Yesterday, Opening Day (obviously), I had the opportunity to trade e-mails with Brian McTaggart of the Houston Chronicle. Regard:
AC: You seem to be the contrarian among the Chronicle staff. What is the Astros' main concern, maybe that fans wouldn't see?
BM: Well, we have to be accountable for what we write. It's easy for fans to say someone stinks and they should be sent to the curb, but when we write it we have to face the player the next day. For me, I have no problem with that. If I write that a player stinks, it's because they do, and the player usually understands that. The worst thing you can do is rip a player and then disappear. As long as you're there the next day, the player will respect you.
AC: What is the biggest challenge that you face as a reporter?
BM: There's a lot of misinformation out there these days. With the line between fan bloggers and reporters becoming blurred by the day, reporters are often forced to chase mistruths from people who aren't near the club or talk to management.
AC: Name the best and worst part of your job.
BM: The best part if being paid to watch baseball. The worst part is watching bad baseball for long periods of time, or watching fans leave in the fifth inning of a blowout and wishing you could, too.
AC: Who understands the Typical Astros Fan better: Ed Wade or Drayton McLane?
BM: Not sure really. Drayton's been here longer, but Wade spent a lot of time in Philly and dealt with some of the harshest fans in baseball. If I were forced to make a guess, I'd say Ed.
AC: What do Astros fans need to keep in perspective in 2009?
BM: The payroll is one of the highest the Astros have had. I think the opening day payroll total was $103 million or so, which is in the top 10 in baseball. There are lots of teams winning out there spending less money. That goes to show you how important scouting and development are.
AC: Who was your favorite player growing up?
BM: Probably Terry Puhl. We could only afford the $1 pavilion seats, so as a center fielder Puhl was the only player I could really see clearly. A few years ago we were exchanging emails and he said he reads my stuff and liked it, and that was a cool feeling.