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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. 

Tuesday
Jun282011

Travis Goldman - Pinstripe Alley

1. If you had to drop one Yankee regular and replace him with a Red Sox regular who would you select and why?

Travis: Tough question. I'll keep it to position players, and in that case, the guy would have to be A-Gon. As good as Tex is, and he's having another excellent season (145 RC+), Gonzalez is contending for the MVP and is two years younger. For as bad as the Crawford signing looks, the Gonzalez trade was an absolute steal.

2. What are your thoughts on the Yankees' current TV and radio broadcast teams?

I actually do like YES for the most part. As annoying as Michael Kay can be, he's very knowledgeable about the game and asks pertinent questions of his ex-player color commentators. As for those color guys, Ken Singleton is in a class by himself, bringing a vast history and intelligence to the broadcasts. In a close second is Al Leiter, who brings the same to the table but from a pitcher's perspective. Even Jack Curry is starting to come into his own after a move from print to broadcast journalism. On the other hand, there's the radio team. John Sterling has a great voice, but he's too consumed with his "shtick" for me to stand listening to for long. Suzyn Waldman doesn't seem to add much to the broadcast except for the aspect that she's essentially a super-fan who gets to broadcast the games.

3. If you could change three things about the new Yankee Stadium what would you change?

Monument Park can barely be seen behind the centerfield wall. It needs to be modified. The old one was spacious and airy while the new one is feels like a cemetery. I don't know exactly, but something should be done to make it feel more like a park again and less like a concrete bunker.

You can keep up with Travis on PinStripeAlley.com and follow him on Twitter @pinstripealley.

Monday
Jun272011

Peter Meisel - Comedian

Peter Meisel is a New York City expatriate who has been living just outside of Sydney, Australia for over 30 years. Peter moved to Australia to become a teacher but when he found all of his students and peers laughing at him he re-created himself as a stand-up comedian.

For close to over 20 years, Peter has successfully performed on television, in the movies, in comedy clubs, and in his bedroom and made many people chuckle, guffaw, and chortle at him or with him, it depends on whom you ask. He remains to this day a huge Yankees fan. 

1. Peter, you have watched both, briefly what’s the difference between American baseball and Australian cricket?

Peter: The length of sleep for the viewer. A test cricket match takes 5 days and that’s just to play two innings. Frequently the result of this five day match from hell is a draw. That’s right, five days to get a draw. One time, and everyone got really excited about this, it wasn’t just a draw but a tie as well. I swear there’s a difference. Also every “highlight” reel includes the ball rolling towards a flock of seagulls causing them to fly away. Why? Because it truly is a highlight. They should make them watch test cricket at Guantanamo. They would beg for water boarding.

2. Do your Aussie mates understand baseball? What’s their take when you start talking about ERA and RBI?

Peter: They think I’m talking about medical procedures, EKG, MRI, ERA, RBI.

3. Baseball players get to pick their own intro music when they come to the plate, which song would you choose if you came to bat for the Yankees (and why?)?

Peter: I didn’t know that. How about, “All I Need is a Miracle” because that’s the only way I’m ever going to get a hit. I’d settle for not getting hurt and that’s just getting to the game.

Thursday
Jun232011

Mat Gleason - Huffington Post

Mat Gleason is one of those guys you will pray you will meet at a cocktail party. Mat is an art critic for the Huffington Post and a baseball writer for SBNationLA and Halos Heaven, an Angels’ blogging site where he writes under the name Rev Halofan. In his bio he includes this quote from Phillip Kennicot, Washington Post, "Mat Gleason, a maverick LA art critic, is insufferably cynical, always 'on' with a glib comment." He is the founder of CoaguLa art journal (Coagula.net) which was described as “Influenced equally by Mad magazine, the National Enquirer, and the muckraking investigative journalist I. F. Stone, Gleason has passionately ridiculed the ridiculous and promoted the unsung for two decades.” In lieu of meeting him at a cocktail party, here’s Three Up/Three Down with Mat Gleason:

1. Oh, Mat! You are an art critic and an Angles blogger, do you ever find your worlds colliding beyond Arte Moreno?

After the lousy contracts the Angels have taken on these past few seasons. I am terrified to think of how bad Arte Moreno’s finances would fare if he ever got bit by the Warhol bug. I’m well known in the LA art world and people come up and start conversations all the time, so I am use to that but once in a while someone will walk up at an art thing and ask if I am Rev Halofan, so it is all “oops, shift gears, talk baseball”. Beyond that, blogging about baseball has been a tremendous boost for my art writing, as SB Nation from the start wanted the focus to be on creating communities and accepting civil dissension in comment threads as the norm.

So fast forward six years and my art reviews on the Huffington Post have enraged people but I have a seven-year headstart arguing with 20 year old guys who have never been laid about their favorite player or favorite stat. Baseball writing relies on accurate reporting of the numeric facts and then finding the relevance of those numbers to inspire passion. You get busted hard by your commenters if you do not do all that at a high level regularly. When I get sloppy, they let me know with a torrent. Most art writing out there is about pretending to be smarter than everyone and privileging an elite hierarchy to substantiate the claim that certain objects are of almost divine importance. I hate bland and academic arts discussions so my art writing is a striving for lucidity – like that sentence about sportswriting, just substitute “visual culture” for “numeric facts” and that is my art criticism. The average baseball blog commenters are more merciless and vicious and brilliant and care way more about baseball than almost anyone in the arts cares for the field. When an art reader is rabid against what I write it is usually because it compromises their personal taste – sorta like a drunk Red Sox fan trying to stir up shit on Halos Heaven, it is like: Oh this is going to be fun, do I retort with Pumpsie Green or pink hats?

2. You are stuck in the elevator with Angels’ GM Tony Reagins, what’s the conversation like?

Anything I say can and will be used against me.

3. You wrote a piece for Huff Post entitled the Ten Most Overrated Artists in Art History in which you wrote that “The St Louis Cardinals have more World Series rings than LDV (Leonardo Da Vinci has paintings verifiably made entirely by his own hand.” Give me at least three ballplayers you consider overrated and why? 

Player #1: The All Star – when the Angels stupidly traded for Vernon Wells they repeated this tripe, “We just acquired an All-Star”. All that “All Star” means to me is that the dude’s best years are probably behind him.

Player #2: The Intangible Winner – Mister Spock turns to Captain Kirk and says: human rationalism has been dead for centuries. It died the day the millionth Derek Jeter jersey was sold at the Yankee team store. Kirk asks who was Jeter. Spock says: History books tell us it was a woman who played shortstop almost as a good as a man who was surrounded by such a talented team that instead of believing in the team, fans began to explain the success of the team by the presence of this woman on the field who could play shortstop almost as a good as a man. They eventually labeled her a winner. There was never any tangible proof of this. Kirk asks if she was hot. Spock says: Women believed that Jeter had a nice ass. Kirk: Logic or not, that’s a winner in my book.

Player #3: The pleasant Ex-Jock – Every team has one in the booth sitting alongside your play-by-play man and if you watch too much baseball in your lifetime god lets you know this by suddenly making it unbearable to hear another old jock discuss “staying within your mechanics” or “taking it one game at a time”. The Angels have Mark Gubicza at the helm and fits the bill of inoffensive corporate yes-men who do the job to a level of mediocre pablum that is acceptable to the front office douchebags in suits. I like it when an ex-Jock has personality and an edge to himself, like Rex Hudler used to do TV for Angels games, he had personality and spunk, he was kind of a clown, kind of the guy who can still kick your ass. The corporately slick ex-jock with no intellectual range or deep situational insight speaking in cliches... it ruins the entertainment product.

Mat Gleason can be followed on Twitter: @CoagulaMagazine

Wednesday
Jun222011

Mike Fast - Baseball Prospectus

1. What is your favorite statistic / metric to use when evaluating the effectiveness of a pitcher?

It's very tough to pick just one or even a few, but the things I look at most are the percentage of pitches that a pitcher gets in the strike zone for each of his pitch types and the whiff/swing rate for each pitch type.

2. Who is your favorite major league broadcaster and what's your favorite historic call?

Nobody will ever top Denny Mathews and Fred White and Royals on Radio for me. They knew so much about baseball and painted the colors of the game for this young kid. No particular call sticks in my mind. The Royals have not had any really historically memorable moments since I've been following them. I heard some of the '85 World Series, but I wasn't really tuned in as an avid fan until 1986. Bret Saberhagen's no-hitter in 1991 seems like it ought to have been such a moment, but I don't remember listening to it live.

3. What is the most exciting play in baseball and why?

The double play is the most beautiful play in baseball, but the most exciting is the stolen base. It requires split-second timing and perfect execution on the part of all involved, it's a daring play, it often comes out of the blue, and it potentially puts a runner in scoring position.

Mike writes a column for BaseballProspectus.com and you can follow him on his Twitter account (@Fastballs).

Tuesday
Jun212011

Jeff Sullivan - LookOutLanding.com

1. What will it take for the Mariners to win the NL West?

For the Mariners to win the AL West, it sure wouldn't hurt if Josh Hamilton or Nelson Cruz - or both - got injured again. But in order for them to win on their own merit, they're going to need their awesome rotation to keep from wilting completely down the stretch, and they're going to need the lineup to quit being arguably the worst lineup in the league. The Mariners have gotten this far because they simply haven't given up runs. They're going to give up more runs, and God only knows how long they'll be able to count on Michael Pineda and Erik Bedard as we get deep into the summer. So they'll need to score. Dustin Ackley should help. A rejuvenated Ichiro should help. But, man, would it be nice to get something, anything out of Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez. Even just a mediocre lineup might be enough.

2. If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with Bud Selig what would you say?

I would stand awkwardly and uncomfortably for a few seconds, and maybe muster out a "Hey, Mr. Selig." He would respond in kind, and I would ask him how he's doing. After he replied, I'd ask what he's here for, and he'd tell me, or he wouldn't tell me, and then we'd get to his floor and he'd walk away, thinking nothing of the encounter he just had.

3. If you could cover baseball in any other city what city would you choose?

It might be fun to spend a year covering the Giants, but if I were making a career of it, and if it weren't the Mariners, I'd opt to cover the Padres. I wouldn't want to work in a high-pressure, high-intensity environment where people forget that this is just baseball. The Padres are just the right amount of low-key and casual, and it doesn't hurt that I've spent most of my years in San Diego, so there would be a familiarity element there, too. Definitely the Padres. The NL's Mariners.

You can keep up with Jeff on LookOutLanding.com and you can follow Jeff on Twitter @LookOutLanding