A Front-Row Seat with the Sportswriters Who Sat There
Sit down with host Todd Jones and other sportswriters who knew the greatest athletes and coaches, and experienced first-hand some of the biggest sports moments in the past 50 years. They’ll share stories behind the stories -- some they’ve only told to each other.
Bernie Miklasz: “Everyone Went Along for the Ride”
Bernie Miklasz is synonymous with sports in St. Louis, where he has been writing stories and offering on-air opinions for nearly 40 years. Hear about Tony La Russa calling him at 7 a.m. the morning after a World Series game. Bernie tells us about the engaging personality of Whitey Herzog, the toughness of Kurt Warner, and how Albert Pujols changed on his return to the Cardinals. We’re with Bernie for his first-ever story (about Gordie Howe), and he puts us in the press box during a crazy deadline at an October ballgame. Bernie reflects on the 1998 home run race and his evolving feelings about steroids, Mark McGwire, and judgment. There’s his scoop about NHL coach Mike Keenan, and a revelation about where Bernie had to file his column from after the earthquake at the 1989 World Series in San Francisco.
Bernie was the lead sports columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 26 years (1989-2015), where he also blogged for the newspaper’s website STLtoday.com and produced many podcasts, including “Breakfast With Bernie” and the “Best Podcast in Baseball.” He left the Post-Dispatch to join 101 ESPN in St. Louis to host a three-hour, weekday radio talk show. Bernie currently writes for ScoopsWithDannyMac.com and he contributes podcasts and videos for that website. He also hosts a weekday afternoon radio talk show on “590 The Fan” KFNS. Bernie began his career at the Baltimore News-American in 1979 and later moved to St. Louis in 1985 to cover the NFL Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch. When that team moved to Arizona in 1988, he also left to join the Dallas Morning News, where he covered Tom Landry’s final season as coach of the Cowboys, the sale of the team to Jerry Jones, the hiring of Jimmy Johnson, and the drafting of Troy Aikman. Bernie returned to St. Louis the next year to become the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch. He has been that city’s top sports voice ever since. Bernie has provided extensive coverage of the Cardinals, the NHL Blues, two St. Louis NFL teams (including the Rams) and their departures, local college sports, and soccer, as well as more than 30 Super Bowls and multiple Olympics and World Series.
Follow Bernie on Twitter: @miklasz
Fun Fact: Miklasz has attended more than 125 concerts by Bruce Springsteen since the 1970s.
Bernie Miklasz edited transcript
Speakers: Todd Jones & Bernie Miklasz
Todd Jones (00:01):
Hello, Bernie. Thanks for joining us on Press Box Access. Welcome.
Bernie Miklasz (00:06):
Really glad to do this. Thanks for inviting me. Man, you've been talking to all my friends and I'm no longer on the sidelines. Thanks for that.
Todd Jones (00:15):
Well, it's great. You're always welcome. The doors are always open. We might have to kick everybody out at 2:00 AM when they call up the house lights and say no more beer. But we'll try to get this in before then.
Bernie Miklasz (00:28):
We'll get it. We both like to get it, Todd.
Todd Jones (00:30):
Bernie, I hear your name and immediately think of St. Louis obviously. You've been there since the ‘80s. St. Louis Post Dispatch Comm. as from ‘89 to 2015. You're still writing, and broadcasting afternoon talk show at 590 The Fan.
Todd Jones (00:47):
You write for scoops with dannymac.com, and you've been there so long. You're like the voice, the written voice and the spoken voice of St. Louis sports. What's it been like to have a relationship with one city all these years?
Bernie Miklasz (01:02):
It's been fantastic. I grew up in Baltimore and that's where I started my career. And it was my home, and I loved it dearly, but I realized I had to kind of make a move career-wise because the paper I was working for was on a death spiral, afternoon paper, the old Baltimore News American.
Bernie Miklasz (01:18):
But anyway, when I got to St. Louis, man, clearly, it adopted me and took me in, and I was fortunate to sort of win people over and earn their trust. Now, I did leave for a little while. I went to the Dallas Morning News to cover the Cowboys, Tom Landry's final year, but then I returned as a columnist. So, I've been continuously in St. Louis since 1989. But I put in three years before that.
Bernie Miklasz (01:43):
There's about a 15-month gap. But St. Louis has been great to me. I mean, I'm blessed. Even through the trials and the tribulations and job changes and this and that, people have been really loyal, and you really find out … it's hard to explain.
Bernie Miklasz (01:50):
It's really, really meaningful.
Todd Jones (02:34):
Well, like I said, I think of you in St. Louis, but when I hear your name Bernie, I also think of Chris Webber of all things. That's an odd connection and by your reaction, I'm sure you don't remember, but I have this distinct memory that you and I were sitting right next to each other on press row, courtside.
Bernie Miklasz (02:55):
Todd Jones (02:56):
At the 1993 Final Four.
Bernie Miklasz (02:57):
No, I do remember.
Todd Jones (02:59):
North Carolina versus Michigan in the championship game. Chris Webber gets a rebound. He walks, they don't call it, he brings it up court, he gets trapped, he signals for timeout. And I turned to you, Bernie, I said, "They don't have any more timeouts."
Bernie Miklasz (03:13):
You did. I do remember this now, and I apologize. I'm getting old. No, and you and I and the people near us, we had like the perfect seat for that.
Todd Jones (03:22):
Bernie Miklasz (03:23):
As far as the view, I mean, I'll never forget, I mean, you and I are like directly looking right across the court. I mean, it's weird. We're not looking down the court or it's like right in front of us, basically. And yeah, I remember that. It was just like, “What just happened?” Just like, it was incredible. That was an amazing night and I had to crank out a column in … it seemed like five minutes, maybe a little more than that.
Todd Jones (03:45):
Oh yeah. Maybe five and a half.
Bernie Miklasz (03:47):
But it wasn't much time.
Bernie Miklasz (05:04):
Todd, you bring up a story and right away I'm happy because now that you've reminded me of this setting, I'm like, “Yeah, of course now I remember.” But isn't this part of the job that in many ways might be as Tony La Russa would say, tied for first, like when you're a sports writer.
Bernie Miklasz (05:25):
All the shared experiences you have with people, not only on your own team, Cincinnati Post, or St. Louis Post-Dispatch, or Baltimore News America or Dallas Morning News, or all the places we've worked. Just those experiences, you never know like in a press box for a national event or in an arena for a national event, press row, you never know who you're really going to end up sitting next to.
Bernie Miklasz (05:49):
And then to have that shared experience. And you think about, we both had been doing this a long time. You think about all the people along the way that we sat next to, like we did that night, or we were in the press box at a football NFL game or whatever the situation may be. That's the thing I miss most about not being a newspaper guy.
Bernie Miklasz (06:09):
It's the camaraderie and those shared experiences. And then many years later, you have a treasure trove of stories you can tell and exchange and have some laughs and that brotherhood or sisterhood, that's a big part of why that job is so unique and so special.
Todd Jones (06:52):
I mean, you're talking about sitting next to somebody in a press box. I was not there, but you were at the 1989 World Series. There's an earthquake and you end up, I think, filing a column from like a drug den. Is that right?
Bernie Miklasz (07:06):
Yeah, that was an incredible experience and a tragedy to say the least. And first of all, just as it happened, I wasn't sure what was going on. I was in the auxiliary press box at Candlestick Park, which is basically the upper deck behind home plate in the stands.
Bernie Miklasz (07:22):
And when that started, I thought it was just people stomping their feet. And because the game was getting close to start, and then realized, well, wait a minute, no. And then it was a bay area of journalists who I didn't really know, but just said, it's an earthquake. And I'm like, "What?"
Bernie Miklasz (07:35):
And I swear I was terrified because you're helpless. There's nothing you can do. And to this day, it's gone now. I will always love and treasure and savor Candlestick Park because it's like, "Hey, you held up. You probably saved my life."
Todd Jones (07:49):
I know. It's funny because it was such a dump, right? And yet it held up.
Bernie Miklasz (07:53):
Yeah. And so yeah, I had to file a column and it was really a challenge because for a while we were sitting in that auxiliary box but they chased us out. I went out to my car and had one of those primitive … the things you used to buy at RadioShack, you know those things?
Todd Jones (08:16):
Wait a minute. It's like the Flintstones now, RadioShack.
Bernie Miklasz (08:19):
Yeah, right. And I kind of wrote with the interior lights on and I had some notes. So, I sat there and wrote the column in my car. But then it's like, okay, now how do I file this? There's no Wi-Fi back then and you couldn't find a phone line. For a while, there was one at a truck, a network truck out but that went dead. And I'm like, "Well, I'm just going to have to get in the car and drive around till I can find a phone."
Bernie Miklasz (08:51):
And it's a bad neighborhood near — no offense, but San Francisco, but near the ballpark. Anyway, long story short, there were some guys outside the neighborhood, like the entrance to the neighborhood. And I said, "Look man, I'm just going to level with you. I'm a sports writer from St. Louis. I need to find a phone that works. I'll pay you to get me to a phone." Which I did, paid him well. And then came upon this one house and they couldn't have been nicer. And I was able to transmit my story. I paid them a nice fee just for the privilege because I truly, truly-
Todd Jones (09:25):
What was the fee? What was the fee, Bernie?
Bernie Miklasz (09:28):
And keep in mind, this is in 1989. I think like a hundred dollars. I mean, that wasn't like-
Todd Jones (09:37):
It was good.
Bernie Miklasz (09:38):
Putting a $5 bill on the table. So, and then I paid the guys outside the neighborhood entry about a hundred dollars, maybe even a little more. And they protected my car and this and that. So, towards the end and they could tell I was exasperated or just kind of like … they said, “Would you like some of this,” and they're passing drugs around.
Bernie Miklasz (09:59):
And I said, no, but they weren't degenerate or anything. I mean, it was just maybe a lifestyle. I mean, they got a bong, they got this, they got that. And I said “No, but man, I would love a beer.” And they went in the refrigerator and got me like a tall boy, like a Budweiser.
Todd Jones (10:19):
Of course, they knew you're from St. Louis.
Bernie Miklasz (10:21):
Yeah and I sat there and chatted with them and just had a delightful time, and they're passing around various substances. And so, I don't want to give you the wrong idea. I mean, they were like really lovely people, it just that they were doing a lot of drugs at the time while I was trying to get this story transmitted on deadline.
Bernie Miklasz (10:42):
That's one of the great stories I've had like in my career, and there were so many other stories from fellow scribes during those days. And then I stayed there for four or five days and just filed earthquake related stories, no sports.
Bernie Miklasz (10:58):
And that was, I hate to say satisfying because again, we're talking about a tragedy. It's not like going to an amusement park. But I felt like somehow, someway I was contributing a little bit because this was such a huge national story and I was able to kind of contribute in my own way.
Todd Jones (11:14):
Well, you did. I mean, you put the people in St. Louis, you put them there on the ground with you, which is what the job was all about. Todd Jones (13:16):
Well, you served the people of St. Louis very well by covering that event and you've done so many different things as a columnist in that fine city over the years.
Todd Jones (13:27):
But really when you think about it, despite writing about a little bit of everything, what you've really written a lot about obviously is the Cardinals. And the Cardinals have such a special community following there. The passion for the Cardinals is so great. They're one of Major League Baseball's marquis teams.
Todd Jones (14:46):
You covered a lot of great managers, seen great moments, great players. Let's start with a couple managers I wanted to ask you about, a couple of them; Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa.
Todd Jones (13:57):
Let's start with Whitey. What was he like to cover on a daily basis? I feel like sometimes in time, we forget about a guy like Whitey, and he was really setting the tone in the 1980s.
Bernie Miklasz (14:09):
Yeah, he was phenomenal. He liked having a good working relationship with writers. He understood that, especially in a town like St. Louis was baseball mad, and top radio existed, but it wasn't quite … KMOX of course, was a powerhouse, but other than KMOX, there really wasn't much sports talk radio. So, the newspaper really was the thing in terms of you want to get your message out as a manager, and Whitey understood that.
Bernie Miklasz (14:39):
And Casey Stengel taught him all that when he was actually a player and a coach. It's just like, "Hey, take good care of the press." Not from a standpoint of manipulating him, but just that's who you got to communicate through. So, make that important. And anyway, you could go into Whitey's office at any time before the game and he would be doing his diagrams and spray charts and all this stuff.
Bernie Miklasz (15:02):
He was way ahead of his time. And just, you could ask him anything and he would really give you great answers, great insight as to what he did and why. But also, he would just tell stories. Everything that he talked about in terms of answering the question would lead to a story, then another story, then another story. He's one of the great storytellers ever. Incredible personality. La Russa, I thought, I still do got a fair shake. He could be combative. He and I got into it probably two or three times a year.
Todd Jones (15:31):
Really? it could be pretty rough. I mean, was it …?
Bernie Miklasz (15:35):
Yeah, yeah. When he would get mad, he would get mad, and it was a kind of a showdown. Nothing physical, but it was not always comfortable. But the thing about La Russa, he got a bad rap because he would look really grumpy after games. And this is when they started televising news conferences and everything after the game.
Bernie Miklasz (15:54):
But he was actually a hell of a guy to work with because if he thought you were sincere about what you wanted to know rather than kind of jetting something up for like a hot take, he would sit there all night after a game and talk to you. He would explain every decision he made. He would go in depth. He was never thin-skinned. He was very thoughtful. He was very cooperative. He loved discussions.
Bernie Miklasz (16:20):
So, people, too many times would just see that grumpy, grouchy, surly side of him because he just lost a game or whatever and he was in a foul mood. But I understood that. But other than that, I mean, it was a really, really valuable experience. In fact, just to detour briefly, I was even blessed in my career in Baltimore as a young punk sportswriter, I got a chance to cover Earl Weaver a little bit.
Todd Jones (16:43):
Bernie Miklasz (16:44):
And I was terrified of him because he just snapped at people and I'm going to stand in the back hoping he doesn't notice me. I was mostly helping the beat writer, but I was chasing quotes. Anyway, so I come to St. Louis and as a football writer, but I was asked to help out with the baseball team, with Rick Hummel until football training camp started, basically.
Bernie Miklasz (17:06):
And so, I'm covering Whitey and later on when Red Schoendienst was an interim manager, I covered him. I covered Joe Tory in St. Louis. I covered La Russa. I mean, that's pretty damn special. I always tell people, I say I had a great baseball education, some of the greatest managers who ever lived.
Bernie Miklasz (17:24):
I mean several of them, Hall of Fame managers and I'm like you can't learn this stuff in a book. But to be able to sit with these guys day after day, night after night, hear their stories, hear why they made decisions, unbelievable experience. And it really furthered my knowledge of baseball.
Todd Jones (17:45):
Yeah, just talking baseball like in the dugout or in their office. How did it shape you as a columnist and inform what you were trying to do as a columnist in St. Louis, being able to have that type of access?
Bernie Miklasz (18:01):
Yeah, that's the point. I would try to really make valuable use of what these conversations led to and what they were about. To explain strategy decisions or to bring up some stuff that perhaps fans, readers hadn't thought about.
Bernie Miklasz (18:18):
There was like more to a story, more to an end game decision, or more to a surface level controversy. I really like to go deeper, much deeper into that. And I was fortunate to have guys who trusted me, and we would talk about it.
Todd Jones (20:06):
Well, I'm really intrigued by this idea of La Russa jumping your ass. And today, in the Twitter world, it would be the story, but like you said, it would happen two or three times a year. So, take us back to a moment where it happened. Do you recall a certain incident or a column? What happened and then how did you proceed from there?
Bernie Miklasz (20:30):
Well, the most famous one actually was caught on live television when Fox Sports Midwest, now Bally Sports Midwest would televise the post-game news conference, a question answer with La Russa. He was on the podium and all that.
Bernie Miklasz (20:44):
He was in a foul mood because it was Derrick Goold did absolutely nothing wrong, but he wrote a really clever piece about the Cubs and the Cardinals rivalry. And he sort of made fun of the Cubs, not exactly something that's never been done before. And I say that to defend him. I mean, it's pretty standard stuff, right?
Todd Jones (21:02):
Yeah, I think I had an F4 on my computer. I hit it and there was a template for us to have Cubs jokes.
Bernie Miklasz (21:09):
So, Joe Strauss, also the late great Joe Straus, my dear friend, for some reason La Russa was mad at him. So then he decided he was mad at the entire Post-Dispatch based on that one story that, by the way, Lou Piniella, the Cubs manager thought was funny. They weren't offended, but La Russa thought it was just disrespectful, you guys have no respect for anybody. And he just kind of just went on one of those things.
Bernie Miklasz (21:31):
So, during the news conference, he told those guys, he walked away from them during branding practice, he told those guys I'm not talking to you. I'm not talking to you the whole weekend. Stay away from me. So, they both tried to ask questions after the game on live TV, and he was really, really just dismissive and really rude. And I'm not trying to sound like a hero, I'm really not.
Bernie Miklasz (21:53):
But I thought someone's got to intervene here. He metaphorically speaking, he can't slap my guys around like that. So, I basically just said, "Why are you acting like this? Like this is just really rude. What are you doing here?"
Bernie Miklasz (22:06):
And stood up for my guys. And so, this is on live TV and today, you can find this on YouTube if you search for it. It's still there. And it was really, really funny. And then all of a sudden, La Russa is walking towards me and I'm like, "Whoa!”
Bernie Miklasz (22:24):
So, I thought, hey, this is going to look bad if I just sit here and let him kind of like tower over me, like basically dominating. So, I stood up and I'm a big guy. And when I stood up, he took a step back. I found out later that the players in the clubhouse were watching this and thought it was great. They were laughing. They just thought it was incredible. But we patched it up. I mean, we always did.
Todd Jones (22:46):
How? How did you patch it up?
Bernie Miklasz (22:47):
Well, this leads to another story. The night that that happened, the very next day after a Saturday day game, that night, it was the night, 24 hours later, basically that Josh Hancock got killed in St. Louis. So, Cardinal's pitcher drinking and driving, and like sped into the back of a truck.
Bernie Miklasz (23:15):
That kind of took away any of this minor trivial beef that La Russa and I had. That one disappeared on its own for tragic reasons. But then again, he was kind of ready for war in Milwaukee when they resumed play because he thought people in our business were trying to exploit the death of Josh Hancock, which was ludicrous. But in normal times, let's say, I'd go in the next day — the one thing about La Russa, he was really, really good about wiping it clean.
Bernie Miklasz (23:46):
In other words, okay, we had a beef. You said your piece, I said mine, and he would move on. It didn't linger. Maybe it would linger a day or so, but that would be it.
Bernie Miklasz (23:56):
Now, real quick, one of the things that always bothered him is that when there were days like when they were on the road, I would write something he didn't like, or maybe it coincided at home. I always believed in showing up, but every day, you're not going to be perfect, like perfect timing on that stuff.
Bernie Miklasz (24:17):
And so, there would be the odd time where I wrote a column that was a little sorbic and then I wasn't there right away. And he just said, "That's one of the reasons you and I don't get along all the time because I get so frustrated at you. I get mad. I have no outlet because you're not there. You're there most of the time but when you're not there."
Bernie Miklasz (24:36):
And I said, "Well, look," I said, "You call me 24 hours a day. If you see something, you call me, and we'll talk about it. If I'm not the ballpark, we'll talk about. You have unlimited access to me-"
Todd Jones (24:43):
You have the bad phone at Bernie's house.
Bernie Miklasz (24:46):
So, he did it. And even if it's in the middle of the night or something, I mean, I didn't even hear the phone on my mobile phone and he would leave a long voicemail explaining why he thought I was wrong and why he was ticked off.
Bernie Miklasz (24:59):
And it almost became therapy. He got out of his system and then we could move on. And you remember that crazy game in the World Series in Texas where the Cardinals had … the 2011 World Series.
Bernie Miklasz (25:19):
La Russa went to the mound and like Lance Lynn's there, and he says, "What are you doing here?" He said, "Well, they told me I'm in the game." And he said, "I didn't say you should be in the game." Something was wrong with the phones or something. And it was a major screw up.
Bernie Miklasz (25:35):
And so, I wrote about it. I swear I'm pulling in front of my house, this is like 7:00 AM the following morning. I took the first flight out of Dallas. We all did, all the writers. And as I'm pulling in front of my house, like La Russa's calling me and I'm like, "What in the hell?"
Bernie Miklasz (25:53):
And it's like 7:00 in the morning and he's like, "Look, I know I was a mess, but you just made too big of a deal about it." I says, "What big deal?" I said, "Tony, he was a huge deal." "It just wasn't big deal. You trying to stir it up, you're make way too ... you blew it out of proportion. It just wasn't that big of a deal. "
Bernie Miklasz (26:10):
And I'm like, "Look …" I said, "I'm telling you this, you and I have worked together a long time." I said, "I don't know that I would call us friends, but we've had a good relationship." I said, "I'm going to tell you right now, when you walk into that off day news conference later today, every single question is going to be about that. So, you better be prepared. Because if you think that I'm like the only guy or woman in America that made a big deal out of it, I said, you better get yourself prepared. "
Bernie Miklasz (26:32):
And sure enough, it was like every single question, and he was prepared. I don't know, was that unethical to tip him off? I just thought it was the thing to do. In part to defend myself, because he really thought I was like some lone wolf, blowing a story out of proportion. That was hardly the case.
Bernie Miklasz (26:51):
So, we had a good relationship that way. It was really an interesting relationship and as time goes by, I mean, I appreciate him more and more.
Todd Jones (28:09):
Right. Well, you mentioned Game five at the 2011 World Series. I wanted to ask you about game six.
Bernie Miklasz (28:15):
Todd Jones (28:16):
When David Freese hits that home run, crazy game. Looks like Texas Rangers had the championship locked up. What was it like as a writer that night on deadline?
Bernie Miklasz (28:27):
Oh man. You PM newspaper guys wouldn't understand this. No, it was actually one of those crazy, crazy nights where the game had so many twists and turns and Burwell and I must have written three or four columns on deadline.
Todd Jones (28:44):
Yeah, the late great Bryan Burwell, yeah.
Bernie Miklasz (28:46):
It would change, would change the layout, I miss him. And every time we thought that we knew what the outcome was going to be, basically Cardinals lose, something would happen, most famously, the Freese triple it, tied it and then the Freese home run. But anyway, let me cut to the chase.
Bernie Miklasz (29:08):
It's one of those newspaper stories that anybody in the business can relate to. My friend and editor, Roger Hensley was on site and so, he's dealing with the people back at the paper like in terms of deadlines because just like every paper had unrealistic deadlines. And he was relaying messages from like a vice president of the company. He's like, "Those guys have to get their columns and stories in right now, or we're not going to be able to get these papers delivered on time."
Bernie Miklasz (29:40):
And Roger, to his credit, he stood up to him. He's like, "We can't throw newspapers on people's lawns when after this incredible night they're going to be looking to like stuff to sink their teeth into to read, and we can't like throw some … well, the game wasn't over at the time of filing and so we'll have a more completed story like tomorrow morning."
Bernie Miklasz (30:07):
It's like you can't do that. You can't do that. And they got into a good argument and like we flat out refused to center columns and game stories in. We just said, no, this is ludicrous. Newspaper business got a lot of problems as it is. You're in St. Louis, you're going to throw like an incomplete column and game story doesn't have the final score, no, you can’t.
Bernie Miklasz (30:27):
So, that became this big battle royal in the press box. And it was just looking back on it now, it was really, really funny. But I'll always appreciate Roger Hensley for sticking up for his guys.
Bernie Miklasz (30:38):
Burwell and I had another great story. This was in 2005, we each wrote a column, our own version of it, Cardinals lose, season over, that's the Brad Lidge, Albert Pujols' game. So, the columns were done and we actually send them in. And Pujols hits that bomb and it's like, oh my good … and Burwell and I just started laughing, and Burwell had the most wonderful booming loud laugh.
Todd Jones (31:07):
Yeah, Bryan, that was a great laugh. It was, yeah.
Bernie Miklasz (31:10):
It was. So, we just looked at each other because I can cuss here, right, a little bit. It was like one of those, “Oh shit, what now?” But we were laughing at it and like writers from around the country are looking at us like, what's wrong with these guys? Why are they laughing? Because it was just absurd. And Burwell settled it. Roger Hensley was there, and everybody's stressed out, which I understand.
Bernie Miklasz (31:33):
And Burwell said, "Look, just give us 20 minutes. We'll each get a new column in to you." And that's what we did. But that was one of those great nights where you love being a sportswriter. The camaraderie with Bryan Burwell, a crazy experience, like chaos in the press box.
Todd Jones (31:49):
Bernie Miklasz (31:51):
Yeah, oh my goodness. Yeah, you can't get to sleep as stuff like that, you cannot get to sleep. You just don't go back to the hotel and five minutes later, you're snoring. It doesn't work that way. You stay up all night because you're like on this natural high, this adrenaline.
Todd Jones (32:06):
Yeah, you're walking out of a park 3:00 in the morning just like disheveled, brain fried and you're like “Great game. Wish I could have seen it.”
Bernie Miklasz (32:12):
Right, that's right. I really felt that way about game six with Freese and that's when obviously the digital operation was getting more prominent. So, I think I stayed in the press box until maybe 3:00 AM that night because I basically rewrote.
Bernie Miklasz (32:31):
I wanted to give everyone a great column as best as I could online that they could go to. Because the print edition column was fine, but it wasn't what you wanted because it was rushed, and I was like I love having this, I love having this digital option. This is pretty cool. So, there were a lot of us there that night till 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning writing.
Todd Jones (32:51):
You mentioned Pujols and we talked about great managers with the Cardinals and great moments like the Freese home run. Pujols obviously, Albert, is one of the all-time great players ever. You think St. Louis, you think Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, an historic figure.
Todd Jones (33:11):
But you saw Albert as a rookie and then for 11 years with the Cardinals, and then he comes back in this dramatic fashion as past season. What was your relationship like with Pujols? What did you think of him as a player? You got to document history.
Bernie Miklasz (33:28):
Yeah, I would say that was my number one most satisfying experience in my career, just being able to write about him every day for those first 11 seasons in St. Louis. And then when he came back and had this incredibly improbable … he went out in style and he went out in grand style, and he didn't hit for the first half of the season basically. And then all of a sudden, he made some swing adjustments and it's just like what he was doing was incredible.
Bernie Miklasz (33:56):
But no, Pujols is the only guy in the history of the Major Leagues that has 700 home runs, 3,000 plus hits and multiple MVP awards. He's the only guy because Hank Aaron incredibly only won one MVP award.
Bernie Miklasz (34:14):
So, this is a very singular great player in terms of all the stats and numbers he put up. And the Pujols this past summer was incredible because he was so at ease. He was so happy, he was so laid back. He enjoyed every minute. The younger Pujols in St. Louis was so wired, so intense, all the time.
Todd Jones (34:37):
Yeah, that's how I remember him, right? He'd come through Cincinnati and occasionally, I'd be over in the visitor's clubhouse. And Albert wasn't a guy that seemed to be very engaging with the media.
Bernie Miklasz (34:47):
No, he could be when he was in the mood, but he wasn't in the mood. His pregame routine was so rigid about following it religiously. It's one of the reasons that made him great. I never took it personally. Like everybody else, I just thought, man, this would've been nicer if he just would kind of drop his guard every now and then.
Bernie Miklasz (35:05):
But when he came back for the final year, he was a totally different guy because he understood. He had the benefit of all those years playing baseball, knowing that this was the end. He was in a place where he loves and he is loved, and he's with a team that he loves and is loved.
Bernie Miklasz (35:19):
And he just went with it in the most pleasant way. Totally different guy. And that kind of made the story really cool. But what he did last summer, that charge to 700 and him playing at such a high level, turning back the clock, that's right up there on the short list of the most entertaining and satisfying things I've ever covered along with like The Rams team that came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl, the 1999 Rams.
Bernie Miklasz (35:48):
The Blues won in the Stanley Cup, the first time after like 51 years of existence. Something like that. But that one is really there, way up there because it had immense sentimental value. It was like an emotional thing.
Todd Jones (36:03):
Yeah. I saw that you tweeted something about it moved you in ways you didn't anticipate.
Bernie Miklasz (36:08):
That's exactly right, and it's true. I got to the point where I couldn't wait to watch the game that night. I mean, I was watching it as a fan, but also, someone who covered him and knew him, and grew up with him, so to speak. And to see him do this extraordinary thing at the end, I mean, it's like get me to the first pitch, I need more. I was just riveted to it.
Bernie Miklasz (36:30):
And I speak for all St. Louis baseball fans. Everybody was riveted to it. I think nationally people were riveted to it. It was just a wonderful experience. Some things are just meant to enjoy.
Todd Jones (36:41):
Yeah, I think sometimes even when you're in the business, you almost forget that because it's your job and you're trying to do journalism and you can't get too close. It's almost like you can't be happy.
Bernie Miklasz (36:53):
No, that's right. Because if you write something all flowery and gushy, you're a homer — you can't win. But it's like, no, man, something like that, you just drop all pretense, and you just drop whatever kind of posturing we may or may not do in our business. You just go with it and because it, first of all, it makes the people you talk to on the radio, very happy to hear somebody talking about it every day, telling old Pujols stories, but also writing for Dan McLaughlin's site.
Bernie Miklasz (37:25):
And I wrote Pujols a lot. People just loved next day to have something to read that would really tap into their own emotions.
Todd Jones (38:26):
So, Pujol comes back to St. Louis this summer and delivers this just dramatic race to 700 — it's the 700th homer. I think he finished with 703.
Bernie Miklasz (38:37):
I think so.
Todd Jones (38:38):
And so, you had this great home run summer. You were obviously, there in 1998 for a different type of home run summer. The chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Soso for Roger Maris' then record 61 homers. I want to ask you a couple different things about that. First, take us back to 1998; on a daily basis. What was that summer like for you as a journalist covering McGwire and Soso?
Bernie Miklasz (39:09):
I don't know that like the firm date, but it seems to me it was like right before the All-Star break, where as a columnist — and we don't travel with the team all the time. I know the guys like in New York do, like the columnists, but they put me on the road with the beat writers.
Bernie Miklasz (39:29):
And I basically had to — not had to, it wasn't drudgery, but basically my assignment was to write about McGwire and the home run race every single day. I've never been through a situation like this where I write about one person, one athlete, for literally months straight without really taking a break, without really writing about anything else. Because people couldn't get enough. So, that part of it was really unique.
Bernie Miklasz (39:56):
It was a very exciting thing. And you could tell that it was great for baseball. And what blew me away is when you would go to places that weren't drawing at all, maybe like the Marlins maybe at Pittsburgh. I can name some others but you get the point.
Bernie Miklasz (40:12):
And there would be people lined up hours before the gates open because they just wanted to watch him take batting practice. You show up in Pittsburgh, I remember looking around like this is unbelievable. I mean, there's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people and you would go to these places, like, again, like Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Stadium's packed.
Bernie Miklasz (40:30):
And you go to Miami or wherever that ballpark where it is, packed. You know, every seat sold out, all this excitement. And you're like this is something that (not to sound corny) has really captured the imagination, the fancy of baseball fans. And you could see the energy, the positive energy that was bringing them back to the ballpark.
Bernie Miklasz (40:51):
And of course, we all know that getting caught up in the circus aspect of it, and how exciting it was — I'm pretty sure we all had suspicions of some nature, is this really on the up and up?
Bernie Miklasz (41:06):
But I'm going to raise my hand and say I was as guilty as anyone and kind of glossing over those questions because the chase was just the thing that people wanted to read about. And the chase was the thing that excited my audience.
Bernie Miklasz (41:20):
And would I have handled it differently? Probably so, although you have to remember at that time, McGwire had Andro, which was a supplement that some people would say or many people say, "Well, that's kind of a precursor thing, a gateway to hardcore steroids because it sort of does the same thing."
Bernie Miklasz (41:46):
You can enhance your workouts and keep your strength up. The thing of it is though, it was available at every GNC or drugstore pharmacy over-the-counter, there was nothing illegal about taking it. And I couldn't prove that he was using steroids.
Bernie Miklasz (42:04):
So, the point is like, where do I go with that story? There was nothing on the books that said, “No, you can't take Andro.” Later on, Major League Baseball outlawed it. But I think a lot of guys were taking a lot of different things, including steroids. But how do you prove it at the time? I don't think you really do. You can cast suspicion, that's about the best you can do.
Todd Jones (42:24):
Do you look back on it now thinking you wish you had handled it differently
Bernie Miklasz (42:37):
I went through this phase, Bryan Burwell did too, although he wasn't at the Post-Dispatch in '98, but we both went through this phase though, of just kind of beating up on McGwire after the fact. I mean, once he came out and said he used steroids, things like that.
Bernie Miklasz (42:52):
Probably went overboard that way. And I think maybe ... I'm going to speak for myself. I was probably overcompensating for my earlier failure not to be more diligent about trying to find out about this.
Bernie Miklasz (43:04):
Yeah, we all knew something was up. But again, proving it is the thing that was impossible at that time. Unless somebody really wanted to spill the beans, and nobody wanted to talk about that part of it, you get shut down immediately.
Bernie Miklasz (43:16):
But then I got to tell you, I flipped in this regard because the people that run baseball and the people that enforce rules and this and that, I mean, nobody did a thing. No one lifted a finger. No one raised any objections. Everyone went along for the ride. McGwire and Soso were great for business. They were great for business. The owners loved them. The commissioner loved them.
Todd Jones (43:42):
Oh yeah, it was four years after the strike, which basically shut down the World Series and nearly killed the game.
Bernie Miklasz (43:49):
And it's like I'm no different than the people at the baseball establishment. I think we all sensed that something was up, but there wasn't going to be a peep from the business side. The owners and whomever, the commissioner, because they knew they had a bonanza on their hands, and they were selling tickets in places where they weren't selling tickets before that.
Bernie Miklasz (44:10):
So, everybody just enjoyed the show. Everybody enjoyed the circus. And it's like, you know what, it's kind of hypocritical in a way because everyone knew deep down inside there was something fishy going on, and everyone, the entire industry, including the media basically, we just kind of turned the other way.
Bernie Miklasz (44:27):
And so, now, retroactively, we want to take this strong ethical stand. Well, we didn't take it at the time, so what's the point of beating up on him later? Especially when he was one of the guys who came clean and told all about taking steroids. And granted, that was part of his condition of him getting back into baseball as a coach. He was a hell of a coach, by the way.
Bernie Miklasz (44:50):
I always thought Mark was a really good dude. I really mean that. I still do. It was a complicated story, but to this day, you can tell the way I'm talking, I don't like everybody oversimplifying it; good, bad, good, bad. It's a lot of gray area there because the institution of baseball embraced what was happening.
Todd Jones (45:09):
I used to say pro wrestling was more honest than baseball, because pro wrestling told you it was fake.
Bernie Miklasz (45:16):
That's right. And technically, there weren't any rules on the book. Collectively bargain rules prohibiting the use of performance enhancing drugs. That's the other thing; technically, they were doing nothing wrong. Retroactively, you can apply the new rules, but is that fair? I don't think it is.
Bernie Miklasz (45:35):
And I know it's a stand that maybe more people than not would disagree with, but I'm okay with that. I don't like hypocrisy.
Todd Jones (45:43):
It's interesting that your thoughts about it all have evolved over the years, which is part of life.
Bernie Miklasz (45:49):
It is. And people say, well, it may not have been collectively bargain rule, but taking steroids is against the law. I say, "Well, I don't know where the steroids were coming from. I don't know who his supplier was." How do I know that somebody related to the Cardinals wasn't the connection? I don't know.
Bernie Miklasz (46:07):
I mean, so again, everybody wants to demonize these guys, but nobody wanted to demonize them in '98, even though they probably had an idea that something was going on that was a little off.
Todd Jones (46:19):
It was all good for the show. And you covered another show in St. Louis, the Greatest show on turf.
Bernie Miklasz (46:27):
Todd Jones (46:28):
Let's talk some football because you actually first went to St. Louis as an NFL writer to cover the football cardinals.
Bernie Miklasz (46:34):
The football cardinals.
Bernie Miklasz (48:38):
But anyway, the greatest show on turf was St. Louis NFL experience was not a happy one. You know, between the Cardinals and The Rams, it was 49 years, only 16 winning seasons made the playoffs, I think like 8 times in 49 years. It was a lot of bad football.
Bernie Miklasz (48:55):
But those years were magical, and part of it's just the way it all happened. I mean, you have one of the nicest people on the planet, Dick Vermeil's the head coach coming out of retirement.
Todd Jones (49:03):
Yeah, Dick Vermeil was like radiating sunshine. I mean, I think about you mentioned La Russa — from afar, La Russa always seemed like his shoes were too tight. Dick Vermeil just seemed like he was just sunshine, happiness, optimism.
Bernie Miklasz (49:16):
He was. And then you have the '99 Rams where in spring, they signed Trent Green, who was a really good signing. And he was just what they needed, a leader to be there working out all off-season. The veteran players were like, "Hey, we got a leader. We got a guy who's in there with us." He sort of took charge and he looked great.
Bernie Miklasz (49:35):
And then of course they get Marshall Faulk. And the next thing you know, third preseason game, Trent Green gets cheap-shouted by Rodney Harrison, it tears up his ACL, his gone for the year. They didn't have a quarterback or so we thought, and Kurt Warner was around, only played through 11 passes the final game the season before. And that was it. That was the extent of his NFL experience.
Bernie Miklasz (49:58):
And so Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz made the decision, we think this guy has a chance to be pretty good. We're going to go with him. We're going to see what-
Todd Jones (50:07):
What did they see in him?
Bernie Miklasz (50:10):
Smart, made great decisions, even on the practice field, knew where the ball goes, knew everything, like great instincts. Also, a tough, tough guy who would stand and take hits and he would stand and take hits, and get rid of the ball, but even under extreme duress, he would throw it with great accuracy.
Bernie Miklasz (50:30):
Now, it's one thing to do that in practice, it's another thing — well, what about the real games? But I remember Jim Thomas and I, a great friend of mine and Post-Dispatch going to be retiring at the end of The Blue season. I remember he and I were the only two media people got a chance to talk to Kurt the day after that that injury.
Bernie Miklasz (50:48):
And that's because we stayed at the complex really late. And he gave us about 10 minutes. And I remember thinking we all ... both Jim and I remember thinking boy, he's awfully poised. It's almost like he believes that this was meant to be or something. I mean, there's something interesting about this guy.
Bernie Miklasz (51:07):
He played great from the first regular season game all the way through the Super Bowl. Now, did I think he was going to surprise people by winning the MVP Award, leading them to Super Bowl victory, winning the Super Bowl MVP?
Bernie Miklasz (52:02):
No, but I thought there was a chance he'd play pretty well and he well, to say the least, he did. There's something about that guy, there still is. And that's one of my favorite stories that I cover too. This guy coming out of nowhere and becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback, and being able to do what he did in the first year as a starter.
Todd Jones (52:23):
Right from the start.
Bernie Miklasz (52:25):
A guy who was an arena league quarterback, a guy that had to go to NFL Europe and play, and the whole hyvee stuff is true. You know, in the middle of the night when he's stocking shelves, he'd be throwing rolls of paper towels to like another coworker like down the aisle, working on his passing. You go from that to being like the top quarterback in the NFL for a while, the '99 season certainly so.
Bernie Miklasz (52:49):
And he was just a great guy. It was such a great story. It's one of the great stories really in NFL history, I would maintain, given that he was-
Todd Jones (52:57):
You have a favorite story about Kurt Warner?
Bernie Miklasz (53:05):
I think it's a couple things. Number one; the third game of the year was in your town, Cincinnati at the time. And they blew out the Bengals. And all the questioning post-game to Warner was basically along the lines like, "Are you surprised you're doing this? Do you feel you're an underdog? Do you think you're going to come back to earth?'.
Bernie Miklasz (53:32):
Kurt's one of the nicest people ever. He really got irritated. And he basically said in so many words, "I'm good, I know I'm good. And I'm going to have to prove it to all you guys. I know why you ask your questions. I'm not offended, but don't underestimate me. I know what I'm doing." And I remember thinking for such a really good soul, that pride he had, that really jumped out at me.
Bernie Miklasz (53:56):
And then the other thing was the guy's physical toughness. And the Mike Martz offense, he took a lot of hits because there was a lot of ... everybody's out running patterns, not keeping tight ends in the block. Orlando Pace would hold down the one side, Marshall Faulk, he's out as a receiver and he had to have tremendous courage in an athletic sense to make a lot of the plays that he made and he didn't care.
Bernie Miklasz (54:20):
And there'd be times you would go in and after the game, you could tell he was really beat up. He was really in pain. Even when they won the Super Bowl, that guy got pummeled by The Titans. Jeff Fisher was just blitzing him every single play. He was just taking a beating. Dick Vermeil didn't even think he could go in the second half. He was in that much pain. But he said, no, I'm going.
Bernie Miklasz (54:41):
And so, after the game, it's like his skin was totally ... there was no color in his face. I mean, he was just gritting his teeth in pain. And I just remember thinking, this is probably not good for him, per se. But I don't think I've ever seen a tougher guy. I mean, again, tied for first. Just his pride, his stubbornness, his courage under fire, all that stuff — just a great, great quarterback and a great, great competitor, and as smartest as could be.
Todd Jones (55:10):
Won The Rams, led The Rams to that Super Bowl championship in '99. Mike Jones makes the tackle. That's got a rank up there for you among things that you witnessed one play.
Bernie Miklasz (55:22):
Yeah. And I remember my instant reaction was confusion, Jim Thomas and I, when Kevin Dyson made the catch and he was rolling. And there was that moment or two of disorientation where you're like, "Wait, wait a minute, a minute. Did he just score? Did he just score?"
Bernie Miklasz (55:37):
And you look at the replay now an it's like, well, of course, he didn't score. But in that moment, it was just like, "What just happened there?" And then you saw the official basically say game over. So, yeah, that was pretty cool too. That's a really big moment in St. Louis sports.
Todd Jones (55:50):
Well, then they lose the Super Bowl a couple years later with Martz as the head coach. He went from offensive coordinator to head coach, and then they ultimately leave town. So, in many respects, right the NFL has done nothing but break the heart of the city of St. Louis. And you've been there to witness it.
Bernie Miklasz (56:05):
Yeah, there's no doubt about it. Like when Bill Bidwill moved the Cardinals, it was a little different. He tried for years to get a stadium built and he got caught up into, through no fault of his own, this typical (which still goes on), this battle between St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Instead of uniting and having one metropolitan community writ-large, they're always fighting over, "No, we want that for the city. No, we want that for the county."
Bernie Miklasz (56:35):
Bidwill waited like four years it was obvious, they had no intention to do something about it. And I don't blame him for actually looking for a place to go because he's there was never going to be a satisfying outcome. He didn't really want to move the team. He cried when they voted to let him go to Phoenix. He cried because his family was here, which was where Michael Bidwell grew up.
Bernie Miklasz (57:14):
Anyway, listen, St. Louis in effect, took The Rams from LA. So, we have to be a little careful here about painting ourselves as like this complete victim, poor little ... hey, we played the game as a community. We saw an opening, we grabbed the team. But it's just that the way it was done.
Bernie Miklasz (57:36):
The way it was done was just so wrong, as ultimately, was proven by the fact that the NFL settled a lawsuit. I forget the figure, close to $900 million because they broke their own rules for transfers. So, the way it was done was awful. And in that standpoint, St. Louis was a victim.
Bernie Miklasz (57:56):
But as far as like grabbing a team, LA through the help of a Missouri guy who has no soul decides, well, I can make more money to go take that team back. You hate to say it, but it's doggie dog in that league. Money rules the world. But if they had just followed their own guidelines, then I wouldn't have liked it. I would've hated it. But I still say, "Well that's the way the rules work."
Bernie Miklasz (58:22):
They followed the rules, and they deemed it, okay, we're going to allow this. But they didn't do that. They kind of cooked the books to make it look like there was a case. There was no case. That was tough. And the city hates not everybody, but I'm frustrated the job that I do, because I feel like I can't even write about the NFL because people just get outraged.
Bernie Miklasz (58:43):
It's almost gotten to the point where it's way too much.
Todd Jones (59:35):
Well, the city of St. Louis still has its heartache over the NFL. But they suffered some heartache with The Blues also, and the hockey team until they finally won the cup in 2019. I wanted to wrap this up with a little bit of hockey. First of all, wasn't your first byline a story about Gordie Howe?
Bernie Miklasz (59:56):
Yeah, you know everything Todd. I was a punk at the Baltimore News American, like 19-years-old. I was an intern, but I turned it into something else. And it was the greatest education I've ever had because I was really bored by school. But the News American had all these older reporters, and I would go out and follow them. It was a PM paper.
Bernie Miklasz (01:00:21):
I would go out to these veteran cops reporters, like on crime scenes and everything else, like stuff straight out of The Wire. These triple homicides or whatever. And they would let me tag along just to observe ... you talk about getting an education.
Bernie Miklasz (01:00:37):
So, anyway, I decided it's like I'm doing all this work for them, and everybody seems to appreciate I'm one of these hustle guys. We don't cover any hockey at all. And it's like Gordie Howe's going to be playing at the-
Todd Jones (01:00:50):
He's coming in with Hartford. Hartford Whalers?
Bernie Miklasz (01:00:53):
With Hartford, yeah. And I said it'll be his last time there because he had already announced he was going to retire at the end of the season. So, I said let me go cover that — it's like an old-fashioned newspaper story: "No kid, you're too young."
Todd Jones (01:01:05):
You're like, what? 19, 20, what are you? 19?
Bernie Miklasz (01:01:08):
19-years-old. So, I said, "Well, look here's what I'll do ..." I said "I'll go, I'll cover it, I'll interview him, and I'll write the story. If the story is not up to standards, I will not be offended. You just don't run it. But if it's okay and you run it, that's great. We have a good story about a really famous athlete."
Bernie Miklasz (01:01:29):
So, the sports editor at the time did one of these kind of like, "Alright ..." And I did it. And even though I had a terrible cliche early in the story, which they should have edited out, like a fine wine Gordie Howe, blah, blah ... really awful. But I was 19. But they ran it. And I'll never forget that feeling of just being so excited.
Bernie Miklasz (01:01:52):
And I'll never forget the feeling of my maternal grandfather who I went down the day that story appeared because I knew that he was following everything I did, and he was rooting for me, it meant a lot to him.
Bernie Miklasz (01:02:06):
And I remember him, he said, "I want to read this again while you're here because I've been reading it all day long" and he starts crying. And so, that's the kind of stuff that just makes an impact that, look at me, I'm 63, almost 64-years-old. And I remember that day like it was two weeks ago.
Todd Jones (01:02:25):
That's a great moment. You put your cards on the table, you wrote your story and they said, "You know what, this kid did a good job. We're going to put it in there." And now you have your grandfather crying.
Todd Jones (01:03:34):
Well, you start with Gordie Howe, and I wanted to ask you about another hockey player as we wrap this us up. And that's Brett Hull, who spent the majority of his career in St. Louis, I think 11 seasons. The guy was just a scoring machine but also, very charismatic. Give us a little bit of Brett Hull from your memory bank.
Bernie Miklasz (01:03:58):
When I say he seemed out of place, I don't mean that literally. He loved St. Louis, he loved playing for The Blues. That's where he became a star. But he was so charismatic. He had such a presence about him. He knew how to stir the pot. There was always headline-making things; his battles with coaches and this and that.
Bernie Miklasz (01:04:21):
And it was like basically, I don't think there had ever been (even though The Blues had a legacy of really outstanding players) anyone quite like him in a blues uniform. Because this was like a guy you would expect to be in New York, stirring it up, causing controversy, but then also, score 90 goals. Not in those days, LA.
Bernie Miklasz (01:04:42):
But he's in the Midwest, he's in St. Louis, and The Blues have always been a really beloved franchise here, but also, a franchise that in terms of players, it's been kind of a quiet franchise that way. They're not a lot of guys stirring it up all the time.
Todd Jones (01:04:59):
Bernie Miklasz (01:05:00):
And he did. And so, it's almost like you got this giant personality and he's in this medium-sized market where it's kind of tame and civil. And that was as much fun as watching him play because you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth.
Bernie Miklasz (01:05:21):
And to see him go at it with Mike Keenan as much as he did that — I mean, that's a donnybrook. That's a battle royale, they hated each other. By the way, can I tell a story?
Todd Jones (01:05:31):
Sure, that's what we're here for.
Bernie Miklasz (01:05:34):
I had to tell this one because it's one of my more unusual sports writing stories. I get an anonymous tip. In fact, I got two. This was right after Mike Keenan won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers. And it's literally that off-season, not that long after they won the cup.
Bernie Miklasz (01:05:53):
He was in a beef with Rangers management about a bonus that he claims they owed him. And his attorney, his agent said, "You can leave, and that turned out to be a big battle."
Bernie Miklasz (01:06:06):
But anyway, I got a tip that the guys that owned The Blues at the time were in the Cleveland Airport. And it was like really random. It was like a Saturday afternoon. And everyone's like, "You know what, I think I saw Mike Keenan, but I can't be sure." But what are these guys doing in the Cleveland Airport?
Bernie Miklasz (01:06:24):
And so, I got another tip along the same lines, I said, I'm going to have to make some calls here. So, I get in touch with Mike Shanahan, great guy who owned The Blues, turned out to be a good friend. And I asked him about this, and there was like silence on the other side of the conversation. And he said, "Listen, I'm going to have to get back to you." And I'm like, "Uh-huh, I got him."
Bernie Miklasz (01:06:49):
So, they called me back and said, "Look, we got to talk totally off the record. Yes, we're trying to hire Mike Keenan as the coach, but you can't write about it, it'll blow it all up. You can't write it." I said, "Look, I found out about it. Of course, I got to write about it."
Bernie Miklasz (01:07:04):
And they said, "Alright, now you may disapprove of my decision here." They said, "Look, you know us, you trust us. We would never screw you over. If you can just hold on this for another day, no one will know about it. You will come to dinner with the two of us and Mike Keenan. We will be in a backroom at an Italian restaurant. You will be at the dinner table with him, and then you will have a half an hour to interview him. And no one else will know about this. People on our own organization don't know about this. But if you would write it in advance, it could absolutely blow the whole thing up."
Bernie Miklasz (01:07:44):
So, I made a calculated decision. I knew I could trust these guys. So, sure enough, it went exactly as planned. And St. Louis woke up the next morning with this huge 180 headline about “Blues Hire Mike Keenan and his coach.” Bernie Miklasz (01:08:51):
I mean, Mike Keenan, who just won the Stanley Cup, has bolted from The Rangers, he signed with The Blues, he's their next coach. Even to this day, I'm like, wow, that really happened, didn't it? I just love newspaper stories.
Todd Jones (01:11:59):
Yeah, it's been a real sheer delight just to have you with us and sharing all your stories from over the years. It's so great to reconnect with you, Bernie. Always enjoyed speaking with you. And I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Bernie Miklasz (01:12:12):
Well, likewise. And you've always been first-class dude who believes in the craft and all the good things about sports writing that people should remember. We have been very fortunate to be able to do what we do with some of the hardship and whatever.
Bernie Miklasz (01:12:31):
But I wish you and I had spent more time together through the years, but we will always have Chris Webber.
Todd Jones (01:12:38):
We will always-
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