Expanding on today’s Q-and-A with Hall of Famer Robin Yount (linked here), why not sit back with a nice cold Robinade — that’s naturally brewed lemonade, available only in the greater Wisconsin area — and read more about his thoughts on topics of the day:
Question: So, Robinade: How do we get some out here?
Yount: I have a close friend in the juice business who’s been able to see this old-school lemonade all over Wisconsin for the MACC Fund — that’s the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, which was started in the late ’70s when I was playing and something I felt strong about and got behind. I still fly to Wisconsin maybe once a month to do things for the Brewers’ organization, and promote the drink. It’s a lot like what Paul Newman has done with all his products, making them go toward a great cause. We can’t ship it easily because it’s in the dairy case and has to stay cold, so we’re working on another version that will have ingredients in hit that give it a stable shelf life. I’m signing a lot of bottles, and it’s a lot fun because you can find it all over there in bars and restaurants and golf courses. And I think you may have heard that they enjoy drinking in Milwaukee, so there is a pub or two that has gotten behind it and use it for mixers.
(Check out the official Robinade website linked here).
Question: What today is the value of having seasoned scouts involved in a big-league organization, with all the video available and sabermetics evaluations used to put a value on players? Does the human element still mean anything?
Yount: Now you’re about to open a whole other can of worms. It’s not just scouting in high school, but baseball in the big leagues. The scouts are really the unsung heroes. The good ones who can judge talent at a young age and try to figure out everything are hard to come by.
Today, it seems to become much more uniform in the way talent is judged. We don’t factor in the human element as much as we should. But the good ones do their homework and find out the stuff that really matters. Baseball now is about getting back to the basic and playing the game the way it should be. With the connections I still have with the Brewers, I see a lot of people paid to do these front-office jobs, and there are more of them looking at their computers than I can remember.
I guess you can tell I’m not a big fan of the computer. I know they’re beneficial, but in my opinion, it takes away too much of the human element. There’s no question we still have some quality scouts out there, whose job it is to get the talent to the big leagues as quickly as possible. With the money invested in these kids today, they’d better be right. Let’s face it, a pretty good percentage of the payroll these days goes to first-round draft picks. Now, scouts have to judge kids at a younger age, and how their offensive game will be without the use of metal bats. Many players can’t make that adjustment. That sweet spot shrinks down to half the size, and they might never figure it out. A good scout will see that.
Q: Your son, Dustin, was headed on a pro baseball path. I think where your brother Larry served eventually as your agent, did you end up as Dustin’s agent?
Yount: Agent is a word that’s a little over glorified. If I had to have one, I guess I did. We had one when Larry got drafted, and I know I wasn’t in any position to negotiate my first deal. Dustin (a 28-year-old first baseman who played five years in the Baltimore Orioles system before the Dodgers recently picked him up) has probably just pulled the plug on his baseball career. I think he’s gone as far as he’s going to go and now he’s trying find a real job, working for a friend selling cars.
Q: With everything a scout’s time is invested in, would that be something you’d be interested in doing with your time in at this point in your life.
Yount: These guys are in their cars, covering games, putting in the hours. I have a lot of other interests that I guess I’m not willing to give up for a fulltime job. I don’t coach anymore – that’s another fulltime job, with no days off for eight months a year. I’d never rule coaching out, but I’d say the odds are stacked against that happening again, too.
Q: What do you make of the start of Ryan Braun’s career with the Brewers, kind of making that strange circle of life connection with Milwaukee and the Valley again (Braun is from Granada Hills)?
Yount: He’s so fun to watch. We talk all the time about the Valley when I go out there. I know he spends a lot of time in L.A., and things are a lot different for him than they were for me at that age. I mean, he’s got restaurants going, and a clothing line . . . he’s enjoying the spotlight. He’s really got an entrepreneur’s interest in so many things. My interests are just about having fun.
Q: I saw a quote in Sports Illustrated where you said: “I wish I wasn’t so silly about being in public. I’d rather play baseball in front of 55,000 people than say 20 words in front of a group of 100. I wish I didn’t get so nervous and could speak. But I can’t.” Is that still true, and if so, how do you give a speech to maybe 1,500 who’ll see you get this award next Saturday?
Yount: Oh, yeah, it’s true. I do much better than I did when I was younger, but I’ve never been comfortable in front of people. I didn’t know I had to give a speech with this thing. Do I have to?