Gregg Zaun joined Bob McCown and Michael Grange last night on the Fan 590′s Prime Time Sports, responding to the recent comments about him from J.P. Arencibia (audio here - starts around the 16 minute mark). I called it “the great put-on” when we podcasted about it last week, and suggested as much in the post that included the transcript of the comments as well. But now? Yeah… not that I was ever really serious… but, uh… I don’t really think that it was.
More to the point, though, Zaun actually kind of nailed it, displaying a little of the occasionally Saber-esque common sense stuff that first made him endearing as an analyst in the process. At least, by my reckoning he did. And his criticism of Arencibia’s “warped sense of reality” when it comes to his I’m a “run producer” nonsense, and the way that the Jays’ catcher went about broaching the subject in public, was actually rather elegant. Y’know, for Zaun.
Here’s the transcript:
ZAUN: I think his perception of my analysis is that I’ve somehow forgotten how hard it was to play the game in the three years since I retired. Unfortunately for him, I remember how easy it was for me to do certain things– catch the baseball, block it, make it stay right in front of me. I had my ups and downs with throwing the baseball based on surgeries, but he doesn’t really have that excuse just yet. You know, I’ve been a proponent of his in a lot of ways.
McCOWN: You were a defender of his when I was critical of him at the beginning.
ZAUN: No doubt. I always take an honest look at the catchers. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hard on guys. I mean, I expect a lot out of a guy– and the first thing I expect him to be able to do is catch the baseball. So, when a guy leads the league in passed balls year after year, it’s embarrassing, and it’s not right. And I know this guy has so much more in him than we’ve seen.
McCOWN: Analytically, why is this guy not getting it? Do you think his work ethic is weak?
ZAUN: According to him, it’s not.
McCOWN: According to him. What do you think?
ZAUN: I don’t know. I don’t hang around and watch. I’m not going to show up there at 3:30 in the afternoon and see him do his thing. I will say this– the days where I am there early early, these are few and far between– he was right, I don’t go down to the batting cage during B.P.
McCOWN: Well, neither do I. I’m not interested.
ZAUN: But I’m in the building, and he knows where I am and he knows my phone number and my email address. So he has access to me. Anybody else that wants me knows where to find me– all they’ve got to do is turn around and say, ‘Hey Zaunie, can we talk for a second?’ and I’ll come right down. But for me to go down there and glad hand and listen to all the nonsense– I did that for twenty-two years, I’m over it. I just want to go to work, analyze the ballgame, do my job, and go home. I’ve got a life, I’ve got other things going on.
McCOWN: Dirk went down to talk to him.
ZAUN: He did.
McCOWN: Did you you talk to Dirk after that conversation?
ZAUN: Yes I did.
McCOWN: How did Dirk evaluate that discussion? Did he think J.P. was receptive?
ZAUN: No, I think J.P. was very forthcoming with what he said to Dirk. It was also very evident that he has a very, shall we say, warped view of reality. I believe Dirk was having a conversation with him, and J.P. said something to him about a specific argument about how we should be skewing his performance in a positive way for the fans.
ZAUN: And he brought up the specifics– and I may be wrong on this– about how he wanted us to talk about where he ranked in the American League, as far as RBIs by a catcher. And I thought to myself, ‘Who cares? You’re hitting a buck-forty with runners in scoring position– that’s just about opportunity. How am I supposed to skew that?’ I think the word ‘top ten in the league’ came up, and I was like, ‘There’s only fifteen teams in the league, so why is that so great?’ It’s not that great.
ZAUN: Look, I like the kid, I’m very hurt. I’m disappointed by his comments, especially the ones of a personal nature– I thought that was hitting below the belt– but I’m also a little disappointed that, like I said, he’s had my phone number, he’s had my email address, he knows where to find me. I don’t need to go down to the field every day to make sure everybody’s OK with the way I’m analyzing their performance. ‘Are you OK? Can I do anything to make your life better?‘ Come on. Nobody ever did anything for me. They never held my hand. In fact, I got the brutal side of the game. I had to earn every bit of it. So for somebody to say that I don’t remember how hard was to play? That’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s one of the most insane comments I’ve ever heard.
I don’t know, maybe it sounded more elegant than it read, but you can’t argue that he doesn’t pretty much nail it. Like… why the hell Arencibia needed to go on the radio and deliberately, after fucking promoting the appearance the night before on Twitter, claim himself a spokesman for his teammates, and turn what could have easily been a private conversation into a big showy public thing that we’re still talking about a week and a half later, remains well beyond my comprehension.
Like I said of Arencibia’s comments at the time: “I think he actually makes an excellent point about it not being conveyed to fans just how hard the game is– there are far too many fans out there who are absolutely aghast when guys swing at brutally deceptive pitches or can’t make plays that are happening at a game speed that is beyond their imagination– but… this is still completely fucking insane.”
Zaun’s response here? Much less so. Much, much, much less so.