Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Interview: Rafael Rojas Cremonesi

Rafael Rojas Cremonesi is a man of many talents. He's a radio sports anchor/producer, beat writer for Caribes de Anzoategui, and also for the Astros Spanish-language site. Rafael was kind enough to answer a few questions for AC, and for you:

Who was your favorite Astro growing up?

Well, I can say I grew up watching the Killer B's, Bagwell and Biggio, back when I was a teenager, and it was not only their great playing abilities, but the class and decency in which they conducted themselves on and off the field. I didn't imagine back then that in 2004 I would start writing for the same team. I had to behave professionally when I first interviewed them, but certainly I was very nervous.

Were you surprised by the Astros slow start, and how do you think it will impact the remainder of the season?

As a matter of fact, not very surprised since the team would be without Lance Berkman and many people would overlook the fact Miguel Tejada is no longer an Astro. His best days are behind, that's true, but he is still a reliable run producer. The pìtching staff has not been too shabby, and I think hitting slumps are temporary - I don't think they will stay this way throughout the whole season. It's just been two weeks so I can't really think this will have a lasting impact come September, if they manage to get their stuff together and be contenders.

As someone who writes about the Venezuelan League, what will be the lasting impact of the Astros pulling out of Venezuela?

The Astros were a trailblazer in Venezuela. Back when they founded the Academy, no MLB organization had ever done that before. So it was the one which started a big trend and a boom in signing Venezuelan players and mining the country looking for talent. Of course, I believe it's the Astros' loss more than Venezuela's because they're kind of giving away this huge territory to other organizations. However, there are Venezuelans in key positions, such as Al Pedrique being bench coach, so I don't think the team will underestimate Venezuela altogether. But if the Academy stayed it would certainly help.

You're active on Twitter, how do you perceive the media shifting in the reporting of baseball?

Twitter is the ultimate breaking news machine, in which news are traveling at the speed of light - even more than with blogs and all other Internet tools. It's ubiquitous, since you can send news to your followers at any place via your mobile phone or computer, even your iPod touch or your iPad (if you manage to get one of those); and your followers can make it become viral; since it starts to be re-sent any amount of times. It certainly helps us get information quicker - and it makes journalists to stay alert and on their toes more than ever before, for fact-checking and confirmation. And in the case of baseball, Twitter is such a perfect tool - you can send game information, tidbits, injury news, you name it...

Who gets in to the Hall of Fame first - Bagwell, or Biggio?

A very hard question. Once, when I was writing a story for the Astros Spanish language magazine Cronicas de los Astros, I fantasized about a Cooperstown ceremony in which both would be enshrined together into the Hall of Fame. However, Biggio has more than 600 doubles, 200 RBI and a total of 291 homers. Baggy has only one dinger left for 450. I tell you, in this day and age in which we tend to be so skeptical of baseball, getting these modern players which were classy, decent and honorable would be a big breath of fresh air for all of us.

Follow along with Rafael on Twitter.