On July 21, 2000,
privileged to interview former
Major League Executive and
Baseball Dynasties co-author
Almost every young baseball fan dreams of someday becoming a Major League player. For most, this fantasy will never become a reality. However, at the time which this specific realization surfaces to the forefront of their consciousness, just before that "big leaguer" hope subsides entirely, their vision often evolves into a new flight of fancy. For many, this new-fashioned preoccupation is to become either (1) a front office executive for a Major League team, or (2) part of an influential baseball related enterprise (such as ESPN), or (3) an author of a landmark baseball reference work. That said, for the moment, stop here, and do not yield to the notion that this latter set of wishes is also a nearly unattainable pipe dream path as well, - and meet Eddie Epstein.
Currently a Senior Sports Analyst with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas, a "regular" on ESPN Radio (doing a weekly segment with Bob Valvano) and also serving as an occasional ESPN.com contributor, Mr. Epstein previously spent more than a decade as an executive for the Baltimore Orioles' and San Diego Padres' organizations. Eddie Epstein has also authored the initial edition of "STATS Inc. Minor League Scouting Notebook" (in 1995) as well as co-authoring (along with Rob Neyer) the recently released (and much celebrated) "Baseball Dynasties" (while also formerly being published in Bill James "The Baseball Book" and "The Baseball Abstract," Sports Illustrated, USA Today Baseball Weekly and The Sporting News).
Sufficed to say, Eddie Epstein knows a thing or two about baseball (while also serving as an inspiration for other baseball fans to strive and work towards fulfilling their dreams). NetShrine recommends his "Baseball Dynasties" as a must read for all who enjoy baseball. Any baseball library would be incomplete without it. So, what are you waiting for? Get "Baseball Dynasties" today. Oh, but first, check out our interview............
Having worked as the Director of Baseball Research and
Statistics for the Orioles and the Director of Baseball Operations for the Padres, did you
notice any difference between East Coast and West Coast baseball?
Eddie Epstein: No difference. I suspect any differences in organizations are far more a function of ownership and upper management than of geography.
Which baseball movie do you enjoy best?
Eddie Epstein: Field of Dreams.
You once wrote that baseball executives often judge front
office candidates by their baseball "pedigree" (meaning experience, playing
career, or family name). To what extent is this still true and will it ever cease?
Eddie Epstein: It is still true and it will always be true.
Who's been your most influential mentor?
Eddie Epstein: Bill James' work has been my biggest influence.
In co-authoring "Baseball Dynasties," what one
piece of information did you discover that you never knew before and were amazed or amused
Eddie Epstein: In general, I really did not understand just how good the 1936-1939 Yankees were. Their domination of baseball became more impressive the more I studied it.
FILL IN THE BLANK: "I'll never forget where I was when
Eddie Epstein: This is actually a football memory. I was at the Colts complex the night they were taken out of town. I have never forgotten that night and that is a big reason why I have four Ravens' season tickets even though I have not lived in Baltimore since the team relocated there.
Who has the most impact on the success of a franchise: The
General Manager, the Field Manager or the Director of Scouting?
Eddie Epstein: The General Manager, by far, because he hires the Manager and Scouting Director and because he sets the tone and policies for running baseball operations, even if he has a hands-on owner.
Where's your favorite ballpark?
Eddie Epstein: I worked at Oriole Park for two years so I may not be objective. I like Turner Field. I am not that nostalgic about the old parks.
In your opinion, what percentage (or to what degree) does
baseball "news" NOT get reported?
Eddie Epstein: I am not sure what you mean, but some stories do not get reported, even in this day of "invasive journalism."
Which MLB "season" record will most fall next?
Eddie Epstein: I think the season record for hits is the most likely to go next.
Intermission Lightning Round:
Button Down or Pull Over?
Epstein: Pull Over.
DH or no DH?
Epstein: I just want the two leagues to play by the same rules.
Plan/Script or React/Improv?
Night game or day game?
Epstein: Night game.
Comedy or Drama?
Box seats or bleachers?
Epstein: Box seats.
Back to the bigger questions......
Are the techniques for hitters and pitchers better and
worse, respectively, than ever before?
Eddie Epstein: I think one factor that has helped to tip the scales more towards the hitter, but one that has been overlooked, is hitters' backgrounds. Just about every park has a great batters eye with a flat green or flat black finish. This was not true just 15 years ago. I think that many factors are "responsible" for the current offensive explosion.
How dangerous are "Baseball Annies"?
Eddie Epstein: No se. [Ed. Note: Spanish for "I don't know."] They're only dangerous if the players let them be dangerous, Ruth Ann Steinhagen notwithstanding.
Bill James, Rob Neyer, John Sickels and yourself are locked
in a room and are instructed to talk about anything BUT baseball. What do you all discuss?
Eddie Epstein: Monty Python, Taxi; I'm not sure what other common ground we have?
Who is the best player in the Major Leagues today?
Eddie Epstein: Alex Rodriguez.
If you could change one thing in baseball, what would it be?
Eddie Epstein: The way GM's are hired and evaluated.
Which position is the most important on the field?
Eddie Epstein: Pitcher.
Is it possible to accurately "scout" or evaluate a
player based solely on statistical analysis (without witnessing them actually play)?
Eddie Epstein: It is possible to learn a lot about position players without seeing them play. It is impossible to evaluate pitchers without seeing them live.
Will there be another work stoppage in baseball?
Eddie Epstein: I hate to say this, but I think there will be another work stoppage.
If George Will was a baseball player, what position would he
Eddie Epstein: Second base.
Do you have any thoughts or opinions towards corporate
ownership in baseball?
Eddie Epstein: It's inevitable, but it's one of the reasons I have changed my stance vis-a-vis the salary cap. Until recently, I was anti salary cap, but now in an era when huge corporations couldn't care less about losing $10 million a year with their baseball team, I think a cap is a necessity to keep the playing field as level as possible.
That's it. Once again, our thanks to Mr. Epstein for granting NetShrine this interview!
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