Random off-season stuff

No interview today for you devout readers, literally both of you, Mom and Dad.  Instead, I am going to rant.  And in light of the recent tragedy in Haiti, I am going to rant about performance enhancers.  I know the two don’t go together at all.  Basically, I was trying to throw you off with the first point of that sentence.  Seriously, Haiti sucks.  Not the country.  Donate if you can.  It seems kind of fruitless in light of the fact that I am broke and can’t donate squat.  But if you have money to waste on random (feces), you know.  Who am I to tell you what to do?  Anyhoo, back to performance enhancers.

I am going to let you all in on a little secret.  I know plenty of people within professional baseball that have used performance enhancers at one time of another.  Now, I’m not a rat.  And no names will be divulged here.  But, the fact remains.  I’m not saying that these people used while in pro ball.  That is not my point.  
 
Regardless of widespread belief, minor leaguers, normally, don’t make any money.  For those rare players that sign big contracts out of high school or college, they receive a signing bonus and an absolute (dung) contract.  Signing bonuses can range from millions to a thousand dollars.  For the rare exception that garner seven figures or amounts close to, have little sympathy.  Most people don’t make seven figures in their lifetime.  And these are guys that have a leg up based solely on their talent base.  And, don’t get me wrong, they have worked their butts off for that.  They are talented.
But I’m speaking for the senior college signs and anyone else who signs for less than six figures.  The guys that don’t rake in huge signing bonuses still sign for (dung) contracts.  You see, through my time in the minors, I have always gravitated to those guys.  I was drafted as a senior out of Arizona State and given a sizable bonus.  Thank you, Boston.  
I won’t hide anything.  I signed with Boston in the third round for a quarter million dollars.  I am the exception.  I spent my whole signing bonus to buy a house in the metro Phoenix area.  I own the house, without mortgage.  That was the blessing.  But for seven years, I lived paycheck to paycheck like all my other senior signs.  So I understand what these guys go through.  
The paychecks are small.  My first year in pro ball paid me 850 dollars a month, before taxes, and housing during the season is not compensated.  My eighth year in pro ball is going to command a “huge” check in the neighborhood of 2100 a month before taxes.  And no, we don’t get paid year round.  Just the five months we play.  Good luck finding a solid paying job for the other six months of the year.  The math seems off.  One month is for spring training.  By the way, spring training is 20 bucks a day plus free housing at the hotel.  And that 20 bucks goes to ordering out for food because cooking in your hotel room is not allowed.  So, it’s pretty much wasted.
So, I think you can understand the dilemma when guys in my position, or a position worse off, choose to sacrifice something they know as pure to get a paycheck playing in the bigs.  And the paycheck in the bigs works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2400 a day as a rookie.  I don’t blame these guys.  They make the decision to do something they might consider wrong in order to lift themselves above the poverty line.  And, yes people, what we make is, technically, flirting with the poverty line.  Unlike myself, most of these young men, aged 20-25, have the ambitions to get married and start a family.  It’s perfectly normal.  So, when you question these guys with wives and young kids, ask yourself, “What would you do?”  
I’m not saying it’s right.  And I’m not saying it should be allowed.  But, I, as a minor leaguer for eight years, understand the decision these men make.  I don’t fault them at all.  If they get a leg up on me through that stuff in order to support their family, then I won’t bitch.
The real criminals, and that is what they are for enhancing their performance artificially, illegally, are the ones that were already established in the big leagues.  Guys like Alex Rodriguez(admitted), Mark McGwire(admitted), etc.  They were making their money and doing their thing.  They had no real shot of losing their jobs.  And if they were in risk of losing their jobs, it was after a  long and prosperous career, or in the midst of it.  Have no sympathy for these guys.  Baseball’s pension plan is fantastic.  These guys are the ones that cheated baseball.
For my fellow struggling minor leaguers, I ask for sympathy and understanding.  It is not right.  I say it again.  It is not right.  Guys like me are being cheated.  But… but, I understand that.  I won’t hold a grudge against those guys.  Go after the criminals chasing records.  They’re the ones destroying the game.
Baseball is the essence of America.  The capitalist belief of the best rise to the top, regardless of starting position, is never more evident than in the game of baseball.   So, for these cheaters, I ask you to look at them no differently than you would Bernie Madoff.
I don’t know what my goal was with this entry.  Maybe to bring to light certain facts that might have escaped your attention.  Or maybe you didn’t know.  But I’ll leave you to judge.  You know where I stand.
And if anyone wants to question whether or not I have ever used performance enhancing drugs, I will gladly send a photo of my, censored, naked body for your inspection.  And, if for some reason you ever come across anyone who has claimed to have sold performance enhancers to me, tell them I want the money back.  And if your name is Clint, I am not sending you naked pictures.  Okay?  Quit sending me e-mails requesting them.  I don’t get down like that.  Peace, all.  

My apologies

Last night, I put up an interview with Craig Gentry.  It has been made clear to me that the subject matter of that interview was inappropriate for this forum.  And I apologize to anyone who was offended by the posting last night.  It was an error in judgement to 1) make mention of his impending call-up before the team officially announced it and 2) go over the subject matter we did.  I am truly sorry to have misrepresented the Texas Rangers.  My conduct was not in keeping with the behavior the Rangers expect of their players.  I am sorry.

-Beau Vaughan

Hotlanta

I’m going to keep this short.  This interview is with Brandon Boggs.   Boggsy is a very easy going guy.  So, he was really cool about the first question I asked.  It wasn’t my question.  And I apologize to anyone who is offended by the beginning of the conversation.  It invokes some racial aspects.  You see, Brandon is African American.  I am caucasian.  And Luis Mendoza is Mexican, which he proudly displays when we play with our respective countries in FIFA.  I encourage you to see this as it truly is, playful banter between friends.  This is how some guys are around each other. 


BV: Alright, Boggsy.  I gotta throw out the first question.  The first question is not from me.  It’s from Mendoza.  We were standing around in the outfield today, and I’m definitely putting his name on this.  Cause I know better, (Boggs laughs) than to get into racial (stuff).  So I’m going to pin this on the Mexican dude.
BB: I gotcha.
BV: He wanted to know.  Is Popeye’s your favorite restaurant?
BB: Uh, no.  Popeye’s is not my favorite restaurant.  Contrary to belief, I like Cajun food a lot better.
BV:  So, he just thinks you’re black, you’re from the south…
BB:  Exactly.  Exactly.  
BV:  That racist (starts with a ‘p’ and ends with a nickname for ‘Richard’)
BB:  But, you know, he’s from Mexico.  All he eats is tacos and rice and beans.  That’s all I know.  (And, at this point, Justin Smoak and Tyler Coolbaugh, son of Oklahoma hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, have stopped eating and are listening intently with their jaws on the table.)
BV:  Wow.  (Boggs laughs)  And just for the NAACP’s information, my phone number is…  Um, I got a question.  Born in St. Louis, live in Atlanta now.  Okay, I know you like rap, hip hop, all that.  So, I’m asking.  Who do you got?  Nelly in his prime, or T.I.?
BB:  T.I.  
BV:  Easy.
BB:  Yeah, that’s very easy.
BV:  Rank it.  Rank the Atlanta guys.  Where does Nelly, where do the midwest rappers fit in?
BB: Uh, I really don’t listen to midwest rappers.  It’s all basically Atlanta rappers, like Jeezy, T.I.  Uh, obviously YoungBloodz back in the day was my thing.  3-6, they were from Tennessee.  Let’s see.  Who else?  Wow, there’s a lot of rappers in Atlanta.
BV:  So, you’re abandoning your roots in St. Louis, and just saying Nelly was a fluke.
BB:  Well, I’m not abandoning my roots, per se.  I was only there for a couple years of my life.  Most of what I know is Atlanta.  That’s what I claim where I’m from.  That’s what I know.
BV:  Alright.  Fair enough.  Uh, oh, you’re up in the big leagues for a big chunk of the year last year.  You’re up there for a while this year.  What pitcher was the one guy you were like, ‘Wow, that guy is tough.  He is good.’?
BB:  I thought the toughest pitcher for me was Josh Beckett.  Because he can dominate a game with one pitch.  You know, his sinker.  You know, that’s pretty much tough for me.  Because if you know what he’s throwing, and he’s going to throw it there every time.  And you can’t square it up, that’s what defines a good… You know, a pitcher that’s untouchable.
BV:  How’d you do off him?
BB:  Uh, I think I popped up twice.  Yeah, I popped up twice.  It was on his rehab start.  He had just come off the DL.  He was throwing against us.  I think Milton (Bradley) had a hurt hamstring or something.  So I had to fill in.  And then I go out there and try to do my best.  And I think I popped up twice.  
BV:  Dude, I’m trying to set you up on this.  You got pick somebody else.  Like some other good pitcher.  You’re like, ‘Oh, he just came off the DL.  He wasn’t even 100 percent.  But he dominated me.’ (Boggs laughs)  No, pick someone else and be like, ‘Oh, how’d you do off him?  Oh, went yard on him twice.  Lit that (female dog) up.
BB:  Papelbon, you know, Red Sox closer.  He tries to pump heaters in there to me.  Uh, he gets me two and two.  Tries to sneak one up and away.  And I absolutely lace it into the gap, the other way, for a double.  Scored Marlon Byrd.  I got him in back pocket right now.
BV:  There you go.  I got drafted with him.  I know him.  So suck it, Pap.  (Boggs laughs) I’m just playing.  I’m just playing.  Um, (feces), I have like the worst memory right now.  Uh, what was I going to ask?  Oh, today, the big thing about today is the draft thing, with the deadline to sign picks.  And all that.  My question here is with draft rules, options, outrighting, blah, blah.  Whatever.  Anything on the business side of baseball.  I’m not saying anything’s broken or anything like that.  But if you could change one thing about the business of baseball, what would you like to see changed?
BB:  If I could see one thing changed, I’d give less options to people so they can move around a little more.  Three is a little bit too much.  Because, first, you have to make it on the 40-man.  And then, if you’re an older player, and you still have three options left, they can basically do whatever they want with you.  So, I mean, if you made it that far, and you’re an older player, I think they should only get one or two options.  Like if you make it there when you’re young, it’s really no problem.  But when you’re older, and you’re one of those players where it just hasn’t clicked yet.  Maybe one year it will, but still, you got three options.  That means it’s three more years where you have to either put up even better numbers and force the issue.  Or you do average.  And you get your runs.  You get your home runs and stuff.  And you stay down there.  And they can just pull you up and bring you down 30 times during the year if they want.
BV:  That’s good.  I like that.  That’s all I got, dude.  

BB:  Alright, baby.
BV:  Take it easy.
Personally, I’d like to see the draft done away with all together.  I don’t like the fact that American players can only negotiate with one team.  Where international players can negotiate with all of them.  For instance, the system will be greatly flawed if Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman signs a significant amount more than Stephen Strasburg.  Both of these guys are supposed to be the next big thing.  But Chapman could potentially sign for a lot more than Strasburg did.  The reason?  Chapman can negotiate with all 30 teams, driving up his price.  And Strasburg was being labeled in the media as being an idiot if he passed this up.  It’s easy for us to say what we’d do if we were in these guys’ shoes.  I don’t know.  I just wanted to pass that along.
Big, big thank you to Brandon Boggs.  Hands down, one of the best outfielders I’ve had play behind me.  It’s easy for him to get overlooked in the Oklahoma City outfield.  Julio Borbon gets your attention with his speed.  Greg Golson gets your attention with his arm and his speed.  Boggs is no slouch in any of these areas.  But he gets your attention with his hustle and competitiveness.  

Chip off the ole block

Okay.  I tried to talk ‘Pirate’ into a little chat.  Didn’t take.  But he was kind enough to take me in as a roommate and chauffeur me around like his kid brother.  And I must say, his couch is more than comfortable.  You see, sometimes when we move teams, we have to live out of one suitcase with just five shirts for weeks at a time.  So, even if I smell like Robert Downey Jr. circa 1996, I am indebted for the roof he has put over my head.  Therefore, I won’t bust his balls for not talking to me on the record.

So, who is there to talk to?  Perhaps someone who has been a member of the Rangers for the vast majority of the season.  Maybe a guy who was recently sent down to Oklahoma City and has been tearing the cover off the ball since.  Ladies and gentlemen, his mother doesn’t even call him Chris any more.  His name is Chip Davis.
Setting: Chris and I sit at the desk in Greg Golson and Kevin Richardson’s Albuquerque hotel room.  Golson is trying out the new NCAA 2010 on PS3.  And the various college fight songs are chiming throughout the room.  K-Rich is on his computer, doing whatever.  We just got beat by an astronomical amount, which I contributed to.  Ah, thank you.  And, here we go…
BV: Alright, we’re recording.  We’re recording.  Chip Davis, how’d you get the nickname ‘Chip’?
CD: Ohhhh.  Well, last year, when I was in triple A, I have a contract with Rawlings, for gloves.  And I asked them to send me some bats because I’d used a couple of Hank Blalock’s when he was rehabbing, a couple weeks before I got called up.  So, I called Rawlings and said, ‘Hey, will you send me a couple of,’ I don’t even know what the model number is, ‘bats.’  And they said, ‘Yeah.’  Well, they sent ‘em to Arlington, thinking that I would’ve already been there.  Which was a little bit off.  But instead of having ‘Chris Davis’ on the barrel, they had ‘Chip Davis.’  Well, those bats just happened to land in Michael Young’s locker, which was probably not the best thing.  He then took them out and had a good laugh with everyone.  And so, when I got called up, they all started calling me ‘Chippie.’  And I asked them ‘why’?  And they told me that story.  And I was like, ‘Oh, OK.  Cool.’  And he’s like, ‘Come on, dude.  You got a Rawlings contract, and they don’t even know you’re name?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’ll happen.’  So, that’s… that’s how it pretty much all started off.
KR: Oh, Chippie.
CD: Oh, oh, Chippie the lip. (K-Rich giggles like a little school girl in the background) (Chip laughs)
BV: I love it.  Um, tell me a story..  Make me laugh.  You told us a story in the locker room tonight.  I’m not going to ask you to repeat that one.  But tell us another story.
CD: Um, I gotta think of a ‘G’ rated, or at least ‘PG’ rated…
BV: It doesn’t have to be ‘G’ or ‘PG’ rated.  I told you.  Just let it fly.  (Physical act of love)!
CD: Alright, we’ll go… (laugh) No, I can’t.  Alright, we’ll do this one.  Spokane, my first professional season, half a season.  Whatever.  We’re playing in Vancouver.  And I was like… I was drafted as a first baseman, and they put me in left field.  Which is probably the worst thing they could have ever done.  Because I am a terrible outfielder.  I played a little bit of right back in the day, like 10-year-old all-stars, you know?  But like never left field, which I think is the hardest position in the outfield to play.  So, we’re playing left field in Vancouver, which is just basically like a party every game.  Like, everybody just has a great time.  Like, real good fans.  Like, they’re always into the game.  Well, I dropped a crucial fly ball late in the game.  And, they wore me out.  They were chanting ’19,’ which was my number in Spokane the whole time.  The next day, I walked to the field, or got to the field.  We had a 10 o’clock start, really early.  And I didn’t get back from the night before ’til about seven o’clock.  Well, the vans left at seven thirty.  So, I basically showered, grabbed my stuff, and got on the van. Was in no shape to play.  Just completely out of it.  And, our manager walks up to me and is like, ‘Are you alright?  Are you feeling OK?’  And I’m like, ‘I feel alright.’  He was like, ‘Well, you need to suck it up.  Because you’re going out there today.’  And he was like, ‘I’m not going to let you get off easy.’  And I’m like, ‘Alright, here we go.’  So, I go up there first at-bat.  And for some particular reason this day, they felt the need to hit everything to left field.  And I made some catches that I probably shouldn’t of made.  But, first at-bat, first pitch, I’m just like (firetruck) it.  I’m just going to swing.  Who cares.  Doesn’t matter.  First at-bat, first pitch, tater.  And this is Vancouver, which is not the easiest park to hit a home run in.  Tater to right field.  I’m like, ‘Alright, cool.  One for one.’  I’m like good.  Come up next at-bat, I’m like alright, ‘Cool.’  See a couple pitches.  Like fourth pitch of the at-bat, tater!  I’m like, ‘Oh, (excrement).’ Another home run.  Like, I’ve hit two home runs today.  My day is set.  You know, we’re up by, like eight runs.  It’s like the fourth of fifth inning.  I’m like, ‘We’re golden.’  Third at-bat, they bring in this lefty, who has apparently done really well against lefties the whole season.  And I’ve always hit lefties well.  But this particular day, I was not feeling too confident against this guy.  You know, threw low 90’s, good slider.  Good pitcher.  First pitch, change-up, low and away.  Tater to center field.  So, I’m like jogging around the bases.  I’m like, ‘This is the greatest day of my life.’ Like, I’m three for three with three home runs.  So, I go up there the last at-bat, and everybody’s cheering for me.  All the fans are, like, standing up, clapping.  I absolutely drive a pitch to right field.  The right fielder like goes back, puts his arm on the wall, and looks up.  And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’  Like four for four with four home runs.  Reaches up and catches it against the wall.  The crowd gave me like a standing ovation.  They gave me like 75 bucks, or a 100 bucks, or something.  Because nobody had done it in like 75 years there.  So, that was one of like, probably one of the craziest games ever.  But, our manager, who will remain nameless, walks up to me after the game, and he’s like, ‘Don’t ever pull that (poop) again.’  Like you know, ‘You played a great game.  But don’t ever do that again.’  I’m like, ‘Alright, (firetruck) it.’  Cool, whatever.  
BV: I think… And you know, not to condone any kind of behavior like that, but I think we need to do that more often as baseball players. (A little bit of a contradiction there, granted)  One time, I came to a game.  And our clubbie had a breathalyzer.  I blew a .(make up a number) before the game.
CD: Shoved?!
BV: Came in.  Five pitch save.  Sorry bout it.  How ya doin’?
CD: Well, that’s the thing about it, man.  Like the season’s so long, you know.  When you play a hundred and what, 42, games… It’s day-in day-out.  You know, a grind.  You’re gonna have some days where, you know, you just… You go out there, and you’re not feeling your best.  You know, sometimes those are your best games.  But it wasn’t intentionally like I was going to go out and just be a wreck.  Like not be in any shape to play.  It was just, you know, last night in Vancouver.  We had a good time.  We hung out, whatever.  And, you know, do I encourage that?  Absolutely not because I don’t think it’s respectful to the game, or to your teammates, or to anybody else.  But, you know, it does happen.  It’s a part of it.  
BV: Nice save right there.  You’re right about that.  Um, alright, this is a little, uh… Cause I know you get asked about it all the time.
CD: Um hmm.
BV: Well, I mean you did when you were with the big club earlier.
CD: Are we going to talk about strikeouts right now?
BV: Kind of.
CD: Alright, whatever.
BV: What would you like to do to all the reporters that ask you about strikeouts?  Because reporters know the game very well.  Obviously, they’ve strapped it on.
CD: Absolutely.
BV: And played.  And they know what it’s like. (By the way, if you couldn’t tell, that was reeking with sarcasm)
CD: Well, it just bothers me because I know they have a job to do.  And I understand that.  And I respect that.  But, at the same time, when you’re asking the same questions day-in and day-out, like what are you getting at?  You know what I’m saying?  Well, and it’s like, you’ve asked me the question about, you know, am I worried about setting the strikeout record?  And I’ve already given you an answer.  Why are you going to ask me a day later when I have two more strikeouts?  Like, obviously, I’m on pace to break a record.  And it’s not slowing down.  Like, the answer’s not going to change.  And I just don’t understand why they’re beating a dead horse.  And that’s the only thing that frustrates me.  Guys would come in day-in and day-out, and say, ‘Are you worried about strikeouts?’  And I would give them the same answer.  ‘No, I’m not worried about strikeouts.’  You know, I got bigger fish to fry.  You know, an out’s an out.  Yeah, I’ve been striking out.  I get that.  I struck out 161 times last year.  I also hit .310 with 40 jacks.  Like, I don’t care how many times I strike out as long as I’m producing.  My big concern was I’m not producing with runners in scoring position or with anybody on.  I mean, I wasn’t doing my job.  And that was the biggest thing for me.  That’s the only thing that bothers me.  It seems like they ask you the same questions to try to get underneath your skin.  And to be honest with you, I would tell this to a room full of people.  You’re not going to get underneath my skin.  You might when I’m frustrated in the middle of a game.  But I will never show it.  And that’s just one thing, thank goodness, I’ve been gifted with.  And it’s just not ever going to change.  I been able to always keep my composure as far as speaking since I’ve played baseball.  That’s something that I don’t think is ever going to change, and something I think I have good control over.  Now, me saying that… Somebody’s probably coming out of the woodwork, you know, trying to get me to lash out.  But I’m not going to take that route.
BV: No, I was going for a completely different thing.  My deal with sports reporters, sports writers, what have you.  It goes back to the old joke.  What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the sea?  Well, I’m going to substitute sports reporters.  What do you call a thousand sports reporters at the bottom of the sea?
CD: A thousand sports reporters at the bottom of the sea?
BV: Yeah.
CD: I got nothing.
BV: It’s a good start.
CD: There it is.
GG: Hey-O.
BV: Alright, last one.  I’m gonna ask you this.  You’re in Arlington this year.  Right?  Now, I’m a closet position player.  Like, if I could give anything to go back to high school or whatever, and the coach asks, ‘Hey, who can pitch?’  I wouldn’t raise my (firetrucking) hand.  
CD: Yeah.
BV: Because, damn it.  I want to play.  Alright.  I wanna hit.  I wanna do all that.  And I know when you connect with the ball.  Like, you make that absolute sweet contact.  Like, the ball feels like it never touches your bat.  And you see that (bodily waste) going out.  I mean, short of a (coitus climax), (number 2) when you really need it, and (number 1) when you really need it…  That is right up there.  I want to know.  Bottom of the ninth, whatever it was.  99 mile-an-hour fastball from Brandon Morrow, up in the zone.  And Chris Davis connects with the walk-off.  Pimps the (excretory) out of it. (Chip laughs) What does that feel like?
CD: Dude, it was awesome because I had been struggling.  But, it was one of those games where it started out really bad.  And I’d had a few games before that where I was hitting the ball hard.  But I wasn’t getting anything out of it.  And I’m just like, you know, not trying to focus on any of the results.  Like, worrying about the process.  You know, whatever.  And that game, Felix (Hernandez) is on the mound.  First two at-bats, I think I popped up and struck out.  And I was just like, ‘Here we go again.’  Third at-bat, hit a ball to left field.  I’m like, ‘Alright, there we go.’  When I hit the ball the other way, hard on a line, I know I’m starting to figure it out.  And things are starting to get better.  And then they brought in Morrow.  And I think there were two on.  It was three to one.  There were two on and two out.  And I just remember I kept looking at Dave Anderson.  He was my manager in ’07 in Frisco.  And I kept looking at him, and he was just going like this (moves his hands in a settling motion towards the ground).  And I thought he was telling me to calm down.  But he was saying, ‘See the ball down.’  Well, me thinking he was saying calm down, I was just breathing.  And like, I was very loose at the plate.  So, I’m like first pi
tch, ball up.  Second pitch, ball up.  Third pitch, I think I fouled off.  And I don’t remember if it was 2-1, 3-1.  But I just kept telling myself, ‘See it up, out over the plate.’  And he threw it.  He threw a fastball up and out over the plate.  And I just remember swinging.  And when I hit it, I’m like, ‘Oh, (feces).  I got that.’  And I hit it.  I kind of topped it a little bit.  But it was so high, I was like, ‘I got it.’  So I (firetrucking) did my whole bat flip.  You know, look in the dugout like I was pumped up.  And I remember touching first and looking up.  And seeing the ball go in the stands.  And I was just like, ‘Oh, (crap).’  It was almost like everything around me just got completely quiet.  And I was just running the bases.  And I remember looking down and hitting second base.  And like, I didn’t want to look up at third base.  Because I knew Dave was going to be (firetrucking) like (Chip makes a weird noise I did not understand as a form of celebration).  And I knew I didn’t want to look at home because they were all (firetrucking) jumping around.  So I remember looking down at my feet, and I thought to myself.  I was like, ‘Holy (excrement). I just hit a (firetrucking) walk-off.’  Like, at home.  You know, I was struggling, so it was big for me.  I touched third, and I looked up at home.  And all these dudes are jumping around.  I’m like, ‘Oh, (take a guess).’   And I went to go helmet toss.  Because everybody’s like, ‘Throw your lid.’  And I ended up throwing the (illegitimate male pup of a female dog) half way to (firetrucking) first base.  And I flipped the (opposite of heaven) out of it.  And jumped up.  And (firetrucking) touched the plate.  Dude, it was awesome.  It always feels good when you nut a ball.  When you just center one and absolutely crush it.  Like, ‘Oh, I got that.’  You start trotting around the bases. when the game’s on the line and your adrenaline’s pumping, it’s a joke, dude.  I don’t even know how to put it into words.  Just (firetrucking) like, it’s one of those things.  Seriously like hitting my first little league home run.  Like, ‘Whoa.  This is tight.  I don’t know what the (firetruck) to do.’  (Firetruck) it!
BV: That was… awesome.  Alright, I think that’s going to do it for the interview.  I think we’re going to sit here and watch Golson wreck shop on Florida with U.T.   There goes Golson!  No, he’s tackled.  Chipper, thank you, man.  Appreciate it.
CD: Yes, sir.
Now, it’s time to do a little back-peddling.  I am not adverse to all sports reporters.  Lisa Winston and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, who were the ones to put me in charge of this little blog, are solid.  The rest of you, well… You’re going to have to win me over.  I’m sure that’s towards the top of your priority list.
As for the extracurricular activities Chip and I made mention of, that stuff happens when you’re young and out on your own in pro ball for the first time.  You think you can party like a rock star.  It doesn’t happen often then.  And even less as you get older and realize how much this game means.  But, it does make for interesting stories down the road.  
Big thanks to Chip Davis, who will be appearing at a ballpark in Arlington very soon.  Because he’s raping triple A pitchers.  Not literally.  That would be illegal, immoral, and just flat out gross.  Besides, I don’t think he’s into dudes.  But on the mound, you know what I mean.

Another peek at relationships

I am doing this all over again.  Not because I didn’t feel good about the last installment.  But because I personally enjoyed the subject matter of the last installment so much.

The really great part about sitting down and talking with my teammates, in this manner, is that I get a glimpse of who they are.  Spending half the year away from home, away from you’re friends and family, really forces you to live two separate lives.  To be two completely different people.  At the ballpark, I know the baseball player version of these men.  But, often times, it is a complete mask, a cover for who they really are.  
Who am I kidding?  It’s just a fun way to get way to personal.  So, this time, I give you a joint interview with Frisco starting pitchers Blake Beavan and Michael Kirkman.
BV: So, I’m sitting here with Michael Kirkman, Blake Beavan.  A couple of promising young studs in the Texas Rangers organization.  Um, so this is all about relationships.  This is like part two.  Last time, I interviewed Brennan Garr and his girlfriend.  She was there.  We did a little three-way.  Not in the cool way. (Beavan and Kirkman laugh) But it was good.  But, uh, alright.  So, I got a question.  Because Michael, you’re married.  Blake, you’re in a long, long-term relationship, and I’m, uh, well, I’m doing my thing. (more laughs)  So I gotta ask you.  What kinds of concessions or compromises do you find yourselves having to make at this point in your relationship as opposed to earlier stages of your relationship?  I mean, now that you’re married?
MK: Um, well, you know.  There’s not as much going out with the guys, especially at home.  You know, uh.  Tend to spend a lot more time with the wife, especially when she’s there.  When she is in town.  You just do a lot less stupid stuff, especially now that I’m married.  Especially when she’s there.
BV: And you’ve been married for how long now?
MK: Uh, about a week.
BV: Nice. (Beavan laughs) Blake, you’re a couple years out of high school.  What’s changed from having the ole high school sweetheart as opposed to having a serious long-term girlfriend?
BB: Uh, not hanging out with friends as much.  You know, you don’t really… Like they say, you find out how many friends you have left after high school.  You know, when everybody goes to college and does their own thing.  And starts their own lives.  And, uh, my buddy, he’s the same age as me.  He’s twenty, and he just got engaged today.  So, that was pretty shocking news.  And, uh, he’s always been the type to have the long-term relationship.  And that’s how I’ve been.  Me and my girlfriend have dated for four years now.  Going on five.  So, you know, that’s just…  I made a lot of sacrifices, not hanging out with friends and not doing that kind of stuff.
BV: So, the general theme is you don’t get to hang out with the guys as much?
BB: Yeah, basically.  
BV: And the translation of that is women suck the life out of you. (A nice uproar of laughter, mostly Kirkman)  As a side effect, what kind of benefits are you now seeing?  Having made that commitment to be married, or as you pass through that whole high school sweetheart phase?
MK: Oh, let’s see.  I don’t know yet. (long pause)
BV: So there aren’t really any benefits to being married? (Beavan laughs)  Kind of forced into it?
MK: (laughs) Not yet.
BV: Blake, do you have anything?
BB: Uh, not having to go out and look for something.  Having something guaranteed that loves me for me.  She knows what I do for a living, and she doesn’t care what I do.  She’s not all about being in the spotlight.  That kind of thing.  Uh, she loves me for me.  She’s always supportive.  You know, she’s never been one of those girls that complains about having to wait around four, five, six months out of the year.  You know, we make our own time to see each other.  But, you know, she’s just been… She’s been great.  She stands by me with whatever and let’s me do my own thing when I want to.  And we just seem to have a lot of fun doing that.  And, you know, I still get a lot of time to hang out with my friends.  Just not as much as I used to.
BV: I should point out that we’re playing in Frisco.  Which is a whole, what, half hour from Irving, your hometown?  So making time, that must be rough.  You know, the thirty minute car ride.
BB: Yes, we get a lot of time.  So I’m not really worried about making that much time.  I know she wants to see me a lot.  But I like spending time with the guys and doing my job.
BV: Alright, that must be rough. (Beavan laughs) Um, how much now, through the history of your relationships and stuff…  How much has baseball been a complication?
MK: Uh, quite a bit.  But, uh, like Bev was saying, you kind of work through it.  You know, she understands.  She’s been with me since I was a junior in high school.  So, she’s been with me before I was anybody to when I was getting talked up and all that kind of stuff.  And all the way through the draft.  And all the way up ’til now.  And, forever, so…
BV: Junior in high school?
MK: Yeah.
BV: So, you really played the field. (Kirkman and Beavan laugh) Alright?  You know, that’s good.  I don’t understand it. (Kirkman laughs) I mean, it works for you.  Fantastic.  You know, but…
BB: Nah… it’s tough.  You know, having to deal with being away.  Having the whole trust, commitment kind of thing.  Not being insecure about each other and worrying about, you know.  She might be here.  She might be there.  And you know, you get caught up in all that. And then you start getting distracted.  And all that stuff comes into play, which has happened.  But I just try to take a step back and say, ‘I’m doing my job.  This is my job.  I can’t let anything distract it.’  And, you know, we work things out pretty good to where it’s not really a big issue about having to argue about stuff.  And having to knit-pick at each other.
BV: He’s so well trained. (Kirkman laughs) I mean, he’s got the whole… This is Nuke LaLoosh right here.  I mean, he’s ready for like T.R. Sullivan or something.  Or Jamey Newberg.  Holy cow.  Let it rip.  Don’t be afraid to cuss.  I have found interesting ways to get around cuss words.  Let the truth come out.  Holy cow.  I mean, holy (feces). (Beavan laughs) Alright.  Now, there’s a big age discrepancy here.  You’re (Kirkman) twenty two.  He’s a young pup, twenty.  I’m twenty eight.  Now, you’re married.  He’s… he’s on the road.  I’m as single as they come.  Although… Yeah, I’ll just leave that with a bit of mystery. (Beavan laughs) Uh, put yourself in my position.  Imagine you’re a twenty eight year old ballplayer.  Been toiling in the minor leagues.  How is that going to affect one, your career, and two, your outlook on relationships and stuff?  I know it’s tough to imagine.
MK: Yeah.
BV: Because you’ve been with these girls for so long and stuff.  But, if having that steady girl wasn’t such a significant part of your life, would it be easier to focus strictly on baseball?  And saying, ‘I don’t have a timetable.  Like, what if I’m not in the big leagues by the time I’m twenty five or twenty six?’  Then whatever.  If you didn’t have someone there with you, you didn’t have someone there to care about you, someone you had to look after, would you maybe carry on your baseball career longer if it didn’t work out soon enough?
MK: Um, it’s really hard to say.  It’s always nice.  You have a bad outing, there’s always somebody there who talks to you.  You have a good outing, there’s always somebody there to talk to.  And, you know, if I didn’t have that, I don’t really seeing it being too much different.
BB: I don’t think it’d be a distraction.  Um, you know, when I was single for however young I was…
BV: You were twelve.  It’s alright.  You can say it.  You were twelve.
BB: I was still doing the baseball thing, leaving every summer.  Not being home all the time.  Doing all kinds of little prospect… like trying to showcase those kind of skills like everyone else did when they were younger.  But I don’t think… I think it’d be less of a distraction, if you didn’t have someone, honestly.  I mean, you have nothing to worry about.  Nothing to argue with because it’s just you.  And you’re single, and you’re doing your thing.  And you can do whatever you want.  You know, there’s no boundaries.  No rules.  Nothing to hold, so… I mean, there’s good things, and there’s bad things.  With me, having a girlfriend, it’s really not that different.  We can still do our own thing and tell each other what we’re doing.
BV: So, you were doing the whole baseball thing from the time you were thirteen, or whatever… Well, unlike you (a type of willow, plural), I played football. (Kirkman laughs) I’m sorry.
BB: I played football too.
BV: Yeah, okay.  One year of Pop Warner doesn’t count. (Beavan and Kirkman laugh) Speaking of football, it leads me into the next question.  Kirk, you’re from Lake City, Florida.  It’s right at the junction of I-75 and I-10.  Which is right next to…
MK: Florida Gators.
BV: Gainesville.  You got it, baby.  Bev, you’re from Irving.  A couple hours up the road from… Let me hear it.
BB: A couple minutes.
BV: A couple minutes?
BB: Dallas Cowboys.
BV: No, not the Dallas Cowboys.  Jeez.  We just said Florida.  Not the Dallas Cowboys.  I’m saying… Follow me here.  College football.
BB: Oh, U.T.
BV: There you go, baby.  Now, hypothetical, say the college football national championship comes down to Tim Tebow and the Gators, doing that Gator (physical act of love with an ‘ing’)  thing. (I imitated the Chomp) Whatever they do. (Beavan and Kirkman laugh) With the arms, you know.  Against Colt McCoy and Texas with that little hang ten, longhorn sign.  How does that game turn out?  How does the 2010 national championship come out?  Is it Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy hoisting the Sears trophy up above their head?
MK: (no hesitation) Florida’s got it.
BV: Shocker that he said that. (Beavan laughs)
MK: But I ain’t a Florida fan.  I’m a Florida State fan.
BV: You’re a Florida State fan?
MK: Yeah, but I am also a Tim Tebow fan.
BV: Tim Tebow fan.  Okay.  I don’t really get that.
BB: It’s gonna be a tough match.
BV: Bev?
BB: I think it’d be a good game.
BV: Wow.  You know what I’m sensing right here?  He just came right out and said it.  He doesn’t even like Florida.  But he comes out and says, ‘Florida’s gonna win.  Sorry.’  And you’re like, ‘Well, it’s gonna be a tough match-up.’  That’s your way of saying they’re gonna get their (donkey) kicked. (Beavan and Kirkman laugh)
BB: No, I mean… Colt McCoy’s good.  I’m not all into college football that much.  But, U.T. has always been good enough to hang with a lot of people.  But I know Tim Tebow is a great quarterback.
BV: Well, you know what?  Represent your home state, damn it.  You both go (physical act of love) yourself cause Arizona State is gonna win the (same word with ‘ing’ again) title.  (Beavan and Kirkman damn near broke my audio recorder with their laughs here)  We’re gonna get it.
BB: (still laughing) Arizona State…
BV: (I laughed) Last question.  What MLB hitter would you most or least like to face?  Ri
ght now.  Who do you want to face or not want to face?  And for what reason?
MK: I want to face Pujols to see if I could get him out once.
BV: So, I think that would fit most and least.
MK: Yeah, most and least.
BV: Okay, that’s good.  You want to challenge yourself.  And at the same time, that guy is dangerous.
MK: (laughs) What can I throw?
BV: Bev?
BB: I’d like to face A-Rod.  I mean, he’s a good hitter, but you know.  I’d just like to face him to see if I could get him out like Kirk said.  See how my stuff matches up with one of the greatest big league hitters even though he’s had all this stuff on ESPN with steroids.  And all that stuff.  I’d just like to face him and see if I could do any good against him.
BV: Alright.  Good answers.  Pujols and A-Rod.  I would pick like some twenty fifth man on the roster.  I wanna face that dude.  Cause if he ain’t cracking the starting line-up every day, I’m gonna get his (donkey) out. (Beavan and Kirkman laugh) You guys swing for the fences.  I love it.  That’s really all I got.  Thank you both for doing this.
Blake and Michael were good sports for sitting down with me.  We were playing cards in the hotel room when I sprung this on them out of nowhere.  And now, I won’t get to hear any complaints from their significant others on how they suck the life out of their ballplayers.  I was summoned back to Oklahoma City shortly after this interview, and I don’t have their phone numbers.  So, if you guys read this, thanks again.
Alright, this is the end of examining relationships with ballplayers.  Unless I can convince a certain reliever teammate here in Oklahoma City to talk about his wife’s pregnancy and expecting a child.  I don’t want to call him out.  But his nickname is Pirate.  He’s a left-handed side-armer.  And he’s been ducking me like a little (female dog).

Three’s Company

I am just under my three week deadline which would have triggered a clause to pursue an interview with Mr. Hicks or Mr. Ryan.  Sorry.  But I did move into a new apartment with my Frisco teammate, Brennan Garr.

Brennan’s girlfriend, Roni Blaylock, came to town a few days ago.  And I thought it would be interesting to explore the difficulties minor league ballplayers face when being involved in a long-distance relationship.  So, I sat them down and interviewed the pair.  It was a long night after a game.  I had a few “adult beverages.”  And needless to say, when I played back the interview on my digital audio recorder, it sounded like a conversation between Walter Mathau after a couple Excedrin PM’s and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait with a wad of peanut butter in his mouth.  
They were pretty cool and allowed me to interview them again.  This is that session.
BV: Alright, Miss Roni Blaylock, Brennan Garr’s girlfriend.  No relation to Hank Blalock because you don’t spell it the same way.  I need a girl’s opinion here.  Are taller men more attractive than shorter men?
RB: Absolutely.
BV: Why?
RB: I don’t know why.  I mean, I couldn’t ever see myself dating a short guy.
BV: So, Verne Troyer doesn’t do it for you?

RB: I don’t know who that is.
BV: Mini-me.
RB: (laughs) No. (Brennan laughs)
BV: No?  Just a cute little guy?  You know?  Chuy?  Chelsea Handler’s assistant?
RB: Mmm Mmm. (this would mean no, not like yum)
BV: No?  Wow.  I don’t know what it is. (Brennan laughs)
RB: At least six foot.
BV: At least six foot?  Brennan, what are you measuring at? (Roni laughs)
BG: At least six foot. (Brennan is listed at 6’2″ on the Frisco website)
BV: At least six foot.  Nice.  Good answer.  Yeah.  Alright.  So, the three of us were talking earlier about, you know, birthdays, Valentine’s Day and all this stuff.  Now, Roni’s birthday is coming up in November.  You got Valentine’s Day in February which you already said you’re not going to really do anything for.  Because you’re boyfriend of the year. (Brennan laughs)
BG: Cause we blew it out last year.
BV: He blew it out last year.  You spent two thousand dollars on a purse. (Brennan and Roni laugh) (the purse didn’t cost two thousand dollars)  I don’t know.  You have… You don’t have to tell me.  But do you have any special plans?
BG: (laughs) No.
BV: No? (Roni laughs) I notice you’re laughing emphatically.  
RB: Plans?  You don’t plan anything.
BV: Do you ever just dream of doing something like completely unexpected?  I mean, it’s perfect.  You have the perfect setup.  She is expecting nothing from you.  Wouldn’t it be sweet to just like totally like… do something spectacular for her birthday or Valentine’s Day?  And you would earn credit for like five years, or until you dump her again? (Roni and Brennan gasp with a little shock, then laugh) Well, I’m sorry.  He said he dumped you earlier.  And apparently he couldn’t stay away.  Can you blame him?
RB: Yeah, I can blame him. (Roni and Brennan laugh)
BV: Yeah, you can blame him?  No.  You’re supposed to say, “Well, he has good taste.”  What can I say?  Come on.  Something.  Something is brewing in the back of your mind.
BG: I don’t know if I said…
BV: Wouldn’t you like to do something spectacular?
BG: Yeah, I did.  That’s what the purse sitting on the ping-pong table was.
BV: The purse was it.
BG: It was totally unexpected.  That could last for five years or whatever else you said.
BV: Alright.  So, Roni, I’m going to ask you one of the questions I asked before.  You need some time to think about it.  What I mean by before is when we did the first interview where I completely screwed it up and was too (incapacitated) to recall what the hell was said. (Roni laughs)
RB: Are you (incapacitated) now?
BV: No, I’m good.  What is the toughest part of dating a professional baseball player?
RB: The time apart.
BV: The time apart?
RB: Living separate lives.  Not being together as much as we’d like to be.  
BV: (long pause) I’m sorry.  I have to wipe the tear from my eye. (Brennan laughs) And going back to our previous interview which no one else knows about, what’s the toughest part for him do you think?
RB: I don’t know.  Brennan? (Roni laughs)
BV: Brennan, what’s the toughest part? (Roni cannot stop laughing)
RB: What was you answer last time?
BG: I think you answered it for me last time.  
BV: Come on.  We all know what you said.  Just word it out so that the three or four people that actually read this junk can get a little laugh.
RB: Brennan will say it’s the lack of (coitus).
BV: Brennan, is it the lack of (coitus)?
BG: (laughs) No.
BV: No?
BG: That is tough to go through for six months a year.
BV: It’s alright.  Priests do it.  (Brennan laughs) Yeah, you know.  Yeah, it’s possible.  I can’t imagine how it’s possible.  But it’s possible.  (Brennan cannot stop laughing) I’m working on that myself.
RB: I come and visit.
BG: Yeah.
BV: I’m working on that myself, by choice. (Brennan laughs) Not my choice.  Every woman out there’s choice. (I think a little pee came out of Brennan right here) Yeah, you know.  It happens.  Okay, we’re gonna let people know.  I want a quick little answer.  I just exposed you guys to perhaps the greatest accomplishment in cinematic history.  A movie called The Usual Suspects.  I need your thoughts real quick.  Did I do good?  Did I expose you to a good movie?
RB: Yes, it was good.
BV: It was good?
RB: Twists.
BV: Twists, yes.
RB: Unexpected twists.
BV: How sexy was Kevin Spacey?
RB: I don’t know.
BV: I just like to picture him, with that limp hand, stroking my hair on a nice summer day in a meadow.  With the little picnic thing spread out.
RB: Really?
BV: Yeah, I mean come on.  Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects didn’t scream sex appeal to you?
RB: No.  
BV: No?  Brennan?
BG: (laughs) Not as much as it got you going.
BV: I’m sorry.  He does it for me. (this is all a joke) (i’m not gay) (not that there’s anything wrong with that)  We all have our weaknesses.  That’s one of mine. (Brennan laughs) Anything else you want to add to…
RB: What was the question you were going to ask me?
BV: I was asking how did you like the movie?
RB: Oh.
BV: Evaluate it.
RB: From a woman’s standpoint?
BV: Yes, a woman’s standpoint on a crime thriller that had like one woman in the movie. (Brennan and Roni laugh) Well, how did it rate?  Give it a grade on like a school scale.  Like B, B minus, A plus.
RB: I’d give it an A minus.
BV: A minus, wow.  That’s… Brennan?
BG: Yeah, I’ll give it an A minus too.  I did like it though.  I like those kind of movies that make you think.
BV: That’s good.  Well, I appreciate you both for the time. (Brennan mumbles) What’s that? (More mumbling) Oh, yeah.  I completely forgot.  (Roni is) from Alaska.  You’re from the same hometown as Sarah Palin.  Now, does your house have the same vantage point?  Can you see Russia from your house? (Brennan and Roni laugh)
RB: No.  Neither can she.
BV: She can’t see it?  So, you’re calling her a liar.
RB: She cannot see Russia from her house.
BV: You’re calling her a liar!
RB: She lives on Lake Lucille.

BV: Actually, you’re calling Tina Fey a liar. (Brennan laughs)
RB: No.
BV: No? So Tina Fey was right?
RB: You can see Russia from a certain point in Alaska.  It is not in Wasilla.  But we’re closer to Russia than we are to the United States.  
BV: Oh, so you’re keeping an eye on those crazy commies for us, huh?  I’m just kidding.  They’re not communist anymore. (Brennan and Roni laugh) They’re not communists.  They’re fantastic.  I love the borsch. (a little pee came out of Roni this time)  It’s phenomenal.  Alright.  Thank you, both.  I appreciate it.
I concede the subject matter tailed off towards the end.  But that happens when the interviewer is (incapacitated).  Brennan and Roni were very cool, especially to let me grill them twice.  They’ve been together for five years.  And I hope they’re together for, well, more than five more years.  I have to go.  I have to educate Brennan and take him to a jewelry store.  He doesn’t seem to know what an engagement ring is.

Where there’s Smoak… there’s baseballs on fire

Twice now.  This the second time I have taken a three week hiatus.  My apologies once again to you three or four devout readers.  I was all set to make an entry about a week ago, at which point I was demoted to double A Frisco.  So, the past week has been filled with moving, playing nine games in seven days, getting to know my new teammates, and, most importantly, finding a place to live.

For the last four nights, I have been sleeping on the couch of two of my Frisco teammates, John Bannister and the man whose name appears in the title of this blog entry, Justin Smoak.  That’s right, people.  I might have let you down with my extended absence.  But I think this interview should square us.  And it’s a long interview.
BV: I got a few questions.  I got like four or five.
JS: Oh (physical act of love).
BV: Alright.  My first question comes in multiple parts.
JS: Alright.
BV: Okay.  And, um, one, what’s it like to be the second best player on your high school team?
JS: (laughs) Oh, man.  Uh, I mean it was great, I guess.  You know, to be able to play with Matt (Wieters) was awesome.  Because he’s so smart about the game, mentally.  And stuff like that.  It was great to play with him.  And he always gave me crap growing up.  He always protected me because he always hit fourth.  And I hit third.  And then, we played in the (Arizona) Fall League together this past year.  And I think one game he hit fourth, and I hit third.  And he said, “Well, it looks like I’m protecting you again.”  So that was… he always gave me crap about that, but yeah.  I mean it was great to be able to play with him.
BV: I got to face him in the fall league.
JS: Did you?
BV: Yeah.  He didn’t want any part of me.  He struck out, looking.
JS: Did he?
BV: Yeah.  
(Toot toot goes me on my own horn.  When the hell else am I going to be able to brag about striking out Matt Wieters?)
JS: Geez.
BV: Which brings me to the second part of my question.
JS: Alright.
BV: I want a quick true, false.  Because I have my computer on.  And I’m looking at a website called mattwietersfacts.com.  You heard of it?
JS: No.
BV: True or false? (Smoak laughs)  Matt Wieters ate a french fry today.  France immediately surrendered.  (Smoak laughs again) It’s like Chuck Norris facts.
JS: I don’t know.
BV:  Matt Wieters isn’t perfect.  That would grossly underestimate his abilities. (Smoak laughs) True or false?
JS: Uhhhh, true?
BV: Alright.  I’m just kidding.  I’m not going to put you through all that.  (Smoak laughs a little harder) Alright, we’re going to get off this.  That was just the first…  Who’s the better left-handed hitter, you or him?
JS: Oh, man.  It depends, man.  I mean, he’s good.  I’ve always looked up to Matt growing up.  But, I mean, it’s… I’d have to say him.  He’s in the big leagues.
BV: Dude… be a little cocky here.
JS: (laughs) I’m not a cocky person.
BV: Come on.  Who’s a better right-handed swinger?
JS: Oh, I mean.  I don’t know.  I’d have to give one side to him and one side to me.
BV: So, which one are you claiming?
JS: So, I’ll give right-handed to him, and I’ll take left-handed.
BV: But you just said he’s a better left-handed hitter.
JS: Alright, I’ll give left-handed to him and right-handed to me.
BV: Alright, I’m done busting your chops about that. (Smoak laughs) This is kind of a… (Smoak leans over to look at my notepad which contains the remaining questions I have)  Don’t be peaking at my notes.  It’s a little quiz, too.
JS: (laughs) I can’t read that.
BV: Alright.  Now, I was doing some research.  I saw you are (University of) South Carolina’s all-time home run leader, 62. 
JS: Yep.
BV: Who’s record did you break?
JS: Oh (fecal matter).  Hank Small, maybe?
BV: Very good.  How many did he have?
JS: Oh (Spanish translation: it starts with ‘m’ and ends with ‘ierda’).  46? 48?
BV: Close enough.  48.  You got it.
JS: Alright.
BV: Alright.  Now, like everything else, I did some research.  And pretty much everything else I got was from Wikipedia.  And, you know, if it’s on Wikipedia, it’s true.  (Smoak laughs) In your draft preview, Baseball America called you “Gold Glove caliber actions and soft hands” describing your defensive abilities at first.  Now, we were in spring training.  And the only time I saw,
you tried to pick a ball.  And you didn’t. (Smaok laughs) What do you have to say for that?  Gold Glove, really?
JS: No, I mean.  I thought I had a good glove until I got here, you know.  I mean, uh, it’s something…
BV: Relax.  Relax, dude.  You’ve got a good glove.  (Smoak laughs)
JS: (under his breath) Oh, (it’s poop, it’s poop again).
BV: You’re a golfer?  Yeah?
JS: Yeah.
BV: You’re a golfer.  Which way do you swing, right or left-handed?
JS: Right handed.
BV: You’re just naturally right-handed?
JS: Naturally right-handed.
BV: Wow.
JS: Naturally right-handed hitter, too.
BV: I heard your dad made you learn to hit left-handed.
JS: Yep.
BV: Wow.  Are there any other switch hitters on the (Frisco) team?
JS: Um…
BV: I can’t think off the top of my head.
JS: I don’t think.
BV: So, it’s just me and you? (Smoak laughs) Seriously.
JS: (disbelief) You switch hit?
BV: Oh, absolutely.  Yeah, I’m just waiting until we do pitcher’s (batting practice).  Show you guys how to take a ball out to right field.  Because no one else on our team can.  I’m just kidding.  It’s a freaking graveyard out there.  (Smoak laughs) Alright.  Last question.  Do you hunt?
JS: Yeah.  Big hunter.
BV: Alright.  Uh, first interview I did this year was with Derek Holland.  He said he wanted to go hunting.  I asked do you want to go hunting with… I’m asking you now.  Do you hunt with a bow, a rifle?
JS: I hunt with a rifle, a shotgun.  I got a bow, but I haven’t used it yet.
BV: Do you ever try… What do you hunt?
JS: I hunt deer, ducks, doves… Anything living, I would hunt.  Any…
BV: Like another human being?
JS: No, but any animal that is legal to shoot.
BV: Alright.  Now, I’m going to ask you the same question I asked Holland.  Don’t you think it’s kind of unfair that you get a weapon?  I mean, wouldn’t it be more sport if you had to run them down with a knife?
JS: Some people do that, for hogs.
BV: They chase down hogs and kill them with a knife?
JS: They have dogs that chase the hogs.  Get them riled up.  Basically, trap the hogs type thing.  And people go in, and, um, grab the back feet of the hogs.  And cut his throat.
BV: Wow.
JS: Yep.
BV: That’s pretty insane.  Do you fish at all?
JS: Big fisherman.
BV: Big fisherman?  Now, that would be… the same question applies.  You use a rod, I assume?
JS: Right.
BV: Yeah.  Why don’t you just try fishing with a knife? (Smoak laughs) Jump in that water.  Start stabbing.  I’m thinking deep sea fishing.  You bring back a marlin on the end of a knife… I’ll be impressed.
JS: Yeah, there’s no way that’s happening.  No shot.  But there are people that noodle for catfish, with their bare hands.  
BV: They catch them with their bare hands?
JS: Yeah.  Catfish swallow their hand whole.
BV: I gotta try that.
JS: They pull them up.
BV: That is interesting.
JS: Watch out for snakes, though.
BV: If you have one off day here, and you gotta go hunting or fishing.  What are you going to do?
JS: Right now, it’s summertime.  I’m going fishing.
BV: Going fishing?  Okay, let’s say the season didn’t matter.  
JS: Season didn’t matter?  
BV: Like if you were just sitting there, moderate temperature.  It didn’t matter if it was better for hunting or fishing.  
JS: I’m going hunting.
BV: You’re going hunting.  Alright.  Outstanding.  That’s all I got.
BV: No, thank you.  I appreciate it.
Justin was an absolute peach to sit down and talk with me.  Although, I didn’t give him much choice considering it was after a night game.  He wanted to watch television, I held the remote, and we were sitting on my “bed”.  But, I was fully dressed for this session.  Mostly at Justin’s request.  He is an absolute machine at the plate and a vacuum in the field.  And be ready Ranger fans.  You all know he’s going to be pushing to crack the lineup sometime soon.  
And rest assured.  If I take another three week hiatus, I’m going to fight like crazy to make my next interview with Tom Hicks or Nolan Ryan just to earn a reprieve.  
 

Ask a black dude

Back again, boys and girls.  And no three week layoff between entries.  So, I’m very proud of that.  For this next installment, I am bringing you one of the most physically talented guys I have played with or against.  He runs like a deer, has an arm like Ichiro, and is just one smooth cat.  A native Texan, Greg Golson.

BV: Alright, Gollie.  This off-season you got traded for John Mayberry, Jr.  And we were in Las Vegas like two weeks ago, and we saw him hit his first major league home run for the Phillies.  You haven’t hit any home runs with the Rangers yet, have you?
GG: No.
BV: Does that make you feel like a complete failure? (Royce Huffman laughs on the couch)
GG: (small laugh) No.  Not at all.  I mean how is that going to make me feel like a failure?
BV: Just compared to his success?
GG: No.  Because he’s had success because he got opportunities.  He got to start in a game.   I haven’t got to start in a game yet.
BV: You know I’m just messing with you, right?
GG: Yeah. 
BV: Now this next question, it’s… I’m not gay, but I stare at you in the shower. (Huffman laughs again)(Golson laughs)  Do you have body fat?
GG: (laughs) No.  I don’t, actually.  I got three percent body fat.
BV: What is it?  Do you do P90X?
GG: No, man.  It’s just God-given.  I’ve never been able to put on weight.
BV: Alright.
GG: Never.
BV: Hypothetical time.  You have all the money in the world, just stupid rich.  You’re throwing a party at your house.  And you can have any musical act playing the party.  Who is it?
GG: Hmmm.  Probably would be Kanye.  Kanye West, his “Glow in the Dark” tour.  That was the best entertainment, ever.  So I probably want to do that one.
BV: Alright.  Okay.  Um, I got to point out… Besides baseball, what else did you do in high school?
GG: Basketball, track, and I played trumpet too.  But it wasn’t…
BV: In the high school band?
GG: No, it wasn’t.  But I had to give it up.  I had to give up band for baseball.  But I did like trumpet a lot.
BV: Okay.  So, what’s a better movie in your eyes, Drumline or Major League?
GG: Major League.  Yeah.
BV: It’s just, I know you like music.  Next one.  In a movie of your life, The Greg Golson Story, who plays Greg Golson?
GG: I have no idea.  Uh, I don’t know.  I have never heard that question before.  I’d say like, I don’t know.  Jamie Foxx, just because he has so many different personalities, you know?  That’s how I am.  You know, on our baseball team, I’m this way.  Around my best friends at home, I’m this way.  Around other best friends, I’m a different way.  Everybody.  I’m different. So, I’d say Jamie Foxx just because he can be so many people.
BV: I like to think, you know, back in the day.  I think Tom Hanks would have made a great Greg Golson.  You know?
GG: Yeah, I was thinking that too.  That was the one I was going to go with.
BV: I watch Splash.  And I say, “That’s Greg Golson.”
GG: Um hmmm.  Um hmmm.  Yeah.
BV: Two more questions.  Alright.  This one’s kind of a serious thing.  It’s kind of going to be a little funky at first.  Brandon Boggs is up in the big leagues which leaves you as our lone African American on the team.  (Golson and Huffman with small laughs).
RH: Oh, wow.
BV: Now, I told you this was going to sound kind of funky.  Is there something wrong in that? A roster of 24 guys and only one black dude?
GG: No.  I mean, the Rangers are going to go after the best possible player.  There’s not that many black dudes playing because…
BV: Well, that’s what more of what I was leaning towards, the decline in African American players in pro ball.
GG: Yeah.  I mean, I definitely think there’s a push to get more blacks in baseball, but, ultimately, it’s up to blacks themselves to get into the game.  And granted, it is a more expensive sport to play when you’re younger.  Because you gotta have eight other guys that want to play.  You gotta have a glove, ball, bat, cleats.  All that stuff.  Basketball, all you gotta have is a basketball.  Football, you don’t really need anything.  But I don’t know.  I think they’re doing a good job of… I came up with the Phillies.  And you know, they… Last year, their top four picks were black dudes.  I don’t know.  I feel like if… Once it gets to point where you don’t look at that, I think that’s when it won’t be a problem.  You know, it shouldn’t matter how many blacks are on a team, or how many whatevers on a team.
BV: Okay.(motion to the bat in Golson’s hand)  Um, I gotta tell you.  That’s a nice piece of lumber you got in your hands right now.  
GG: Thanks.
BV: I got to play against you last year when you were in Reading.  And you had a really sweet piece of lumber. (Golson laughs)  What happened to that bat?
GG: Yeah, actually, I forgot who was pitching.  But I broke it, shattered it.  In the all-star game.  
BV: The Eastern League all-star game.
GG: The Eastern League all-star game.  It was a pitcher from the Red Sox.
BV: Yeah, I remember that dude.  Good looking guy.
GG: I’m trying to think who it was. I don’t know.  He spelled his name weird.  Something… Beo Voggin.
BV: Thanks, Greg.
For all of you scratching your heads about who this mysterious, yet ruggedly handsome Voggin guy is, it’s me.  Yeah, I blew Gollie up inside.  It was a hard one-hopper right back at me.  I sprinted over to first to flip it underhand.  And when I looked up, I saw that I had only beaten Greg by a step.  He’s that fast.  He almost beat out a come-backer to the pitcher.  It doesn’t really matter that the pitcher was slower than… Well, he’s just really slow.
Greg Golson was a member of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.  And he received a ridiculous World Series ring.  And he is, by far, one of the nicest and coolest dudes on the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  

Married with children

Hi, kids.  I’m back after a lengthy hiatus.  But I am feeling pretty good as it appears the magic might be back.  My last interview subject, Daniel Bard, found his way to the bigs shortly after our little chat.  I’m real proud of him.  He’s my special boy.

Now, a new subject.  I am once again targeting teammates.  And this guy is a genuinely good dude.  Happily married.  Father of two beautiful kids.  He is the person who coordinates with the pastor for chapel on Sundays in our clubhouse.  Or so I hear.  And also the Oklahoma Redhawks’ most effective relief pitcher thus far.  Mr. Brian Gordon.

BV: Okay, Brian Gordon.  The thing that baffles me the most in this world is the life of a married man.  What is the compromise when you and the misses are sitting on the couch, and there are two separate shows that the two of you want to watch?  How does that work?
BG: I once heard someone say… It’s a quote from a movie.  “Happy wife, happy life.”
BV: Of course, The Heartbreak Kid.  But please elaborate.
BG: Being that I get to play at the yard all day, I feel like she deserves to watch what she wants.  She’s a hard working mom with our two kids.  And a single mom half the time.  So she gets to watch what she wants.  And gets a foot rub.
BV: So, you’re not sick of Desperate Housewives yet?
BG: At one point, yes, I was.  But as ballplayers, we have that schedule we have.  It interrupts.  So, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Desperate Housewives.  But I should be able to make a tiramisu.  What is that?  A cake?  Because we are stuck watching The Food Channel a bunch.
BV: Okay, so if not Desperate Housewives, The Food Channel, whatever.  What TV shows have you had to sacrifice?
BG: I think the only shows that have been sacrificed are sports-talk shows on ESPN.  Lucky for me, she can sit and watch a ball game if it’s on.
BV: Okay.  You were a hitter up until 2007.  Have to ask.  Hitting a nasty slider down and away, or throwing a 2-0 off-speed pitch for a strike.  What’s tougher?
BG: By far, hitting a nasty slider down and away.  I could start off by saying that I’m pitching now.  So that just sums up my ability to hit a down and away slider.  After ten years, I’m now a pitcher.
BV: One more baseball question.  Last one, guaranteed.  Brian Gordon, the hitter, versus Brian Gordon, the pitcher.  What happens?
BG: I don’t throw the hitter a fastball because that’s all I would look for.  All I do is flip up curveballs.  
BV: What does Brian Gordon, the hitter, do with those curveballs?  
BG: Swings at two, maybe three of them.
BV: And the outcome of the swings?
BG: Hard and violent.  I will get my money’s worth.
BV: But do you connect?
BG: I don’t think I connect.  My curveball is 68 miles per hour.  I don’t think I could stay back as a hitter.  There are many that can.  But I don’t think I could.  I’m too geeked up to hit.  It doesn’t make for a good off-speed hitter.
BV: Fair enough.  Personally, I like to think I light myself up.  I’m getting off track.  Okay.  You’re a couple years older than me.  I’ve got my ten year high school reunion coming up in October.  Did you go to yours?
BG: I did not go to mine.
BV: Why not?
BG: I still hang around most of my friends from then.  And it was during baseball season.  Maybe the big 2-0.
BV: I’m sorry for your loss.  I’m going to party like it’s 1999.  

BG: Why?
BV: Because that was my senior year.  Speaking of getting older.  You have a son and a daughter.  Focusing mainly on your son, and I talked to you about this earlier.  When do you plan on tying your son’s right arm behind his back?
BG: (small laugh) It’s probably something I should do.  But, uh, being that his mom and dad are just average size people, I’m going to let him decide.  If baseball is his passion, I’d love to teach him.  But we’ll see.  His mom’s left-handed.  I think.
BV:  You think?  How long have you been married?
BG: We’ve been married five years.  Hold on.  Let me think.  Don’t put that in.
(It’s fair to tell you at this point that my digital voice recorder crapped out on me, and I had to write all this and talk at the same time.  Just trying to give you the sense of desperation Brian was feeling at this point as my hand moved franticly about the page.)
BG: (laughing) And I think I’ve seen her throw a ball five times.  And she says, “I think I used to be left-handed.” (more laughing) You’re going to get my (hoofed mammal of the genus Equus, or donkey) kicked.
(And now a moment of reflection as I pat myself on the back for getting Brian to say a word which needed censoring.)
BV: Last question.  We talk movies in the bullpen.  We’re both kids of the 80’s.  What’s your favorite 80’s movie and favorite 80’s song?
BG: Hmmm.  Uh, I think 80’s movie… Gosh, this is so hard because there are so many. (long pause, as in a good 20 seconds)  I was a huge fan of Gleaming the Cube with Christian Slater.  But at the same time… Weird Science.  Might be the top two for me.
BV: And the song?
BG: Favorite 80’s song… (20 more seconds of suspense).  Again, so many.  What’s your favorite?
BV: Song or movie?
BG: Favorite song.  Because I need help.
BV: Definitely… Woo.  This is tough.
BG: The interview has shifted.
BV: Okay. Bananarama, “Cruel Summer” off The Karate Kid soundtrack.  Kinda girly, but I like it.
BG: But not your favorite?
BV: Definitely my favorite because it makes me think of Elizabeth Shue in her prime.  And she was hot.
BG: Ooh.  Commando, my favorite action movie.
BV: Okay.  But which song?  We talk about this all the time in the bullpen.
BG: I know.  But there’s not just one.  There’s so many I enjoy.  They just put me in a jolly mood, all of them.
BV: Okay.  It’s late.  I’m feeling woozy.  So your constant talking and my lack of a voice recorder is going to make all of this impossible to read because my handwriting is terrible right now.  SONG.  NOW.
BG: (laughs) Oh, man.  I guess, uh, … What was it?  Bon Jovi, “Wanted Dead or Alive” maybe.
BV: Fantastic.  Excellent choice.  You got me hot just thinking about it.
BG: (laughs)
BV: Thank you, Brian.  And I only hope I’m as sexy as you when I decide to ruin my life with marriage.
BG: (laughs) No comment.
Brian is a fantastic sport, a good husband and father, a very good pitcher, and one hell of a model American.  He made his major league debut last year with the Rangers.  And I’m thinking he will be making his encore any day now.  
Okay, I gotta go.  Get Smart is on HBO.  Anne Hathaway.  Yeah, buddy.  

Mixing it up

Okay.  I have a problem.  Now, while Derek Holland’s good fortunes were realized immediately after sitting down to talk with me, my more recent subjects have not been as lucky.  Thomas Diamond is currently on the disabled list.  Royce Huffman saw a slight dip in his batting average shortly after speaking with me.  He has thankfully seen it rise back to where it was before the interview.  And in a recent interview I gave Bob Hersom, I hinted that I might like to get Derrick Turnbow to sit down for one of these.  And as Bob pointed out in that piece, Turnbow was granted his release the next day.  

So, something has to change.  Something to counter our mini-Redhawk curse.  I know when I first started doing this I said I would try and feature the players from the number one rated minor league system, according to Baseball America.  But I can’t afford to potentially jinx my teammates.  So who can I talk to?  It has to be someone who is very good.  Someone this jinx will not apply to.  Then it hit me.
I give you an ex-teammate of mine.  Houston-born, former North Carolina Tar Heel, current Boston Red Sox farmhand, and a missing member of Jon Heder’s family, Daniel Bard.

BV: We’ll get right into it.  Bardo, you and I made a mock public service announcement last year in Portland, Maine.  Can you tell people what the subject of that was?
DB: I believe it was about equestrian-related DUI’s in the greater Portland area, and how it was a rising problem.  I don’t quite remember everything about it it.  We made some warnings and said what the punishments were.
BV: Can you remember what the warnings were?
DB: I can’t remember exactly what the warnings were.  I remember the punishment was… I think it was like 30 days probation and up to a $100,000 fine. (laughs)  Something along those lines.
BV: Okay.  That’s good enough.  My second question is a baseball question.  One of my new teammates, Neftali Feliz, throws a hundred miles per hour.  You get it up to a hundred miles per hour.  And the common thread between you two is that you both do it so effortlessly.  Now, I tend to look like a steroid addict having a seizure just trying to get 90.  How do you make it look so easy?
DB: What is my secret?  I’d have to say Mountain Dew.
BV: That’s your secret?  You’re all jacked up on Mountain Dew?
DB: (laughs) I don’t know if there is any scientific data linking Mountain Dew to peformance… No.  It’s just hard work in the gym.
BV: Ah, the gym.  I guess that would be the reason for the differences in our velocities.  Alright, dude.  I have to ask this question because I watched so much Baseball Tonight during spring training.  What is it like to have Peter Gammons (doing a Tarzan from your organs most directly responsible for reproduction)?  Does it get uncomfortable when you’re sleeping at night and you roll over on him?
DB: (laughs, for a while) I don’t even know if there is a good response to this.  I guess he’s so  small that I don’t feel him there.  (laughs, for a while longer)  I don’t even know what to say. 
BV: You okay?
DB: (laughing winding down) Yeah, I’m good.  That reminds me.  Have you seen Gammons’ new commercial?
BV: No.
DB: It’s like a Baseball Tonight commercial.  It shows how he gets all of his information from around the league by using pigeons.  Yeah, they’re all bringing him notes.  (pause) So, to answer your question, no.  It doesn’t get uncomfortable.
BV: Who’s that in the background (of your phone)?
DB: It’s just (Michael) Bow(den).
BV: Oh, put him on.  I have to ask him a question.
MB: Yo, Beau.  What up, dude?
BV:  Not much, Bow.  Hey, listen.  I have to ask a question.
MB: Okay.  Shoot.
BV: How much big league time do you have?
MB: I have two days which have resulted in about nine and a half hours.
BV: That’s about nine and a half more hours than Bard.  Where’s Peter Gammons’ love for you?
MB: Well, he throw triple digits, dude.  If I was Peter Gammons, I’d be all over him too.  In fact, we’re going to have to start charging Peter rent.  We already have Chris George on our couch.  And every time Bard gets out of the shower, Peter’s right there. (laughs)
BV: (laughing) Fantastic.  I love talking to you, Bow.  Hand me back to Bard.  Good luck the rest of the season.
MB: Later, dude.
DB: We might be taking this Peter Gammons thing too far.
BV: You might be right.  Last question.  If you met Jon Heder, a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite, would the universe implode?
DB: My answer to that is… Did you know Napoleon Dynamite has an identical twin?
BV: I did know that.  I watch the E! channel all the time.
DB: So you know I’m not him.  I often get mistaken.  And it would probably fly.
BV:  But what would happen if you two met?
DB: Oh.  The way it would go down.  He would walk in.  We’d lock eyes.  And then p
robably have a staring contest for about thirty to forty minutes.  I am looking forward to that day.
BV: Outstanding.  Thanks a lot, Bardo.
DB: No problem, dude.
I know the majority of you who read this, 2, are Rangers fans.  I had to break the jinx.  So, I figured if I interviewed anyone outside of the system, it should be someone you may have heard of.  And I apologize to Peter Gammons for making him seem like the “Geico” cash outside of Bard’s and Bowden’s apartment.  Take care, all.
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