ESPN welcomes Gordon Edes
Gordon Edes, who has covered baseball for more than 25 years, joined ESPNBoston.com on Friday. Gordon is a colorful character, having written for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and other publications. He had spent 12 years covering the Red Sox for the Globe.
So Page 2 wanted to welcome him to our family with a question-and-answer session.
Page 2: Is Boston the most passionate sports town in America?
Edes: I've never been to Tuscaloosa on a football Saturday. I have, however, been in the Montreal Forum for a Russia-Team Canada hockey game, Yankee Stadium during the World Series, the Big D for a Cowboys game, and the Spectrum (RIP) for a Flyers game. No team intrudes as much on the fabric of a region's daily life as the Red Sox in New England, but passion flows deep and wide in plenty of places. Whatever they call the park the Marlins play these days isn't one of 'em.
You've covered baseball since before I was born. What's different about today's game from when you first covered it?
Edes: You mean, besides the fact that catchers now wear masks and you can't put a guy out by throwing the ball at him?
I'll give you three things: the pre-eminence of Latin-born players; the domination of front offices by highly educated Ivy League-types over old-school baseball men; and the hundreds of out-of-town games you can now watch instead of the solitary Game of the Week broadcast.
You're a Hall of Fame voter. Is it harder or easier to get into the Hall of Fame?
Edes: The chances of being voted in, IMO, have remained relatively constant. Jim Rice is not the first man, nor will he be the last, to be voted in on his last appearance on the ballot, a peculiar aspect of Hall of Fame voting. (What makes a guy more qualified to be a Hall of Famer in his 15th year on the ballot than on his first?) I do believe, however, that being chosen by the Veterans Committee is much harder now that it's not just a matter of Ted Williams and a couple of others lobbying heavily on your behalf.
You know I'll have to ask: Do Bonds and McGwire make it?
Edes: The weakness of support for McGwire, frankly, surprises me, and we have yet to face what to do when Bonds appears on the ballot. I voted for McGwire and will vote for Bonds; they can be judged only by the standards of their era, and as fraudulent as the steroids era was, I don't see the fairness of labeling a few as cheaters when we know that hundreds more have gone undetected.
You've had a colorful career. What do you think about newspapers?
Edes: When I started in this business in Chicago, there were four papers, two in the morning, two in the afternoon, and the competition was fierce and exhilarating. The Sun-Times created and ran its own bar, The Mirage, as a way to expose all the politicians, building inspectors, etc., who were on the take. Fabulous stuff. Royko ruled, Annie Keegan was kicking down doors for women, Bob Verdi of the Trib covered a beat like no one I'd ever read, and Schulian and Israel wrote columns that should have gone straight from newsprint into anthologies. I fell for the business, hard, and have never regretted it. I also never imagined a world in which kids grow up never cracking a paper.
Why do you love the game?
Edes: Because I didn't grow up in Remagen or Sao Paulo, Manchester or Milano. I have to first acknowledge the accident of geography, or otherwise I'd probably be making plans to cover the World Cup next summer. I also came of age in the summer of '67, the year of what Red Sox fans call the Impossible Dream. Because I never tire of the wizardry of Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel, the genius of Fernando Valenzuela or Pedro Martinez, the power generated by a bat swung as perfectly as Albert Pujols, the beauty of Ken Griffey running from first to home on Edgar Martinez's double into the corner. Because of the game's capacity to surprise and thrill, after all these years. If I didn't love it, I'd have to explain why I spent my life talking to half-dressed men while my shoes were covered in tobacco spit and sunflower seeds.
Best team in the next five years?
Edes: With Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte all nearing AARP age, the Yankees may take a step back for a year or two, but you know they'll reload. The Red Sox are transitioning, too, beyond the Manny-Papi glory years. I like the Phillies' chances of continuing their run for the next couple of years. Five years from now? Give them some more cash, and I'd say the Price-Davis-Garza-Shields-Longoria-Upton Rays.
Best player in the next five years?
Edes: Hanley Ramirez. Too bad no one sees him.
Biggest surprise in the baseball world in the next five years?
Edes: Bud Selig really does decide to retire from his "temporary" job as commissioner, and gets across-the-board applause for a job well done.
What do you think of Twitter and social media?
Edes: Wait, let me put down my tin can and string to answer that.
Bud Selig: Underestimated
Manny Ramirez: Spaceshot
Roger Clemens: Hubris
Carl Everett: Curly-haired boyfriend
Theo Epstein: Smartest kid in the class
Favorite baseball movie? Fiction: "The Natural." Nonfiction: "Sugar."
Worst baseball movie? "Talent for the Game," even though it has Edward James Olmos
If someone could play you in a movie, who would it be?
On a good day, Gabriel Byrne. On a worse, Jerry Mathers.
Lynn Hoppes is Senior Director for Page 2 and Commentary. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org