Last offseason on my now-defunct FoxSports blog I did a series of interviews with other bloggers about their baseball fandom. It ended up being a pretty popular series, and I don't know if I myself ever had more fun blogging than when I put those posts together. Now that the offseason is unfortunately here again we fans of the world's greatest sport need something to keep the flame burning. I thought I'd share those interviews over here so that they don't get relegated to obscurity. You probably won't know these bloggers, but if you're like me, you love hearing baseball fans talk about their memories of the game. Since these are from last offseason, a few of the questions and answers are a little dated, but it shouldn't make them any less enjoyable.
This is the second one I did, with Ed Hardiman, a Phillies fan. Ed took some crap for his comments on Sabermetrics, but there's a lot here to like even if you disagree with him in that department.
1. Where did it all begin? When and how did you become a baseball fan?
Maz hits the walk off HR to beat the Yankees in the World Serious. I remember hearing the call on the radio the next day.
2. Of all the baseball games you've attended, which one is your favorite?
Had to be the 1st home game of the infamous '64 collapse when the Phillies got beat 1-0. Art Mahaffey's glacial delivery allowed a guy to steal home.
3. Which do you like best: Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium or Citizen's Bank Park?
Connie Mack, the Vet, then CBP...that's my order of preference...
4. What did you honestly think the Phillies' chances of winning the World Series were going into the 2008 season?
Are you kidding? We eliminate the Phillies from postseason contention no later than November the previous season over at the BIT, my favorite baseball forum...
5. Who were the best and worst Phillie managers you ever saw?
Best ever is tough. Have to go Dallas Green but hate him for stealing Ryne Sandberg. Worst ever is a tie between Frank Lucchesi & Nick Leyva.
6. I'll name some names and you tell me what comes to mind. It can be a memory, a thought, or whatever you want.
Johnny Briggs= Another "never lived up to expectations" guy from the 60's.
Don Money= 1 good season, 3 so-so ones. His career came after the Phillies with Milwaukee...they traded Bunning to get him and then traded him for Lonborg and the wrong Brett, Ken.
Wayne Twitchell= Twitch? Did you dig these guys up from the Phillies Pet Sematary? Another bust on the mound.
Larry Christenson= Great pitcher, always hurt.
Del Unser= Had his career Last Hurrah seasons in '79 & '80 with the Phillies, smell the Del.
Jeff Stone= Another disappointing 80's guy. 2 and half good seasons then throws it in reverse. I think he once swatted a couple of potatoes in one game and never came close to the fence ever again. I would have preferred Steve Jeltz or Juan Samuel as a question...j/k.
Pat Combs= The Phillies flat out overcoached him and yoyo'd him between AAA & the club out of a career. A real shame, 'cause the kid pre-headcase was pretty decent. They Steve Blassed him. I haven't trusted a 2nd half of the season wonder ever since Combs. He's the poster boy for why the Phillies farm system is where pitchers go to die.
Jim Eisenreich= Awesome, gutsy player. The '93 team was full of them. True grit.
Kevin Jordan= Forget him, my favorite Phillies Jordan was Ricky Jordan, the 1st sacker who hit two different people in the stands with bats one game I was at 'cause his hands were swollen and the dope manager, I think it was Leyva, made him play. His hands looked like two cantaloupes...one of the bats augered in on a lady's head like a hellfire missile shaking hands with an Iraqi tank...
7. Do you think Dick Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame?
Absolutely. It's a crime he isn't in, but you know baseball always hated Richie...he used to make a question mark with his bat while waiting for a pitch. I think every kid in lil league copied it. He owned a house up where I lived near Philly and you would see him drinking in tiny bars minding his own business. A real gentleman.
8. If Mitch Williams escapes the 9th inning of Game 6 unscathed, does Danny Jackson beat Pat Hentgen in Game 7?
The blame rests on Fregosi. Friggles had an open base for Carter, Mitch pitched out of a gazillion bases-loaded jams, then to compound the error, Friggles has him pitch out of the stretch, which he never did. It knocked 15 MPH off his fastball. As to your question, I think Jackson had the lightning in the bottle that season and the Phillies had enough sticks to win, but as the old saying goes, if wishes were pigs there'd be no bacon. OK I made that up, but it's pretty good. The only guy I ever met who could recall every pitch in that game is The Dan. He'll tell you Friggles not giving Hollins the take sign with two men on and two out when Stewart walked two straight on eight wild pitches really cost the Phillies the game, because Hollins swung at a ball and weakly flied out.
9. You gained some notoriety on the internet last year thanks to your "Slobbermetrics" article. In all seriousness though, what do you really think of Sabermetrics?
As a viable interpretation of the past it's OK, as a predictor of the future, not so hot. Moneyball hasn't changed baseball. Influenced it perhaps and improved Boston, but what has it done for the A's? I think Charlie Lau's contact hitting sytem has had a far greater impact than Sabermetrics. It's like believing in fortune tellers. If you exclude the failures it looks great, when you factor them in it resembles flipping a coin. Why wouldn't a Kansas City just hire the brightest SABR guy if it was so infallible? I'm OK with people who live and die by it, but don't try to cram it down our throats or claim it's the last word in understanding baseball. Even Bill James refutes that notion. It's math that can't pass any rigorous testing. If the player doesn't conform he's underperformed? How about the math underperfomed and individual humans can't be expressed mathematically? What about the 2008 Mets? Sabermetrically, that team was better than the Phillies. Just grade out the pitching staffs and the Phillies shouldn't have been a speck in the Mets' rearview mirror. The Cubbies should've beaten the Dodgers SABR-metrically, what happened? That's why I take it with a grain of salt.
10. What changes would you make if you were in charge of Major League Baseball?
Come clean or get bounced out would be my PED policy. It cons the fans first and foremost out of what they pay to see: the best, not the most chemically enhanced. I'd raise the pitching mounds so the turnstile pitching staffs would become a loathed memory. Balance makes the sport great. This artificial dinger ball from the Selig era is like pork rinds. How many can you eat before harking? I'd make umps and players get through games in under two hours. Enough with the triple switches, mound conferences and hitters adjusting their jocks every pitch. Finally, I'd mandate a section of every stadium priced at $5 a seat. If fans can build a stadium they sure as hell should be able to afford to attend a game.
11. What do you expect from the Phillies in 2009?
We've eliminated them already at the BIT. Promoting Rube Amaro is a disaster, like one of those movies from the 70's where Steve McQueen is a fire chief wandering through a towering inferno while the audience wonders what the hell he's doing in such a cheesy, crummy flick.
12. To sum things up, tell us what the game of baseball means to you.
Baseball speaks to me from every era. From players like Pickles Dillhoefer right up to Ryan Howard, it exemplifies what I like to call American Splendor...
For more of Ed's entertaining scribble, you can check out his blog.