Interview with Mike Schmidt: On Booing, Pat Jordan, Mustaches, and Wine Pairings

Interview with Mike Schmidt: On Booing, Pat Jordan, Mustaches, and Wine Pairings

We had the chance to speak with Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt for ten minutes this morning as part of Michael Jack's starring in a Field of Dreams-esque commercial by the official soft drinking sponsor of MLB, Pepsi Max. We only touched on soda briefly, and not in anyway Schmidty was expecting, but we did ask him about the Phillies hot start in 2011, their attempt at small ball, Pat Jordan's New York Times Magazine article on the Four Aces, Mike's legendary mustache, what to pair with his personalized wine, and some other fun stuff.

Our first question to Mike was about him winning our Greatest Philly Athlete of the last 30 years March Madness tournament. You can see his answer to that here.

Enrico: In spring training you mentioned you'd like to see a little bit more small ball out Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies. How would you assess their first 14 games? They haven't exactly been living off the long ball, playing a bit of small ball along the way. How would you assess their start?

Mike Schmidt: They're 10-4. That's good considering who they're missing with Utley and Brad Lidge, and Ben Francisco has sort of assumed the role of Jayson Werth in the lineup, behind Howard and in front of Ibanez. I think everybody should be quite happy. We haven't thrown a shutout every game, obviously there have been a couple rough outings, but for the most part the big three, big four guys have shut down a potential losing streak -- just nip that in the bud real quick. I believe Halladay did that over in Washington. They had lost the Blanton game, and Halladay and Lee went ahead and won two close ballgames for them. That's why they're paid the big bucks. That's why they call them stoppers.

Yes, we've been getting on base and moving some runners around, hitting some sacrifice flies. We've been hitting a few home runs, but haven't relied on the home runs. It'd be nice to think that they can go in this fashion, winning 10 of 14 games, win at that rate the entire season. It'd be nice. They're are going to run into some down times for sure, and they're going to get hot, they're going to get hot and win 10, 11, 12 in row a couple of times during the season.

Right now things are good. Seeing them a lot on national television. I'm getting to see them in Florida quite a bit. We gotta get some people healed up and then we can really put the peddle to the metal.

Cole Hamels had a real rough outing a couple of weeks ago at Citizens Bank Park and got showered with some boos as he walked off the field. Now in my opinion, not all boos are created equally. Booing a guy on a particular day doesn't mean you think he's a bad ballplayer, it's more of a disappointment in his performance that day.

You've heard your fair share of boos over the years in Philadelphia and you were arguably the best third basemen ever. What's your perspective on the booing argument? Is booing that big of a deal?

Schmidt: I don't know anything about that particular incident.

How about fans booing a player in general? Does a player just brush it off?

Schmidt: Unless you have ear-plugs, then you can't hear it. You just have to absorb it and react to it in the simplest form that you can and realize that the people care. It's sort of an old tradition in Philly, if you will. Maybe "tradition" is the best way to describe it. Disappointment in a performance or disappointment in an outcome of a ball game -- basketball, football, baseball, hockey -- in Philly will lead to a chorus of that sort of sound in the stadium. In most cases, it's not directed directly at a person for any personality issue. It's just general fan disappointment in Philadelphia. I think it'd be taken with a grain of salt by the player, knowing that the next time he goes out and throws a good ball game there will be a standing ovation. There won't be any boos.

One of the more interesting articles I've read recently was the New York Times piece by Pat Jordan on the Four Aces. Did you read that?

Schmidt: No.

Basically Jordan quoted you as saying that none of the Phillies four aces are the kind of guys that scare you like the Bob Gibsons of old. Does that ring a bell?

Schmidt: I was on a show with Larry Bowa recently and he referenced that. I didn't read the article. I don't even know what was said, if it was taken out of context, I don't know. But the way you just stated it, I don't have a problem with that. I think it's a pretty normal description of what goes on when you face the Phillies starters. With the exception if you're a left handed hitter facing Hamels or Cliff Lee, you might find it a little uncomfortable with those guys throwing 95, they've got their sharp breaking pitches. Could get a little uncomfortable in that regard. For the most part, right handed hitters with Halladay, who I would consider sort of Tom Seaver-like. He gets you out. He strikes you out. He doesn't need to knock you down. He doesn't need to be what we would say 'mean.' That doesn't mean he isn't. He's just not an uncomfortable pitcher. He makes you go to home plate and he gets you out. At the end of the day you're 0-3 or 0-4, and you had a couple of pitches you think you shoulda hit line drives, but you grounded them out to shortstop. You go, you take your shower, the same thing happens to you the next day against Cliff Lee and you leave town and you're 0-12. All you did was break four bats and strikeout six times.

Now on to some more oddball/fun stuff. You're in a new commercial for Pepsi Max, is that correct?

Schmidt: Yes, it's being released tomorrow.

You also made a notable soda ad back in the day that ended up appearing in Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'… have you seen that? Anyone ever point that out to you?

[Ed. note: 6:45 into 'The Wall' here]

Schmidt: No. Don't forget who you're talking to now, I'm 61.

There's a brief moment where they show a giant billboard with your face on it about 6:00 minutes in promoting a soda brand. I was just curious if you've ever seen that.

Schmidt: No. I may try to find it now I guess.

Okay then. Have you seen the Nike t-shirt that features the outline of your mustache on the powdered blue background with maroon cap? Have you seen that?

Schmidt: No, I haven't?

They have a nice line of t-shirts featuring some of the greatest mustaches in baseball history. They have you, they have Rollie Fingers, they have a couple of other guys…

Schmidt: Really? I don't know. Mine sure doesn't stand out. It's funny you mention that, Fingers is sitting right across the table from me right now and we were talking about mustaches earlier today.

How about guys in the game today? Best facial hair in the game today? Jayson Werth's beard?

Schmidt: Off the charts.

Anyone else stand out to you?

Schmidt: No. Sometimes I get a little taken back by some of the things I see: earrings, tattoos, hair, stuff like that. Then my wife has to remind me, 'take a look at yourself back in the 80's.' Imagine some of the stuff we had going. I had a beard. I played with a beard. I played with curly hair. I played with a permanent. We used to all get our hair curled back then so we used to just shake our heads and walk out of the shower. I don't want to throw any stones at anybody today because if you take me back to my youth, I made some of the same decisions.

You've got your own wine, Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, what should this wine be paired with?

Schmidt: That's a good question. It's probably better with some nice cheeses and fruits on a tray as sort of an appetizer, a 4:00-5:00 pm snack. As a just a drink of wine rather than a wine to go with dinner. It's not what I would consider a full-bodied dinner wine. It's more of a drinkable Zinfandel. It's actually a Red Zin, so it's more of a drinkable wine with cheese and fruit.

Finally, our site is called The700Level.com, named after the infamous section of Veterans Stadium. Do you have one lasting memory of the Vet or the fans up in the 700 Level that stands out to you?

Schmidt: That's a tough one for me because I could write a book about my experiences at Vet Stadium. I would say in '80 when I jumped on Tug McGraw and I looked around and there were policemen on horseback keeping the fans in the stands. The whole celebration after that first world championship.

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

BOX SCORE

The Phillies have scored just two runs in 13 innings against a pair of rookie starting pitchers and the eventual outcome has been two losses to the Colorado Rockies the last couple of nights. The latest was an 8-2 setback on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). That followed an 8-1 loss on Monday night.

What's happening right now at Citizens Bank Park is ugly. The Phillies are in the midst of a freefall that has seen them lose 19 of their last 23 games. They have been outscored 134-91 over that span.

Now, before we completely lose perspective here, the Phillies remain a building team and they were not expected to contend this season. But they weren't supposed to be this bad, either, and right now they are embarrassingly bad at 15-28.

John Middleton, the team's fiery managing partner, watched several innings of Tuesday night's debacle sitting beside Andy MacPhail in the club president's box. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. Middleton is committed to a patient rebuild from the ground up, but he's also a man who has made it no secret that he likes to win a little. The show that the Phillies are putting on out on the field these days can't sit well with him. Surely it's not sitting well with the fans. Tuesday night's attendance was just 17,109, the lowest of the season, and many in that group headed home after Gerardo Parra's sixth-inning homer gave the Rockies an 8-1 lead.

"We're just in a big rut right now," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis added that he couldn't remember going through anything this bad.

"We have to keep grinding," he said. "Keep grinding, man. It's pretty tough right now."

Tuesday night's loss offered a tale of two young pitchers. Zach Eflin, the Phillies' 23-year-old right-hander and a veteran of just 18 big-league starts, was hit hard. Meanwhile, German Marquez, the Rockies' 22-year-old rookie, was impressive. He held the Phillies to one run over six innings. He twice faced bases-loaded jams and gave up just one run when he walked a batter.

On Monday night, the Phils were held to one run over seven innings by another rookie, Jeff Hoffman.

Rookie pitchers are often good medicine for struggling teams.

"That's the way I look at it," Mackanin said. "Unfortunately it hasn't happened.

"I know we're better than this. I think the team knows they're better than this. I can't fault the hustle. Someone might say there's no energy. Well, when you don't get any hits, there's no energy."

The Phillies have scored just three runs in the last three games.

The scarcity of runs gives the pitching very little room for error. But in this game, Eflin simply did not keep it close. He gave up 10 hits and eight runs over six innings of work. Phillies killer Charlie Blackmon torched Eflin for a pair of two-run homers and Parra got him for a solo shot.

"A poor outing," Mackanin said of Eflin's work. "He couldn't locate. The ball was up in the zone. He's struggling to keep the ball down.

"When he struck out Blackmon in the first inning, it was a two-seamer with great movement, I thought we're in for a good outing here. But then he couldn't keep the ball down. You have to pitch down or you're going to get hurt."

Eflin has given up 21 hits and 15 runs in his last two starts.

"It's frustrating, but it happens. It's baseball," he said. "There are going to be a lot of times in my career where I give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs. But I'm really not worried about it right now. I know that I'm going to continue to work hard and go out every fifth day and, you know, put up a line of winning baseball."

Blackmon has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. He has three multi-homer games in Philadelphia.

"He seems to like hitting here," Eflin said. "But I just have to execute pitches. There's no excuse. I just have to be on top of my game."

Right now, the Phillies are at the bottom of their game.

"We have to stay together as a team and keep fighting, try to get out of what's happening right now," Galvis said. "It's a really tough situation, but we have keep playing hard."

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators bounced back nicely two days after a blowout loss put them on the brink of elimination.

Anderson stopped 45 shots, Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The 36-year-old Anderson was coming off a pair of rough outings, including Sunday when he was pulled after yielding four goals in Ottawa's 7-0 loss in Game 5 at Pittsburgh.

"You can't change what happens in the past," said Anderson, who has credited work with a sports psychologist early in his career for helping him manage the mental side of the game. "From that moment on you have to look forward and get ready for the next one."

Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third. Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa.

It was quite a response after the drubbing in the previous game.

"I think the biggest message for us was if somebody told us back in training camp in September that we'd have an opportunity to win Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final at home in front of our fans we would've taken it," Ryan said. "So let's not dwell, let's not kick ourselves and put our heads down. Let's embrace this opportunity to extend this for two more days together and go from there."

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.

"I thought we played a real good game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn't score tonight. The puck didn't go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we'll get the result."

Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.

Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start -- which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.

Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. It was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.

Anderson then stopped 22 of 23 shots in the second period.

"I think Anderson was the reason that they got this one, he played big for them," Murray said. "But in our room we just focus on what we need to do. We played really well, we just didn't get the bounces and weren't able to put one home."

Anderson's performance was a reminder for Senators coach Guy Boucher of why he took the job with Ottawa in the first place last May.

"I'll be honest with you, if I didn't have a No. 1 goalie, I didn't want the job," Boucher said. "I've lived it for quite a few years, and it's hell when you don't have it because everything you do turns to darkness, and there's nothing that really matters when you don't have a real No. 1 goaltender.

"It's like a quarterback in football and a pitcher in baseball, and we have it," Boucher added.

Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.

The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.

Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.

It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin -- three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr -- who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.

The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).