Friday, January 12, 2007

Holiday Interviews Around The Majors 2006

I had this post 90% written up over the holiday break and somehow completely forgot to finish and post it. Oops. Despite that it's two weeks late, I figure that since I did this last year too, I might as well continue with tradition. did a summary of their own, but I had a different opinion on which ones were the best.

Basically, they go around and each team's beat reporter interviews someone associated with the team, asking various questions about the holiday season, which vary from team to team. Overall, the 30 teams were represented by 10 infielders, 4 outfielders, 9 pitchers, 4 managers, and 3 broadcasters. Yes, oddly, no catchers. I don't think it was on purpose.

This year's were on average a little bit more fun than last year's, but there weren't quite as many standout moments. Still, let's see:

Funny Ones

As usual, I think the best ones are when they pick on their teammates:

First Place: Aaron Rowand, Philadelphia Phillies If Santa added a 10th reindeer, what should its name be?

Rowand: Phanatic. What gift would you get for Jimmy Rollins?

Rowand: You can't get him jewelry or anything baseball-related, because he already owns everything. He's a tough guy to shop for. You know what? I'd make my own rap CD and give it to him, because he's into music and he can market it. It'd be called "MC-Row-dog." That would be my label. Is there one teammate you really want to get something for?

Rowand: I'd get Cole Hamels a Flowbee. I mean, just look at his hair.

Second place: Nick Punto, Minnesota Twins Next on your list is Torii Hunter.

Punto: I think I'd have to give Torii three hours of sit-down advice on how to play cards. He's just awful. OK, last one and this should be good. What would you get the man whose locker is right next to yours -- Mike Redmond?

Punto: Geez, Red Dog is easy. There are so many things I could get him. But if I had to give one, I think it would be my green Speedo. He really seems to love that thing. You mean the one that has become almost a good luck charm of sorts around the club?

Punto: Yeah, I think I'd actually frame that green Speedo and let him put in on the wall of his game room. I know he wants it because every time I put it on, he's always saying just how awesome it is.

Third Place: Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves If you were getting a gift for Chipper Jones, what would it be?

Francoeur: From a serious perspective, I'd probably get him a new gun or something that he could use on his ranch. From a joking perspective, I'd give him a new foot so that he could stay in the lineup all year. How about for Andruw Jones?

Francoeur: Andruw has everything. He'd be impossible to shop for. I wouldn't even know what to get him. I guess I'd just get him a free car wash for all of his cars. And for John Smoltz?

Francoeur: I'd get him tickets for a Michigan State football game so that he and I could go up together, and I could just sit there and make fun of him the whole time.

Honorable Mention: Dave Raymond, Houston Astros Broadcast Team You were hired a year ago, just six days before Christmas. Describe how you felt when they told you they were hiring you, and just how merry was that Christmas?

Dave Raymond: Let's just say that I wasn't terribly concerned as to whether or not I'd get a Rubik's cube on Christmas morning. It changed Christmas dramatically, of course. It was more like a five- or six-day celebration. It was fun and a surprise.

That day was surreal. We came to the office. They went to give Roy Oswalt his bulldozer. I was just watching two grown men exchanging bulldozers. What's at the top of your baseball Christmas list?

Dave Raymond: I just want to hang out more with Brad Ausmus and Mike Lamb. That's really all I want. I just want them once to acknowledge the fact that when we're out somewhere other than the ballpark and I'm within 20 feet of them, we're technically "hanging out." I want them to acknowledge that. They don't even have to speak to me. Like at the baseball dinner in January, Brad will be there and I will be there. Technically, absolutely, we're hanging out.

Also, I want more 18-inning games.

I am looking forward to the Astros getting back to the playoffs in their rightful spot at the top of the division. Especially should it come at the expense of the Cubs, who spared no expense in the offseason.

Honorable Mention: Scott Proctor, New York Yankees What do you want for Christmas this year?

Proctor: To not get traded. I also told my wife I wanted an ATV, but she told me I couldn't have one until Camden, my 3-year-old son, could ride it. I've got about three or four years to go, I guess. Who's more popular, Derek Jeter or Santa Claus?

Proctor: No offense to Derek, but I've got to go with Santa Claus.

Interesting ones

These interviews were put online on December 23rd. Ironically, that's the same day Brandon McCarthy got traded. What's the best individual baseball gift you could get during the 2007 season?

McCarthy: Twenty wins and a Cy Young, I guess. Less than 50 home runs allowed? Something like that. I'll stick with 20 wins -- that would be nice to get.

I found this one to be particularly insightful, though I had initially been disappointed that the Indians interviewed broadcaster Matt Underwood instead of a player: Well, we talked a little about shopping. What have you thought of the Indians' holiday shopping this winter?

Underwood: It's interesting. Mark Shapiro is like the guy who waited until the last minute to go shopping, and the store is kind of picked clean already. And I don't say that Mark's done anything wrong. It's just that there's just not a lot available. So he's looking at what's on the shelf to buy, and he's got to make do with what's available. I think he's done a good job with what's available. We knew they weren't going to go out and spend crazy on an Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee. That's not their style, and not many teams can afford to do that. Based on what's available, he's done a great job. You can say, "Maybe he could have done better on the trade route." But the asking prices on trades have been astronomical.

Everything they've done has been economically sound and operationally sound. You know, Mark's always been hesitant to give multiyear contracts to the bullpen guys because of the volatility from year to year. So what do you do? You sign Joe Borowski to one year with an option. Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz were the same situation. It's very consistent. And the David Dellucci signing is a great move. It's a veteran with experience, and the guy adds some presence. It can't do anything but help.

This is a kinda cool story along with something weird. I mean, are baseball players allowed to admit they like Star Trek? Reds pitcher Todd Coffey thinks so: Although you're not much into receiving, was there a favorite gift you remember getting when you were young?

Coffey: When I was 13 one Christmas, Mom and Dad got me a special gift. My mom wrapped it 10 times with different colored paper so she would know if I opened it. When I did open it, it was a 1994 baseball from the World Series that wasn't. It was a baseball made for the World Series (stamped), and it was the baseball game that wasn't. I don't know how they got it, but it's still on the mantle at my house. Do you have a favorite holiday movie?

Coffey: One of my favorite movies is "A Christmas Carol," with Ebenezer Scrooge. I like the one that has Patrick Stewart playing Ebenezer Scrooge, because I'm a big "Star Trek" and Patrick Stewart fan. I love that story. It's a great story.

Other ones I found interesting were:
Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
Eric Gagne, Rangers
Buddy Bell, Royals
Ben Zobrist, Devil Rays
Randy Wolf, Dodgers
John Maine, Mets


This is the list of ones where I'd see the player name and think "Oh cool," then read the interview and thought it was a letdown:
Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
Chone Figgins, Angels
Mike Cameron, Padres
Brian Roberts, Orioles
Sean Casey, Tigers

In Seattle There's Plenty of Rain, Dear

And on one final note, of course, the Mariners contribution came from none other than Dobby The Bench Elf: What would be the best present the Mariners could find under their Christmas tree?

Greg Dobbs: I think the best Christmas present they could get now would be the one that's under the tree, but they can't open it until the end of the season. That would be us being in position to win the American League West.

Obviously, they couldn't open it now, so I guess it would be a gift for next Christmas.

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