Latest News

An Interview With Bill Chuck, Publisher of Billy-Ball.com (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:19 PM, under , , ,

Athen, GA (April 1, 2008) - When we last left Bill Chuck of Billy-Ball.com in Part I of this interview, we read about his relationship with his father and how it led to his life-long love of baseball. We also read about how Billy-Ball.com came to be, as well as what led him to write his newly published book, “Walkoffs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so grand) Finales". In this, the send and final part of the interview, Bill talks about broadcasters, writers, steroids and Bud Selig.

The people over at Sports TV Inside Out have raised their eyebrows over the first two months of the TBS Sunday baseball package and how little control TBS has in the package (see http://sportstvinsideout.blogspot.com/2008/02/mystifying-mlb-on-tbs-schedule.html ). What are your thoughts on this?

The more I have learned about baseball, the more I realize the less I know. We all watch the game on the field but the real field of play takes place in the executive offices. Baseball is a business, BIG business. Decisions like the TBS schedule has very little to do with what we think is logic. This has everything to do with contracts with Fox, sponsors, the owners, and other stake holders. Fans are basically truly secondary when decisions of this nature are being made. Now this doesn't make any of these decisions right or wrong, but when we look at a particular course of action we have no idea in what context the decision has been made. I do have a basic rule of thumb however, if Bud Selig is for it, I'm against it.

If you could change 5 things about how television covers baseball, what would they be?

This is a great question that I hadn't really thought about until you brought it up. In no particular order:

1 - I think its time for on screen stats to reflect more information — baseball has grown in its ability to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of players through the work of Bill James and sabermetricians like Lee Sinins. Fans deserve more than just the Triple Crown set of stats and they deserve a greater understanding of what they mean.

2 - This naturally leads me into more "game within a game" coverage. Camera angles need to occasionaly be set to enable fans to see the rotation play on a bunt, how signals are delivered between the second baseman and shortstop for steal coverage, and how outfielders know what pitches are coming, just for example. There is so much more that goes on during a game and being able to see it and understand it will enhance fans experiences at home and then at the ballpark. Every other televised sport does it.

3 - Fewer fan shots. I could give a hoot if the Pewterschmidts from Quohog, RI are visiting Kansas City to see their beloved senile aunt and their even more beloved Red Sox Nation. Honestly, I just don't care what they have to say about Manny. I barely care what I have to say, so why should the opinions of random fans be glorified. I've also had it with the whole concept of Red Sox Nation, but don't get me started on that.

4 - Every game should have a salute to a baseball great from years gone by. It should be produced by MLB.AM and sent down the line to every local broadcast. Baseball does a horrible job honoring its past and does an even worse job saluting its baseball greats who are still alive. I want to see a three-minute salute to Stan Musial, Whitey Ford, and Willie McCovey while they are still alive to be appreciated. By the way, yes I want the gig writing these pieces.

5- When I was a kid when there were rain delays, I remember watching extended interviews with sportswriters, coaches, and players live from a rainy dugout. I would love to see that again.

Who do you consider to be the best baseball play by play announcer, living or dead, and why? Same question for color analyst.

Okay, I love Vin Scully and could listen to his poetic baseball orations forever and ever. Jon Miller wrote the forward to my book, so clearly I love Jon. Jerry Howarth the Blue Jays radio guy is a Billy-Ball reader and a brilliant radio announcer as is Dave Raymond of the Houston Astros. Dave Niehaus from Seattle is one of the greats. When Don Orsillo did the post-season games for TBS he showed why he so talented and how is talents are wasted locally. Bob Costas is a favorite. I like Jack Buck a lot.

There was a time that I raved about Tim McCarver, but that was long ago and definitely not any more. I have liked Al Leiter and Paul O'Neill when I've heard them. I think Lou Piniella does a good job. I prefer listening to Steve Phillips, Peter Gammons and analysts like that. I have no patience for color commentators who talk about anything other than baseball and tout their own products or try to crack up the play-by-play guy. I prefer the days when team announcers rotated between television and radio throughout the game, I think it made them better announcers. I would love to hear Mel Allen one more time.

Let's talk about steroids. Who do you think is lying, Clemens or McNamee. Do you think Clemens should be allowed in the Hall of Fame. If he does get in, shouldn't Pete Rose get in too?

The hardest thing to find in the steroid mess is to find someone who isn't lying. I don't believe anyone any more. My biggest disappointment of the Mitchell Report is that there was no acknowledgement that owners and GMs knew what was going on, the only question is when. I can't help but when I think of meeting Roger Cl*mens I keep thinking of the line by Michael Corleone in the Godfather II when he said to his brother Fredo, "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!"

Going back to my legacy, I was the first national writer to consistently write Barry B*nds and it just destroys me that three record holders and greatest players of our lifetime B*nds, R*se, and Cl*mens will only get into the Hall of Fame with an admissions ticket.

If you were a baseball stud, what would be your dream team and manager to play for? What position? (and NO you can't say DH).

"Now playing second base for the 1961 Yankees or 2004 Red Sox, Billy-Ball Chuck" From everything I've read Terry Francona is a player's manager and so is Mike Scioscia. I love what Sparky Anderson, Lou Pineilla and Jim Leyland bring to a ballclub and I'm very curious to see Joe Girardi this coming season.

What do you think of the DH rule?

I have run out of strength to be against it. I prefer National League style of play, but I see the value of the increased offense provided by the DH in the AL. At this point, I would leave everything as it is, including the World Series, but excepting the All-Star Game - Let the NL manager choose two players who can serve as DH. Sigh...

Aluminum bats. Good for the game or a travesty?

Aluminum bats are more than a travesty, they are lethal weapons and MLB should make contributions to any college, high school, or little league who are willing to give up aluminum for wood. Now THAT would be a great way to engage youth and enable both pitchers and batters to have realistic ideas of their capabilities. That, goes beyond the obvious that it prevents horrid injuries or deaths. While I have you, I want to hear the end of coaches who whine about about wearing helmets. When one life is saved that's when they will just be quiet.


Bob Ryan was selected as the National Sportswriter of the Year for 2007 by the NSSA. Your thoughts on this award and Ryan?

I don't think people truly realize the incredible body of work that Bob Ryan produces, on such an incredibly high level. He knows more about so many sports, than most single sports experts and is able to convey it in a fashion that average fans can relate to and enjoy. Beyond that, he is not afraid to express an opinion and defend his point of view...powerfully. I have been subject to one his rants and I was in agreement with him.

Here's something that many people may not know about Ryan - he keeps score at every baseball game he goes to. He brings his own scorebook and sometime I feel that he and I are the only one who does it. But his (no surprise) is so much better. I, like most people, get a scorecard for each game. His is an on-going book kept in a permanent binder - and its not just for major league games. He'll keep score for any game at any level. He is a great writer who deserves good things to happen to him. The Award is well deserved.

Eye on Sports Media would loike to thank Bill for taking the time for this interview. We wish him well with his book, as well as many more great seasons of Billy-Ball.com. We too would love to hear Mel Allen again, and wish that Vin Scully could call baseball games forever. Perhaps some of Skip Carey's years can be given to Scully?

Currently have 2 comments:

  1. The Shoe says:

    I have been reading Billy Ball for 6 years now and have to confess that my favorite parts are not the icrediblt detailed and interesting nuggets he can pull out of an otherwise boring contest, but the puns and wry humor that he mixes in there to entertain all of us as well as inform. I also agree with his TV improvements: as a Phillies fan I would much rather watch interviews with current players that reruns of the '80 season.

  1. The Shoe says:

    I have been reading Billy Ball for 6 years now and have to confess that my favorite parts are not the icrediblt detailed and interesting nuggets he can pull out of an otherwise boring contest, but the puns and wry humor that he mixes in there to entertain all of us as well as inform. I also agree with his TV improvements: as a Phillies fan I would much rather watch interviews with current players that reruns of the '80 season.

Leave a Reply

Post a Comment