Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald
Today in our continuing series of manager interviews, the Times Herald sat down with Syracuse Beagles owner zooeydog. After taking over the Syracuse franchise from former owner phillyfan33, zooeydog has turned the team into a perennial powerhouse filled with elite young talent at almost every position. Our interview covers the finer points of running the Beagles, working for ESPN, and Red Sox love.
As the Cobb Times Herald understands it, you are employed with our rival sports media outlet, ESPN. Have you ever thought about leaving the minor leagues behind to work for a major league production like the Cobb Times Herald?
--Are you kidding? I've asked in many, many times. Hm. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the name "mrploppie" on my application.
Is it true that ESPN pulled a bush league maneuver and refused to run your Cheyenne Beagles world series championship results on their Bottom Line, even after remarkable back to back world series titles in Mattingly World?
--See, this is the thing I love about (and why I aspire to work at) the Cobb Times Herald: questions that are answered even as they're being asked.
As a Red Sox fan, how can you stand to play in Mattingly World? Doesn't the mere thought make you vomit?
--Aw, Donnie Baseball's all right by me. Perhaps it's simply because he presided over a Pinstripers group that never won diddely-poo, but the Mattingly/Henderson/Winfield Yankees were always more cuddly than evil to me. And how can you not love Butch Wynegar? Why, his name almost sounds like "Vinegar"!
Does Don Mattingly deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?
--Probably not, but it's pretty close, and I wouldn't be outraged to see him go in. But he really was only dominant for a four-year stretch (1984 to 1987, when he was the best player in the game), whereupon his back troubles really sapped him of most of his power. He was the '85 MVP (and what a season) and a nine-time Gold Glover, but at a premium power position he only exceeded 100 RBI five times, 30 HR three times, and in his final six seasons he only exceeded an OPS+ of 112 once. Certainly, the Kirby Puckett argument applies: Mattingly was better than Puckett, who was voted in on a wave of sentimentality, so why not vote Donnie Baseball in? But what's that Chris Berman always says? Two wrongs don't make a right? (Actually, I think he always says, "Welcome to the Hotel California" -- like, almost non-stop -- but that's neither here nor there.)
In addition to the 9.8 million per year that he is getting, what other perqs does Kirk White get in his contract? And more importantly, does he deserve them?
--In an effort to make Kirk feel a part of the Greater Syracuse community, his contract entitles him to a lifetime supply of Jim-Boeheim-brand scalp shiner; a complete set of Bob Costas's Enhance Your Pretentious Vocabulary DVDs; a Tom-Cruise-endorsed introduction to Scientology (it turns out Cruise is a proud native of the area); and a lifetime pass at the All-You-Can-Eat Inferiority Complex "Syracuse Wings" Buffet. (By way of explanation, "Syracuse Wings" are the lesser-loved cousin of spicy "Buffalo Wings"; drenched in a heady blend of Hollandaise and Rust-Belt tears, Syracuse Wings aren't quite as delicious as their better-known relative, but they do pay homage to 250 overcast days per annum.)
What did you think of the box of chocolates and sincere thank you note sent from Sioux Falls for taking White out of the NL North?
--They did a fine job of drowning out the taste of my latest batch of Syracuse Wings.
How do you rate your divisional competition this season? Do you think Wichita and St. Louis will be able to hang with your young and devastating Beagles?
--Wichita is fantastic, and there's no telling which of us will win the division. I *do* believe that calling themselves "Wankers" continues to be a subliminal limiting factor that gives our franchise a slight edge. Heck, you can just see it in Tony Cho's on-mound posture. He feels just a *teensy* bit bad about himself. As for the Hound Dogs, they're solid, but getting a bit long in the tooth and expensive. Time will tell.
Do you even consider Atlanta competition?
--Sure. The P.B.s have a pretty scary lineup, actually. And they've got a couple tough pitchers I expect to see promoted to the bigs some time this year. It's a rough division to be in -- probably the roughest in Cobb right now -- so it's difficult to predict instant glory for Atlanta. But their day is coming.
Marry, Date, or Dump - Tony Kornheiser, Buster Olney, and Linda Cohn?
--I've never met Kornheiser, who doesn't work out of Bristol (and I'm only down there one day a week -- otherwise I work from home). Olney is a really nice, unassuming guy who says hi to me in the hallway; my self esteem is so low, all you have to do is, like, remember my name, and I'll toss bouquets your way for eternity. I get makeup next to Linda Cohn every so often (hey, would *you* want to see my bare kisser broadcast in HD?), and she's really nice, too.
Marry, Date, or Dump pt. II - Kenny Mayne, Colin Cowherd, and Mike Greenberg?
--I don't know Mayne. I've also never met Cowherd, and I've only ever seen Greenberg special-ordering some kind of a overly cooked chicken sandwich in the ESPN cafeteria, so I couldn't really weigh in on either guy as a guy. I'm not a huge devotee of either radio show, I have to say.
Since the worldwide leader has you writing about NASCAR and other obscure sports, how long do you think you have until you are writing about professional bull riding, lacrosse, and Barcelonan tower building?
--Oh, probably not long. I also have to admit that I hadn't heard of Barcelonan tower building until you mentioned it, but now that I've done some Google research, I'm going to propose a new game for ESPN.com. Extra points if your dashing Spanish architect gets crushed by scaffolding.
Have there ever been any trades you have made that you are especially proud of, and any that you would like to have back?
--I think the deals I've done with Detroit (nee Philadelphia, nee Augusta, nee St. Louis) have benefited both organizations. Jose Cervantes will probably be a Hall of Famer, but dealing him for Jamie Beimel was the right move for me last year. Getting Ron Reilly a couple seasons before his Rookie of the Year campaign was crucial. Paul Jung is another guy I'm happy to have gotten. Getting Kenny Blair lo these many seasons ago kind of put the squad on the map when there wasn't much big-league talent. And while I'll miss Barney Johnson, I really needed to get Kirk White to stop the bleeding at the back end of my bullpen.
Who is your best draft pick, and best international signing, in your opinion?
--Charles Reese is the highest pick I've had in Cobb World, and while he hasn't done much in the majors yet, I have high hopes for him. Ruben Montero was an interntional signing by my organization before I took over, and he's working on 99 career big-league wins, so he probably gets the nod there. If you're looking for an international inking I actually did myself, I'd probably say star-crossed Yorvit Hernandez, whose role on the Beagles staff has run the gamut.
If you could import any pitcher or player other than Jose Barrios or Kaz Ong that isn't currently on your team into your lineup or rotation, who would it be?
--Eric Collins (the good one).
True or False - Beagles are better dogs than Basset Hounds.
--I own two beagles and zero basset hounds, so my answer is clearly "true."
True or False - Tristan H. Cockcroft would own Christopher Harris in an ESPN Fantasy arm wrestling contest.
--Even Tristan would tell you this is patently false.
Who do you consider your biggest rival in Cobb World?
--I guess current circumstance dictates that it's Wichita, but lightman has never been anything but jovial and cordial throughout my time in Cobb, so it's hard to consider him truly a rival. If I'm out of the playoffs and he's still going, I always root for him. So I guess I'll pile on, and say pieo.
Who is the biggest baseball geek, Rob Neyer, Bill James, Christopher Harris, or Jayson Stark?
--It ain't me. I write baseball (and will be, starting today, for like eight months), but I'm more of a football guy. I think you'd have to say the Granddaddy of 'em all, Bill James.
Are you jealous of "The Sports Guy?"
--Not even a little bit.
Who has the best theme music on the Beagles team?
--It's got to be our Season 10 Rookie of the Year and young staff anchor, who takes the mound in the bottom of every inning to the strains of "Baba O'Reilly."
Who is the best stand up comedian - Bill Maher, Dane Cook, Chris Rock, or Lewis Black?
--God, it's not Dane Cook. I'd split my vote between Maher and Rock. Rock is probably funnier, but Maher does politics better. (Plus he's a Cornell guy -- Let's Go Red.)
Editors Note: The Times Herald officially endorses zooeydogs position concerning the unfunny Dane Cook.
Do you consider Dan Patrick to be a traitor to the ESPN cause?
--No, I just consider that he prefers irrelevance.
What would be a worse fate, being an Egyptian slave hauling 2 ton stone blocks for the pyramids or working for FOX Sports?
--I'm not that impressed with what Fox does for fantasy sports, but overall I actually think they do a good job broadcasting the games. But that answer wasn't very funny. Hm. Let's see. A man goes to an optometrist, who tells him, 'I need you to stop masturbating.' The man says, 'That's crazy, it doesn't make you go blind,' and the optometrist says, 'I know, but it's disturbing the other patients.'
Who is your favorite Red Sox player of all time?
--Tough call. The kid in me wants to say Carl Yastrzemski. But David Ortiz makes a mighty good case.
The bloody sock incident, real or ketchup?
--C'mon. Gary Thorne was kidding. Real.
Name one retired Beagle that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and why.
--I think Orber Martinez deserves consideration. 174 career saves in the final seven seasons of his career (and we missed him until he turned 32) is pretty impressive, as is his 1.28 career WHIP and his 3.64 career ERA. He was never a big strikeout guy, but he converted those 174 saves in 201 chances, which is pretty great.
What do you think the prospects are for your Syracuse Beagles squad this season? Will they dominate like ODB back with the Wu Tang Clan, or will they disappear into the annals of history like Osiris and Big Baby Jesus?
--I'm with Dirt McGirt. As the Wu says: 'Sew your asshole closed and keep feeding you and feeding you.'
Thanks for the interview!