Good thing the censor took the night off
The most enjoyable part of All-Star games lately has been the unprecedented access to players. When the game doesn’t matter, it doesn’t hurt to put a microphone on a player and have them talk with the broadcast booth during play. And that leads to fun moments like Freddie Freeman spending an inning joking around with Joe Buck and John Smoltz, revealing that he was dreading having to stand next to Aaron Judge.
But wiring a jovial first baseman for sound during the second inning is a lot different from strapping a mike to a notoriously fiery closer as he comes in to shut the door in the ninth—especially if he thinks his microphone isn’t working.
White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks had been fitted with an earpiece and a microphone when he came in to close the game out, and Buck intended to talk with him as he pitched the final frame. But Hendriks couldn’t hear Buck in his ear.
“Liam is wearing a microphone,” Buck said at the start of the inning. “I don’t know if Liam can hear us. Can you hear us, Liam? No. We’ll leave him alone.”
Because he heard nothing but silence from his earpiece, Hendriks believed that his microphone wasn’t working either, so he went about his business as if the millions watching at home couldn’t hear him. The problem was ... we could.
Hendriks, it turns out, tends to curse at himself when he makes mistakes on the mound. After spiking a breaking ball in the dirt to Omar Narváez, he dropped a very enthusiastic “goddammit!”
When he missed low with a fastball to Ozzie Albies, he let loose with an even more colorful “god damn, f--- this!”
Albies proceeded to rip a double that kept the game alive, at which point AL catcher Mike Zunino came out to chat with Hendriks to go over the signs and also let him know that all of America was able to hear him.
“You’re giving what the people want—you’re miked up,” Zunino said.
“No, it’s not working,” Hendriks replied. “I haven’t heard a thing all inning.”
After the game, Hendriks was notified that everyone really could hear him and he said that he would have dialed back the profanity if he had been aware of the size of his audience.
“I would have been a little more conscious of [my word choice] if I had heard them back,” Hendriks told reporters. “And it all turned out the volume was too low. Probably my fault. Probably user error. Makes for some interesting TV, I’m sure. Hopefully the bleeping guy was on point.”
The technological snafu gave viewers a closer look at Hendriks’s on-field alter ego.
“My wife likes to call it ‘white line fever,’ ” he said. “So, I’m jovial and tend to be a little more go-with-the-flow and joking around off the field. On the field, she likes to call it, me being closer to a psychopath than a normal person. I have to kind of agree with her. I tend to get a little animated out there and throw some expletives around. I have fun out there, that’s the biggest thing.”
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