Thursday, December 13, 2007
My Conversation With Brian Schneider (Part Two)
As I continue with My Conversation With Brian Schneider, we pick up the chat talking about Washington, DC--as a Baseball Town. Yesterday, Brian mentioned how he and his wife, Jordan--would miss their many friends made over the past three seasons, as well as, all Our Fans.
Here we go--with the conclusion.
That actually brings up a good point about DC. As a player—is Washington, DC becoming a unique place to play right now? (SBF)
“From day one, YES. Even before we (Montreal Expos) moved there. It’s not The Nation’s Capital. It’s the World’s Capital. It’s very special. Look at all the visiting teams that bring their families to Washington because there is so much to do—The History of the United States is there. I will guarantee you, when players come to Washington—they think of it as a vacation for the family. In DC—you can wake up in the morning and take your family all around. Its great. I remember growing up in Pennsylvania. We came to DC for Field Trips and Family Vacations. DC is a great place. Its not only a baseball city, but unique all in its own way— very special.”
You and Brad Wilkerson came to this Washington Auto Show in late 2004/early 2005 at the DC Convention Center to sign autographs. I remember how giddy you two were about being there seeing fans who wanted to meet you two. (SBF)
“Yes, I remember that. The times we had in Montreal were great. It’s where I got my first chance to play in The Big Leagues. One of the most beautiful cities—Montreal—that I have ever been to--and, to this day, I tell people they need to go up there and see that culture. A beautiful city around the river, very unique, also. It had its time with baseball, the fans were great, but that were not happy when they could no longer watch the players they grew up watching due to Free Agency or Trades (Montreal Ownership continually sold off or traded their best players in cost cutting moves). It was hard for the fans. Sometimes, you can’t really blame them. And that’s sad.”
“But, it was good to come to a new city that already had many fans wearing all the jackets and caps. From that very first day (at the Convention Center), we were excited to know--we were being supported 100%.”
Despite what some have said—I actually thing the fan base in DC is fairly solid. (SBF)
“This (Washington) is an up and coming organization. The team is going to start winning a lot more—which always brings out new fans. But, you can’t blame fans. They want to go out and see their team win. It’s hard for a fan to pay that type of money and not see the team perform well. Anytime you see a team start winning, fans come out more and more. You can’t blame them for that. No doubt—that team (Washington) is going to start winning more.”
I know that you have to move on to New York. But, deep down inside—would you have rather won that first championship in Washington? (SBF)
“And, I wish I could have won one in Montreal, too. Only one team out of 32 wins it every year—it’s not an easy thing to do. You have these unbelievable teams with great payrolls and superstar loaded teams—that's why I am very anxious to play with The Mets right now. A Great Team. A Great Payroll. They are committed to winning there. No matter where you play, no matter what—you want to win that World Series. It doesn’t matter what team you play for.”
I am not the biggest Mets Fan—not even close. But, if you and Ryan Church make it to The World Series, I will cheer for you two. (SBF)
“OK, Deal. That would be fun man!! A lot of fun (both of us laughing, enjoying the thought)!”
Now, I want to touch on your career. Many times, when players are traded—remarks are made, some good, some bad—sometimes someone kicking you, when you are down. Where does your career stand right now? (SBF)
“I still feel great. My body feels good. My arm feels good. I have had some down years the past couple of seasons. Two years ago, my RBI’s were at a career high. Last year, I basically tied that mark. I was one RBI short. My average fell down, my walks were up. My strikeouts were down. My doubles were up. There were a lot of things going on. But, its funny. Sometimes, there are people out there that have expectations from you that are just huge. Two years ago, when my average was (.256), I still hit above my career average (.252). Last year, I hit below average. That’s fine. I have to live with it. I didn’t want to do that, but that’s what happened.”
“I had a lot of responsibilities with the pitching staff. I felt great about handling that young pitching staff. The kids did a great job. They were young. But, one big thing, I thought, was that my defense still was there. People like to criticize, but I had some good years, throwing runners out. We had a pitching staff that was pretty young (in Washington last year). But, a lot of teams have just stopped running on 3-2 counts, which are easier counts for me to throw guys out. My arm still feels good. I am looking forward to showing people in New York—what I can do. There will always be people who say things about you—that’s part of the media—and you have to accept it. There are good things and bad things—not much else you can do.”
Shawn Hill, who I have talked to a couple of times—told me after a Rehab start last summer in Woodbridge, Va. for The Potomac Nationals—that he did not care what you hit, because you made him a better pitcher every single time you were behind the plate for him. Matt Chico told me the exact same thing. You seem to have a lot of respect. (SBF)
“That makes me feel really good. There are a lot of times where people out there are criticizing you--who don’t hear those guy’s remarks. At the end of the year, Chico said to me after the very last game he pitched to me in Philly. He had just completed a very good game. He came up and shook my hand---as A MAN—not as a friend, or teammate. He thanked me for what he accomplished (in 2007). I helped him out a lot--got him through the year. He learned a lot. It made me feel good—because that is what you want to do. I don’t want to just make myself better. I want to help my teammates help all of us win. Really, I feel great that those guys said that. Thank you for sharing.”
“Sure, you want to hit the ball well all the time. You want to throw the runner out, all the time. But, its not going to happen every time. Last year, my average went down, and I make no excuses. It went down, you can’t keep harping on it. You have got to move on. It’s going to be a New Year, next year. And, I am going to have a chance to play.”
Let’s talk about that pitching staff. (SBF)
“When you look at everything. A positive part of our team last season was the pitching staff—what the starters did. Then, you look at our offense. We could have helped our pitchers out more. We could have gotten a lot more wins. Going into Spring Training, and seeing pitchers perform—I thought we would be OK. Guys, I thought did a good job. I can call whatever pitch and I can tell them to do whatever, and Randy St.Claire can tell them to do whatever, and Manny (Acta) can tell them to do whatever. But telling and doing is two different things. I can call the pitch, but if its not a good pitch—nothing I can do about it. I asked the guys to do certain things and do them all season long. All year, I did nothing but pump up these young pitchers, because you can tell them something—but they have to do it. And, they did do it. I was very happy to see these guys be successful the first year.”
With that, My Conversation With Brian Schneider comes to an end. We had talked for so long--Brian realized he was running late--for a Tee Time--to play golf with former teammate and Original Member of Our Washington Nationals--Brad Wilkerson. "Yeah, I am suppose to be there in 15 minutes, gotta go. But, thank you, I enjoyed talking with you." Brian said.
It was very kind of Brian Schneider to allow me some personal time to chat. When we first spoke on Tuesday, I didn't know whether he wanted to talk about his time in Our Nation's Capital. As it turns out, clearly--Brian and his family enjoyed living in Washington, DC, and will miss not being in the area. But, at the same time, I was glad to hear Our Former Number 23 see a new challenge ahead. An opportunity to Win The World Series. A Goal any Major League Player would relish. Good for him, and good for his family.
Sohna and I only wish Brian Schneider, his wife--Jordan--and baby Tatum--The Very Best.