I interview the stars... well... close enough.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

T.J. Carpenter

T.J. Carpenter hosts the T.J. Carpenter show on 92.1 The Ticket in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is also a contributor to arkansassports360.com.

Me: Who is YOUR #1 in the BCS right now?

T.J.: As a general rule, I hate the BCS. I think it is absolutely absurd not to allow margin of victory be used as a factor in computer calculations. Oregon deserves to be number one in the BCS. There are no elite teams in college football this year, but Oregon is the closest. They took USC's best shot over the weekend and was absolutely brilliant in a comeback. Some say Auburn, some say Cam Newton is unstoppable. I think Auburn's offensive line is the best in college football, but in each of the games they've played this year they were remarkably fortunate to win. I don't buy that Auburn is unstoppable because they are doing it in the SEC either. They have one of the easiest conference schedules on the board and all of their major games at home save one, a finale with Alabama to end the season, which they will lose. Auburn doesn't deserve to be number one. But they are a great football team. They are top 5. Boise State is hanging around there, but they probably won't get a shot at the top two. If Bama beats Auburn at the end of the season and goes on to win the SEC Championship, they will be in the National Title against Oregon.

Me: Will Boise State ever make it to a title game?

T.J.: No. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve it. Some people look at this as the last opportunity for Boise State to make it to the national title game. I disagree. I think it will be the last time it will be this easy to keep them out of it. Boise State is probably the most balanced offense and most physical defense that never really gets tested in the country. They beat Virginia Tech, who is well on their way to winning the ACC and an automatic BCS bid. But, people will disrespect Boise St because Virginia Tech lost to James Madison? No one thought VT was a National Title team at the beginning of the season, the same is NOT true of Boise State. Yet, the only loss that really hurts either team is James Madison, and it doesn't hurt VT, it hurts Boise St. It's a royally screwed up system.

Me: Which player is more NFL ready? Denard Robinson, Cam Newton, or Terrell Pryor?

T.J.: Cam Newton. He reminds me of a slightly larger Randall Cunningham. Although I have to say, Newton doesn't have the arm or the accuracy Cunningham did. But there is no doubt, Newton will go as a QB at this point. Pryor will get drafted, but I doubt he plays. Robinson will find a home in the NFL, but it won't be as a QB.

Me: Would you be negligent to the fact you are wearing a Gator hat? (Was it your station that sent that reporter?)

T.J.: I would not. But at the same time, I wouldn't wear garb affiliated with any team, regardless of the sport of the level. There are a ton of reporters in the Arkansas Media who do not abide by that unspoken rule. I see Dodgers hats, So. Miss t-shirts, Green Bay jackets, and (I kid you not) Laker and Celtic Jerseys on a somewhat regular basis. Does that rule change because Florida was in the SEC? It's okay to wear a Louisville or Atlanta hat but not an Ole Miss or a Florida hat?

There are a few of things that must be addressed:

1. If you are Renee Gork (the reporter) don't wear the hat. I didn't think it was a fireable offense, but it isn't smart and other people do similar stuff in the same press room all the time and go unmolested.

2. Petrino was pissed off about practice a heck of a lot more than he was about the hat. She just made the mistake of asking a fair question at the wrong time. Petrino shouldn't have said anything about the hat, but he's probably the sole member in all of this who can be a jerk (because he gets paid to coach football, not be nice to reporters) and get away with it.

3. The radio station that fired her (a mom and pop called the Hog who competes with us in the NWA market) were idiots and bush league for doing so. If your management is so whimsical and afraid to stand up and back their reporter against first off fan outcry on message boards and secondly the university's rebuke you have no business running a radio station. Their inability to have any sort of courage or journalistic fortitude is as sad as it is comical. It should also be noted all of their employees at the time other than Gork were not allowed at practice or to cover games. They were not considered a member of the professional media. So this little thing happened and they panicked. At least that is my conjecture of what happened. Since then they hired Michael Smith (former Arkansas RB) which was a good move, and Renee has gotten a great gig in Florida with a new radio show in a great market. So I think things worked out for everyone.

Me: Is Florida going to rise up again within the next 5 years? And was Tim Tebow the best college QB ever?

T.J.: Yes, but I think Florida fans are witnessing something most of them aren't quite ready to admit yet. Urban Meyer, while still one of the greatest coaches in college football, is someone who runs a very acute and somewhat quirky offense by modern standards. And if he doesn't have the right pieces to run it, the offense won't work. He struggled to make his offense fit his personnel, which is something a lot of younger coordinators and head coaches don't seem to have a problem doing. But I expect Meyer to stay at UF for a long time, win another National Title and go one to be remembered as one of the greatest college coaches of all time. Although I should mention there are many among the media in the South who question Meyer's commitment to football. In the end, Florida's success from here on out hinges upon that.

Tim Tebow is the greatest College Quarterback ever. In this day and age to win the Heisman on a team that ended up with four losses is absolutely amazing. He did a lot of things well, but it was his competitiveness that ultimately set him apart and I think all fans of this great game are forced to respect that.

Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson is a baseball writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and one of the authors of Foul Territory, a baseball blog.

Me: What are the chances that the Rangers come back from 2-1 to win the World Series?

Jeff: Game 4 is awfully important. If the Rangers can win and tie up the series, they'd have Cliff Lee pitching in Game 5 with a chance to take a 3-2 lead going back to San Francisco. The hunch here is that Lee isn't going to get beat again, at least not the he did in Game 1. Tonight is a coin flip. If the Rangers win, I like their chances in the series.

Me: Will Josh Hamilton win the AL MVP? Will Neftali Feliz win the AL ROY?

Jeff: Josh Hamilton will win the MVP award. He was the best player in baseball this year and was at his best when the Rangers made their move in the AL West race. He didn't play down the stretch, but he'd already done enough to be the MVP. Neftali Feliz should win the ROY, but a closer won it last year and Austin Jackson was awfully good for Detroit despite a bunch of strikeouts.

Me: If the Rangers are to lose the World Series (god forbid), will Cliff Lee leave for New York? What if they win?

Jeff: I think getting to the World Series has convinced Lee that the Rangers can be a winner for the next several years. Winning it would go a long way toward him re-signing. Being a relatively short drive or a direct flight from his home near Little Rock, Ark., is also attractive. His wife has said as much. Now, the Yankees will throw a pile of cash at Lee, so the Rangers have to at least be competitive financially. I think the Rangers have the edge right now.

Me: Do the Giants have the best rotation in baseball?

Jeff: If it's not the best, it's one of the top five. Boston has Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett. That's pretty good. Tampa Bay's five-man rotation was solid from top to bottom. Philadelphia's H2O is also at the top.

Me: Was the Cliff Lee acquisition the best mid-season deal ever?

Jeff: The Lee trade has competition, but for the Rangers it was their best ever trade. Carlos Beltran was a heck of a pickup for the Astros. Manny Ramirez was huge for the Dodgers. Doyle Alexander was great for the Tigers in 1987, though it cost Detroit John Smoltz and they didn't advance. The Phillies' trade for Lee last year was also pretty dang big.

Me: How do you see the Rangers doing next year?

Jeff: The core of this Rangers team returns next year, so they have as good a chance as any West team now. The Angels will makes some moves, possibly signing Carl Crawford, to shore up their lineup, and they get Kendry Morales back. Oakland still needs a run producer in that lineup, but A's pitching is terrific. But if Lee re-signs in Texas, the Rangers have to be favorites to defend their West title.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bob Wright

Bob Wright is the host of the Baseball History Podcast. You can find it on iTunes or at baseballhistorypodcast.com

Me: Name a few of your favorite major league players of all time, and explain why you like them.
Bob: I'll stick with players I have seen extensively.

#1. David Eckstein because he has been an underdog/overachiever. He’s been with winning teams. Is it because he makes the teams better?

#2. Derek Jeter because he is an all around player. I like unselfish team players.

#3. Sandy Koufax because of his natural ability and courage of his convictions.

#4. Brian Downing because he worked so hard to make himself a better player.

#5. Jim Gilliam because he was such an unselfish player.

I tend to like players that are fast and can do the little things like bunt, hit behind the runner, steal bases, and play defense. I appreciate players that play above their natural ability.

Me: What is your favorite baseball movie ever?
Bob: No contest, Bull Durham.

Me: Which player has had the most eventful career?
Bob: Nolan Ryan (again, only among players that I have seen extensively)

Me: What is your favorite team and why?
Bob: I am a homer so I would have to say the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I like the style of play that Mike Scioscia uses that challenges other team’s defense. I also like the Rays and Twins because they are small market teams that put winners on the field.

Me: Who do you think will win the World Series?
Bob: I am answering this when the Giants are up 2 games to 0 against the Rangers, so it will probably be the Giants. However, they had a lead against the Angels in 2002. I would like to see the Rangers win but their inexperience with post season may be a disadvantage. Until they experience it, I don’t think that most young players know what the pressure is like as you go further into the post season.

Me: Where do you think Cliff Lee will sign this offseason?
Bob: Probably the Yankees, they've always got the money. I hope it's anybody but the Yankees.

Me: Do you think the Royals should trade Zack Greinke?
Bob: Yes, but not to anybody in their league, because he will probably have a big year. It would be better for the Royals if that big year does not come directly against them. It looks like he is going to be one of those up and down pitchers from year to year.

Colin Tedards

Colin Tedards is the host of Sports Card Radio on iTunes and at sportscardradio.com

Me: How did you get into card collecting?
Colin: I got into collecting cards in the late 80's and early 90's, like many kids did, when I started buying packs at Toys R Us and other retail places. Luckily there were two card stores within a few blocks of my house, so I was able to start growing my collection with the money I got from mowing lawns and such.

Me: What is the best way for parent collectors to get their children into the hobby?
Colin: I think the main thing is to introduce kids to professional sports from an early age. I remember that my parents wouldn't let us stay up late unless it was a Lakers game - which in those days, were on TV only a few times a year. I have memories of watching Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Byron Scott, AC Green and many others well before I even knew what sports cards were. The San Francisco 49ers were also big when I was young, so I guess I was lucky to follow such successful teams - which as a kid was cool to be a fan of. My love of sports led me to want to collect the cards of my favorite players and teams as I got older. I think its a natural progression into collecting cards if you follow the teams closely with your sons & daughters. The 'cartoon' themed cards like Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon are popular because that's what kids watch on TV. My parents really only let us watch Sports and News on TV growing up so I think that had the biggest impact on me collecting cards - and really making sports a big part of my life.

Me: What's your favorite product from this past season?
Colin: That's a good question. I honestly only really bought product to giveaway in contests and such - but I know quite a bit about most everything that came out. I think for basketball - I loved the variety of inserts in National Treasures, Timeless Treasures, and Absolute Memorabilia + they had some nice high end cards. For Baseball, 2010 Bowman will go down as a landmark type set that really gave a huge boost to a hobby that was struggling along with the rest of the economy. I remember going to a card show in San Francisco a few days after 2010 Bowman came out and they had hobby boxes priced for $75...now they sell for about a hundred dollars more than that! There is a lot more to the story too, with the Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor and all the rest - which makes it a great product in my book. I think for Football - we are going to have to wait and see, but serious collectors are going to overlook the two most popular sets of the season: Panini Adrenalyn and Topps Attax Football ... kids are going to love these games and they will make the most money for the two companies in Football.

Me: What was your favorite product from this past decade?
Colin: I might answer this from two angles. I sold boxes online for a few years and even opened a card store for a few years as well. My favorite products when I was selling were ones I made the most profit on :) So 1996/97 Topps Finest Basketball Retail Boxes - I got 2 cases (40 Boxes) for $20 a box. Shortly after Kobe Bryant scores 81 points in a game and I'm selling boxes for $120. Someone left me feedback one time saying he pulled a Kobe Bryant AND Allen Iverson GOLD Refractors in ONE Box!! Awesome product!

As for buying or ones that I collected. I think of a few brands that have been around a long time, SP Authentic, SPx and Bowman Chrome - I think depending on the sport - these brands are often my favorite because they offer value and quality cards.

Me: Will Durant base surpass LeBron in value?
Colin: I'm not sure - I think that both are still very young and have a long way to go in their careers. It really depends on what they do to win games - because as we've seen with Kobe Bryant, you tend to forget about the past when you are winning. I think LeBron has higher expectations than Durant at the moment. If LeBron doesn't win a title in the next few years, he's going to be looked at differently (and his cards will probably go 'down'). Where as if Kevin Durant even takes his team deep into the playoffs - he is a hero.

I've told friends and probably said it on my podcast before. If LeBron James ever learns how to play with his back to the basket like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant did - he'll be the best player in the NBA by a mile.

Me: How many hot packs/boxes have you bought ever?
Colin: I've never bought a hot pack or box on purpose - in fact I wrote a review several years ago for eBay explaining that its not really a good way to go. I can see why collectors enjoy purchasing these packs ... but I just caution that there are risks involved in that purchase if you don't happen to get what you paid for (like an extra base card)

I have gotten lucky to open a hot box of SP Signature Golf which had a Tiger Woods Autograph inside, and I was sent a box of 09/10 Longevity Basketball for a sponsored break which had 2 extra hits (which I think made it a hot box)

Me: Do you have a memorable collecting story?
Colin: Probably my prize collectors piece is a Tiger Woods autograph ticket I got from him 10 years ago at the 2000 PGA Championship. I had followed him the entire day during his round and afterward I went over to the putting green to watch Nick Faldo putt. All of a sudden Tiger Woods appears and starts putting around...but there weren't too many people around. A few minutes go by and a young lady with 2 or 3 kids comes up to the ropes and they all start going nuts when they see Tiger. The lady looked like she was about to faint, and her kids were jumping up and down screaming. It was obvious this lady probably never had been to a golf tournament before considering the 1st tee was right behind the green and people were looking over wondering who was yelling. Tiger, walked over calmly (on a day the players weren't supposed to sign autographs) pulled out a pen and signed the kids shirts and told them to try and keep their voices down around the other players. I was lucky to be right there - and Tiger signed a handful of others including my Ticket I used to get in for the day. Tiger's had a rough year - but the great thing about sports is that he's taught me a good lesson about life, family and being honest. For those reasons, I still treasure that autograph as much today as I did 10 years ago.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jon "Stugotz" Weiner

Stugotz is co-host of the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket in Miami, FL. We conducted this interview in late September.

Me: How happy are you about LeBron and Bosh joining Wade on the Heat?

Stugotz: Even as a Knick fan, I couldn't be happier. Great for the city, the local economy, the fans and for sports radio. In addition, I have many friends that work for the Heat, so I'm really happy for the.

Me: How did the Heat land him? You had reported that James wasn't returning to the Heat via Twitter, plus Alonzo F. Mourning was in a room talking to him for 78 hours. And don't you think $1 Wes Helms would have been a better recruiter?

Stugotz: None of that mattered. This was all about LeBron's desire to play with his friends and live in a really cool city, especially when you're 26 and worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Zo is still talking to him and no one recruits like Whelms. Wade and Pat Riley, or as I like to call him, Pat Corleone, too.

Me: Do you think Rex Ryan could eat Brandon Marshall if, somehow, the Dolphins manage to beat them at any point in the season or postseason?

Stugotz: The Jets lost twice against the Dolphins last year, so I'm not saying a word. Going to be fun, always is.

Me: What is it like working with Plinko-Chip master Dan LeBatard?

Stugotz: Nothing better. One of the nicest and kindest individuals I have ever met. Great friend, loyal and honest. I pinch myself everyday, thankful for what we do. Its not just Dan, as I also get to work with Hoch, Mike, Roy and Guzio. I work with my friends and we sit around and talk about sports, entertainment and life... it's an incredible job. I probably annoy them more then they would ever annoy me. Love all those guys and I am lucky to work with them.

Me: Do you usually reply to weirdos emails? That's not a safe practice. I could be sending your iPhone dozens of viruses per letter.

Stugotz: I try to respond to as many as possible, even the ones that rip me and there are plenty of those.

Me: How do you spell foot fault?

Stugotz: I can spell it, I just can't say it - amazing that I work in communications for a living.