ESPN gave Francisco Lindor a microphone during Sunday Night Baseball's presentation of a particularly engaging Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets matchup and it proved to be a tremendous decision. The effervescent shortstop provided insight, humor and more than anything, allowed the joy of playing baseball to seep out on the air.
His most memorable moment came in the top of the third when he expertly kick-started a double play while fielding questions from the booth.
This is exactly how the gimmick was intended to work. And really, it's perhaps a bit cynical to call in-game interviews with on-field players a gimmick. Because it may be the best idea both baseball and its broadcast partners have had to spark interest in the sport and the incredibly deep and interesting crop of star players there to be enjoyed.
Anyone tuning in to hear form Lindor would deduce that he doesn't lack for personality. So many of the discussions about baseball's inability to market its athletes end up in the same place and one wonders how many minds are open to change. But if this becomes more wide-spread and more players buy in, it widens the net in terms of capturing imagination. Imagine being able to get this type of live access from half of the players on the field at any time.
Baseball is so perfectly suited for this because of the pace of play and embrace of chatter anyway. Adding more voices helps things feel more alive and more full of action. More than anything, though, what Lindor did shows just how much damn fun playing the game is. How the payoffs are worth the wait. How the switch flips when the ball comes your direction. And the unique joy of routine grounders in an ecosystem where the routine is celebrated. Lindor's chatter shows that special bond, the bond of being on a baseball team.
There is truly nothing better. Expressing that as often as possible without subtly and reservation, can only help.