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.
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?
(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?)
BV: Which brings me to the second part of my question.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
JS: Naturally right-handed hitter, too.
BV: I heard your dad made you learn to hit left-handed.
BV: Wow. Are there any other switch hitters on the (Frisco) team?
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: 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?
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.