Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald
In our continuing series of owner interviews, rbf_4 offered the Times Herald a chat. Owner of the St. Louis HoundDogs franchise since season 4, rbf_4 has been a force to be reckoned with in the NL East, even if he has yet to reach to the lofty heights of his brother brianfurnish, owner of the Anaheim Sharks. Today rbf talks about beer, baseball, and his man-crush on Chipper Harper.
Why the name change from Redlegs to HoundDogs? And why the move from Cincinnati to St. Louis?
--Well, I was born and raised in Ohio (near Cincy) but I moved to St. Louis 2 years ago to attend law school at Saint Louis University. (ed. note: Billikens for life!)I am a diehard Redlegs fan, but I ‘acquired’ a new mascot the day I brought home my basset hound, Dudley - hence the switch in cities & mascots. Plus I was looking for a pitcher’s ballpark to fit my ‘pitching & defense’ oriented clubhouse.
How do the HoundDogs feel about Anheuser-Busch being bought out by a Belgian brewing corporation?
--I live within walking distance from the AB brewery. I used to walk out of my front door everyday and smell the Great American Spirit of pride & dedication. Now all I am disgusted by the hops smell.
The majority of the HoundDog players don’t really care. They are still receiving their big-time paychecks (some of the highest paid players reside here in STL) & can afford any beer they want. However, the fans and the STL management/ownership group are very disgruntled. AB failed to distribute their product in Europe/Asia, which led to the negotiations with InBev. AB then proceeded to file a frivolous lawsuit to ensure a higher stock price for the sale. The great American lager has been banned from Busch Stadium. We are in negotiations to name the Stadium Purina Field (also HQ’d in STL). The only sellouts we support are baseball games.
Would the fans in St. Louis be upset by the thought of Rico Romero drinking a Corona with lime?
--Nah, the STL fans don’t care as long as he is not drinking Budlight Twist.
Speaking of Rico Romero, do you ever anticipate a season where he will bat above .270 again?
--Rico is currently on the DL with a finger sprain. Rico has been rock solid for the HoundDogs for many years. Our philosophy has always been defense first. Rico probably won’t hit over .270 again, but his roll is to lead this team on the field & not in the batter’s box. I have little patience for errors in the middle of the infield. We shopped him around a few seasons ago & did not receive the expected response. It is easy to say that he has underachieved, but we are happy with his production.
This year the NL East looks particularly tough, who do you see coming out of the division?
--I like our chances. As tough as the competition is, I am still not going to bet against my franchise. It is difficult to predict who will remain atop the division at this point, but any team above .500 at the All-Star break has a shot.
Which NL pitcher do you least like to see in the opposing lineup?
--There are quite a few studs reigning in the NL. The toughest SP is Kaz the “King” Ong. Ong’s numbers speak for themselves. Beating him in a 5 or even 7 game series is like trying to beat the Big Red Machine - Enough said.
All-Star, Hospital, or Bench? - Banana McBride, Phillip Brown, and B.C. Steenstra. (Played according to Marry, date, dump rules)
--Banana – Neither, he was waived a few days ago. The brain-trust of STL thought he could come back and give us some solid innings in relief. We were wrong. His legacy still remains intact.
--B.C. – ALL STAR BABY! The big Mean Steen has been nothing short of pure dominance. B.C. has an era under 3.00 & opposing batters are hitting .240 against him.
--P. Brown – Bench. We decided to make a run last season and bring the aged Vet in town. I tried to sign P. Brown way back in my first season & I have had my eye on him ever since. We think he adds another dimension to our bullpen & hopefully he still has enough gas in the tank for another run at the pennant.
If you were picking a God of ancient mythology to describe Chipper Harper, who would it be and why?
--I guess it would be Zeus. He is the force that drives the lineup & his bat acts like a lightning rod.
Does Chipper Harper inspire the same level of man-crush that furniss13 has on Rico Estrada?
--Oh yeah. There is no doubt about that. I have received countless trade offers for him. I turned down some deals that I should have at least considered. There isn’t much rational thought to keeping Harper a HoundDog. I have been grooming him since Day 1 of my ownership takeover & he certainly has not disappointed us this season.
Now that Chipper Harper has made the bigs, who is the next big thing in the St. Louis minor leagues?
--There are quite a few prospects for the show me state fans to be excited about. The next big thing will be catching sensation Jimmy Julio. We paid a ton of money to bring him to STL. This kid can flat out hit & he is outstanding behind the plate. His arm strength isn’t what we would like, but he will add protection for Chipper. Plus he can call a game as good as anyone in Cobb history. History has proven that great teams have a great player behind the plate – and we think we have one in Jimmy Julio.
Who is the ugliest player in the HoundDogs organization?
--My organization is filled with terrible mustaches in my organization, the worst probably being AAA SP Zeus Stewart.
What television show most accurately describes a day in the life of rbf_4?
--I wish I could say my life is as interesting as Arrested Development, but my life is more like the Office right now. I try to make law school as interesting as possible. It is quite difficult though.
Do you have Anaheim envy? And how sweet would it be to play the Sharks in the World Series?
--I do not have Anaheim envy. My brother has had more time to put his championship team together & he is much deserving of the success. We have talked about a possible meeting in the WS. It would be great, but I think our clubs are peaking at different times. His right now & mine in about 3-4 seasons.
What is your best trade, and which one would you like to have back?
--My best trade was bringing in RF Rabbit Lara. Rabbit is a singles machine and he even won a gold glove a few seasons back. My worst trade would be trading for his backup, Donte Wright. Donte was finally starting to come around at the plate last season when he injured his shoulder & spent the 2nd half in the trainer’s room. Donte has hit a measly 11 home runs in his 122 games as a HoundDog. He stinks & has not come close to earning his 9 million dollar paycheck.
Any special traditions or activities that take place during a St. Louis HoundDogs game?
--3 lucky fans get to race the mascot, Dudley, during each and every 6th inning home game. The fans always win here in STL because Dudley usually gives up and lays down for a nap about half way through the race.
If you were equating Cobb World owners to automobiles, who would be what?
--Ploppie – any brand new car because he constantly has new players
--Snides45 – the Too Fast Too Furious of Cobb, started out as regular import car, but has traded his way into a racecar
--Furniss13 – the F-150 of Cobb, steady, dependable & seems to outlast the competition
--BrianFurnish – the Cadillac of Cobb
Who wins a World Series out of the NL East first, you, zooeydog, alogman1, or Lightman?
--Again, I like our chances. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the NL East teams make a run in the playoffs at any time. Our division is due for a title. The NL East is toughest division in Cobb right now but that does not always work in your favor come playoff time. If I had to pick another team, it would be Wichita. Lightman has assembled an incredible amount of young hitters.
Have you ever bungee jumped off the Gateway Arch?
--I have done quite a few extreme activities but that is not one of them. I can actually see the Arch from my place in the fall (when the leaves fall off the tree currently blocking my view). Every time I have gone to the Arch, the tickets have been sold out. I do plan to make it to the top sometime before exiting Missouri.
Who is better, old Stallone, old Seagal, or old Arnold?
--Definitely Arnold. As cheesy as he may be, the Terminator movies are tough to beat. Stallone lost me with his recent sequel of Rocky.
Even though you have only been in Cobb World since season 4, you have proven yourself as a manager to the rest of the league. Other than yourself, which manager would you like to see win the World Series who hasn't already done so yet?
--That is a tough one. I am always rooting for Team Snides & his Rebel Riders, but how can you not root for the Helena Hellraisers? Dave puts a contending squad on the field every season only to face the stiff competition of the Sharks. I would be very happy if either club won a championship.