Corey and I are looking for some inventive and interesting ways to waste time this offseason in between speculation of trades, free agents, and the Rule V draft. Therefore, I brewed up the idea of doing some interviews this offseason. First on the docket is writer of Phillies super-blog BeerLeaguer, Jason Weitzel, as he was kind enough to do an interview with yours truly...
1. Statistics aside, who is your favorite Phillies non-superstar of the past?
Dave Hollins, without hesitation. My favorite Phil from the ’93 team. Named to the All-Star team and did a lot of things right besides brute force, like base-running and drawing walks. Great intensity. An understated, tough intimidator. Stone hands at third, but certainly one of the key components of the pennant winning team. Greg Gross was another childhood favorite.
2. Why in the hell are you a Phillies fan anyway?
Geography. Grew up on the mean streets of Reading for six years, then moved east to Kutztown through high school. Reading is a Phillies town second only to Philadelphia, but in eastern Berks, you're a stone's throw from Yankees territory. If I grew up just 15 minutes east, our antenna would have picked up channel 11 and I would have latched on to the Yankees during the 80's. Admittedly, I probably followed the Yanks as closely for one or two seasons at a time when the Phils gave fans Phil Bradley and such.
3. Since you are the BeerLeaguer administrator, what beers fit the occasions of a) horrific Phillies loss, b) losing streak, c) Blowout victory, and d) playoffs?
I'm more of a wine drinker, so I'll give you a few options. Jacob's Creek is a nice, full-bodied Shiraz to drown out the horrific losses quickly and it is always on special at State stores. For losing streaks, stock your fridge with a case of Lionshead pilsner, because it's a cheap, decent beer and made locally in Scranton. It's not good enough to truly enjoy, just like the dog days of a losing streak. It's the Jason Michaels of beer. Just OK and affordable. Let's do winning streaks - How about Straub? It's very flavorful, made with fresh ingredients, local and won't knock you on your can, so you can keep drinking during the win streak and pay attention/blog at the same time. Makes you pay attention. Taste is too good to ignore. For a blowout victory, it would need to be something cheap and plentiful - my favorite light beer is Bud Light (most people, in my experience, prefer Miller Light). Playoffs - I'd have to go with Dogfish Head, the best beer served at Citizens Bank Park.
4. Discuss the evolution of BeerLeaguer and your desire to conquer the Internet.
I don't know where the readers came from, but they found it and stayed. You have to put in the work, but longevity and a good clientele is a key. Another key is to write in a journalistic way. It gains trust. I'll let my personality shine through selectively. I'm playing straight man to the comedians in the comments thread, basically. Oh, and those comedians know their stuff. That doesn’t hurt, either.
5. What is your honest opinion of our Special Olympics manager, Uncle R-Tard?
A super nice R-Tard whose passion for baseball clearly rubs off on the team. Sometimes I get a feeling he has pretty good baseball instincts, but a gut reaction alone isn't good enough, as we saw in the NLDS. He's 2/3 of the way there. He keeps his players lose and keeps the focus on the field. That's one part. The other part is baseball street smarts – which he has when it comes to hitting. I watch him behind the cage in batting practice and I know he has the pulse of his hitters. The results would back it up. Offensively, the Phils are hard to beat. The downside is he lacks technical execution and understanding of his opponent, and he isn't the best handler of pitchers.
6. What is your favorite aspect of baseball- pitching, offense, or defense?
I'm becoming more and more drawn to relief pitching, how it works, where good relievers come from and who makes the ideal reliever. The Myers to the pen debate was a top attraction on Beerleaguer. We're seeing an evolution in middle relief. It's not good enough to hand the ball to the Clay Condreys of the world and expect success. Baseball's new middle relievers are often top prospects with pretty good stuff, or guys who could just as easily be starters.
7. Describe your overall impression/opinion of the Phillies fanbase.
The level of mistrust toward Phillies ownership is what stands out most. It's practically universal. Out at the park, you find a mixed bag: Drunk meat heads, families who treat games like a day at the beach, old codgers, etc. But all of them -- to a man -- has no love loss for this ownership. The greatest trend is a growing love for the players. They love this group. And they love the park.
8. Give Patty G a rating on a 1-10 scale (11 being the highest) of the job you think he's done thus far.
Probably a 4. His offseason was a worse mess than 2006, between Lieber, Eaton, Garcia and neglecting the bullpen the way he did. I'd give him points for Rowand, Moyer, Iguchi, Dobbs, Utley's contract, but how much praise should we really give him for someone like Iguchi? Kenny Williams threw him a bone there. Romero was a move born out of a desperation he created. He's been a below average GM for two seasons. Not useless, not failing, but in danger of it.
9. What are your other favorite Phillies related sites to frequent?
The standards - all linked on Beerleaguer. Philly.com is the first place I check for news, then go from there. *Of course WSBGM's is good for a laugh and an interesting perspective, plus Carson & Corey are comical baseball geniuses.
*=Not actually part of Weitzel's answer, but implied.