November 11, 2010
Webmaster's note: What follows is a fictional account of an interview with John Russell.
As Pittsburgh Pirates Manager John Russell was cleaning out his office for the final time, I snuck in and asked for one final interview. Russell had already been interviewed by much of the press, and I figured that it would be interesting to seek him out and try to interview him. The one thing Russell always did was answer the tough questions, and sure enough he agreed to do the interview. The following is a 100% truthful transcript of the interview.
ZW: What are your thoughts on the Pirates now that you have been relieved of your duties?
JR: "Honestly I got out at just the right time. I haven't told anyone else about this yet, but I actually bet on games, you know kind of like what Pete Rose did. I bet on us to win at home, but always bet against us on the road, and that was a big reason why we kept losing the games. The team as a whole now is in a great place, as unless the word bobble head or the word fireworks comes onto a promotional schedule, then it is a zoo."
ZW: Since I am conducting this interview for a ballhawking website, do you know what a ballhawk is?
JR: "Are those the lowlifes that run in early to try and see if there are baseballs in the stands? Yeah, I know those guys. I am not very fond of them. During batting practice I would carry a baseball bat as if it were a light saber and do my best impression of Yoda. This would include walking fast, walking stiff and randomly stopping to talk with people about using the force. I would never throw a ball to those nobodies because that would mean that I would waste money by having to personify anger which is an emotion. Pittsburgh fans know that I am the tin man."
ZW: What do you hope Pirate fans take out of your time as Pirates Manager?
JR: "There are two things I hope the fans take out of my reign of terror. The first is that I am not a fashionable man. When I wore those glasses, I thought that I looked like hot stuff, but I finally when a mirror broke I knew that I looked like Mother Goose. Also, there was a reason why I never came out of the dugout to argue calls with the umpire. While there so much speculation, I am a very superstitious man. One of my biggest superstitions is to always carry a magic eight ball with me at all times. I let this determine when I would take a pitcher out of a game, charge a mound and any other important decision. So if you have anybody- or actually anything to bother, it is the magic eight ball."
ZW: Who was your favorite Pirate to work with?
JR: "I loved working with Charlie Morton. He would have the biggest nervous breakdowns and he was the musician on the team, and every time he was frustrated, he would sing to me what his troubles were. If only he could do that during his starts, it would make him a heck of a better pitcher. I also was an Akinori Iwamura fan. Aki was one of a kind and he did everything so quickly and maybe that was why he left so soon. My favorite though was Matt Morris, because I did not have to work with him at all. He taught everyone else. He helped Ian Snell become even more erratic and even became a worse pitcher in the process. Finally the day after his April start against the Phillies, I told Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly that I was going to talk to him. It would be the first time that we ever talked since that ridiculous trade Dave Littlefield pulled off. Just as I was about to talk to him, he started walking towards me and told me that he had been released. I felt manipulated, and I never forgot that. Every day Neal and Frank would meet with me and we would vote on issues. They always voted against me. We were such a dysfunctional group."
ZW: What's your greatest regret during your tenure with the Pirates?
JR: "Not betting more on the Pirates losing on the road."
ZW: The Pirates now will have to find a new manager now that you are gone, who do you think will get the managerial job?
JR: "I don't think that anyone in baseball will want this job, so I will have to take someone outside of baseball. Perhaps Mark Cuban would be good since he has failed in all past baseball endeavors. He may command a lot of money though so perhaps one of those dispicable ballhawks could do the job. They all are fit guys, and they are all very young just like the team. I mean it worked for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers didn't it. Ballhawks could at least improve the team's hitting and I see a lot of them at every home game, so they are bound to know a lot of the opposing hitter's tendencies."
ZW: Last question JR, all of the fans are dying to know: why did you never show any passion?
JR: "Well to be honest Zac, seven p.m is past my bed time and I am awfully cranky when it is past my bed time. My eyes always look swollen because I sleep at the ballgames and then suddenly hear vuvuzuelas and trumpets. I try to stay awake but with a team like the Pirates, it is very hard to do. I feel as though we should have been on one of those Pepsi Max commercials. You remember those commericals where at the end a person screams, 'wake up people'. That's kind of how I felt."
With that, I thanked Russell for his time, and he gave me a firm handshake. After a few moments of awkward silence, Russell took a good look at his office for one last time and then grabbed his belongings. I took a final look at the office as well, and then left behind him.
Zac Weiss is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.