Questions For… Peter Gammons

1199463618The Hot Stove/Cool Music benefit has become an annual winter rite. It’s a chance, as event organizer and local legend Peter Gammons says, to turn the page on last season and look forward to the new one. With a little rock ‘n roll thrown in, naturally. Gammons was kind enough to give a few minutes to Boston Daily on the eve of this year’s event.

After the jump, we asked Peter which band he would want to jam with, where Johan Santana may end up, and how the current group of Red Sox kids compares to the 70’s version.

Boston Daily: Peter, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. This must be like a second Christmas for you, combining baseball and music all in one space. What are you looking forward to?

Gammons: Bringing together baseball and rock ‘n roll to have a weekend where we have a lot of fun and turn the page on the last season. Of course, most fans don’t want to turn the page on winning the World Series, but it’s also the launch of the new year.

Where does your passion for music come from?

The period I grew up in, being a child of the 60’s. My father was a classical musician so the real talent obviously didn’t rub off on me.

If you could play one set, with any band in any time period, who would it be?

It would be the Rolling Stones when Brian Jones was still alive. I would have liked to have been up on stage with them in 1966. I saw that show and they were phenomenal. That, or Little Feat with Lowell George.

What have you been listening to lately?

It’s been a strange period for me. I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff, but I’ve become a huge fan of Lori McKenna. She’s one of my favorites. (ed. note: McKenna will be appearing at Sunday’s show)

2007 is still fresh in a lot of people’s minds. My theory is 10 years from now, people will look back and see it as the start of something special.

I agree with you. It was the beginning of putting the whole steroid era behind us. The problem is, a whole bunch of our winter will be taken up by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I think attendance and TV ratings will be impacted for the first time, just because it’s so hard for people to accept that two of the great players in baseball history have been judged guilty. If Clemens keeps claiming that he’s innocent and gets into a war with Brian McNamee, it’s really going to get ugly.

How about the kids who made such an impact last year?

In 2004, 2005, a couple of scouting directors told me that they have to judge players differently. The game has changed and they need different types of players. Jacoby Ellsbury is one of those types of players. Is he going to be as powerful as Grady Sizemore? Probably not, but I think he is going to be one of the defining players of the next 15 years or so, more so than some of those guys from the mid 90’s.

That’s interesting. A guy like Dustin Pedroia probably would have been overlooked in the 90’s.

Oh, absolutely. There were still people in late September, early October who go by raw tools saying that he’s not that good. Well, he is. The guy is barely 5-foot-5, he swings a big bat with an uppercut, and he had the second-best swing-and-miss percentage in the American League. Most guys who are 5-5 and loud annoy people, but everyone loves him because he can laugh at himself.

How does this group of kids compare to the early and mid 70’s group, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, etc., that came up in Boston?

One difference is the emphasis now is on pitching. They really didn’t develop pitchers in that era. At this point, they don’t really have the potential Hall of Famers that they had then. Not that I think Jim Rice is going to end up in the Hall of Fame, but Rice, Lynn, Evans, and Fisk were potential Hall of Famers. The way they have transformed the organization to be so pitching-dominant is to me, remarkable.

It makes me wonder if it’s worth it to trade three or four of these guys for Johan Santana when the young players, and I’m throwing Jed Lowrie in there, are all part of this changing culture that I find exciting.

That’s a good time to ask the obligatory Johan Santana question. Where will he end up?

I think the Red Sox offer is the best. I know Hank Steinbrenner said the Yankee offer was the best, but I don’t really buy that. In the end, I think the one team that’s apt to over-spend is the Mets, and I almost feel that the Red Sox and Yankees would be happy if he went out of the league.

Peter, let me ask you one more thing. This has been a huge pet peeve of mine. Can we eliminate, once and for all, the idea that bringing back a pitcher on three days rest is in any way a good idea?

The history shows that it’s a really bad idea. The Red Sox really showed us something during the regular season when Terry Francona made sure all their pitchers sat down for a stretch. I know Josh Beckett wasn’t happy about sitting out two weeks, but in the end, the fact that he threw 200 innings and CC Sabathia threw 245 is the difference in the Red Sox winning the pennant.

Bobby Valentine used to talk about the need for six starters. You don’t start out the year with six starters, but there are periods during the season when it doesn’t hurt to use them. I think the Red Sox are headed in that direction and I think the Yankees are too.

Peter, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

My pleasure.

The Hot Stove/Cool Music event begins tomorrow with a roundtable discussion and a preview show Saturday night. The main event is Sunday and features performances by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys, Dicky Barrett of the Mighty, Mighty, Bosstones, Kay Hanley, Lori McKenna, and many more. The event benefits the Foundation to be Named Later. You can buy tickets here.