique perspective, a potential way to bring in new audiences.
On the other hand, being mic'd up draws a player's attention away from the action, even when they agree to do it. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had trouble with his earpiece in Game 1 of Los Angeles’ series with the Brewers, attempting to fix it between pitches.
His manager, Dave Roberts, said that would be the end of his players being mic’d up.
Fans enjoy players being mic'd up — check out reactions when A's outfielder Ramón Laureano dropped an f-bomb during Thursday's A's-White Sox game. But if a player made an in-game mistake with the mic on, they'd be blamed for a lack of focus.
Ross worked as an ESPN broadcaster from 2017-19, so he understands TV's motivation: "You’re trying to interact with the fans," he said. But as a manager, he sees Roberts' point.
"It’s a little bit of a distraction," Ross said. "If I’m the shortstop and I hear my third baseman over there chatting it up and talking some things, it might be a little distracting.
"There’s a balance there, I guess. I like it in spring training and that stuff. It takes a special player to be able to do that in-game and want to do that. To each his own."