sBn: First off, give us a little background
information about yourself: education, other jobs, interests,etc.
JC: I graduated from the University
of Washington with a degree in communication. I worked for a year at Preview Publishing, which put out sports annuals like
Bill Mazeroski's Baseball, Dick Vitale's Basketball, etc. I worked two years at the Bellevue Journal-American covering everything
and working the desk. I worked 11 years at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, covering the Twins fulltime from 1989-1993, and after
that I covered the Olympics, national baseball, the Saints, writing takeouts and features and a spent a year covering capital
sBn: Can you give us a preview of
what we may see in your "Off Base" column this season?
JC: Nothing planned, just whatever
comes along. Though I might go to Japan for the Yankees series for "Page 2". I will be doing another cross-country sports
trek, writing about sports along the Lewis and Clark Trail, from St. Louis to the Oregon Coast. I also will be writing about
the Greek Olympic Baseball team (I did a story on them in ESPN magazine).
sBn: Which team do you feel has improved
itself the most during the off-season?
JC: The Angels, easily. The addition
of (Barolo) Colon greatly helps the pitching staff and getting Vlad (Guerrero) is another huge addition. Remember, this team
won the World Series two years ago.
sBn: Which team has taken the biggest
JC: It's still early and they may
very well make some important additions, but right now, I think the Yankees could finish third. They lost three of their five
starters, and while Vazquez will help, I expect Kevin Brown to spend much of the year on the D.L. and can Giambi stay healthy?
The defense has also gotten worse.
sBn: The free agent market has slowed
down dramatically the past few years, do you think it will ever bounce back?
JC: It all depends on how much money
is out there. If the owners feel rich, they'll spend. If they feel strapped for cash, they'll squeeze. They're like the rest
of the economy -- you buy refrigerators when the stock market goes up, you get by with the old one when it goes down. The
free agent market will swing back but I see it staying where it is for awhile.
sBn: The Minnesota Twins have done
an overhaul on their roster, can they win the AL Central again?
JC: They can, but I don't think they
will. The loss of Eddie (Guardado) hurts, though I think they can replace him (just as he was an effective replacement). (Joe)
Mauer has to be the real deal or they could be in for some rough times. I pick KC in the central.
sBn: Of all of the players passed
up in this year's voting, which is most deserving of Hall of Fame induction?
JC: (Ryne) Sandberg. (Jack) Morris.
sBn: Do you believe that the Boston
Red Sox and/or Chicago Cubs are cursed, or is that stuff a bunch of nonsense?
JC: They're not cursed by anything
supernatural but they're probably cursed by trying too hard to make up for 85 years and 95 years, respectively. They tend
to panic when they get close because it's been so long for them. The Yankees win because they play confident and relaxed.
The Sox and the Cubs lose because they play tight and worried.
sBn: Finally, share any advice for
aspiring sports writers that you might have.
JC: Work hard. Take on extra assignments
that will get you noticed elsewhere, even if you don't get paid for the time -- it will pay off down the line with better
jobs. Write about people, not sports. Be interested in everything -- art, history, travel, politics -- because it will make
your sportswriting fuller and richer ([Tom]Verducci is a very good example of this). Don't get too serious. Make sure your
writing is as fun as the event and show readers why the game was important (Jayson Stark is great at this).
of all, have fun. Enjoy the ride. It's a great career. You get to paid to write about sports and tell people your opinion
-- that's what other people do to avoid doing their jobs. Unlike other careers, it's always interesting. I love my job but
I enjoyed myself almost as much covering prep swimming for the Bellevue Journal American as I do now.