WSBGM's sat down at the keyboard and monitor for a nice fireside chat with the Philadelphia Inquirer's Todd
Zolecki. He also runs a blog, The Phillies Zone, that is good for a laugh and quality Phils information.
1. What do you enjoy most about being a beat writer?
I'd love to say the DeLorean the company lets me drive, but that wouldn't be accurate. I love to write, so I think that's why I still enjoy it. I enjoy telling Phillies fans why what they saw that night in a game is important or unimportant (or whatever). I enjoy giving fans a feel for what the Phillies are thinking and why they are thinking it.
2. What do you least like about being a beat writer?
The travel. I always tell people I like the cities I visit. I just hate having to get there. There are a lot of crazy turnarounds on the beat. You cover a Thursday night game in Florida, get back to the hotel after midnight and get up a few hours later to catch a flight to Chicago or wherever. Those are not fun mornings. Oh, I also hate rain delays. They pretty much suck.
3. What is your view on the way that mainstream media (newspapers and television) are melding with blogs in terms of sports?
I like it. It keeps things fun. Sports are supposed to be fun, right?
4. Bigger Brewers or Phillies fan?
Packers fan. I grew up a Brewers fan, but once you start covering baseball for a living you stop being a fan (i.e. every pitch is not life and death). I guess I would have felt bad had the Brewers not made the playoffs, but only because my dad has a 16-game ticket plan at Miller Park and I know how much Brewers fans wanted it to happen. But really the only team I follow closely is the Packers. The NFL is my sports outlet. I really don't follow the NBA, NHL, college football or college basketball too closely.
5. How much of an inside scoop do you have?
I would like to think I have a pretty good feel for what is going on with the team. We wrote in spring training that Ruben Amaro Jr. was the front runner for the GM job, which ultimately proved true. But on the flip side, before the salary arbitration deadline this month, I wrote that the Phillies seemed likely to offer Jamie Moyer arbitration and unlikely to offer Pat Burrell arbitration. I got killed for saying the Phillies wouldn't offer Burrell arbitration. People thought I was an idiot, but I actually had a pretty good feel for that situation and why they wouldn't. Now Moyer? That one surprised me as much as anybody. I was wrong on that one, but the Phillies obviously knew what they were doing because Moyer re-signed at a lesser price than he probably would have gotten had he been offered and accepted arbitration.
6. Who's the coolest player to interview?
When Jimmy Rollins bring his 'A' game, there's no better interview in the Phillies clubhouse. He's great. He's not afraid to speak his mind, which can be good (i.e. team to beat in 2007, 100 wins in 2008) and bad (i.e. fans are frontrunners) for him. But I appreciate his honesty, and the fact that he doesn't back down from saying what he feels. He's funny, too. Funny is good.
7. What's the best place in Philly to get grub and brews?
We're talking bar food, right? That's a tough one to answer because there are so many. I live in Roxborough, so I'll stay local for beers. The Flat Rock in Manayunk is a good place to try some different brews. Food? I just ate a Chickie & Pete's last weekend. I think they sprinkle Old Bay and crack on their fries. I think it's about a 50-50 mix, in fact. I can't get enough of them.
8. What's your early impression of new GM Ruben Amaro Jr.?
I think he's done fine so far. I personally think Ibanez is an upgrade over Burrell, regardless of the fact Ibanez is lefthanded. Re-signing Moyer made sense. Bringing back Eyre made sense. Chan Ho Park is going to be a sixth inning, seventh inning guy, which could be an upgrade over Rudy Seanez. But again, it's early. But you could say this team looks stronger than this team looked last year on opening day.
9. What prospects/farmhands do you see making an impact for the Phils this season (either playing or via trade)?
While I think Kyle Kendrick and J.A. Happ are the front runners for the fifth spot in the rotation, I think Carlos Carrasco has a shot. If he has a great spring, the Phillies could have a tough decision to make. Jason Donald could see some time at the big-league level if Chase Utley isn't ready to plan come opening day. And Lou Marson could see some time at some point.
10. What city is your favorite destination and what ballpark, aside from the Brick Cit House, is your favorite venue to view a game?
Chicago is my favorite city to visit and Wrigley Field is my favorite ballpark to watch a game. It's pretty much impossible not to have a good time in Chicago. It's a blast.
11. What moves do you foresee the Phils making this offseason (trades, free agents, longterm contracts)?
I think other than maybe finding a righthanded bat to compete for a bench job, the Phillies basically are finished ... unless something crazy pops up. But I think these pretty much are your 2009 Phillies.
12. You have a friendly rift going with John "Gonzo" Gonzalez, please explain...
I met Gonzo while I was covering high school girls basketball in Delaware County for the Inquirer in '99 or '00. We both pretty much sat in the last row of the bleachers and goofed around (while also managing to work hard and produce excellent copy, of course). I think he's done a great job with Page 2 in our sports section. I think we needed something like that. I suppose I could crack a joke about Gonzo right now, but he's got that tilted head picture in the paper, so it would kind of be piling on, you know?
13. Best part of the World Series celebration.
I remember being on the field before or after the trophy presentation (I can't remember) and hearing 45,000 fans sing "We Are the Champions" in unison. It was pretty surreal. I was like, "Holy crap, that just happened. The Phillies just won the World Series. Wow."
14. 2009 outlook.
I'll leave the bold predications to Rollins, but I think there's no reason why the Phillies can't win their third-straight NL East championship. I think their offense could be better and their pitching looks solid on paper.