Alan Schwarz

Face Of The Franchise

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

It's really quite small; then again, that's the idea. The Mets' 2006 pocket schedule is a handy-dandy pamphlet choked to the margins with every game, every promotion, every squint-inducing seating plan only myopics could love, a bustling galaxy of tiny type selling access to the talk of the last two offseasons. The team that threw its considerable wallet at Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. The team that last winter rushed to sign Billy Wagner, jumped on Carlos Delgado and would have bought Babe Ruth, too, had heaven wanted some prospects.

Majors | #2006#Season Preview

Going Deep: Cast Of Benchwarmers

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

Baseball America is all about prospects, but that doesn't mean we don't have a soft spot for the scrubs. And now we have a movie for the guys at the end of a roster: "The Benchwarmers," in theaters April 7, features an eccentric billionaire (Jon Lovitz) who backs a three-man team of adult misfits (Rob Schneider, Jon Heder and David Spade) to take on young bullies in a Little League tournament. It's typical Adam Sandler slapstick—"If you build it, nerds will come," Lovitz's character declares—about the 99 percent of us who sit and watch as the stars get to play. I sat down with Schneider and Lovitz to talk about the movie, their own Little League days, and Reggie Jackson destroying federal property.

Majors | #2006#Column

Going Deep: Buck Martinez

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

As the pieces of the upcoming World Baseball Classic gradually fall into place, one of the biggest appeared at the Winter Meetings: the Team USA manager will be Buck Martinez, the current ESPN analyst and former manager of the Blue Jays. The prospect of managing the greatest collection of talent in the history of baseball, with names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter and more, has left the garrulous Martinez anything but speechless. I sat down with Martinez to discuss his evolving juggernaut and any plans to bribe the Rocket out of retirement.

Majors | #2006#Column

Going Deep: George Brett

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

The day when the Hall of Fame balloting gets announced is about phone calls: mainly, to the lucky former players who learn they'll be in Cooperstown forevermore. But this year the most notable phone call for me was the one to Hall of Famer George Brett, who after stepping off a plane in Boston wanted to know the voting results. I had the pleasure of getting his immediate and candid thoughts on Bruce Sutter's selection, his continuing vigil for Goose Gossage and Bert Blyleven, and whether his old pal John Schuerholz ever has a shot.

Majors | #2006#Column

Going Deep: Darrell Miller

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

I've seen it. Really. While in Los Angeles on business, I stopped by Major League Baseball's new Urban Youth Academy in Compton, an immense (and long-overdue) step in revitalizing inner-city baseball. When it officially opens on Feb. 28, after more than five years of planning, the $10 million facility will allow thousands of youngsters a chance to learn baseball from former pros and play games on big league quality fields, complete with stands and lights. All for free. Its director is Darrell Miller, the former Angels catcher and farm director, who gave me a walking tour of the still under construction complex in late January. Among the dirt and cinderblocks lies the future of urban baseball.

Majors | #2006#Column

Going Deep: Mike Marshall

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

ike Marshall fashions himself a baseball pariah. The 63-year-old former ironman pitcher—who in 1974 pitched in 208 innings over 106 games to set records for a major league reliever—now coaches amateur pitchers at his facility in Zephyrhills, Fla., using such unconventional methods and criticizing other pitching experts so vehemently that he claims his students are blackballed by major league organizations. Few dispute that Marshall, who owns a doctorate in exercise physiology from Michigan State and has done tremendous other research on pitching arms and injuries, has some interesting ideas. I spoke with Marshall about those ideas, the contentiousness with which he shares them, and his vow to change pitching forever.

Majors | #2006#Column

Going Deep: Dontrelle Willis

Alan Schwarz -Premium Content

If the World Baseball Classic has a face, it is not the anticipatory gaze of the baseball beancounters, or the worried mug of general managers everywhere. It is that of Dontrelle Willis. No player from any country has expressed more unbridled joy for participating in the upcoming extravaganza. (His "I just hope I make the team!" at last year's all-star press conference pierced the hearts of even the most cynical scribes.) With the event finally at hand, I talked with Willis about pitching for his country, his role on Team USA and the revamped Marlins, and scoring freebies from HBO.

Majors | #2006#Column

USA Earns Quick, Close Win Against Mexico

Alan Schwarz -

The Chase Field crowd of 32,727 that saw the United States' 2-0 win over Mexico the World Baseball Classic Pool B opener Tuesday afternoon sounded split just about evenly between the two clubs, with the consistently louder half rooting for Mexico. To those fans all Americans are Yankees—and, when wearing uniforms between foul lines, just as despised as those from the Bronx.

International | #2006#International Affairs#World Baseball Classic