Continuing our tradition of asking big names big questions, we finagled an interview with StLCardinals.com beat writer Matthew Leach, who is your year-round source for Cardinals info and other stuff. We generally don't like seriuzz jurnalizts who try to butter their bread on both sides by maintaining a blog as well as writing hard-hitting news, but Matthew (Matt? Matty? M-Dawg?) is truly a gentleman and a scholar who has been putting up with annoying Cards fans like me for years. We thank him sincerely for his time.
1. Obligatory Cardinals fan boy question: I had this team pegged for 75 wins before the season started. They already have 64. Give me one good reason why I should believe they're for real. (Yes, I realize that's not a question.)
I was certainly a doubter for a long time. But at this point in the season, the reason to believe it is that there are only 45 games left in the season. At some point, it's legitimate, right?
2. Fill in the blanks: I get to the park at ___. I leave at ___. My favorite part of the time between is ___.
1. 3:15 or so for a night game. 10 a.m. or so for a day game.
2. About two hours after the last out.
3. The game, of course! Seriously, I love the game more than ever. This is a job, and sometimes it feels like a job. But I often say, every day they pay me to come to the park is a good day. My favorite part of the WORK, though, is writing a game story. If I make people feel like they were at the game, I feel good about my day's work.
3. Since we at BertFlex are not serious journalists, we'll probably never get to see the inside of the Cardinals pressbox. Tell us something we don't know about it (free food, free beverages, annoying co-workers who could remain anonymous if necessary, etc.).
Free munchies, but not free dinner; can't really complain about that. Free soda, though the coffee is awful -- I'd be happy to pay if we got decent coffee. But then I'm a caffeine addict.
One thing you wouldn't know is that I have the single best seat in the press box. Don't know why, don't know how, but I have the one seat that is on the most direct line behind home plate, in the front row, just generally a fine location.
4. I defy anyone to tell me that Major League isn't the best baseball movie ever made. Do you agree, or do we need to throw hands?
Evidently, we're going to have to throw down. I'm a die-hard Bull Durham guy. I will tell you this, though -- most ballplayers that I know see it your way. The vast majority of players, coaches, etc., whom I've talked to prefer Major League.
5. A large part of the BertFlex staff and readership (or as we like to call him, "Steve") play the fantasy baseball. Do you? If so, how's your team doing? Do a lot of the MLB beat-niks play?
I do. I'm in a league that involves a couple of other STL media types, and this year I am steamrolling them. I'm not a player, I just crush a lot. I think the younger the beat demographic gets, the more people play fantasy. There are some who are still strongly opposed to it.
6. Without ticking anyone off, which of the Cardinals gives the best interview? Who is no fun to interview after a loss?
The thing is, it's not really that black and white. There are guys who are really interesting and insightful in a long, one-on-one, sitdown interview, who are TERRIBLE if you just need a quote to plug in a story postgame. There are guys who are consistently accessible and at least somewhat insightful postgame, who don't have a lot to say in more freeform scenarios.
So with that said, a few stars:
Adam Wainwright is probably the all-around interview star of this team. He's very good postgame. He understands it's part of the job, good or bad. And he's good in longer-form interviews too. Chris Carpenter is in the same category -- insightful, accessible, thoughtful.
Skip Schumaker gets it. He and Aaron Miles are both "go-to" guys postgame. Troy Glaus has been a very pleasant surprise, though big group things are not his best environment. He's a good 1-on-1 guy. Very good.
I won't tell you who I have hard times with, though I am very happy to say that it's a decidedly short list this year.
7. In the event that one of us decides to crack the spine of a book before our time on this mortal coil expires, what should we read? Keep in mind that our attention will only be held if the subject is baseball.
Well, of COURSE you should read Game of My Life: Memorable Stories of Cardinals Baseball by Matthew Leach, available at bookstores throughout greater St. Louis, at Amazon.com and at SportsPublishingLLC.com. Great book, and I hear the author is a terrific guy. Modest, too.
Beyond that, the best baseball book I've read in the past couple years is Jonathan Eig's Luckiest Man, an absolutely magnificent Lou Gehrig biography.
And if you claim to be a baseball fan but have never read Ball Four, well, shame on you. Just, shame on you.
8. Admit it: Fans can be annoying sometimes. What question do you hope you never have to answer again?
(insert insincere denial here) OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, well, I'd have to say the one I don't want to hear anymore is, “What is Bo Hart up to?” And believe me, I still get it in my email regularly.
9. If you had the talent to play in the majors (and maybe you do - it's possible that you just don't want to make everybody else look bad and choose to write about the game instead), what position would you play and what kind of player would you be? Scrappy, surly, Manny-esque, etc.?
No, no talent here. The only sport I could ever play with ANY skill was tennis, and I certainly couldn't claim to have been good at that.
I always wanted to play second base, for reasons I can't quite explain. Mark Loretta is a guy that comes to mind. Solid defender, good hitter with a good idea of the strike zone, good teammate. To go back a little further, to one of my favorite players from my youth, Marty Barrett is another one. Barrett in ‘84 -- 303/358/383 (Editor’s Note: Minus five points to Mr. Leach here. I don’t like fact-checking.) -- for some reason I think that's sort of what I would have been. Especially since 303/358/383 in 1984 is equivalent to like 320/390/420 now.