Monday, March 6, 2006

This week's chat is a bit one-sided, although that shouldn't be surprising when one of the country's best-known talkers, starts to, well, talk. Chris Matthews, host of nationally syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show" and MSNBC's "Hardball," discusses a little Philly hardball and why Anderson Cooper mixes him up.

So for you the big interest is baseball?

Yeah, I'll tell you the whole story. I grew up in Philly. I was a Phillies fanatic back in the '50s and the '60s. I used to keep a scrapbook. I think it was the Fabulous Phillies of '58 or something like that.

I also went through all those years of watching Robin Roberts lose, 2-0. He was always that guy who'd go in and throw the gopher pitch in the first inning and he'd be two down. And then he'd go out there and finish the game, and he'd be great, but he'd go out there and lose, 3-2. They never batted for him.

My great life metaphor from sports is to be out there at Connie Mack [Stadium] in a hot, late-season game, down in the standings, in the second division, and you're the first relief pitcher. You'd be pitching and you'd be down like 5-2. You knew that even if you got all the rest of the batters out the rest of the game, you wouldn't win. So you had not only to get them out, but you had to count on your guys to come in during the second half of the inning and scoring.

That's what life is. Life is having to get the other team out and even then not knowing you're going to win because it depends on other people helping you. When you see that guy go out on the mound, he knows he's behind and he knows he can have a really good inning and put them away, and fan all three of them. And the fact of the matter is, he could still lose. It's about life. It really is.

I think I'm just a Phillies fan in my soul. Philly is a city that's been overlooked and ignored for years. New York got all the attention, Washington. Even in TV commercials they wouldn't even mention it. It's rough. It's like the Cubs.

In the old days at Connie Mack you could tell the score by how much trash was in left field. The people would just start throwing trash on the field if we were down 7-2. It just happens. It's just part of the package.

Any interest in the World Baseball Classic?

I think it's great. Baseball is so much like George Carlin said it is. It's not about turf, it's not about stadiums. It's about parks. It's not about time, but innings. It's so different in a spatial way. It's timeless. Everything else is about time. Shot clocks. It's different. I think it's a game that's especially good for being there. Baseball is a game of sounds. When you go to your first game, what really jumps out of you is the sound of the bat.

It's never been a good game on TV. It doesn't work even with the new camera angles they got now. You can't do 360 degrees on television. You can only do 180s, a Cartesian plane.

That's not a dig at Anderson Cooper is it?

He does a great job down there. We're all in this business together. Although I do make that old mistake of calling him Cooper Anderson. Where I grew up you had a first name and last name and now you've got all these guys who have two last names. They've got Shepard Smith, too. I'm more in the tradition of Bill O'Reilly. Sean Hannity. Chris Matthews. Liam Dillon. Clear difference between last name and first name. I gotta go.

-- Liam Dillon

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