The quote started to appear in my Twitter feed early this evening, as the pre-Game 7 World Series press conferences were happening:
Terry Francona was asked if this is a must win game— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 2, 2016
It was a perfect quote. The perfect terrible question. The perfect distillation of all that is awful and terrible about sports reporting and access journalism.
Too perfect, in fact.
I had that thought as I saw the quote on my Twitter feed. It felt like there was context that could make this question make sense. I thought of the famous Doug Williams story.
And, sure enough:
I’ll be honest: I think this question was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And god-damn hilarious.
It was the perfect question for the moment, the perfect move between a journalist and a source who have a history, who’ve known each other for years. It takes what is an overly serious moment and adds some levity to it. It is, in the words of Dan LeBatard, a little anarchy inside the cathedral of sports. It was a perfect Fred Weasley moment
But seriously, it did remind me of the famous story about Doug Williams. You know, the one where he was asked how long he had been a black quarterback?
That never happened. The story even has its own Snopes page:
I was next to the guy when that question supposedly was asked of Doug Williams, and what the reporter actually said was, "Doug, obviously you've been a black quarterback your whole life. When did race begin to matter to people?" Which was a perfectly reasonable question on a day when Williams was fielding hundreds of "black quarterback" questions. Problem was, Williams either misunderstood or didn't hear the question because he said, "How long have I been a black quarterback?"
So in 20 years, when someone trots out the story of how Terry Francona was asked before Game 7 if it was a must win … save this post, so you can show them what really happened.