Doug Glanville is one of my all-time favorite ballplayers, and it has nothing to do with his statistics and on-field successes.
Sure, the nine-year Major League veteran put up some excellent numbers. When he retired after the 2004 season, Glanville’s Baseball Encyclopedia entry highlighted a .277 lifetime average, 1,100 hits and 168 stolen bases. In 1999, the best season of his career, Glanville led the Philadelphia Phillies with a .325 average and 202 hits. In short, the man could play.
It is now, however, in his retirement, that I have developed a profound respect for the University of Pennsylvania grad. You see, Doug Glanville gets it. By that, I mean he has a rare ex-jock ability to look beneath the hood and see what’s genuinely there. He abhors cliches and refuses free-passes, and his post-Mitchell Report takes on drug abuse were as righteous as they came. Doug’s book, The Game From Where I Stand, offers a vivid insight into the mind of a ballplayer, and his work for ESPN and The New York Times is, in an era of cliche blatherings, masterful.
In this, the 69th Quaz, Doug takes you inside the Major League clubhouse. He explains why, oh why, players choose to cheat, and how he knew when it was time to retire. Doug also happens to be, perhaps, the world’s greatest Hall and Oates fan. Which, of course, makes me an even bigger Glanville fan. One can follow Doug’s Tweets here.
Doug Glanville, welcome to The Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: Doug, you’re a University of Pennsylvania graduate who spent nine years in the major leagues. You’ve had a successful post-athletic career as a columnist, commentator and rest estate developer. So please help me make the case why Daryl Hall and John Oates belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Oh, and how do you explain your love of all things H&O?
DOUG GLANVILLE: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is making a big mistake here. H&O were pioneers of creating music for everyone. They have an unquestionable ability to transcend genre, race, creed, religion, and every other element that divides our world. Maybe in a way, it is a compliment because calling them “Rock and Roll” would be too narrow of a description. But in answering your question, I would argue that they have also done a tremendous amount for Rock and Roll in their ability to distill it in a way that is accessible to all people. That is their greatest gift.
J.P.: This is random, and sorta out of nowhere. But I’ve wanted to ask someone in sports, and you certainly qualify: When we in the media ask an athlete or coach “What’s the mood in the locker room?” or “How does the team feel?” is this a flawed and bullshit request? What I mean is, how the hell can we take a collective and singularize it? Is there even a such thing as a “mood”in the clubhouse? Can’t everyone look sad, but inside this guy’s thinking“ Damn, we lost” while the fella next to him is thinking, “I could sure go for some Taco Bell right now”?
D.G.: There is such a thing as a mood or tone to a locker room. I played for a lot of teams and each one had its own music. You could tell when a team was cliquish or divided or having fun. Not to say that meant you would win or lose based on that tone, but you always could tell what it felt like to go to the park every day. Then events happen so huge that everyone reacts and if it is big enough and undeniable enough, you may all react the same way. I was on the Cubs in the 2003 playoffs and I could say there was a mood in the clubhouse after Game 6. For a moment it was a stunned feeling, but Dusty broke the ice and gave us the “Go get ’em tomorrow!” and the page was turned. You certainly can’t be responsible for everyone’s mood (everyone brings a different emotion to the team), but there are times where you just get on the same page emotionally. September 11 was certainly another time. Wow. I mean, everyone was so lost and so focused on family and friends. It was powerful.
J.P.: In your book, The Game From Where I Stand, you wrote of steroid users: “They believe that to cope with challenges of their profession and to hold on to what they love to do, they need something from a bottle. They may or may not realize that every time they pop that pill, they lose an opportunity—one that could have bestowed the gift of self-awareness. With that gift comes empowerment and peace, for you know what you are truly capable of when facing challenges with raw, honest vulnerability.” I love that. Absolutely love that. Because like you, I think the aftermath of cheating—of knowing you didn’t accomplish what you accomplished—must haunt one for a long time. My question, Doug, is this: How do you think ballplayers lived with themselves in the heat of the moment? I mean, Mark McGwire shatters Roger Maris’ single-season record, holds a press conference, cries, talks about touching his bat with Roger Maris’ bat, hugs Maris’ family members, etc … etc. Meanwhile, he was wiping out a record thanks to cheating? Does one just convince himself it’s OK? Are people merely callous and indifferent? How?
D.G.: Athletes live off of denial and there will be times where that can spill into outright dishonesty. You deny that your arm hurts, that your pending divorce is not affecting you. You deny that you are generally doubting whether you can get out of this slump, you deny that your father’s illness and your inability to spend more than 24 hours with him during the season is taking a toll on you. In a world that is so short-lived and frenetic, where the stakes are astronomical and difficult enough that it is like catching a spider web, people will do and deny many things to gain advantage. Especially when the peer pressure is so great. Players are always watching what the other guy is doing. And despite the base idea that the Yankees are playing the Orioles, they are also competing with the Yankees for that last roster spot, for that starting centerfield job. And if one guy is taking a shortcut and getting the results, others will follow to keep up. Collective cover tends to make it seem OK until you really step back and realize that one day you may have to make another phone call to the Maris family to apologize. I have to believe that McGwire had all the genuine regret in the world after that call. The chase to 61 practically destroyed Maris and the next guy pops a pill and erases his history. He should feel very bad about that.
J.P.: I’m gonna throw another oddball at you; one I’ve always wanted to ask an intelligent person. The dedication to your book reads, “To my father, the angels’ therapist, still counseling from the heavens.” It’s beautiful and touching, and I’m guessing your father was a wonderful man. However, do you genuinely believe there’s a heaven and a hell? I mean, you’re a brilliant guy with a deep education and, clearly, unique viewpoint of the world. Do you genuinely believe that, when one passes, he/she floats to a happy place with old relatives? Because, as much as I’d absolutely love to believe it, I struggle.
D.G.: I can say that I am not an authority on this by any stretch. The most direct experience that made me weigh it heavily was losing my father. He was a great man, truly amazing in his brilliance and kindness, and in his ability to bring people into a humble place. I suppose comfort tells me that I have a good amount of peace about his life, despite his no longer being with us. He left behind his poetry and some wonderful memories that I tap every day. And when I wrote about the Mitchell Report that broke open the steroid issue in baseball, I felt him sitting on my shoulder. The experience of writing captured his essence in a way that no picture or piece of memorabilia ever could for me. I understood him better than ever. Why he loved to write helped me know him once I learned to love it, too. In my dedication, I was expressing that he is still with us in that his lessons are so prevalent to so many people, every day … still. Being a father seemed to crystallize it even more. I say things my dad used to say all of the time. In talking to my wife, my son, who was 3 at the time, asked about death and loss. She talked about my dad not being here, but that he was in heaven. He asked (and I am paraphrasing), “Well, can we just build a bridge there and talk to him.” Truly, my son may be as right as anyone in his answer. I can’t say I know, but I feel like I have divine inspiration when I think of how much my father has given me since he has left this earth. Tupac has nothing on him.
The bird of his native county, Trinidad, is the humming bird (for the music season), so I’ve worn a hummingbird pendant ever since he passed. Since then, I have seen hummingbirds everywhere. I always take it as “I am where I am supposed to be at this moment.” Sure, they say people do this … see loved ones lost in everything (see Kevin Costner’s movie Dragonfly), but it has really helped me and that is what matters most to me and my family.
It is comforting to believe that someone you cared about who is no longer with us, has a place to go, that their life didn’t end with a period or even an exclamation point, but an ellipsis and beyond that ellipsis is the blank of a virgin canvas, white space by which his legacy carries on through what those left behind do with it. All I can really say is that in my experience, this has proven to be true. My father feels so present in my life and so much of what I learned from him I pass on. In my writing you come to know him, in my children, you would come to know him. In how I connect with my wife, in how I approach my work, you come to know him. And he had that impact on so many people. He was a psychiatrist who helped many, but he also did great work in his communities. School systems, police departments—you name it. His funeral was beautiful, truly. You could not have scripted it any better to embody his life. Diverse, interesting, divine, powerful, humble, inviting, intelligent, wise. I remember the police department from my hometown creating a police escort for him and blocking all of the lanes on the highway so the caravan could get off at the exit. He was royalty.
In short, maybe they are where they are and we are the ones in heaven or hell. It could be up to us to find heaven in their legacy. His earthly work was done and here we are with the chance to do something with it. I welcome that challenge, that gift. I don’t know what he would say—or is saying—about that, but I imagine he smiles that we are pulling our hair out trying to figure it out. He was such an action-reaction person. If you do this, that happens. My dad made sure he told my brother and I that he was proud of us before he left and thinking back in my life, I am highly confident that he would enjoyed my career now way more than when I played baseball. But somehow, I don’t think he actually missed it.
I know everyone has their own experiences with loss and varying degrees of understanding or acceptance about what is next. It seems like such a personal walk, how we deal with loss, but I have found so much gain in my “physical” loss and I would trade this loss for what I gained in having a long life with him. And I must add that watching my mother sustain his life during his most trying days was equally inspirational.
J.P.: I’m always amazed how professional athletes don’t seem to care all that much about geography. What I mean is, people sign free-agent deals to be in Cleveland (yuck) and Detroit (meh) and even, in hoops, Oklahoma City (dear God). When you were playing, did you take the location of a team as an important factor? And how did you, a Jersey kid, survive your time in Arlington, Texas?
D.G.: After you get spoiled in the big leagues for a while, I suppose players do think about that, but keep in mind, baseball is a great example of paying your dues, gradually. Very few start at the top of the geographic baseball chain. You get drafted and you hit the small town circuit then each level you climb, the cities get a little bigger. By the time you get to the show you have lived all over the country, seen all kinds of towns and adapted fairly well. Sure some cities have a lot more action but I would still take the big leagues in Cleveland over Triple-A Las Vegas any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
You learn to focus on the show and after being there a while, you may have an opinion or choice of cities. I went to Texas and I loved it there. I lived in Dallas and enjoyed the big Texan hospitality. So this Jersey kid appreciated it when I was in it.
And after being in the big city, big market world, you see the advantages of the small town. When I played for the Rangers, I got hurt (torn hamstring tendon). So my rehab assignment sent me back to the minors. I had a new appreciation for it. The quiet, the close connections, the focus. Big time is where you want to be, but those smaller stops have so much to offer that the big cities don’t have at all. You don’t want to stay there forever like you would in Philly or Chicago, but you can exhale there and actually know people intimately.
J.P.: I’ve heard a hundred different fans and journalists excuse a ballplayer’s cocky behavior by saying, “You have to be that way when you’re at his level.” I think it’s nonsense—superstars can be humble, too. Right? Right?
D.G.: Yes they really can, but I will say this: In that batter’s box and on that mound, you need to believe you are the best in the business. Nothing wrong with that. Doubt at that level grows exponentially and it will shorten your career very quickly. The real challenge is learning how to turn off the confidence when you walk in the door at home. It is too easy to keep the chip you need to perform, on your shoulders everywhere you go.
My friend used to say that the difference between arrogance and confidence is whether that person is liked. There is something to be said about how you are perceived in your confidence. I do think the players that can’t turn it off, have a tough time transitioning from the game and often become their own worst enemy even after they break a bunch of records and make a ton of money. Ryne Sandberg seemed shy and hardly said a word, but then you hung a slider and he hit it off of the scoreboard. Then he talked to you in barely a whisper (Not true in his managerial world). It is a humbling game, no matter how much swagger you bring to the table. If you fight that reality, it will eat you up.
J.P.: Greatest moment as a ballplayer? Lowest?
D.G.: Greatest: Just making it to the big leagues. It was freezing cold in Wrigley and I felt like it was 75 degrees on the beach. It was euphoria to see my name in that lineup with Sosa, Sandberg, Grace.
I enjoyed getting my 200th hit of the season when I was with the Phillies against the team that traded me, the Cubs. That was sweet. Game 3 of the 2003 NLCS—driving in the winning run to help us go up in the series was an amazing time. Especially given my father passed away that off-season and I came back from a torn hamstring tendon.
Getting my 1,000th hit of my career – especially learning later that my father passed away that same night. The last game of the 2002 season.
Lowest: I was miserable in 2002 when I was benched and just watched our team struggle all yea … Same year as my 1,000th hit. It was a time when I realized baseball is fun … when you are playing. Pinch running is for the birds.
Getting released by the Yankees in 2005 was also a low point. That was effectively, the end.
J.P.: How did you know, for sure, when it was time to stop playing? Was there a sign? A moment? Could you gradually see your bat speed slowing down at all as the years passed?
D.G.: So I had met my wife in 2004. That off-season I was thinking it’d be playoffs or bust. I didn’t want to play for a team that was not a contender. So I sat on my couch waiting for the right call. The Yankees called earlier that off-season, but were kind of “take this deal or leave it.” So I left it. Then they called back in January with a kindler/gentler approach so I soul searched and decided to go for it.
I was already in a bad spot because my 2004 season was awful. I didn’t play, I struggled with it and my numbers were not good for free agency.
I signed with the Yankees and I saw a good shot at being a fourth outfielder with a chance to play a lot of center with Bernie Williams fighting injuries. In camp, to my shock, the Yankees ran me out there every single day. I made all the trips, I pinch hit, pinch ran, started, played defense, came in off the bench. It was tough on my now one hamstring tendon-less leg, but I was in the gym at least twice a day. So I avoided the training room.
I was doing fairly well for stretch then had a bad week when my direct competition, Bubba Crosby, had a good one (after he came back from being out a few days). So they released me.
I went back to my white walled apartment and sat there. I remember talking to a friend of mine who had left Hollywood and her acting career there to just go home and regroup. She said leaving was like going through “barbed wire” but once you get to the other side, you realize the burden you have been carrying.
I sat and the phone wasn’t ringing. I heard about front office jobs which I scoffed at because I was looking for a playing job. Then the Padres called with a Triple-A deal and I had no interest in going back to the minors. Yankees or Bust it became.
Then my future wife came to visit and we soul searched together. I was planning to propose to her in a week or so and here we were sorting Plan B or C out. She was an attorney at the public defenders’ office and said to me, “I can take a leave so you can finish on your own terms. If you want to go to San Diego, I will go with you.” Then I thought about it and saw that it wasn’t all about me anymore and I welcomed that fact. I looked at my career and saw a lot I was proud of and after all the 2005 season was going to be my 15th pro season. That is a lot of time.
So I told her “You know, it is your time, I have done it and I am heading home.”.
Yes, my hamstring needed constant attention, yes, my arm strength was not what it was before. But I felt good on the field still. Speed was there. So there was no real on-field moment like when Garry Maddox told me that he went for a fly ball and his body did not keep up with his mind. That is when he knew it was time. I didn’t have that—I was only 34 and felt good considering. It was a lifestyle change, a shift in priority and goals which really shifted the most when my father passed away.
J.P.: You’re the president of GKAlliance, a company that provides intellectual capital for start-up and emerging companies. A. What the heck does that mean? B. What’s your goal? C.How did this happen?
D.G.: Well, this is a long story for sure, but we formed out of the ashes of my investing in a company that was building single-family homes in the Chicago area. Then my junior high school friend invested. We both saw the market falling and formed our own company to protect our investments. Before we knew it, we were knee deep in being a homebuilding company to finish some major projects. In the end, we built some very cool homes, some green features, but we realized we had to diversify with the housing decline, so we started working with people looking to start companies and give them a bump, a starting push (almost like equity-based and active angel investors).
We are still hustling at it, but had to sell off the homes and work magic to not be completely underwater in the process. I told someone that my foray in the homebuilding world was “moderately disastrous.” But in the end, my friend and I made it out in a few pieces that could be glued back together. We still hope to find interesting people to invest in and bring their goals to market.
J.P.: Do you ever get tired of talking/writing on baseball? Aren’t there days when you’re like, “Ugh, enough! Enough! I no longer care!”
D.G.: So far, I have never come close to feeling that way. Baseball is the most poetic game out there. It has limitless storytelling possibility. It reflects life. I absolutely love writing about it and its life’s lessons. My book had about 25,000 words on the cutting room floor. I could have written a trilogy if given the time. Besides, I feel to my soul that I was more “meant” to write than to play ball. And with my need and will to stay close to my father, it is almost out of my hands. Writing is the most powerful and fearless thing I have ever done, bar none (OK, maybe next to being a father and husband).
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH DOUG GLANVILLE:
• 10 Greatest Hall and Oates songs of all time: The Sky is Falling (Marigold Sky was a sleeper of an album. This track made the most of how they blend music); Out of Touch (I practically burned a hole in the vinyl with Dance on Your Knees and this song. Loved the video); Sara Smile (Nothing to say. Musical perfection); She’s Gone (If you want to understand Hall and Oates, this is the song. Harmony, timing, balance); No Can Do (So well produced that it will sound like a new release in 2057); Crazy Eyes (I love this song. John Oates shows his skills. Raw and straight to the point); Intuition (This is a great fusion between the old doo-wop and the new. Genius); Adult Education (Yes, drum machines and blaring modern production. I ate this song up like syrup); Do What You Want, Be What You Are (Soul soul soul. You don’t need music for this song); Kiss on my List (The song that started my obsession); Melody for a Memory; Nothing At All; Looking for a Good Sign; Emptyness; Love Hurts (Love Heals).
• What does it feel like to have a fastball slam into your helmet?: I was hit in the head once by Frank Viola making his comeback. It was my fault, I dove out to protect against his nasty changeup and BAM! Didn’t see it coming. He tipped his cap and I waved him off letting him know I kind of dove into it. My Triple-A manager couldn’t stand me so the running joke was that he came running from the third base coach’s box to check to see if the helmet was cracked.
• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Not really. But … In Triple-A I was concerned. We were connecting via St. Louis from Indianapolis. Heading back home to Des Moines. Nasty weather, lightning, windy. The plane was a knuckleball. It was the worst flight I have ever experienced. There was a woman sitting next to one of my teammates who was practically in his lap. She told him “if we land safely, I will give you my BMW.” Well we landed and we ended sleeping in the airport … next to six members of the women’s World Cup Soccer team. To this day, I am still friends with Lorrie Fair, Brandi Chastain, Tiffeny Milbrett, Heather Mitts (who I met later). And many others. Remind me to tell you another story …
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Quaker Oat Squares, Newark, N.J., Davey Lopes,bacon bits, Spice Girls, Maneater, Rico Brogna, CVS, the sound of a lawnmower,fingernails, eggplant parm, American Idol, my uncle Marty, Wesley Walker, February 2: 1. Maneater; 2. Rico Brogna; 3. Wesley Walker; 4. Newark, N.J.; 5. Bacon Bits; 6. CVS; 7. Quaker Oat Squares; 8. Davey Lopes; 9. February 2; 10. Fingernails; 11. Your Uncle Marty; 12. Lawnmower; 13. Eggplant parm; 14. Spice Girls.
• The world needs to know: What was is like playing with Rob Ducey?: Duce was one of a kind. My favorite stories in the big leagues was from Rob Ducey.
1) So he goes out to some steakhouse in Philly. Guy pulls a gun on him. He assumes he wants his Porsche, so he throws his keys up in the air and just runs the other way. Guy gets the keys, joy rides, jacks up his car, but he had a carphone in it, so the police call it and the guy answers the phone. So posing as him, they talk to him and trace the car. Apparently he said “Hey man, I didn’t want your car, I just wanted your money.” Better fact check with Daily News article titled “Robbed Ducey.”
2) He was traded for a player to be named later and days later, he was named “the player to be named later.” It was hilarious. He had a different locker even. Then Phillies GM Ed Wade said “I hope we got a better player than the one we traded away.”
• Most embarrassing moment as a ballplayer?: Many. Forgot how many outs there were in a game and Steve Finley scored tagging up from second (granted my father had a stroke earlier that week, but still).
I slid making a cool play cutting off a ball in the outfield, but couldn’t get up quickly so I tried to flip it to the nearest outfielder and missed him by a mile. Inside the Park.
I played in the Cape Cod league and a guy hit a ball in the gap. I slid around the ball to do that cool “pop up” slide-and-throw play. I went right through the fence and got stuck in the wire fence. They had to stop the game to pry my out of the fence. (I also got stuck in another fence the next day with my foot at the top of the fence after I tried to jump the fence to get a ball)—No more wire mesh fences please!
• Five reasons one should make Teaneck, N.J. his next vacation destination: 1) History—Learn about how a community took on segregation to make a diverse world; 2) Bagels; 3) Visit my old neighbor’s house. One of the oldest in town. It was freaky to watch their cats at night; 4) Follow the New Jersey Nets history and how they began; 5) Former homes of the stars! Marc Jacobs, Damon Lindelof (LOST), Paul Volcker, Dave Winfield, David Stern, Lawrence Frank, Elston Howard, Willie Randolph, Bob Watson, Tony Campbell, Jim Bouton, The Isley Brothers, Kevin Jonas, Lil’ Kim, Ben E King, Trey Songz …
• We give you 500 ABs right now in the Majors, what’s your line?: .206, 5 HR, 22 RBI. DL 6 times.
• One question you’d ask William A. Wheeler were he still alive?: How did you have the resolve and courage to follow your principles so closely in the face of so much chaos and war?
Quaz 2: Chris Burgess (Professional basketball player)
Quaz 3: Tommy Shaw (Singer/guitarist, Styx)
Quaz 4: Russ Ortiz (Former Major League pitcher)
Quaz 5: Don McPherson (Former NFL quarterback, feminist)
Quaz 6: Frank Zaccheo (MS activist)
Quaz 7: Geoff Rodkey (Daddy Daycare screenwriter, author)
Quaz 8: Meeno Peluce (Former child actor, Voyagers!)
Quaz 9: Karl Mecklenburg (Former NFL linebacker)
Quaz 10: Amra-Faye Wright (Actress, Chicago)
Quaz 11: Phil Nevin (Former Major League slugger)
Quaz 12: Jemele Hill (Columnist and commentator, ESPN)
Quaz 13: Drew Snyder (Christian Minister)
Quaz 14: Roy Smalley (Former Major League shortstop)
Quaz 15: Michael Shermer (Professional skeptic)
Quaz 16: Kathy Wagner (Actress)
Quaz 17: Travis Warren (Lead singer, Blind Melon)
Quaz 18: Scott Barnhardt (Broadway actor from The Book of Mormon)
Quaz 19: Chris Jones (Writer/Author)
Quaz 20: Cindi Avila (Celebrity chef)
Quaz 21: Crystal McKellar (Former Wonder Years actress, attorney)
Quaz 22: Dan Riehl (Conservative blogger)
Quaz 23: Prime Minister Pete Nice (Rapper, baseball historian)
Quaz 24: Glen Graham (Drummer, Blind Melon)
Quaz 25: Dave Coverly (Nationally syndicated cartoonist)
Quaz 26: Marie Te Hapuku (Opera standout)
Quaz 27: Christian Delcroix (Broadway actor)
Quaz 28: Jack McDowell (Former Major League pitcher)
Quaz 29: Jake Black (Comic book writer, cancer survivor)
Quaz 30: Brian Johnson (Major League scout, former Giants catcher)
Quaz 31: Craig Salstein (Soloist, American Ballet Theatre)
Quaz 32: John Herzfeld (Hollywood director)
Quaz 33: Jenny DeMilo (Professor escort/erotic specialist)
Quaz 34: Tina Thompson (Longtime WNBA star)
Quaz 35: Seth Davis (Sports Illustrated writer, CBS basketball analyst)
Quaz 36: Dave Fleming (Former Major League pitcher)
Quaz 37: Mike Sharp (Former world-class cyclist, accident victim)
Quaz 38: Kathleen Osgood (Blogger, cancer survivor)
Quaz 39: Gabriel Aldort (Street musician, New York City)
Quaz 40: Lennie Friedman (Former NFL offensive lineman)
Quaz 41: Rick Arzt (Lead singer, Love Seed Mama Jump)
Quaz 42: Sean Salisbury (Former NFL QB and commentator)
Quaz 43: Mac Lethal (Rapper)
Quaz 44: Cord McCoy (Professional Rodeo star)
Quaz 45: Cameron Mills (Pastor, former Kentucky basketball star)
Quaz 46: Jim Abbott (One-handed former Major League pitcher)
Quaz 47: Alison Cimmet (Broadway and commercial actress)
Quaz 48: Linda Ensor (Tea Party activist)
Quaz 49: L.Z. Granderson (ESPN and CNN columnist)
Quaz 50: Gina Girolamo (Television executive)
Quaz 51: Lenny Krayzelburg (Former Olympic swimmer)
Quaz 52: Shawn Green (Former Major League All-Star)
Quaz 53: Ashley Poole (Singer, former member of Dream)