Newhouse Interviews Sandy Alderson
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| By chris_d on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 11:20 am:|
Check out what Alderson says (and doesn't say) about the A's in Oakland, Billy Beane and the Piccinini/Dolich sale rejection. (Also, Newhouse brings up something I've never heard before: that Beane is reportedly upset with the A's owners.)...
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Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 3:05:23 AM MST
Alderson has bird's-eye view of MLB
SANDY ALDERSON, a one-time frustrated infielder at Dartmouth who built the Oakland A's into a World Series champion, has risen in title to executive vice president of operations for Major League Baseball.
But don't be misled by Alderson's soft, bespectacled, Ivy League appearance. He saw action in Vietnam as a Marine officer. He traded the manchild, Jose Canseco. And he took on the umpires union by himself.
During the National League Championship Series in San Francisco, the 54-year-old Alderson, who still maintains a home in Tiburon, discussed the state of umpiring, baseball's fading popularity, its future in Oakland, contraction, Bud Selig, Pete Rose, and Alderson's next career move in a conversation with Dave Newhouse of ANG Newspapers.
Q. What kind of World Series do you anticipate between San Francisco and Anaheim?
A. An exciting Series. A lot of runs scored. I don't see dominant pitching on both sides. The rest of the country might not be interested in an all-California Series, but both teams have interesting components -- (Barry) Bonds for San Francisco, and the unknown quantity that Anaheim represents.
Q. Baseball's attendance has dropped two straight years, six percent this season. What's your explanation?
A. It has first to do with the economy. Many industries are suffering from the malaise of the economy. The overhang of collective bargaining (in baseball) was a factor, and the rhetoric that led up to it. Sept. 11 was a possible factor. And increasing ticket prices.
Q. Also, are fans simply fed up with millionaires threatening to strike for more millions?
A. That was clear in the polling that we did. Fans are more frustrated with the lack of agreement than the substance of an agreement. Fans said, "Get it done. We don't want to hear any more about it."
Q. How can baseball, which has fallen behind football in popularity, become the national pastime again?
A. Baseball is followed by the average fan
differently than football. They follow it by reading boxscores, playing fantasy baseball. Baseball needs to get back to the game on the field. This is the first mutually agreed upon collective bargaining agreement in years. We need to get away from the game off the field.
Q. Has the quality of umpiring improved since you faced its union head-on?
A. Umpiring has improved dramatically. I have a certain amount of bias, but, first, let's talk about the perception of umpiring. There's a sense that they're more professional, more consistent with the rule book. They work harder, get the play right rather than depending on personal ego, and they're less confrontational.
Q. Strikes still are called six inches off the plate. Why not go back to the balloon chest protector of years ago, with umpires setting up over the catcher's head, thus with a better view of both sides?
A. That was in the American League. But if the umpire sets up over the catcher, he doesn't have a good view of the low pitch. That's why the American League was known as the high-pitch league.
Q. How are umpires following the rule book, which states a strike begins at the letters, if belly-button pitches still are called balls?
A. The upper end of the strike zone is hard to nail down because of a batter's stance, the way he crouches. I'm more concerned with the strike that's called off the plate and the low strike because of the way the ball dips down. The strike zone is very hard to call.
Q. You were once projected as a future commissioner. Where do you go from here?
A. I enjoy what I'm doing now. I've been at this job four years, and I have a commitment to the commissioner (to stay) for another year. I do miss the competition, the day-to-day emotion, even within the organization, going into the clubhouse, the fans. It gets in your blood.
The job I have now is a different type of responsibility. I have to say my competitive juices are stirred by things like the Olympics. I was involved with (the baseball end of) Sydney (in 2000). The umpires are a process I've enjoyed.
Q. Would you consider returning as a general manager or team president, positions you held in Oakland?
A. Sometime down the road.
Q. Boston needs a general manager. You're a New England guy. Would that interest you?
A. I'd rather not comment on that.
Q. Do you think A's general manager Billy Beane, who's reportedly upset with ownership, might have interest in Boston?
A. Billy has the same loyalty to the (A's) franchise, and to the people in the organization, that I had. Billy has done a superb job. He takes a lot of pride in what he does.
Q. What about your returning to the A's one day?
A. Since I left Oakland, the organization is in good hands. They've gone beyond my expectations. They're in good hands.
Q. A's owner Steve Schott tried to move the team to Santa Clara and was rebuffed. Why did Major League Baseball turn down the sale of the A's to Modesto grocery tycoon Bob Piccinini, who openly said he loved the idea of baseball in Oakland?
A. I wasn't involved with that. It was an executive council decision.
Q. Does Oakland need a new ballpark to remain on the major league map, and do you see that ballpark happening?
A. Going back through Oakland's history, they've survived through good management, from Charlie Finley to now. They've never had the great stadium, the extraordinary TV deal. At some point, you want to add to that (management) strength. It all boils down to local revenues. Maybe this collective bargaining agreement could add to that (through revenue sharing). A new baseball-friendly stadium would be an asset.
Q. Will contraction ever occur in baseball?
A. Baseball can't contract for four years with the new agreement. One of the real problems with contraction is that it has proved difficult to execute. Baseball will have to live with that.
Q. What happens to the struggling Montreal Expos?
A. They won't exist in Montreal long term, and there's no interest among baseball's owners in subsidizing them long term. There is interest in 2003 to play some of their games outside (Montreal), in places like Puerto Rico.
Q. It's difficult to knock your boss, but how to you convince his critics that Bud Selig is doing a good job as commissioner?
A. He is doing a very good job under difficult circumstances. The economics of the game have contributed to the job he's doing. This was an industry that was out of sync, internally and on the field. All owners have different views on where the game is headed. (Selig) has done a remarkable job of keeping their views on the same page.
Q. Do you believe Pete Rose has a chance of being embraced again by baseball, and someday entering the Hall of Fame?
A. Yeah, I do if Pete Rose acknowledges what he did, and the problem of what he did had on the game. That would be a very positive first step with his rehabilitation in the eyes of baseball.
Q. Four underdogs survived the first round of these playoffs. What does that say about big spenders vs. smaller payrolls?
A. Anaheim's payroll is in the upper half (of big spenders), though I can't say exactly where. Minnesota has a low payroll, but they're in the right division, with comparatively lousy teams. I don't think they'd survive in, say, the American League West. For years, nobody in Minnesota cared about baseball. The Twins brought in players, stacking them like on a compost heap. It worked for them, but that's not a formula that works in many places.
Q. What do you love most about baseball?
A. The people associated with the game. Not so much the players, but the camaraderie around the game, the common interest. We don't have much common interests in this country. Baseball is one of them.
Q. What do you love least about baseball?
A. The business element. It's a sport, but when I started in Oakland (in 1981), the emphasis was on the sport, not the business.
Q. You left a law career to enter baseball. Are you now a baseball lifer?
A. Probably, but I've often said that I'd try anything once. I have a certain curiosity about things.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 11:34 am:|
Yes Chris, I had posted this link at another thread but I'm glad you posted it as a new thread due to its importance.
Two things that jumped out from that interview that surprised me. One is that it is very evident Sandy will return as team GM or President, sooner rather than later. The other was the mention, as you said, that Beane is upset with the A's owners.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 11:43 am:|
Alderson totally punted on the botched and bogus sale of the A's in 1998...he wants no part of what happened and keeps saying he was out of the process. However, some of the politicians who travelled to New York are not of that opinion and say Alderson was very much involved and present during that maneuver by MLB and Steve Schott to keep the team by tabling the sale.
And don't forget Schott gave public statements saying he never intended to sell the team and just intended to get out of his lease. There are quotes of him saying that, which must still make his PR guys and lawyers have nightmares when they think of possible lawsuits which could arise from those statements. The City of Oakaland spent a lot of money to settle the lawsuit and let Schott out of their lease at the time. And he admits he never intended to sell? Right!!!!!
| By kevink on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 12:11 pm:|
Did you mean you think Alderson will return to the A's? I didn't think that's what you meant, just wanted to make sure.
I wonder if he's interviewing in Boston right now? Very interesting!
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 12:48 pm:|
Did you mean you think Alderson will return to the A's?
Not specifically the A's, but join an organization as team President or GM. I suppose since he is from Boston, it probably would be a good location for him. But I would not rule out the A's either, he still resides in Marin County and has many ties to the area.
But I really never rule anything or anybody out in baseball constant dance of musical chairs. At the end it's a huge happy family and we the fans are just the spectators to the dance.
| By kbailey3131 on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 02:45 pm:|
I could see Beane being upset with the owners. His tirade after the game 5 loss hinted at that. He came across as somebody whose whole 2003 budget was to come from revenue generated from sellouts at the Coli for more than the 3 games of the ALDS. And Schott had earlier in the year, through yet another puff piece, insinuated that he was the ultimate mastermind behind the moves Beane makes.
But I also found it interesting that he says even tho contraction was tabled, he doesn't think it will ever happen because of the difficulties inherent in the process.
I also didn't get his comments about Minnesota stacking players up like on a compost heap. And low revenue teams can't compete in the AL West...hello??!!??! Why don't you look into helping the upper revenue teams survive in the NL East and the AL East? And do something about the competitiveness of the AL and NL Central.
| By tekgraf on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 08:48 pm:|
I think it's pretty obvious, Sandy might be thiniking of buying the team and running it and keeping it here with a new park. Or am I just wishing real hard?!
Hey tek, I'm dreamin your dream.....