Monday, February 11, 2008

Pedro - no, not the cockfighter

There are some great perks of the college life. We know about the partying, co-eds and such. But one undeniable advantage of attending college is the frequent opportunity to see speakers and figures from all sorts of backgrounds and professions. On Monday night, that guest at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was ESPN’s own Pedro Gomez.

I figured since there’s not much else consuming my free time these days that I'd wander over and see him speak. I’d seen him before on Sportscenter and believed he had some minor interest in Barry Bonds (link - on the middle of the page to the right).

Turns out, there’s more to Pedro than just the San Francisco slugger. One of the first things the ESPN reporter did Monday was slam Curt Schilling, which meant Gomez was already a good man in my book.

He talked with a moderator for about 30 minutes about various issues ranging from steroids to clubhouse relations to journalism. Then Gomez took part in a 30 minute Q+A session with the audience of about 100 (filled with journalists, sports buffs, and nutcases wearing ESPN hats – yes, I’m serious).

Pedro had some very interesting things to say. Frankly, rather than bore you with a summary and interruptions from me, I’ll list some of his comments (taken with my best shorthand):

On the federal hearings and indictments
“When you lie to the federal government they don’t take kindly to it, whether you’re Richard Nixon, Marion Jones, Martha Stewart or Roger Clemens.

The government doesn’t tend to indict someone that they can’t get. They have a very high batting average.”

On steroids and its impact on Hall of Fame voting (Gomez has a vote as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America):
“I personally have a big problem with anyone who used performance enhancing drugs.”

He continued to say that most voters draw the line there, and that he did not vote for McGwire – who received less than 30 percent of the votes (a player needs 75 % to be inducted). Gomez added that he doesn’t ever really see McGwire reaching 75 percent.

"It would be interesting if the all-time hit leader (Pete Rose), HR leader (Bonds), and one of the all-time wins leaders (Clemens) would all be left out of the Hall of Fame.”

On Curt Schilling and his antics during the 2001 World Series when he “held his team hostage” and told his manager he could not pitch game 7:
“Schilling is basically a con-man”

On what is worse: insider gambling on baseball or steroids:
“They both rank high but I’d say gambling.”

On the upcoming 2008 season:
“The NL is just weak. The AL Central should be a great division, I think the White Sox will recover. The East is always the same two teams.”

He didn’t respond when someone shouted out, ‘so who’s going to face the Mets in the World Series?’

Interestingly, Gomez crossed himself a little bit with these next two quotes, which were separated by a few questions:
“I’ve been asked before, ‘straight up did Barry Bonds do steroids?’ I said I wouldn’t answer. If Wolf Blitzer had been asked if Bill Clinton slept with Monica Lewinski, he wouldn’t answer either.”

“I will not vote for anyone I believe took performance enhancing drugs, and I think Bonds did…I don’t know that a lot of these guys will get in.”

Overall it was an interesting talk and fun to see what appears on TV to be a brainwashed ESPN employee in a different setting than on the San Fran infield or outside a stadium filing a report. Gomez cracked a few jokes and was patient and interested in each person’s question. No one pestered him too much about covering Bonds non stop for about two years, but he did voluntarily offer this gem:

“Covering Barry Bonds will be in my obituary, I’ve come to terms with that.”

With that, I'll sign off....Pat DiSalvo, Giving 111 Percent (In that annoying ESPN rhythm)

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