Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mark Feinsand Discusses Baseball and Gangster

This feature interview will remain at the top of the page for the remainder of the week. Scroll down below to read our new posts, and fill up on all that gangster goodness!

Back in 2005 when I started following the Yankees online, the first blog I frequented was that of Mark Feinsand who at that time wrote for MLB.com. Mark worked with Peter Abraham and Sam Borden to write a book about Chien Ming Wang some time back that was released in Taiwan. Since 2005 Mark has taken a new job at the Daily News and continues to blog with them. If his blog isn't one of your morning stops, you should make it one. Besides maintaining a well written and insightful blog, Mark Feinsand's also a good guy having taken time out of his busy day to answer questions for us. Want to know which Boston beat writer he wants to crush at home plate? Read on my friends...read on.

1) You have a blog through the Daily News that you update regularly. What made you want to start a blog, and what has that experience been like?

I first started blogging while I was at MLB.com, and I found it was a great way to lend my opinion to the latest happenings with the Yankees, which was something I don't get to do in my stories.

As time went on, I found myself interacting with my readers more and more, and I loved it. Being a big sports fan my whole life, I know there were many times when I was curious about something involving one of my favorite teams, but there was no place to get the answers. Being able to help Yankees fans keep up with their team is great. After all, they're the ones who we're writing for.

2) The Yankees and Red Sox beat writers have a rivalry game every year. Which Boston beat writer would you love to see blocking home plate as you round third?

Follow up: Which Boston beat writers do you suspect of being on the juice?

Well, the catcher in those games is Mike Petraglia, my former colleague at MLB.com. There's not a better target as far as I'm concerned. As for your follow up, it's not the writers who I suspect of being on the juice, but the ringers the Boston squad brings in every year.

3) What has been your worst experience as a beat writer for the New York Yankees?

The one day I think back to was August 30, 2002, when the sport was preparing for a players strike. That day was the deadline for a deal to be reached or the league was going to face its second work stoppage in less than 10 years.

I staked out the Yankees' lobby in Toronto that morning, looking for any news on the pending strike that I could find. Several players made their way through the lobby but none had heard any updates, and after about 5-6 hours, word came down that a tentative deal had been reached. I've never been as happy to cover a game as I was that night.

4) With Hank making edicts this early in the season, do you think that patience will win out and Kennedy and Hughes allowed to develop, or can we expect a trade to land an established pitcher?

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. If a veteran pitcher comes available this summer, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees make a play at him - for the right price.

I don't think the Yankees are going to deal Hughes or Kennedy. They would look really dumb for passing up on Johan Santana when they did if they turned around and dealt one of the kids. I think Hughes and Kennedy will both be solid big-league pitchers, though their development this year has certainly been halted by their respective injuries.

5) How would you compare Hank and George as bosses?

Unfortunately, George hasn't been as much of a factor since I started covering the team in 2001, so that's a hard question for me to answer. I wish I had been around to see the vintage Boss, if for no other reason than to experience some of the things I've heard.

Hank is still in a learning process when it comes to a lot of this stuff, but it's clear that he has the same passion for winning that his father does. I think the fact that he's been willing to listen to his baseball people is probably the biggest difference between them, and Yankees fans should be happy that he's doing that.

6) Why, in your opinion, is Derek Jeter the best defensive shortstop to ever play the game?

Well, I would expect nothing less from a site with your name, but I'm not sure I agree with the statement. Guys like Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel have set the standard at shortstop, but I'm not one of these guys that trashes Jeter for his defense.

I think Jeter is an above average shortstop, no matter what the zone ratings or whatever other nonsensical stats say. Does he have the best range? No. But he makes the plays he needs to make, especially in big spots. He is responsible for the greatest play I've seen in my life (the Oakland flip) and that was the result of pure instinct.

The other day in Baltimore, I watched him set up in the exact same spot when a ball was hit down the right field line. His field presence is tremendous, and that makes up for a little of the range he's lost over the years.

7) You used to write for MLB.com and now write for the Daily News. What are the differences between writing for an online publication as opposed to a printed one?

There aren't a whole lot of major differences, since covering the team is covering the team, no matter where you do it. Having a strict deadline would certainly be at the top of the list of differences. Unlike the web, the newspaper has to go to press at a certain time, so your story better be in before that deadline. Also, I have to deal with word count issues now that I didn't at MLB.com, where space is infinite.

8) What has been your favorite interaction with a Yankees player?

It's hard to narrow this to one specific incident, but there have certainly been guys I have enjoyed talking to more than others. Mike Mussina was pretty cold his first year or two, but he has evolved into one of the best guys in the clubhouse, whether you're talking about baseball or not. Jason Giambi is always an entertaining guy to chat with, as is Johnny Damon.

9) Like most baseball fans, our readers are dying to know what Derek Jeter's thoughts are on the subprime mortgage crisis? How would he address the effect its had on the economy and how would he contain the damage if he were the chairman of the Federal Reserve?

It's funny, I had a whole conversation with him the other day about this very subject. Unfortunately, it was off the record, so I will have to reserve comment.

10) Is Joba Chamberlain destroying baseball with his rampant fist pumping, or is it really not that big a deal?

Forget baseball. He's destroying civilization as we know it. As a matter of fact, I believe his fist-pumping ways are the reason the Yankees moved him into the rotation, where he'll have to act like adult.

Seriously, the fact that people had that much of a problem was ridiculous. If he keeps getting guys out, no one will care if he does the moonwalk off the mound - least of all the Yankees and their fans.

11) How did you decide you wanted to be a beat writer for the Yankees, and have you covered any other teams besides the Yankees?

I went to Boston University and got my degree in broadcast journalism, but I was torn between broadcast and print when I graduated. My first full-time job was with the Sports Business Daily, and from there I went to Fox Sports.com, so I've been on the writing track pretty much since I got out of school.

My Yankees beat job with MLB.com was my first beat gig, and from there I went to the Daily News, so this beat is all I know. It's the most demanding beat in New York - and possibly in the country - based purely on the interest in the team and the number of outlets that cover them. The traveling beat is seven papers, WFAN and MLB.com, which is more than any other team from what I understand.

I honestly can't see covering any other team after doing this for eight years. It's a tough job, but one I enjoy tremendously.

12) As a writer, I'm sure you've gotten to speak with many of the Yankee legends. Who are some of the former Yankee players you've gotten to interact with, and what has been your favorite interaction with them?

I've had a chance to talk with a lot of guys at Old Timer's Day over the years, and it was always fun to hear some old stories from guys like Moose Skowron and Hank Bauer. For me, the biggest thrill was early on in my time covering the team when I first met guys like Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and Reggie Jackson, since those were the guys I grew up rooting for.

Earlier this season, I had a chance to talk with Jim Palmer in Baltimore, and while he doesn't qualify as a Yankees legend, he's still a Hall of Famer. Palmer was recounting specific games from his career against the Yankees, right down to specific at-bats against Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. It was amazing to hear someone talk about balls and strikes from 40 years ago.

13) This team has stumbled so far this season with both the pitching and offense underperforming. What do you think this team needs to turn things around?

Better pitching and hitting. It's a pretty simple formula. I wish I had something more insightful to say.

14) How many times a day do you frequent the Respect Jeter's Gangster blog, and why is it your favorite blog?

I don't play favorites. I check out as many Yankees blogs as I can, though I will admit that the title of yours certainly caught my attention when I first saw it.

15) And lastly, what do you respect most about Jeter's gangster?

He knows where there's a Starbucks in every city. That comes in handy.



So there you have it. Mark Feinsand knows his baseball and loves the Respect Jeter's Gangster blog. We thank Mark for taking his time to do this, and wish him the best.

7 comments:

Matt said...

Love it!

Fernando Alejandro said...

Glad you liked it Matt.

raven said...

Starbucks? Not the ability to spot the prettiest girl in the crowd?

Matt said...

Haha Raven. I'm sure he's not too bad at that either.

Roberto Alejandro said...

when you're Derek Jeter, the prettiest girl spots you.

Angel said...

Good interview, Fernando.

Mark's a definitely a good guy. I like your blog btw - you always were one funny guy.

Fernando Alejandro said...

Thanks Angel! Glad you liked it.