I have been from one side of baseball to the other, seen a lot of players at a lot of different levels, and known a lot of them. I’ve seen some of them vastly improve and others go backwards; I’ve seen some of them remain grounded and others drastically change. I’ve seen famous big leaguers before they were famous, out in dusty fields where nobody else was scouting, and in minor league parks. I’ve been in big league clubhouses and fields and on high school dives, I’ve slept on the bus and on a cot, stepped over rolling beer cans, jumped fences when the lights went out, f-bombed my way through the bush leagues, talked my way into a thousand ballparks. One night I walked to dinner with a guy from the Dominican and a guy from Venezula at a Denny’s in Boise. Yup, I’ve seen Barry Bonds scowl, All-Stars walk out of the closet door saying, “Man, I love steroids!”, once found myself in the same room with the previous owner of the Texas Rangers, I’ve seen and heard a lot of crap over the years, and all of it helps shape who I am and how I do baseball.
I’ve been a writer, author, scout and historian with a lot of experience at a lot of different levels of the game. I’ve discovered players before they came onto the scouting radar, and had those Dads tell me I was the first baseball guy they ever spoke to. And I’ve had some very good conversations over the years with a lot of good players, but you don’t get 25 minutes alone on the phone with Henry Aaron unless you come highly recommended and the guy on the other line recognizes that you know what the hell you’re talking about. So when young players want to play too cool for school with me, it’s real easy for me to say, you haven’t done shit in baseball, son. That media-training shit don’t work with me. If you can’t handle me, you’re gonna love pro baseball, because at heart, I am a pro guy.
Always have been, always will be — raised by the old blood of the old St. Louis Cardinals descended from Branch Rickey, passed down through the Gas House Gang guys, who became instuctors in the 70s and 80s and coached players who became coaches I knew in the 90s. I have always lived by this: Gene Handley taught me you didn’t have to have played pro ball to be a good baseball man. But if you were going to become a good baseball man, you had to work twice as hard as the guy who did play. I have always lived by that, and as a result, I’ve learned to observe more than many guys who did play. But surprise! I’m young.
I was classically taught by scouts who signed All-Stars and Hall of Fame players, formally a product of Scout School, I use my entire background both inside and outside of baseball to help me arrive at my conclusions and gather my information. I learned from guys who signed 500-home run hitters and 300-game winners. And it goes into my scouting, my writing, my books, and my blood.
My newest book is Bushville Wins! The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball, for which I had the cooperation of Henry Aaron.
I previously wrote Willie’s Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series and the Discovery of Willie Mays, for which I had the cooperation of Willie Mays. Willie — he did talk to me — and told me I knew more about his Negro League days than he did.
I’ve covered baseball from high school to the majors and was a radio broadcaster for a Division I college team and for an affiliated minor league team. My stuff has been published in the New York Times, Yahoo, ESPN, MLB, The Los Angeles Times and The Best American Sports Writing, but I have never considered myself a sportswriter, even when it was my job description.
I am a baseball person who happens to be able to write. And I like to say that I am the only person involved in baseball who has a degree in Anthropology, which for me, came from Cal State, Northridge.
Scouts and many who know me in professional baseball know that I am not somebody who asks others what to think about players. I know how to professionally grade players and I pride myself on being a guy who rejected the normal mode most baseball writers follow – I didn’t want to just cover the score of the game or the transaction wire. I wanted to be in the trenches, not the press box.
I also have the advantage of history. I’m a walking bastion of institutional knowledge about how past players and situations across all spectrums of the baseball world affect present players and their futures.
This site is primarily a place where I use my own language, methodology and viewpoints to arrive at my conclusions. I’m an old school guy in a new world order, and as a result, I’m not cookie cutter, I am rather blunt, I am never afraid to back down from my opinions or own it when I missed. I also use my real name on all my stories – I don’t hide behind anonymous sources or a fabricated byline. What you read is what you get.
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