Jerry Crasnick Q&A
By Tim Dierkes [April 16, 2009 at 9:47am CST]
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick recently answered a few questions for MLB Trade Rumors. You can read Jerry's excellent work here, and pick up his book License To Deal here.
MLB Trade Rumors: What was it like covering the Marge Schott Reds for the Cincinnati Post? I read that she banned you from the press dining room for printing Tim Belcher's criticism of her dog.
Jerry Crasnick: Between Marge Schott, Pete Rose, and Lou Piniella, Cincinnati was the epicenter of the baseball universe when I was there. Marge had this bizarre notion that mediocre food could be used as a weapon, so she banned several writers from the media dining room for unflattering stories. I got the boot after Tim Belcher publicly complained about Schottzie 02 nipping at players and defecating on the field. Belcher actually had pizzas and sandwiches sent up to the press box the next day with a handwritten note. He signed his name at the bottom with a little pawprint beside it. The letter is in a box somewhere in my basement. Needless to say, Tim Belcher remains one of my all-time favorite players.
MLBTR: Related question...as a beat writer for the Reds and Rockies, did you ever shy away from criticizing the team or players knowing that it might affect your access? How does a beat writer deal with that issue?
Crasnick: There's a fine line. You try to maintain the lines of communication with everyone, because it's such a long season. But if the cleanup hitter is batting .180 or the manager just messed up a double-switch, the fans all know it. If you're a homer or an apologist as a beat writer, you'll lose your credibility in a hurry. I would try to inject opinions subtly rather than beating people over the head, but that's not for everybody. I remember writing a story once about the late Bo Diaz, and I said that he hated the media so much, "He'd ask for a blindfold and a cigarette if you tried to interview him.'' Judging from his reaction, Bo failed to see the humor in it.
MLBTR: License To Deal was published four years ago. Have you considered writing another book?
Crasnick: I give it passing thought here and there, but I think it's almost impossible to work full-time and devote the attention necessary to the type of book I'd like to write. I recently read Mark Kriegel's Pete Maravich biography, and I was blown away by the level of detail and the care that he put into it. I'd love to attempt something like that one day, but it's just a far-flung dream at this point. The most important thing is coming up with an idea that you're really passionate about.
MLBTR: How would you describe your role at ESPN? It seems like you're a jack of all trades with features, hot stove info, chats, and analysis. Also, any possibility of you joining ESPN's stable of baseball bloggers?
Crasnick: I think we're all jacks-of-all-trades to an extent. Tim Kurkjian writes for the magazine and the Web site. Jayson Stark does everything well. And Buster Olney writes a blog, does Baseball Tonight, works for the magazine, appears on Mike & Mike in the morning and just did a terrific TV piece for "ESPN:60.'' He must sleep about three hours a night. We have such a wide array of bloggers, with those guys, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer and Keith Law, I really don't know if there's a niche for me to fill. I'd rather not do it just for the sake of doing it.
MLBTR: Which teams would you say failed to address their needs this offseason?
Crasnick: The teams that spring to mind, for me, are the legit postseason contenders who could use one more piece. Cincinnati needed a right-handed run producer to take the load off Votto, Bruce and Brandon Phillips. The Phillies needed a RH bat off the bench. Cleveland obviously could have used another starter. Given the economic climate last winter, I don't know if there's any club (other than the Yankees) that acquired pretty much everything it wanted.
MLBTR: Any sleepers for us that you feel could be traded this summer?
Crasnick: I guess that leaves out Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy and Matt Holliday, right? It's tough to predict in April, because you have no idea where teams are going to be in June or July. If Seattle is out of it, I can certainly see Jack Zduriencik shopping Erik Bedard and Adrian Beltre. And Andy MacPhail with the Orioles is always looking to parlay veteran pieces into long-term solutions. Did somebody say "Aubrey Huff"? Regardless of what happens, I'm sure you'll see Billy Beane's name crop up in the news coverage.
MLBTR: The Winter Meetings seem like chaos for a reporter. How do you decide which stories to chase? With ESPN's Winter Meetings blog, what kind of lag is there in you submitting a post and it being published?
Crasnick: The winter meetings blog was a great way for us to take information that we'd gathered in the Bellagio lobby (right near the slot machines), hustle back to the workroom and crank it out. Typically, it was posted on-line within minutes. Years ago, you could go to the meetings and entertain the thought of planning out a story or two. But there's such a thirst among fans for "real-time'' reporting now, you have to stay light on your feet. When CC Sabathia sneezes or Mark Teixeira clears his throat, everybody wants to know about it. People can't get enough gossip, rumors and instant analysis, and the success of your Web site and so many Internet sites and blogs is reflective of that.