Dear readers, Please note the publication date - Maury Brown
There has not been a more controversial and colorful writer to storm the national sports press since Ring Lardner. His commentary on topics ranging from the Hall of Fame selection to the New England Patriots has created watercooler and bar room arguments across the nation, and most likely the globe.
After decades of toiling mostly behind the scenes at various small-town newspapers, Art Garfamudis recently found a national audience on ESPN's Page 2. A writer who is not afraid to take on the most relevant issues of the day, he is also not one to let time-consuming research get in the way of a topic that demands a good venting. His is the journalism of the moment, the journalism that comes from a place deep inside all sports fans.
We caught up with Garfamudis by phone (he moves from house to house like a wanted felon, which he may very well be), just before Opening Day for one of the most insightful interviews we've ever had on the Business of Sports Network. Just when I thought that Marvin Miller, Fay Vincent, or Bob Costas would give us the true feeling of what it's like to work in sports, Garfamudis shows that he is already someone that should be considered for a Pulitzer.
The following interview covers everything from what fuels his passion for writing, his thoughts on the Veterans Committee, what the perfect owner should be like, how he views stadium development, as well as thoughts on Marge Schott, Pete Rose, Alex Rodriegez, Bud Selig, Brian McNamee, and much, much more. -- Maury Brown
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Maury Brown for the Business of Sports Network: For those that may just becoming aware of your work on ESPN Page 2, what fuels your passion for sports?
Art Garfamudis: I like following things I can't do. It's why I have an extensive pornography collection.
Bizball: You recently wrote on ESPN’s Page 2 about the type of players that should be in the Hall of Fame. Marvin Miller has been passed over more than once now by the Veterans Committee. If you were on the Veterans Committee, who would you vote for.
Garfamudis: I'd vote for some of the guys who invented things like the pitching machine and the Jumbotron – you know, your Thomas A. Edisons and Leonardo da Vincis of the game. When do they get their day in the sunlight? Where would we be without the dugout? Who's the first guy that said, "Maybe we need a hole to put the players in"…? That guy should be in Cooperstown. So should the guy who created the Juggs Gun – if only for the name.
Bizball: Describe to us your idea of the perfect owner.
Garfamudis: He should be overweight and wear a three-piece suit with a watch fob on the vest. He should smoke a big stogie, of course. And have a pinky ring. You gotta look the part. Embrace what you are, I always say. Oh, and he should have a mistress. Maybe a younger woman who aspires to be a singer; and he should do everything in his power to help her singing career no matter whether she's good or not and maybe she faces public humiliation when he pushes her too far. But he presses on, because he's a can-do guy who won't take no for an answer from anybody.
Bizball: This year will see the Washington Nationals open a new stadium, followed by new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets in 2009. What are your thoughts on new stadium development?
Garfamudis: I wish taxpayers would just be quiet about footing the bill for these places. Where's your civic pride, people? These buildings are the symbols of your godforsaken cities. Most people would never want to set foot in your stupid town if not for the new ballpark, so shut up and pay up! I say all stadiums should be replaced every 12 to 15 years. 20 at the most. As soon as chewing gum stains start appearing on the concourse, it's probably time to draw up plans for the replacement ballpark.
Bizball: What are your thoughts on the Mitchell Report?
Garfamudis: I always thought Billy Mitchell got a raw deal, but that's military bureaucracy for you. Everyone's afraid of new ideas and he paid the price. Turns out he was right, though.
Bizball: Fantasy time… You’re Commissioner of MLB. What would you change?
Garfamudis: I think the press has too much freedom and access. I'd cut that way back. Why are these reporters always snooping around with their microphones and camcorders? Look at the Chinese – they know how to keep a lid on things. Take a page from their notebook, I say.
I'd also make fans pay for statistics. A penny a player every week. Think of the income from that! I'd put advertising on the uniforms. I'd put the team names up for sale. The Texas Rangers become the Texas Range Rovers. The New York Yankees become the New York Yankee Candles.
I'd sell the very names of the statistics. Home runs would become Home Depots, for instance. Nobody could call it a "home run" anymore. If they press tried to, they'd lose their credentials. I'd put so much money in the owner's pockets they'd give me my weight in gold and let me stop off at a Swedish buffet before the weigh-in.
Bizball: Nolan Ryan was recently named President of the Houston Rockets. What do you think about a guy that beat up a charging Robin Ventura as a front office executive?
Garfamudis: I saw a coming attraction for a movie on TV the other day that had the governor of California buck naked in it. You couldn't see his junkyard or anything like that, but he was naked. And now he's governor of a state that's bigger than a lot of countries. A person's past doesn't matter. What matters is how much money they have. People with a lot of money are like gods and should be treated as such.
Bizball: Let me throw out some names, and give me some thoughts…
Garfamudis: He sneaks up on you. First you think he's just a used car salesman from Milwaukee, then he turns out to be the visionary genius of our time. Baseball would have been out of business without him. Interleague play saved the game. Check the facts.
Garfamudis: I wouldn't tell that guy the time of day for fear he'd blab it all over town. If life were more like a prison movie, they'd find him jammed in the laundry press flattened out like a pair of over-starched pants.
Garfamudis: True story: I tried to buy a Buick from her dealership once. She came along on the test drive and kept pointing out how roomy the backseat was. I probably shouldn't say anything else.
Garfamudis: One of the greatest guys ever. Family man, sports enthusiast. You know, a lot of great athletes just play sports – Pete lived them! You never saw a guy take so much interest in sports as Peter Rose. A sportsman in the true sense of the word – and they crucified him for it. You know what I said to him once, "You don't need their Hall of Fame, Pete. Whatever building you're standing in – that's the Hall of Fame."
Garfamudis: The ballplayer or the guy who lives across the street from me? Ever since that guy moved in over there I can't think of one without the other even though my neighbor is a systems analyst and weighs like 350 and can't even hold a garden rake right. Seriously, I had to go over there and show him the right grip last fall. He hates baseball, too. Gets all touchy if I call him A-Rod…Here's an analogy for A-Rod the ballplayer: he's like a chef who can't make a good desert, you know what I mean? The appetizer, the soup course, the main course – all fantastic. But when it comes to desert, it tastes like it was fished out of a dumpster.
Bizball: Finally, tells what a day in the life of Art Garfamudis is like.
Garfamudis: I always reach for my gun when I wake up, just in case. Things could have horribly wrong overnight. You never know. "Think globally, overreact locally," I always say.
I eat my meals in reverse order. I start with dinner: salad, soup, a roast chicken, some desert. Wine. Lunch, being the middle meal, is eaten at the traditional time. In the evening I have what most people would call breakfast. Pork roll and eggs or flapjacks. Lots of coffee.
I sleep in my clothes -- just in case it all goes down in the middle of the night, I need to be ready to move. These are unstable times. Stay packed. I don't have a social security number, do you? After dinner, I read the sports pages looking for codes. They're in there, you just have to know what to look for. In the evening, I might watch some SportsCenter. I avoid nature shows on television. I have phobias about certain animals I won't name here. I might play cards with friends or go to a ballgame. I don't sit in a press box for a number of reasons, one of which is that I'm under court order not to be in an enclosed space when eating stadium foods. I spend a lot of time in my safe room.
- Interview conducted by Maury Brown on 3/30/08
- Brown thanks Garfamudis for taking time out of his busy schedule, in-between meals, to do this interview.
- Thanks to ESPN for allowing Garfamudis to be interviewed.
To see a complete listing of our over 40 interviews with those making news in the business of sports, check http://www.businessofsportsnetwork.com