Journalists are afraid to ask a “yes or no” question. This is not meant as a knock on the media. They are trained to only ever ask open-ended questions (questions that require more than a one-word answer), as it is difficult to generate quotes for a story if all the questions are answered with one word.

Unfortunately open-ended questions are flawed. Today’s sports personalities are conditioned to respond with evasive, cliche-filled, non-answers. The only way to pin these athletes/coaches/personnel down to a solid answer is to ask the close-ended question and demand an answer.

Here are 10 ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions that the local media are afraid to ask but we as Rays fans want answered…

  • For Andrew Friedman:
    1. Considering ability and the fact that Kazmir is two years younger than James Shields, would the team be willing to give Kazmir a 7-year deal?
    2. Is there any scenario that you can imagine under which the team would be willing to give one player a $100 million contract under the team’s current financial situation?
    3. Would the Rays be willing to trade a key player for the betterment of the future even it meant sacrificing their playoff chances in that one season?
    4. In an ideal world, is Jason Bartlett the Rays starting shortstop in 2009?
    5. If the Rays decide to move (pending free agents) Al Reyes and Dan Wheeler prior to the trading deadline, will young relief pitchers be the team’s #1 priority in terms of asking prices?
    6. Is arbitration-eligibility a factor when deciding when to call-up players like Evan Longoria and David Price?
  • For Joe Maddon:
    1. Does Shawn Riggans lack of experience worry you as a potential backup catcher?
    2. Based on what you know right now, do you see Rocco Baldelli in right field on opening day?
    3. Would you consider 2008 a failure if the Rays finish the season with a losing record?
    4. If the Rays expect to be a legitimate playoff-contender in 2009, is it important that David Price get major league experience in 2008?

What questions do you want answered? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Robert Rittner says:

    I don't want any of those questions asked because they are unfair. It is kind of like asking how much the payroll would increase from year to year. There is no way Friedman or Maddon can answer those questions in any meaningful way until the actual circumstances arrive. If they do, and they do not "keep their promise" for excellent reasons, they are still pilloried for not keeping those promises.

    I can answer those questions myself actually.
    To Friedman:
    1. There are too many factors to consider before committing to 7 years for any pitcher. It could happen; after all we just did it. But there is no predicting.

    2. There is no point in speculating about large contracts until we know who is available, what our position is and what we need.

    3. We would always try to get to the playoffs. We would have to assess our immediate prospects versus our expectations should a deal be made.

    4. Bartlett is our shortstop now and is signed for 2009 as well. We expect him to contribute. We have a great prospect in Brignac, but there is no way to anticipate who will be the better choice in 2009. The best situation is if we have to make a decision based on them competing for the position.

    5. If we are trading at the time we will seek the best value in return that we can get. We have some excellent relief prospects; adding depth is always a good thing.

    6. Yes, among many other factors.

    To Maddon:
    1. It is a factor, but not the only one.

    2. We hope he will start in RF but it is far too early to predict and there is no point in speculating until we see him in camp for a while.

    3. We expect to be competitive. Anything less than the playoffs is always disappointing, but we have many measurements for other kinds of progress as well. Ultimately it is the record that matters, and this year we are even more focused on that.

    4. Not necesssarily. He is very advanced and may be able to contribute in the majors this year, but we will not do anything to risk his long term success.

    There is no such thing as a question a skilled person cannot evade, including apparent yes/no ones, and usually it is correct to evade them as they are ordinarily traps, not real questions. I do not think you actually get a sense of what the Rays are thinking with yes/no questions anyway.

  2. Stunna says:

    I think I'm the only one that expects Rocco to be healthy most of this season. Yeah he hasn't played much the past few seasons, but isn't he bound for a healthy year? I understand the concerns but personally I think he's due for a big year. He still has a huge upside and I'd love to see him playing in a Rays uniform for a very long time.

  3. Sean G says:

    i see no problem in asking a direct question even if it is not easily answered at this time. It forces the subject to explore the subject deeper than a typical question like "how was practice today?" "or how is the squad progressing?" or even topical questions like "how are talks with Kazmir progressing?"

    those questions are always vague and invite vague answers.

  4. Big Mike says:

    nice work on the Deadspin preview.

  5. Robert Rittner says:

    But Sean, a question that calls for a yes/no answer does not lead to exploration of a subject. Direct questions are fine, but they should be about something a person can legitimately consider, not asking for hypothetical speculations.

    A good interviewer isn't trying to catch his subject nor is he trying to put him on the spot. He is trying to establish enough trust so that the person will indeed explore and be confident that his answers will not be misused.

    Questions like will you spend money next year or are you prepared to offer a 7 year contract or do you prefer one player over another do just the opposite. They are aggressive and unanswerable by any GM with a modicum of sense. Instead, they alert him to keep up his guard. They are obviously meant to appear hard-hitting when all they are are provocative, and I do not mean that in a good sense.

  6. The Professor says:

    they can lead to exploration if the subject chooses not answer the question directly. it leads to exploration by way of why the question can't be answered.

    i dont want to go into every single question, but i don't see where the harm is in asking a GM something like "if Reid Brignac progresses as hoped, would you prefer he is the Rays shortstop in 2009 or is it Bartlett's to lose?" I am not dumb enough to think that situations can't change. Two months from now, his answer might be different. But right now what does he hope happens? Let's assume that at some point Brignac is ready for the majors. Is the shortstop job Brignac's when he is ready? Or will he have to win the job from Bartlett?

    as for the contract offer. do the Rays see the 7-year deal given to Shields as an exception or would they be willing to go that far with Kazmir? Obviously money is another factor, but if Kazmir's agent says 7-years or no deal, is that a deal-breaker? simple. some team have a policy on a how many years they are willing to offer pitchers. seven is a very long contract for a pitcher. the feeling is that Shields mechanics are solid enough to make that type of commitment. do they feel the same about Kazmir? because we can assume that Kaz will see Santana's seven years and ask for the same in return and given his age, some team will give it to him.

    These are the key questions right now. and get to the heart of what the Rays' Vision is for the team. Depending on what the answers are to these questions, leads to follow-up questions that can be more exploratory and open-ended.

    I am not a journalist, but as a fan these are the questions I want answered.

    And there are different tacts to take in order to get tough questions answered. If you prefer the Tim Russert method of lulling a subject into a sense of comfort before blind-siding them, so be it. Whatever it takes. But there are legitimate questions out there that the Rays media never seek answers for.

  7. Robert Rittner says:

    If I think that someone is fundamentally dishonest, I have no problem trying to trap them. But barring that, I do not like blindsiding, so no, I would not like to lull Friedman or Sternberg to sleep and then spring something on them. I would want to establish enough trust that I am seeking information so that they can open up and provide it. Tough questions do not have to be antagonistic. They can probe without requiring impossible answers.

    Look at the questions you refer to. To respond to the Brignac/Bartlett question with a yes or no, or even with a positive/negative explanation, would require the person either to say that the current shortstop only has his job temporarily or that the prospective one might as well forget about getting it when he is ready. It is not credible that anyone would say something like that. The question(s) have to be phrased so that they are not yes/no but allow the interviewee some space to assess the strengths of each and the areas the Rays want to improve at that position. From that, the answer may be inferred.

    We know why many of these questions cannot be answered. No team wants to negotiate with a player in public, especially before the process starts. Even during negotiations, reporters have to scrounge around to figure out what the offers are and what is holding things up. You might get some general answer about long-term contracts or about how valuable Kazmir is, but it could not possibly mean anything specific. And I do not want to know their thinking on that right now because until negotiations begin, their thinking on it has little meaning in such a fluid situation. (Anyway, I know the Rays would prefer a lighter commitment without asking. Who wouldn't?)

    Fans may want to know many things, but as you say, we are not journalists, and we cannot expect journalists to ask the kinds of questions that can only elicit evasions.

    As a matter of fact, when such questions are asked, the usual result is that reality does not conform and silly fans grouse about player or management dishonesty. For example, the question is "Do you intend to re-sign with the team?" The player says he wants to stay in the city and loves the fans and money is not the issue and then bolts for a big contract. It almost has to happen that way, and should by the way, and all the direct questions in the world will not provide an iota of insight to change that.


Leave a Comment