Pat and I have been close pals for over ten years. Besides playing baseball together, we also played on the same basketball team (he was great, I was going through an embarrassing chunky phase â€“ I was Dennis Scott without the jump shot) and the same hockey team (we were both awesome, though we mostly just cared about picking fights). Weâ€™ve kept in touch throughout the past few years, and he was recently gracious enough to take some time out of his strict schedule of running wind sprints and listening to the latest in European death metal to answer a few of my lame questions.Â
What are the best and worst parts about playing professional baseball?
I would say the best part is the lifestyle, such as getting up whenever you want, going to bed whenever, traveling and not having to go to an office everyday and sit in traffic. I also love the feeling of competing everyday and trying to make opponents look terrible at the plate.
The worst is how repetitive your life becomes. Everyday is pretty much like the one before. You have to find something to take your mind away from the park; for me it’s music and computer games. Talking on the phone with my parents and Stephanee helps a lot also.
As you know, we have a minor league team in Minnesota called the St. Paul Saints. The Saints games are known for the crazy atmosphere; there is always a silly gimmick for the fans between innings (sometimes during). Every night is something like Bat Night, Kids Night, Trivia Night, Bring Your Mistress Night, Dress Like a Peanut Night… you get my drift. It feels more like a circus-y sideshow, and while it’s entertaining I’m not sure many people care one way or another about the actual game. My question is: would you rather play in front of less people with fewer distractions, or a crowded stadium like Midway with all the gimmicky action diverting the fans’ attention?
Well, ever since Elizabethton [the Twins A level team] most games we play have between 5,000-8,000 people a night. Owning a minor league team has becomes a very profitable business in the last couple years. Promotions are good for the game because they bring in tons of people every night and lots of money.
When I sit in the bullpens some nights I wonder things like “Does anyone know what type of game they are watching.” I bet that three out of four of the people that go to games do not know what or who they are watching. Even the Northwoods League (college summer league) drew tons of fans when I played there and for the most part fans didn’t know they were watching marginal college players. I love having lots of fans in the seats â€“ it adds a ton of atmosphere to the field. As a player you don’t even notice the crowd when you are playing, so the more the merrier.
You have dominated at every professional level you’ve played at, but because of the crowded Twins farm system you haven’t been called up to The Show yet. Be honest: what major league teams would you have been on in 2005?
A lot of guys I have played with got called up with other teams, and some of them didn’t have quite as good stats that I have had in my career and this season. I would guess that I would’ve got a shot with 1/3 of the teams just going on comparable stats with people that did make it up. The Twins are stacked and it does get frustrating at times not getting credit. I’m pretty sure I opened some eyes up this year and it will get me some looks for next year.
What is your all-time favorite sports movie? (If you say Varsity Blues I will come down to Florida and murder you in your sleep)
I don’t know; Sandlot is pretty cool because that was pretty much how our neighborhood was back in the day. Also when we moved down the road to our new house and you helped build the field with us across the road â€“ at least I think it was you. [Bâ€™s note: no, it was not me. I was too fat for manual labor.]
Who has the best curveball in the majors? Best changeup? Best slider?
Zito, Santana, Lidge.
Who are three minor leaguers/rookies that you’ve played with or against that you predict will be future all-stars?
This year in the Eastern League I would say the top three are Mike Jacobs, Joel Zumaya and Ryan Zimmerman.
What is one secret you can share with us about a current or former teammate? Some examples: Does Fran Liriano sleep with a blankie? Does JD Durbin list “Erin Brockovich” as his favorite movie? Does Jesse Crain wear a “banana hammock” when he’s out clubbing? These are the sort of things I need to know.
There are some funny ones but I’m going to hold back on this one so I don’t lose my job!
Are there a ton of groupies on the road? Have any of your teammates “taken one for the team” and brought home a fat chick? (You don’t have to share his name) And if this happens, is there relentless teasing from the teammates or is the guy treated with respect for his bravery?
You played college baseball so you know how it goes. Yes, yes and yes. And no to the last one.
Have you gotten over the time senior year of high school when we missed our chance to go to State in the last inning? (I’ll admit I have never gotten over that and I don’t think I will.)
It still bothers me a little because it ruined the best day of my life! That would’ve been one hell of a day: we graduated, would’ve gone to state and I got drafted. Yeah, that really sucked losing since we kicked their asses in the first game. All I remember is a ball going by me just out of my reach in game 2â€¦ that kind of summed up the game. It sucks because I hated that MG [Maple Grove] team so much.
If I could win any game in my lifetime so far it would’ve been that game. I still have that Cable 12 game on TV and watch it every now and then questioning some moves that Stoll [our head coach] made. [Bâ€™s note: we took the lead in the bottom of the 6 th when Pat singled me in from second â€“ one of the coolest moments of my sports life. Our right fielder made two errors on the final inning and we lost 3-1. I am forever scarred; itâ€™s true (and Pat agrees), you never care about sports as much as you did in high school.]
What is your favorite high school memory, baseball or otherwise?
I always loved playing baseball at the sports dome in St. Paul every weekend in the winter. Going to State and coming in third my sophomore year was probably the best baseball memory.
The best game was easily the win over Osseo my sophomore year to go to state. Ummmm, high school memory too many to name. Any team my dad coached was classic, basketball/baseball.
Playing hockey with you was frickinâ€™ awesome because we only played to check kids and get into fights. School was fun because there were so many different types of people and they all had a story and most of the kids were nuts.
My funniest memory of high school was one time we had a pepfest in the gym for the basketball team â€“ to make a long story short, some nerdy pepfest MC with a microphone got on another MCâ€™s shoulders and proceeded to try and dunk a basketball. He hung on the rim too long and his partner thought he was free to hang on the rim and let go. Well, he fell and it lives on as one of the funniest things I ever seen. The kid was ok. If he got hurt it wouldn’t have been as funny – – – Do you remember that? [Bâ€™s note: this was probably the hardest I ever laughed in high school. The nerdy short MC got on the nerdy tall MCâ€™s shoulders to dunk a basketball, but when he hung on the rim and the tall guy kept walking, the nerdy short guy fell straight on his back, in slow motion, in front of the entire student body. Then he got up and tried laughing it off but was obviously embarrassed and probably in pain. Keep in mind these were geeky attention-hog theatre typesâ€¦ a classic memory.]
Your “top 20 music” section on your website kind of scares me. I am obsessed with music yet I don’t know any of your top bands. What is your favorite genre of music? If you were forced to perform karaoke, what song would you choose to sing?
You should give them a shot; you probably would like most of the stuff. I have seen many different types of names for metal type music and I think the polite thing to call it is â€œActive Rock,â€ so that’s what I call it. Basically stuff that pumps me upâ€¦a good riff, good sounding guitar solo, drums: loud, fast stuff that makes you want to jump into a pit. I really haven’t grown out of it and I don’t think I will until I stop playing ball, if that.
If you remember we always use to listen to new acts back in the day that no one else heard of. Stuff that had a nice beat and flowed. The stuff I listen to today hasn’t really changed at all and I’m sure if we were 16 again we would be listening to this stuff and some more alternative bands.
My five favorite TV shows are The Daily Show, Arrested Development, Project Greenlight, King of Queens and Scrubs. What are yours? Do you watch The O.C.? I just started and I kind of love it.