Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Check Your Head: Todd Zolecki

Today I bring to you another edition of Check Your Head, this time featuring the Philadelphia Inquirer's Todd Zolecki. Zolecki can be found in the newspaper, on radio, and on tv...so that leaves me with one question. Why is he bothering with little ol' me? Todd, it's time to check your head!

1. You hail from the BBC (Milwaukee- land of beer, bratwursts, and cheese), but now reside in Philly. Please compare the two cities and their fan bases.
Milwaukee and Philadelphia are different, but in good ways. Philly has more energy than Milwaukee. Bigger city means more options. I love being able to drive or take a train to New York, DC and Baltimore. Milwaukee is more laid back, but it's also fun. I love Milwaukeeans. They're incredibly friendly. Philadelphians are a little more ... impatient. The fan bases reflect that. Milwaukeeans are more patient with their team, but they will boo. (They're not blindly loyal like Cardinals fans might be.) Philly fans are quicker to step on an athlete's throat. For example, if Brad Lidge stumbled out of the gate in Milwaukee it wouldn't be reason for alarm. It might be in Philadelphia. But I've been in Philly since 1999. I like it here.

2. Who is the coolest athlete you've ever met and had a real conversation with?
I think the coolest athletes are the ones that can have a regular conversation with you, or don't feel and act like they're superior to you. That's why I always liked talking with Randy Wolf. Great guy. Funny. Doesn't big time anybody. Just a normal guy.

3. Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? (If you say Paul Molitor, this interview will be terminated.)
Robin Yount ... with Paul Molitor a close second. My first baseball memories are of 1982, when the Brewers made the World Series and Yount won the MVP. My brother and I once waited in line about four hours for a Yount autograph at a Brewers Fan Fest. I wouldn't wait in line four hours for anybody's autograph today, but at the time it felt totally worth it.

4. Describe some of the perks and pitfalls of being a beat writer.
Perks: Cover baseball for a living. Get to see a lot of great ballparks and cities. Can say, "I was at that game when (insert memorable moment here) happened." Get to learn a lot about baseball just by talking and listening to people. Pitfalls: It's a real grind. I chuckle when I hear people say, "How can these ballplayers get tired? They're playing a kid's game! That's not work!" Hey, I get tired. Really tired. And I don't even play. I just write. Other pitfalls: It dampens the social life. Flying US Airways.

5. What city is your favorite destination and what ballpark, aside from the Brick Cit House, is your favorite venue to view a game?
That's tough, but I'd have to pick Chicago and Wrigley Field. Chicago is my favorite city to visit. It's the best. (San Francisco, San Diego, Denver and Phoenix also are in my top five.) And I absolutely love Wrigley. The ballpark is in a great part of town. It has character. It's historic. It's fun. (PNC Park, Fenway, AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium are in my top five.)

6. Do you have any of the Phillies ball girls numbers?
Sadly, I don't. I'll have to work on that, though.

7. You're a journalist that is embracing the blogsphere, and I for one appreciate that. Please discuss the evolution of your blog- The Zo Zone.
I basically told my former boss last April that I wanted to start a blog. He said, "OK, sure." I wanted to write one because I see how the Internet is changing things. And our deadlines are so early that some nights it's tough to really explain what happened the night before the way I'd like, or at least put what happened into the proper perspective. The blog allows me to dig a little deeper into issues with the team. It also allows me to have a little more fun. I can post silly clips from YouTube, etc. I enjoy it. I still update the blog as much as I can over the winter months, even though I'm supposed to be on vacation and taking comp time. It's kind of addicting. Maybe I need a hobby?

8. What's your favorite aspect of baseball- pitching, offense, or defense?
I'm actually a fan of whatever gets the game finished as early as possible so I'll have more time to write on deadline. But I guess I appreciate good pitching more than good hitting because I see so little good pitching these days. That's why I like Cole Hamels.

9. What's your real opinion of the job Charlie Manuel and Pat Gillick are doing?
I've covered two managers: Bowa and Manuel. Fans can dismiss this if they want, but I think chemistry is big when you're talking about 25 guys being together for eight months a year. Guys didn't like playing for Bowa. That's all they ever talked about. Manuel pulls these guys together. He keeps them positive. Does he make some head scratching decisions? Yes, but sometimes those head scratchers are based on personnel. Look at last year's bullpen. Unless he was going to Romero, Gordon or Myers, it was a total crapshoot. As far as Gillick, he's been OK. His in-season moves have helped the last two years. His offseason moves haven't been as good, although the Lidge trade could be huge if it works out the way they hope. I heard somebody say on the radio yesterday that the Phillies have the money to spend, they just won't spend it. "They're cheap." It seems like such a cliche. They outbid the Red Sox for Mike Lowell and the Padres for Randy Wolf and Tadahito Iguchi. Were they cheap there? The Phillies spend money. The better question is: do they spend it wisely? Frankly, if I'm Gillick there's no way I'm signing Kyle Lohse to a five-year, $55 million contract or whatever. Just because you spend money it doesn't mean you're going to win. I'd rather take my chances with what I have then make a long commitment to a Lohse or a Silva or somebody like that. People forget Adam Eaton's contract, you know?

10. How's it feel to be mentioned by the likes of Jayson Stark and Buster Olney on their ESPN blogs? How much of an insider are you.
It's cool that family or friends get a kick out of it. But it's nice because Jayson and Buster are two of the best in the business. But I'm not sure how much of an insider I am. I can say I try to stay on top of the Phillies as much as possible.

11. Discuss your love for WSBGM's.
WSBGM's is one of my favorite Phillies blogs. You guys make me laugh, which is great. I try to link to you guys as much as possible. I'd actually love to link more to you guys, but sometimes I worry that a link to one of your, uh, more risque posts might scare some people who regularly read The Inquirer. We're a family newspaper, you know. :)



GM-Carson said...

The Feliz deal is for 2 years $8.5 million guaranteed, with an option year that could bump the entire thing to 3 years 15 mil. Yikes! I'll allow for the suspicion that Feliz is a slight upgrade overall, but is it worth that type of money?

I'm now interested in what the Phils do to clear a roster space, for both the 25 and 40 man rosters. Wes Helms seems like the likely candidate to be traded.

Joe said...

TZ is good. I read his blog regularly.

But you gotta like Todd's reason for liking Philly:

"Bigger city means more options. I love being able to drive or take a train to New York, DC and Baltimore."

It's an easy city to leave.

Feliz will improve the fielding. He has been called an "out machine" in the past. But with the other three in the Phils' infield, I think they can get away with an offensive crap shoot. Fewer balls through third means less running for Burrell. Pat will like that.

GM-Carson said...

For Feliz's sake, he better be every bit as good as advertised defensively!

Zolecki is the man!

furiousBall said...

I heard TZ on 950 this morning. Good dude and seems to know baseball very well. I agree with him on the Feliz signing and envy that he's heading to Florida in a couple weeks to cover the Phils for 6 FREAKIN' WEEKS IN THE SUN!

GM-Carson said...

I envy Zolecki too. I would love to be a beat writer, but then again, I'd have to ease down on all the insults. Better yet, I'd love to be a baseball analyst on television...that would kick ass to be an insider. I'm such a loser.

Corey said...

yes, you are.

GreggyD said...

Sports broadcasting is my dream job. I chose to enter school as an elementary education major and have since switched to Psychology. If broadcasting wasn't so cutthroat and filled with jackasses, I would have pursued it in a heartbeat. I don't think that there would be any better job in the universe.

GM-Carson said...

Thanks for that kind reinforcement Corey, that's why you're my best friend.

GM-Carson said...

Kris Benson will throw for teams again, probably a week from now. The Phillies will again be in attendance. Benson may only get a minor league deal this time around. I remember when he set the standard with his three-year, $21MM deal. Also, the Phils could look to move Wes Helms or Greg Dobbs now that they've signed Pedro Feliz.

*I'd love to have Benson on a minor league deal.

*I'll be pissed if Dobbs is traded rather than Helms.

GreggyD said...

Your closing sentiments on your last post are the same as mine. Dobbs is not tradeable right now, unless it was a blockbuster deal for someone (which we all know will not happen).

Benson would be tremendous on a minor league deal and would provide some added depth to the rotation if someone went down. I don't know about you, but I would personally feel much better calling up Benson from AAA over Segovia or any other so-so pitcher including Mathieson until he proves he's back and ready to throw.

GM-Carson said...

A veteran insurance policy like Benson would make me feel better heading into spring. Of course, so would Johan or Bedard, but last I heard the Phils aren't involved in those talks.

GreggyD said...

ESPN is reporting that if the Twins do decide to trade Johan Santana, the Mets will be the team he goes to. This would quite obviously significantly fill the hole at the top of the Mets rotation.

In a week where the Phils sign Pedro Feliz, their biggest rival goes out and signs quite arguably the best pitcher in the game. No good...

GM-Carson said...

Like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Mike Tyson, I'll believe it when I see it when it comes to Johan going to the Mets.

GreggyD said...

It's official according to multiple outlets.

The Mets have traded four prospects to the Twins for Johan Santana including Carlos Gomez and Phil Humber. This is all pending a physical and a contract extension which the Mets have 48-72 hours to work out.

SirAlden said...

Santana to the Mutts! for:

1. (Not Mike Pelfrey, rhp)
2. (Not Fernando Martinez, of)
3. Carlos Gomez, of
4. Philip Humber, rhp
5. Deolis Guerra, rhp
6. Kevin Mulvey, rhp

their 3, 4, 5, and 6th prospects.

We could have beat that if we sacrificed Victorino. I guess
the Phils could not stomach 20-25 million a year for 5-6 years, it was just too much. Would have created a the Dynasty MVP's Rollins, Utley, and Howard deserve.

Sad. Hope his declining stat's continue, then his arm falls off!

SirAlden said...

Do you know what the saddest thing about Santana to the Mutts is?

If I go over to Beerleaguer now,
all the negative people will actually

Sad indeed.

SirAlden said...

Calmly make a "Santana Voodoo Doll"

SirAlden said...

Forever the optimist.

Kyle Lohse just lost about 15 million dollars! lol

Los said...

Ugh, the Mets got Santana ... looks, like we aren't the favorites anymore.

Great interview, by the way!

goDuke said...

NOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! Fine. Stupid Mets. All I know is this... THIS is where Pat Burrell is gonna earn all that money... he already kills the Mets at Shea. He is gonna break Santana. He will be to Johan Santana what Albert Pujols was (WAS) to Brad Lidge, before Lidge was reborn upon being traded to the Phils. Go Phightins!

SirAlden said...

The Orioles maybe balking at their trade with the Mariners, the physicals have uncovered a degenerative type hip condition, in the CF Adam Jones the top player in the trade.

Bedard has a shorter contract because he is still under arbitration rules.


P Carrasco, and 2B Cardenas should do the trick, and that will allow Baltimore to trade Brian Roberts to be traded for prospects.

BloodStripes said...

Top interview GM. Well done.

GM-Carson said...

Son of a bitch!!!

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