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December 7, 2006 – The Scott Sobkowiak Q&A December 7, 2006

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Be here tonight: Scott Sobkowiak, a pitcher on the 2006 Lancaster Barnstormers and a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2001, will be joining us around 7:45 PM tonight for the second in a series of Q&A’s with all the names you need to know from the Atlantic League.

Don’t miss out, as Scott will answer some of the questions YOU, the fans, submitted over the past week.

Keep checking the comments section for the start of the Q&A.

UPDATE: The Q&A is over. To read the transcript, simply check out the comments section of the page. – MA

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1. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Scott will be here on time, around 7:45 PM. Make sure you’re here, as he’ll start answering your questions then.

-M-

2. StormerDude - December 8, 2006

CAN’T WAIT

3. Amy - December 8, 2006

Me either!!!

4. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Thanks for joining us, Scott.

Let’s get this started…

I was wondering about some of the various pitching coaches you have worked with. As we all know, being in the right place or the right time, or knowing someone, sometimes helps coaches advance quicker than others. Please talk about some of the coaches you have worked with (especially in the Atlantic League), and how, just because they may not be in affiliated ball, are real good coaches, but haven’t gotten that chance with an organization. Also, any input from your experiences with your affiliated ball coaches with be interesting.

5. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

The coaches that I’ve worked with in the Atlantic League were fantastic. I think the heart of this question is getting to that there is politics in affiliated baseball. Affiliated baseball is laden with politics, that’s a not a secret to anyone who’s ever played, coached or been a part of an organization. And it isn’t even necessarily about who you know, but about who at the higher levels really likes you. Sometimes, it takes just one person to be pulling for you harder than anyone else in a boardroom and you’ll advance.

And I have seen that many times, but there’s no need to go into an explanation or go into the individuals regarding who that may be.

But the coaches I’ve worked with could coach anywhere from A-Ball to the big leagues. I think sometimes it’s just where they are in their lives. Some coaches like the freedom that we have in independent baseball. You’re not filling out reports after every game, you’re not ringing the phones and talking about how Tommy Tutone did, what he looked like, and if he has big league stuff. You’re there for the pure enjoyment of playing the game – watching your athletes play the game, and watching over X amount of games. The people you work with hand in hand, they’ll get better and improve and build with the things you’ve worked with them on.

But I think these guys could coach anywhere.

6. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

What were the highs (obviously alot) and lows of this past championship season…also, what were your experiences like with the fans in Lancaster?

7. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

The highs and lows of this last championship season were very simple to me.

The ultimate high was winning in Lancaster, at home, winning the entire thing. There was energy that I’d never really experienced before in a baseball stadium, there was just this sea of red fans.

My highs, my all-time favorite moments of that season are attributed to the fans. Just the “Code Red” was incredible. For people not in Lancaster, it was a calling to the fans to show up to the stadium wearing something red; shirts, pants, hats — whatever it is. And ultimately what we saw as players was just a sea of red. I’ve played in a lot of parks, I’ve played in a lot of countries, I’ve played pretty much all over this world, and I’ve played in front of four times as many fans that were there, but I don’t remember an energy or a feeling quite like that in my experiences in baseball.

8. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

MA: Scott, I guess just to follow up on that real quick: were you a little surprised that out of all the places you’ve been, you felt that in the Atlantic League, where baseball seems secondary in some places?

9. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

Absolutely. There is a huge division in the Atlantic League between some of the higher echelon teams that draw so well – they have the fans, and they have energy. And then there’s some parks where you feel like you’re playing Babe Ruth again. You’ve got your mom and your dad and your significant other and maybe your aunt and uncle there.

But did I expect that from Lancaster? Absolutely, this is what we saw all year. We felt like we were bound for a championship, that’s what we felt on the team. There was a feeling in the clubhouse that we were the best team in the league, and I think the numbers showed that as well.

Just to address the lows part of that question, the only low I had was that I was injured. I had a collision with my catcher, and I had a fantastic year going up until that point, especially statistically – I think I was 7-1 with a pretty good ERA at one point. After that, it just became a constant battle to get out there at all and do my job, which was to get out there every fifth day and do the best I could to give us a chance to win. So that was a low, and that was frustrating.

But ten years from now, looking at the season of ’06, I promise you I won’t remember anything about being hurt.

10. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Scott, what are your plans for next season…is Lancaster in the plans?

11. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

The plans for next year, as of today, are that I’m not making any plans as far as baseball goes for 2007 because of the injury. I separated my shoulder, and the diagnosis was a grade two to three separation, so I’m not planning on doing anything other than letting it heal.

After Christmas sometime, I think I’m going to re-evaluate, maybe play some catch or something like that and see how I feel and then go from there.

So I have no plans for Lancaster, I have no plans for the Atlantic League, I have no plans for affiliated ball – I just have plans to kind of give myself a mental rest from the game. But come January, if I’m interested in getting back into the game, I’ll put on some sweat clothes and take it to the local gym and start playing some catch and see how I feel.

12. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

What are you doing in the offseason…are you working, etc.

13. Tom - December 8, 2006

Who was your toughest “out” in the Atlantic League? Who were the top 5 toughest to get out?

14. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

Actually, I sell commercial insurance. It’s something I kind of fell into through a mutual friendship. A good friend of mine (my high school catcher, actually) who I’ve known since I was nine, he does it and his dad owns the agency. After a short conversation about profit potential, the option of giving pitching lessons to eight year olds and the repetition of what I’m saying and that some kids just don’t get it – you’re just truly grinding for every dollar you earn. The opportunity to pursue this career path came up, and I said why not. It’s a sales position, and that entails having a good handle on the English language and being able to relate to whoever you’re speaking to. It’s about having personality and maybe a little charm, and those were all traits that I felt like I could bring to the occupation.

This is the start of my third full year of doing this, and I like it – I like it a lot. It’s very competitive, you get the same kind of rush when you’re trying to land new business. But that’s what I’m doing now. Will I do it forever? I don’t know. I’ll do it as long as it pays the bills and keeps my wife and I happy.

15. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Did you have a favorite teammate in Lancaster? Anyone there you were ended up becoming close friends with?

16. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

I was about halfway through answering that question when I saw Tom’s question, so let me tackle that one real quick.

Tom, I don’t know if I can come up with a top 5 for you, but I can tell you with great certainty that Ozzie Timmons was by far my toughest out. Every pitcher is different, and there might have even bee some guys who thought he was an easy out. But I don’t think I ever got that guy out.

17. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

*been

18. Scott Stanchak - December 8, 2006

Scott, I just wanted to stop by and say what’s up. We’ll talk soon. Keep up the great work Ashmore.

19. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

To answer the other question…

The short answer would be everyone. I literally did not dislike or not get along with anyone on the team this year. The management there did a phenomenal job, because in independent baseball the players are rotated in and out like a revolving door. At the end of the season, you’re left with a core of maybe eight to maybe fourteen guys that were there the whole time. But it becomes very intrical that you’re able to mix and meld with what’s already been created, and it seems like every time they brought a guy in, it seemed to be a better fit every time.

To give specific names, I would feel terrible doing so because I know I’d leave someone out. Honestly, I still talk to ten guys on a bi-weekly basis, and that’s probably on the low side. I absolutely just adore the guys I played with, it was just a great group of guys. We went through so much, and it was just a blast of a season for me.

20. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Scott Stanchak in the house, ladies and gentlemen.

What was the clubhouse like throughout the season as it got closer to the playoffs? Who are the leaders, who likes to “lead by example” etc.

Who are the “pranksters”…any inside scoop on any good pranks played in the clubhouse?

21. Tom - December 8, 2006

Aside from your ballpark, which ballpark had the best/worst:
1-playing conditions/facility
2-locker rooms
3-meals

22. Tom - December 8, 2006

How would you rate the umpiring in this league? Did you notice a significant difference in the beginning of the season when there were several of the “striking MLB minor league umpires” in the Atlantic League?

23. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

The clubhouse was fun, it was light. Tom Herr, Rick Wise – those guys are ballplayers, they have over 30 combined years of Major League experience. You wanna talk about somebody who gets it…they don’t go berating their players when they make mistakes or beating us down – the season beats you down enough. We need guys there and pick you up and help you enjoy the opportunity that you have, and they just epitomized that. I’ve never had more fun playing the game…but it certainly doesn’t hurt that we won a ton (ha-ha).

But then you look back, and I think we set the Atlantic League record for most losses in a row in the season where we were the best team in the league. We lost something like nine in a row this year, but we were in there laughing and joking around about it because we knew it was all going to fall back into place. The mood in the clubhouse was light; we just enjoyed the opportunity to be there and the opportunity to compete. There were no ego guys, there were no “I” guys.

As far as pranksters go, the one guy who would jump out in my mind would be Rick Wise, which probably will surprise some people.

But we had a bunch of guys who would joke around, but Rick Wise…I don’t think he was happy unless he was messing around with somebody. It was always in a good taste and it was always funny. He was a tobacco chewer, and he’d mix it with gum and he’d throw it at you when you weren’t looking and hit you in the back or the elbow. He’d literally run around that place like a five year old kid half the time. Calling your name and hiding behind a pole, and you don’t know who said it…stuff like that. He’s one of my favorite pitching coaches I’ve ever worked with, and probably the instigator of a lot of the stuff that happened as well.

24. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

MA: Tom, there’s a similar question coming up about clubhouses and stuff, so I’ll hold off on that one until then…

I heard the ballclubs in Taiwan are owned by the local casinos. There are also rumors of gambling on ballgames and it has tainted the integrity of those games. Is this true? Can you elaborate on it? Would you go back to Taiwan to play ball?

25. Amy - December 8, 2006

Hey Mike…not to butt in but is that true about some of the striking MLB umpires actually umping in the Atlantic League this year? I don’t think that would be allowed would it? As far as I can remember the Atlantic league umps were the same all year.

26. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

About the umpiring…

I thought it was interesting that each umpire had his own interpretation of the strike zone. Some guys would give you mid-thigh, some guys would give you to the belt, some guys would give you the black. I guess my best answer to that question is with another question – Isn’t the strike zone set and league mandated? It didn’t feel that way this season, and I’m not sure it ever has.

As far as Taiwan goes, my experience in Taiwan was great. It’s an experience I don’t think I’ll ever the opportunity to have again. I was able to bring my wife and experience something on the other side of the world, and I enjoyed it. The caliber of the baseball they’re playing is a lot less than what is played in the Atlantic League.

There is gambling that has…HAS – taken place in the years past, and they did…DID – have a problem. But when I was there, I had to go to a bunch of meetings talking about it, but they pretty much curtailed it. The casinos do not own the teams, they’re owned by the sponsors. They’ve got a handle on it, they understand.

I think the biggest scandal there happened in ’98, so its got some years behind it. They play a great game of baseball there and the fans love it, it is their big leagues on the small little island of Taiwan. I think they have an understanding of what happened and how to control it, and they’ve done a great job of it. My experience was fantastic…but would I go back? No.

Only because I’ve been there and done that and that chapter is closed in my life. I certainly wouldn’t consider going there if I’m not even thinking about playing in the future right now. But there’s no negatives associated with the reasons I wouldn’t go back.

27. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Going to try to limit this to stuff that was previously asked just so that Scott can get some rest – this is starting to run pretty late.

Amy, I honestly don’t really pay much attention to specific umpires, and I don’t even know if we’re allowed to talk to them. I’ll ask Adam Gladstone about this, though.

Scott, there’s only a few more for you…but this one’s mine.

I just wanted to follow up on the Taiwan question. Did you ever see anything shady while you were down there?

28. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

I realize that umpiring question is something I should know, by the way. But all I can honestly say is that the only time I notice them is when they screw up. As for how often that is…that’s not for me to say.

29. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

Never. There were so many preventative meetings and regulations that they put in place, that I don’t even understand how it could have ever taken place. But no, I never was approached or suspected anything or anything like that. All I ever saw were good games of baseball and people enjoying every minute of it.

30. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

One more after this one, Scott.

Who has the best visiting clubhouses? I heard the visiting clubhouses in Lancaster and Long Island were tops. Also who has the worst…or rate 1-7

31. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

I’ll preface my answer with this: 98 percent of your experience in a visiting clubhouse comes down to the clubbie. The clubbie is the person who takes care of you, the person who does the laundry, the person who gets you all the little fun accommodations. You could be in an eight by eight room with 25 other guys, and as long as everything’s taken care of, it makes the experience that much better.

It’s tough to rank them just in terms of facilities. All I’ll say to that is that Nashua is the all-time worst. Nashua was bad and they aren’t even in the league anymore, so I don’t think anyone’s feelings are going to be hurt. But Nashua was literally smaller than aisle six in your local supermarket. It was terrible, you had to take shifts getting dressed. One time, we went with even numbered jerseys and odd numbered jerseys, but then that caused a problem because we realized we had more even numbers than odds. Then we went with infielders, then pitchers, then outfielders.

And our pregame spread was three dozen ginormous glazed donuts. So that’s not really what athletes want to be eating before a game.

So I’ll put Nashua there, and I’ll say the others are above what you would expect.

32. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Last question for you…

You’ve pitched in something like 200 games. And yet, you’re probably best known for one inning of one game back in 2001. How do you look at that situation? Is it ever something you’ve put any thought into?

33. pridefan - December 8, 2006

you forgot to mention in nashua you only got postgame meals on the day you leave. but ya those donuts were’nt popular wasted money for marcus there

34. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

That one inning is a blessing and a curse. It was the realization of a dream, but not my dream. Everyone would kill to be standing there for that day, but my mindset wasn’t to stand there for that day as much as it was to stand there for eight to twelve years. My goal was always to be a Major League baseball player, not a guy who was an asterisk that pitched one inning in the big leagues. So as far as how that reflects on my career, I don’t tie the two together.

Every year, I pick up my glove and a ball and go out there and have fun with the guys and enjoy the experience. There’s no correlation between one year and the next for me.

And I hope it doesn’t define me as a player. I’ve done a lot in my career, and I think I’m a better person for everything that I’ve been able to accomplish in my career, including my one inning of fame.

So for those people whose cities I’ve played in, I hope they would remember me for those outings, and not as that guy who pitched one inning in the big leagues.

35. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

Well Scott, that’s it.

On a personal note, I really enjoy this job not just because I get paid to watch sports, but because I get to meet a lot of great people.

For anyone who’s never met Scott, you’re missing out. He’s a better person than he is a pitcher, and he’s a damn good pitcher.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet both of his parents, and it’s obvious that Scott comes from a good family.

Again, this is someone you can root for – and I sincerely hope he comes back for the 2007 season, because baseball would be losing a great guy if he didn’t.

So thanks for stopping by, Scott. If there’s anything else you want to say, feel free…

36. Scott Sobkowiak - December 8, 2006

Thanks Mike, for letting me participate in something like this, it was a lot of fun. I answered all the questions to the best of my ability and as honestly as I could, so I hope everyone who wrote in got something out of my answers.

I also want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. It’s very easy to get swept up in the tradition of what every person does as the holidays approach. In terms of what house we’re going to for the holidays, what present I’m buying for who…with all that being said, I would just ask everyone to take a minute and remember the reason for the season. I think that’s important.

Merry Christmas, and good night everyone!

37. Amy - December 8, 2006

Scott..I know I will remember you as an intregal part of our championship team….It was great being a part of everything especially the CODE RED experience. I know that you had a tough season after colliding with Lance but you hung in there and always gave us your best and we love you for that. Awesome job with this q and a and thanks for taking the time to do this…very interesting insight on my Barnstormers! Hope to see you on opening night to pick up that ring!

38. Amy - December 8, 2006

Very well said #34!

39. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 8, 2006

I’ll make the formal announcement tomorrow, but the next Q&A will be with Newark Bears GM John Brandt on December 12th at 4PM.

For those of you still hanging around, send your questions now to mashmore@patriotsbaseball.com

Hope everyone enjoyed this!

40. Amy - December 8, 2006

Great job as always Mike and thanks for using my questions!


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