Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My Conversation With Brian Schneider
On the very day, Our Washington Nationals introduced their New Starting Catcher--Our Former Starting Catcher returned my call. On Tuesday afternoon December 11th, Brian Schneider agreed to an interview for The Nats320 Blog. Since the very first moments, I heard about his trade to The New York Mets, thoughts began about getting together with him for a chat. Once contact was made--Brian happily agreed. Thanks to Sohna for some ingenuity. She got the ball rolling. As, Our Washington Nationals were not involved in setting this up--at all. Brian Schneider no longer plays for Our Franchise.
Working around both our schedules--we were able to talk on the telephone today--Wednesday, December 12 at 1PM. We chatted for a good half hour. Everything was on the table for discussion. The Impact of the trade, his feelings, and his time spent living in Washington, DC. We also talked about his career. Where it's going, and where it just came from? How he feels about his just completed 2007 season? What role Brian played with the 2007 Pitching Staff of Our Washington Nationals? And, honestly--all due to luck and timing--Brian wanted to talk about Bill Ladson's comments written about him the other day. Commentary, that anyone who reads this blog knows--I made my feelings known. And, this was not a set up. I need to make that perfectly clear. I wrote what I felt that day--having no idea--at the time--Brian Schneider would be kind enough to speak with me--just two days later.
But, I made the effort to reach out--as I always do--to get some answers.
So, this will be a two parter. And, we are going to start by getting the commentary over with first. Then, we shall move on to discuss what this interview is really all about--Brian Schneider--Major League Ballplayer.
With that, here we go:
What is your reaction to the comments made about you the other day? (SBF)
“Its funny, how I have just been traded. I am gone now. I don’t know why he continues to personally feel he has to say negative things about me and bash me—knowing there is no way I can fend for myself. Yet, he continues to do it. When I hear him talk about leadership in the clubhouse--he doesn’t know what is going on in the clubhouse. We have our own clubhouse and things that go on there. He has no idea. But, he feels he needs to continue to write about it. He really has no idea. More than half the time—it’s not correct at all. I chuckle and I laugh because it’s not even close to the truth.”
Now: My Conversation With Brian Schneider
Is this trade a positive or a negative for you? (SBF)
“I don’t see the trade as a negative. Yeah, I am leaving a lot of my buddies and the only organization I have always been in. But, we all know it’s a business. Things happen that are not in control by the player. I never want to look into anything as a negative. I want to turn it (the trade) into a positive—as much as possible. I am going to a Championship Caliber Team. A team that has a chance at winning a Championship, right away. Really, I can’t be mad about that. Your goals when you play baseball are obviously to win The World Series. Everyone wants to get to the playoffs, the post season and win The World Series.”
“So, I don’t see it as a negative. I can’t keep looking behind me. I have to start looking forward. This is what I have been presented with, and I am going to do my best to help The Mets win.”
Due to my career profession in television—I have been fortunate to meet a lot of different sports figures. Whether its Football, Basketball, and Baseball—what have you—players want that Championship Ring more than anything else. (SBF)
“No doubt. As a player, you play 30 some games in the spring. Then, 162 games in the regular season--It’s a long year. Lots of times, you are away from your family. It’s a long season that is physically and mentally tough. Then, you get to the end and you have played all that time—NOT TO GO HOME—to go the post season and hopefully win that Championship. Every ballplayer out there should say that. They should not be saying: ‘I am going to hit 30 Home Runs this year.’ NO!! Everyone’s goal—if they sit down and think about it—everybody’s goal is to win the championship. Why play that many games to go home? If you have played that long—why not go to the post season and win it all. There are not too many people fortunate to have that happen to them. But, look at this past season and what Colorado did. Guys, Rookies, like (Troy) Tulowitski, those type of guys. They didn’t have to wait even their first year and they are already in The Post Season and World Series.”
“Obviously, I want to get that chance in The Post Season.”
Cal Ripken said once that when The Orioles won their World Series Title in 1983—he thought there would be many more chances coming. He didn’t realize how difficult it was to get there. (SBF)
“Yes, that is the truth. You never know if you are going to get back. And, when you get into this game, you never really know if you will get in. You play a long time to do it (get to the postseason). Watching the postseason on TV and listening to other players talk about it—just drives you to wishing to be a part of it—as well.”
OK—the day you were traded to The Mets—I understand you were out in California doing a Wine Country Tour with your wife, Jordan. Did you know you were on the trading block—at that time? (SBF)
“I did know I was on the trading block when I saw my name being mentioned. When it first came out (the mention), I was a bit surprised that my name was out there. But, when they (The Mets) picked up (Johnny) Estrada—I thought my name would be erased from the equation, because they went out and got their guy. Then, I saw my name resurfacing and began wondering whether it was true. Then, I got the call (of the trade) out of nowhere in California.”
“It was really weird. I was on vacation, in fact, our first day out there. So, our entire first day was shot because I had people calling. I had interviews. And, I was forgetting the reason why I was out there in the first place—which was to relax with my wife. All I could think about was the trade—all the stuff going on.”
I mention to my wife—Sohna—that you two were on a Wine Country Tour in Napa when you heard the word, and all she could say was: ‘How Sad In Such A Beautiful Place.’ (SBF)
“That’s OK (laughing). One thing for sure—I will never forget that trip!!!”
Obviously, that first day was tough. Now, you’ve had the chance to mull it over. Do you see the good side to this trade? (SBF)
“The Mets wants me, that’s how I look at it (the trade). They think highly of me. That’s obviously a positive--somebody wanted me. And, they were willing to give up a top prospect to get us. I know that (Ryan) Church is excited too. We are going to be in the spotlight of New York City. There is a lot of history there. And, with what happened there last year, by them not making the playoffs—something no one could have predicted—especially with how good that team is--that makes everything interesting.”
“My goal this year is, obviously, to make sure that (the late season New York collapse) does not happen again and get us into the postseason. Hopefully, go as far as we can go. And, Win The Championship. I am getting that opportunity right away. So, I am happy to have it and hope to take advantage of it.”
I have no doubt—you are heading to a good team with some very good players. Do you think your former teammates will miss you? (SBF)
“You should really ask them that question. But, I will talk to a bunch of them. I am going to miss some of them, and they are going to miss me. But, if there is one thing you learn is that anyone can get traded in this game. I have lost a lot of friends in trades and this is the first time I have been traded—which is all new to me—but it happens to a lot of players—if not most everybody. You have to take it for what its worth and move on—continue to stay in touch, see the guys when you play against them—hang out after.”
How important is family, when you are traded? (SBF)
“Yes, very important. Your family wants to make sure everything is OK. Its not whether its an OK, or not OK trade to them—its whether I am OK. As long as that is worked out—everything is fine. But, it’s tough for my family too. As you know—my wife is close to a lot of these player’s wives. The children play with each other and are comfortable. Now, it’s going to be a big step for her. She is not familiar with, not just getting around, but places to live, areas to go to, and now—more wives and people to meet. This is going to be tough for her, too.”
When Sohna and I met you last season during spring training—we recall seeing you out at dinner one night along with Nick Johnson and Felipe Lopez. Your wife was expecting a baby at that time. Nick Johnson’s wife had recently given birth. And, we noticed how you three were just like anybody else on a business trip at dinner. Talking on your phone, chatting, dealing with family issues. Normal things anyone would be involved in. We noticed--life goes on--outside the baseball field. (SBF)
“There are times after a game where you have been at the field for 10 to 12 hours. And, seeing your family afterwards, lets you forget about the game a little bit. When you are home with your family, it helps, because our lives are so intuned to the games. There is definitely life after baseball--life with your family--just like anyone else who works an 8 to 5 Job or longer. They all know what it is like to hang out with your family. The same holds true for us. We are away from our families a long, long time each year. Its not easy, but it is a part of the game. And, it will continue to be a part of the game for a long, long time.”
“But, I can’t complain about what I love to do. My family supports me and that helps out tremendously.”
Yes, nothing like family. I would like to touch on your time in Washington, DC. To many fans you were well liked, an original face of the franchise. You spent a lot of time attending various club events involving fans. Can you please talk about that? (SBF)
“Our time in Washington was GREAT!! You never know if there might be more time in DC. You never know if you are going to come back. I would love to come back and play for that organization again. They have been very, very good to me. Fans, all the people have been great. I will always cherish bringing that new team to DC after no baseball was there for so long. I got to see, first hand, what it was like to experience baseball again. How happy everyone was that baseball was back. I will ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT. I have a lot of family in the area, made a lot of great friends there, so I would love to get back there. You never know, maybe I will be playing for them, again, one day. The point is--everyone was great to us. I will keep in touch with a lot of people. A lot of friends I have up there.”
I got a kick out of reading that you were nervous that April 14th, 2005 night you caught the first pitch from President Bush at RFK Stadium. (SBF)
“Yes, absolutely (chuckling). It was the first time up there. The first time my name was announced to the fans. And, I knew that pitch was going to be seen everywhere. A lot of pictures would be taken. I did not want to be the one who screwed it up. Yeah, I was a little nervous. I had met The President before, but whenever you have the chance to meet any President you get a little different kind of feeling in your stomach.”
“We have been fortunate to meet a lot of people, both inside The White House, and outside The White House—so I am going to miss a lot of contact we’ve made and hanging out. But, when we come in as visitors this year—my phone will be ringing. And, I will be hanging out with all my friends.”
Tomorrow--in Part Two--Brian will talk about his reaction to first moving here with The Montreal Expos and seeing a vibrant young fan base in Washington, DC. How Special Our Nation's Capital has become to Major League Baseball. Then, we will dive into baseball, just baseball. How he feels about his career--at this point. Where it's heading. And, his personal critique of his work over the past few seasons.