There is a legendary tale from way back in mid-May 1978, when newspaper combat in Dallas-Fort Worth was at its zenith, and Steve Pate was sent to Arlington Stadium to write a long feature on the Rangers' newly acquired slugger, Bobby Bonds.
The Rangers arranged for Bonds to meet with Pate in the home dugout at midafternoon for the interview.
And I so hope it is true that Pate's first question (rhetorical) was, "Bobby, they say you have a drinking problem,'' thus limiting the fresh quotes for the Bonds treatise to some profanities.
Even then, the tradition in the sports media was to schmooze the subject for a time before asking a potentially difficult question.
At the start of the '80s, we got our fire-away sports reporter in the Twin Cities when Channel 5 brought in Robb Leer. It didn't take long and young Robb was spicing up sports teams' news conferences and the postgame gaggles around players' cubicles with hand grenades disguised as questions.
We lost Robb in the mid-'90s to the news department, and then to private business. Fortunately, Jim Rich started in 2002 at Channel 9, and has spent two decades becoming our icon of sports questioning.
Leer was direct — "Boom!'' – while Rich circles around, even offering a few potential answers to the subject before asking what can turn out to be a fine question.
And thus it was Thursday, when the 2022 Twins had played their final home game (a 4-3 loss to Chicago), that Carlos Correa was at his locker as usual.
I've watched the video, and there appear to be two TV crews and a handful of beat reporters, asking the standout shortstop about the end of the home portion of what figures to be a single season with the Twins.
There were familiar Correa answers, and then Rich came through with this: "Would you look at it as a situation where you would want to see the organization do some things as far as their plan to make this a better organization so you're not sitting outside the playoffs?''
Correa might've gotten lost there with Rich's traditional answer as part of his question, but the result was the closest to full candor we've gotten from Carlos on what could keep him in Minnesota:
"When I go to the mall, and I go to the Dior store, when I want something, I get it. I ask how much it costs, and I buy it," he said. "If you really want something, you just go get it. I'm the product here. If they want my product, they've just got to come and get it.''
The initial reaction in seeing the quote as a standalone was to go to Twitter and take a shot at Correa for bragging about being a Dior shopper (I did that). Then it was revealed this was a response to a Rich question at the end of Correa's interview session.
On Friday, Rich said: "I didn't hear it as being arrogant, just Carlos telling the truth. He's a product, and as players go, he's a Dior product. When trying to sign him, you're shopping at Dior.''
There's no bad guy here; not a candid Correa, not the Twins.
Correa missed out on the bonanza of dollars that came for shortstops Cory Seager, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez before the Dec. 2, 2021 lockout. Scott Boras was the agent negotiating $500 million from Texas for Seager ($325M) and Semien ($175M).
Correa switched agents to Boras in mid-January. The lockout ended on March 10. There were no $300 million deals on short notice for Correa.
A week later, Boras was talking to Twins General Manager Thad Levine about another player and basically asked, "Do you want Correa for one year?''
The main covenant was that Correa would make more in annual average — $36 million – than those other shortstops. The Twins also agreed to two opt-out years at that number.
Always, if healthy and productive, Correa was going to hit the free-agent market. The kick in the shins for the Twins is that the replacement they had lined up in 2023, Royce Lewis, blew out a knee playing three innings of center field at Target Field.
There again will be a strong market for free-agent shortstops, but Correa, just turned 28, is the best of those. He will get a Dior-sized $250 million minimum, and not from here.
That was the Boras plan, one and done, from the moment he mentioned Correa to Levine.
As for the Twins' shortstop on Opening Day 2023, wouldn't it be intriguing if they gave Brooks Lee, the eighth overall selection this summer, a real look in spring training?
He can play, and at Marshall's prices for a while.