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Q&A with Stephanie Myles

May 2002

Q & A with Stephanie Myles

Stephanie Myles has been covering the Expos since 1998 for the Montreal Gazette. A Montreal native, she received business and journalism degrees from Concordia University in Montreal. She began her journalism career with Ottawa Citizen, where she spent three years in the sports department. After freelancing for a couple of years, she moved to St. Louis and served as an associate editor for the Sporting News before returning to her hometown and beginning her current position.

Stephanie was kind enough to take time out of her hectic schedule and answers some questions for us.

sbn: What kind of reaction was there from the Montreal area when the contraction plan was announced last Nov?

SM: Almost none. Fans in Montreal have been resigned to the team's fate for awhile. Every year, people predict it will be the last year in Montreal. A few are still holding out hope for a white knight. But given the current state of baseball, and the state of the Canadian dollar, it's highly
unlikely. There's always hope, though.

What was the reaction in Montreal when it was announced the Expos would play in 2002?

SM: By the time it was actually announced, I think people were already pretty sure there would be baseball in 2002. The game's inability to find a contraction partner pretty much sealed it. But again, this team continues to be on last rites.

sbn: Talk a little about the atmosphere at spring training.

SM: Much improved over the previous seasons. I mean, not even close. The previous regime had this "veil of secrecy" over everything. The employees were always walking on eggshells. And as far as personnel goes, they brought in a bunch of veterans to at least give the appearance of competing for jobs, and to give the youngsters some role models and some examples to follow, which they hadn't ever had in their short big league careers. General manager Omar Minaya is a people person, unlike the previous GMs (Beattie and Beinfest). Everybody loved him on sight. And the fact that he treated people like human beings made them much more relaxed about facing this final year. Frank Robinson is a Hall-of-Famer. Enough said. The coaching staff is experienced, professional and enthousiastic. Many players said spring training was better run this year, an impressive accomplishment given the staff was announced as camp opened, and the sheer number of players in camp.

What differences have you noticed since MLB has taken over operation of the Expos?

SM: Well, they had a bunch of representatives at Opening Night. That's about it. On the surface, they don't seem to be interfering.

sbn: What has it been like dealing with Frank Robinson?

SM: A pleasure. I'm sure he has mellowed since his earlier days. He knows what he's doing, is unafraid to say interesting things if you work it a little. He's cooperative and available, and never seems to mind questions about strategy. We'll see how he is when the team goes through its first losing streak. He's also pumped up to win, despite what people think about the one-year gig and the job security. He's a competitor.

What is the fan interest heading into the season? (ticket sales for the opener, etc.)

SM: Ticket sales for the opener were surprisingly good. Tickets for the second and third days, weekdays at that against the Marlins, were about as expected. People will adopt a wait-and-see attitude, but I have no doubt they'll show up more often if the team stays in the race and plays well. That, of course, will all depend on how long the (NHL) Canadiens remain in the playoff hunt. As it always does.

What kind of season do you see the Expos having? What are the keys to success? What players are 'on the spot', etc?

SM: .500 would be nice. A healthy Carl Pavano (which he is so far) is a key, as is the return of a healthy Fernando Tatis. The left-fielder (Brad Wilkerson and centerfielder (Peter Bergeron) are the ones to watch. Robinson has told them they don't need to be looking over their shoulders every day, wondering if they're going to be yanked. But they have to at least produce, at least until an alternative can be found, which there isn't at the moment, with the cutting of Jose Canseco. Jose Vidro has to stay healthy, something he seems to have trouble doing.

Talk a little about Vladmir Guerrero. What has it been like watching/covering him? Where, in your opinion, does he rank among the games' elite?

SM: He's an interesting case. Previous managers have been afraid to tamper with his natural talent. And I wouldn't put him quite among the game's elite, yet. On talent, definitely. But he lacks some fundamentals even after five years in the big leagues. And for every outstanding thing he does, he makes a bad throw from the outfield or a bonehead baserunning play. But he's fascinating to watch; you never know what he's going to do. There's no questioning his desire, or his effort. He needs a little fine-tuning, and it's hard to say whether that can be done, given the language barrier and the fact that no one has said "boo" to him in his career. Frank Robinson may be the one to do it; he did everything Guerrero does: hit for power, play the outfield incredibly
well, and run the bases. But he has to tread carefully.

sbn: Share any other predictions you have for the 2002 season.

SM: I hope we finish it in Montreal.

-David Zingler


The Montreal Gazette


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