The show will feature an interactive segment this season called “Take on Russ,” where viewers will be invited to interact during the game through blogs, emails, calls and texting and Russ will address viewers’ opinions and offer his own.
Russ was kind enough to sit down with the Queens Ledger/Brooklyn Star last week, and as you can expect, the conversation turned to baseball. Q: What’s it like working with Ed Randall
A: “I’ve known Ed a long time. He’s a good guy, a seasoned guy, a guy who gets it. I’m confident in the brief things we’ve done together.”
Q: What will you try to do to make the Verizon Fios Game Wrap Up different from other post-game shows?
A: “We’ll try to do stuff like “Take on Russ” and give opinions, and I’m going to try to have fun. I try to have fun in everything we do. Now, fun doesn’t mean giggles and seltzer water, but this isn’t health care, this is baseball.”
Q: Which Yankee is the easiest to talk to?
A: “They have a lot of easy guys. It’s a good locker room. [Nick] Swisher is easy, [CC] Sabathia is easy, [Derek] Jeter is easy, [Mark] Teixeira is easy. One of the best was Johnny Damon. They don’t really have a locker room of bad guys. They have accommodating people.”
“Derek is actually a great example. Derek I don’t think loves talking to the media, but he’s extremely respectful of what you do for a living. He might not open up to every thing, but there’s a lot of leadership there.”
Q: Which Yankee did you try to avoid?
A: “I never try to avoid anyone, because if I avoid them I’m not doing my job. That said, I was never thrilled about speaking to Roger Clemens. He was a pain in the rear end. To me, he was the anti-Derek. He wanted respect but he didn’t respect what you did.”
Q: Are you expecting the Yankees to repeat?
A: “You have to pencil them in as favorites, you have to. But they have to worry about the injury bug. [Nick] Johnson has been one walking bandage his entire career. If he stays healthy, then you have a good situation.”
“Take a look at the Mets last year: they lose Reyes, they lose Delgado, they lose Beltran; three key guys. Wright gets hurt, Santana gets hurt. Let’s take Teixeira, Jeter and A-Rod out. What do you have? Injuries can change things in a heartbeat.”
“If they stay healthy, they have to be the team to beat, although the Red Sox are tough and the Rays are tough.”
Q: What about the Mets?
A: “They need Beltran. You have to have Beltran in the lineup. But the thing that bothers me is that their pitching has to show up. It’s time for John Maine and Oliver Perez to stand up. It’s too early to jump off the ledge, but if they keep playing like this, I’ve got to be on the ledge.”
Q: What makes Yankees fans different from Mets fans? Is it something beyond the 27 World Series Championships?
A: “That is it. The Yankees fans have a long standing history and tradition. Yankees fans have always been Yankees fans. When the Mets first game out, their fans were old Giants and Dodgers fans, old National League fans. Now, that’s changed with people born in the 80’s, as they’ve always been Mets fans, but look at the tradition. That’s the difference.”