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Three Up Three Down is our irregular interview series with the thought leaders, media, celebrities, bloggers, fans or just about anyone who will answer our questions about baseball. 

Monday
Feb112013

Peter Gammons: Hall of Fame Baseball Insider

Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons (@pgammo) has been covering Major League Baseball since 1969. His work is the gold standard in the industry and his commitment to his craft is unparalelled. Outside the lines Peter is a passionate musician and he is devoted to giving back to the community by supporting charities like the The Foundation to be Named Later - a charity run by Paul Epstein and Theo Epstein.

Baseball Analytics: How do you expect the Alex Rodriguez story to unfold; could you imagine an early retirement?

Peter Gammons: If the revelations in The Miami New Times and Sports Illustrated are more than half true, Alex Rodriguez’s future will be in serious doubt. Alex is not Melky Cabrera or Gio Gonzalez, he is larger than life, a People Magazine celebrity, identifiable in any restaurant or club.

Alex RodriguezFirst, he will face the wrath of the Commissioner’s Office and, likely, the Yankees and their attempts to reach a settlement on the $114M he is now owed. That will make his persona even more toxic, which it has become since the story broke about his testing positive in Texas—before the advent of punishable drub testing—and these recent reports out of Miami that make his 2009 admission a seeming lie.

Rodriguez doesn’t want to retire. Unlike Barry Bonds and like Roger Clemens, he craves the spotlight and the attention and the adoration, but that toxic persona will make it very difficult for any team to sign him after he leaves the Yankees and market him. Some team may sign him, but his age and performance make him a shell of the player he once was; he’s not going to hit 50 home runs again, and he likely will never fully recover from his hip operations.

He already was the highest paid player ever when he tested positive in Texas. He was on his way to being the alltime home run champion with the Yankees, but, somehow, ARod could not accept simply being one of the best players ever. He had to transcend that, and his insecurities led him to try to be something greater than what he is—a historically great player.

The vitriol towards Alex could make what should be a great period of his life—Yankee Old Timers Games, moments in Cooperstown, the embraces of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre—a lonely period of exile, away from baseball, surrounded by hangers-on. His tragic flaw was simply his insecurity, but it may eat at him as long as he lives.

Baseball Analytics: How have the MLB Winter Meetings evolved since you first started covering baseball?

Peter Gammons: The biggest change in the winter meetings reflects the broad complexities of the baseball industry. Thirty years ago, one could hang in the lobby and hang with scouts, managers, general managers and folks in the game. Now, general managers seldom leave their suites as the lobbies are packed with job seekers looking to get into the business through a myriad of portals, from on-field to analyticial to business to media jobs.

There was a time when team officials spent close to a week at the meetings hotels. This December, several general managers came in for two nights, and Dan O’Dowd of the Rockies stayed in Denver with his staff, communicating with other general managers by phone, email, texts and carrier pidgeon.

Baeball Analytics: What story line are you most excited to see unfold in 2013?

Peter Gammons: In 2012, baseball moved forward from its obsession with the past, it’s so- called glory days and golden era to the spotlight that shined on Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Yeonis Cespedes and other young stars. The NBA turned a corner when David Stern continually emphasized the league’s young stars, and as baseball continually searches for younger demographics, the sport has the opportunity to stop telling customers than it was better in the Fifties and Sixties, all the while hoping the extraordinary generation of young players re-establishing the trust that a decade and a half of performance enhancing drug stories has eroded.

Monday
Jan212013

Jerry Remy: The RemDawg

Jerry Remy Topps baseball card

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jerry Remy. In addition to a successful career in the majors with the Red Sox and Angels, Jerry Remy has become a Red Sox Nation icon. His insightful analysis and dynamic personality helps to keep fans glue to their TV sets. You can keep up with Jerry by following him on Twitter (@jerry_remy) or by visiting one of his restaurants in and around Boston (Jerry Remy's Bar and Grill).

Baseball Analytics: What Red Sox player do you expect to have the biggest turnaround in 2013 and why?

Jerry Remy: I expect Jon Lester (Lester InfoGraphic) to have the biggest turnaround in 2013. Looking at his history and, knowing his determination, it is very difficult to logically explain what happened to him in 2012. Until he shows otherwise, I am assuming it was just an aberration.

Baseball Analytics: Whom did you most admire when you were playing in the majors?

Jerry Remy: I admired Pete Rose when I was playing in the majors? Nobody hustled more than he did! I always admired him for that.

Baseball Analytics: What is more damaging to the game of baseball - gambling or performance enhancing drugs and should both issues be addressed the same way when considering Hall of Fame voting?

Jerry Remy: Obviously, gambling and performance enhancing drugs are both very damaging to the game of baseball. Even though both of these problems occurred in different eras, and under different circumstances, I believe both should be handled the same when it comes to Hall of Fame voting. In my opinion you cannot pick and choose among "guilty parties". It's either all or nothing.

Thursday
Jan102013

Ted Dintersmith: Sharing Baseball with the World

Ted Dintersmith (@dintersmith) has experienced great success in the world of business as both an executive and an investor. Yet, when you speak with Ted he rarely makes any mention of his many accomplishments... In fact it's quite clear Ted's passion for his family, education and baseball is unparalleled. 

Baseball Analytics: Several years ago you spent close to a year traveling around the world with your family in an effort to share baseball with young children. Tell us a little about that trip and what you learned from this experience?

Ted Dintersmith: In 2007-2008, my wife, two children and I spent ten months traveling outside of the U.S. My son loves to play baseball, so we came up with the idea of meeting people in lots of different countries through baseball. We arranged to meet with local programs in Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Bhutan, Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and South Africa. We shipped baseball equipment to each program (and it was no easy feat getting things through customs) and gave out Red Sox hats (over 750 all told). We saw firsthand how people all over the globe love baseball, and it was a great way to meet people in all of these countries. It was also clear how powerful sports is in bridging cultural divides. If you want to see a short video on our experience, it's at https://vimeo.com/31452642.

Baseball Analytics: If you were the commissioner of Major League Baseball what would your short term and long term mission be?

Ted Dintersmith: In many respects, baseball is in great shape — strong attendance, league-wide parity, and real progress on the steroids front. But I feel that sports franchises and players have an opportunity, and an obligation, to have a more positive impact on their community, especially their young fans. I'm excited about models that enable a player or team to capitalize on the passion of their fans, getting them engaged in important causes. For instance, I'm on the Advisory Board of a great organization in Providence called N.B.A. Math Hoops, that teaches young kids math by tying it to basketball. So if I were MLB's Commissioner, I'd sponsor programs tying baseball to school offerings. This off-season, I'm working with a National League player on a program to encourage young fans to be social entrepreneurs to help on a cause near and dear to the player and his family, and think this program has the potential to redefine sports philanthropy. I would hope that historians would look at my time as Commissioner and say, "Lots of great baseball games were played when he was Commissioner, but his real contribution was figuring out a way for the sport to have a profound impact on people's lives beyond what happens at the ballpark."

Ted Dintersmith with President Barack Obama.Baseball Analytics: Can baseball play a role in solving of the world's larger social, economic and political challenges?

Ted Dintersmith: Baseball, along with other sports, could play a huge role in addressing some of the world's challenges. For reasons I'll never understand, our country has spent trillions of dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our mission was, in theory, to promote world peace. Instead, we bankrupted our country, and only made the world more unstable. I sure wish we had spent a fraction of this money to provide kids with education resources and sports equipment.

 

 

Wednesday
Jan092013

Sean Forman: Baseball Reference Founder

Almost single-handedly Sean Forman fabricated and engineered what has become the go-to site to look up statistics for any baseball player or team. For serious baseball researchers, analysts, sportswriters, announcers, or historians, Baseball-Reference is often the first stop. Need we say more? You can keep up with Sean by visiting Baseball-Reference.com or of course Twitter (@sean_forman).

Baseball Analytics: What is your favorite ball park and why?

Sean Forman: I'm not sure I have an out and out favorite. I enjoyed Target Field a lot. It has a great downtown setting and you can get Walleye on a Stick there. I like parks that are set in actual neighborhoods. It's the one problem I have with Citizens Bank Park.

Baseball Analytics: What's the biggest challenge you face running a robust research site like Baseball Reference?

Sean Forman: The biggest challenge we have is figuring out how to prioritize the millions of new features we could add to the sites. We are a very small company, and ESPN's internal analytics group is probably five times our total headcount, so much of what we do is based on intuition and what our own itches are.

Baseball Analytics: How would you like the Hall of Fame and its voters to handle the steroids issue and its impact on the history of the game and potential inductees?

Sean Forman: My view (and I may have a vote in 7 years) is that voters should look at what happened on the field and go from there. I would not be surprised by it being revealed that a particular player took PED's. No revelation would surprise me. So for me, playing this gotcha game with Bonds, Clemens, Sosa etc is futile. Sure we know about some of them, but Babe Ruth and Pud Galvin were injecting themselves with ground up sheep and guinea pig testicles 100 years ago, so IMO we should look at what happened on the field and base votes on that.

Tuesday
Jan082013

Steve Silva: Boston.com Senior Sports Editor

Steve Silva (@stevesilva) has been at Boston.com since 2004. As Senior Producer Steve covered the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, Patriots in the Super Bowl, Red Sox in the World Series. He has produced countless featured videos including Patriots weekly previews, extensive Red Sox spring training coverage and the live broadcast of Jason Varitek's retirement. Steve was also the co-producer on Boston Sports Live and he edits and produces the award-winning sports pages on Boston.com including features such as biggest busts in Boston Sports. Steve is a BUSY man... Thankfully he had a little time for 3 Up 3 Down...

Baseball Analytics: What are your biggest concerns related to the Red Sox roster in 2013?

Steve Silva: Like everyone else who follows the team, starting pitching is the first thing that comes to mind. Can the ornery Jon Lester bounce back to previous form with his old pitching coach back in town? Same for Clay Buchholz. And will Ryan Dempster be able to handle American League lineups better than he did during his 12 starts in Texas last season.

The improved competition from Toronto and Baltimore in addition to having to fight off old rivals New York and Tampa Bay. It’s a crowded house of good-but-not-great teams in the AL East and the Red Sox don’t appear to have enough impact bats and consistent arms to rise above the rest.

The bullpen is also a question mark with new closer Joel Hanrahan moving over from the NL and Bailey moving into a setup role… and then there’s the enigma of Daniel Bard.

On the offensive side, these aren’t Manny Ramirez’s Red Sox. It appears Ben Cherington is betting that Shane Victorino and maybe the still unsigned Mike Napoli will bounce back from off years and Jonny Gomes can show some power as a platoon left fielder.

Is Dustin Pedroia on a permanent downswing? When will David Ortiz be 100 percent healthy? Will Jacoby Ellsbury be the injury-riddled version or the near-MVP caliber player in 2013? Right now, there are more questions than answers.

Baseball Analytics: How would you best describe the role Boston Dirt Dogs plays covering Boston's sports teams?

Steve Silva: I’m not sure the website plays any particular “role.” It is what it is: a quick hitting page that hopefully will garner a few laughs, provide some timely links to Red Sox and Boston sports related info, some tweets, maybe a cartoon and/or a video. Hopefully there’s a headline that would do the New York Post proud and some one-liners that would make Don Rickles even prouder. If you don’t have a lot of time, it’s a good place to scan what’s happening and delivered in a big Wizard of Oz voice, with a snarky edge that made Red Sox fans famous in the first place.

Baseball Analytics: What are your thoughts on Roger Clemens and his first opportunity to be voted into the Hall of Fame?

Roger ClemensSteve Silva: Yes, I'd vote The Rocket in. Outside of Pedro Martinez, he was the greatest pitcher of my generation.

And let big game hurlers Curt Schilling, David Wells, and Jack Morris into the HoF club, too.

Despite Rusty Hardin's legal snakery, I believe there was overwhelming evidence that Clemens used performance enhancing substances after he left Boston.

But I have an unconditional soft spot for the prickly old Red Sox ace, having seen him at his best so many times in the 80s and 90s and after seeing him return to Boston last fall for three nights at Fenway, sitting behind Pedro at Johnny Pesky's memorial ceremony in September like he's been here the whole time.

Clemens was on the fast track to Cooperstown before he moved closer to Texas via Toronto in 1997. The guess here is that Roger decided to get even with the cheaters who had begun to gain a huge advantage in the batter's box. So he took measures into Brian McNamee's hands.

But know matter what Clemens got himself into, I just don't view the crimes-he-got-away-with the same way I do the transgressions of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. Demolishing sacred home run records with the help of steroids just feels much more sinister than a pitcher who is trying to level the playing field again.

So file the Clemens story under: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

But it's a sentimental yes for Roger Clemens making it to the Hall of Fame.

You can keep up with Steve Silva by visiting Boston.com or following him on Twitter (@stevesilva).