At a recent stop in Clearwater, Fla. I checked in with Maui native and world bleeping champion Shane Victorino. There, I found out that the Flyin' Hawaiian is learning that ascending to the top helps you meet all kinds of new friends, such as the dad of sextuplets on cable TV's wildly successful "Jon & Kate Plus Eight."
It also leads to lots of questions — or no questions asked, as Victorino might put it.
David Brown: If Hawaii seceded from the Union and you guys had to replace, say, South Africa as a WBC team, could you fill out Hawaii's lineup card?
Shane Victorino: OK, so, catching would be [Kurt] Suzuki. First base would be Kila Ka'aihue from the Royals. Second baseman... I don't know. Shortstop... ooh. I'd be in center. Let's see, who else we got?
DB: Where's Benny Agbayani?
SV: Benny would be in left. Mike Fetters would be a pitcher. Sid Fernandez. Onan Masaoka. Lennie Sakata (he's 54 years old) would be at second. Mike Lum (63) would play third or first or DH. Lum's gotta be at third. Dane Sardinha could be a catcher. Bronson Sardinha, his brother, could be in right field. Duke Sardinha, his other brother, could play second if we move Sakata to short.
DB: How many Sardinhas are there?
SV: Three. Duke, Dane and Bully. Brandon Chavez could play. I'm trying to think of all the old-school guys.
DB: Is Sid ready to pitch? Is he in game shape?
SV: [Sighs]. I don't know. I haven't seen Sid in a while. He still lives in Hawaii. I don't know how we'd do... We'd have fun, I guess. I wouldn't make the claim to fame that we wouldn't be the team to beat.
SV: Me? Nah. Definitely not.
DB: Why don't you just say you are. It's not like anybody really can go back and...SV: OK, I am. To King Kamehameha (laughs).
DB: When you go back home, do you need a layer of protection, like an entourage, from your well-wishers?
SV: No. Not at all. People are always very respectful back home and that's the way it's always been. It's almost like I'm part of their family and that has to do with Hawaii — we're all very family oriented. They don't look at me any different than Shane who used to live here as a little kid. That's how it's always been. I mean, you're definitely seen as a role model, but you're not held on a pedestal. When you get back home, you feel like you're part of a family wherever you go.
DB: Why couldn't Don Ho live forever?
SV: I don't know; that would have been great, because he was a pretty good singer.
DB: When are you going to run into a fence face-first like Aaron Rowand?
SV: When? Opening day, if I have to.
DB: You were a Rule 5 guy twice. What's wrong with these goofball teams?
SV: That's just part of baseball.
DB: With Iverson long gone, who is Philly's most ballyhooed tattooed athlete?
SV: Hmm. [Andre] Iguodala is pretty tatted-up. He's got some tats. In here, Howie (Ryan Howard) is pretty tatted-up.
DB: What's the best ink work Howard has?
SV: I wouldn't say it's the best, but the most impressive is the brand he's got for his fraternity. I know darned well I don't want to get no brand put on my arm. I'm sure it didn't feel very good.
DB: You got any?
SV: Mmm mmm. Nope. Zero. Nada.
DB: How come?
SV: How come? My parents never had any, so... My mom did say that once I got to the big leagues I could have one but I still haven't.
SV: Most antsy? [Laughs] No questions asked. He's up there. When we're going...
A loud voice chimes in from across the room.
Marcus Giles: Hey, I'm [bleepin'] standin' right here! [Bleeps!] Quote that one!
SV: Hey, I said we were close!
DB: Sorry, Marcus.
MG: [Laughs]. That's OK!
SV: Who has the most words in the clubhouse? I don't know. That would be a battle for words.
MG: Who, me and you?
SV: Yeah. Battle for speaking time.
MG: Oh, gosh, I can't shut up.
DB: (To Victorino) Are you quiet ever?
SV: Yeah! All the time ... When Marcus is talking, I put my headphones on.
Victorino starts clapping. He's not able to be still.
DB: The episodes of the "Brady Bunch" when they go to Hawaii...
SV: Remember those days?
DB: Do you even give a crap at all about the "Brady Bunch"?
SV: Nah. The only show I care about is "Jon & Kate Plus Eight."
Marcus Giles [again]: How old are you, Vic?
DB: Reruns! UHF?
Another voice politely chimes in.
Jon Gosselin: Hey, I happen to be here! Jon Gosselin, nice to meet you. I have no TLC representation so I don't know if I can speak to the media.
DB: (Struggling to keep control) How many golf courses have they crammed onto Maui?
JG: (Simultaneously) Oof.
SV: A lot.
JG: (Simultaneously) A lot.
DB: Too many?SV: Nah. Enough. There's never too many golf courses.
DB: But the sprawl. You don't need some open grazing land?
JG: There is none.
SV: (Simultaneously) There is none. Heh, it's hard, yeah. You can't. It's an island; there's only so much you can build.
JG: You can ask Oprah; she owns a ton of it.
SV: Yeah, no joke. She owns half the island. She's got a stupid, stupid piece of land in Hawaii.
Marcus Giles (returns): Maybe we can go hunt pheasants on her land. Hey, let me sit in on this interview please.
Giles pulls up a chair between Gosselin and Victorino, who is standing shaking a tin of tobacco.
DB: Sure, please.
SV: We've got to get hold of her [Oprah].
MG: That's going to be hard, man.
DB: Does everybody still call cops "Five-0" in Hawaii?
JG: Everybody calls cops "Five-0."
SV: (Simultaneously) Everybody calls cops "Five-0."
MG: (Simultaneously) Yeah, man.
DB: I know; I mean, it started there, in Hawaii. Is that still a Hawaiian thing?
SV: Not that I know of.
MG: I think it's French.
SV: I mean, Hawaii is "Five-0" because it's the 50th state, but I don't think it's because of the police.
DB: How long would it take to swim from Waikiki Beach to Penn's Landing?
SV: I don't think I'd make it.
SV: Oh, no questions asked. I don't know how to surf; I'll figure it out, though.
DB: You don't surf?
SV: I got some ocean behind me but surfing, nah, I don't surf.
DB: How come you've never been on a board?
SV: Because I play my sports on land.
MG: I surf and rarely wear underwear.
DB: (Nice "Stripes" reference) Is that a fact, Jack? But you're not from Hawaii.
MG: I'm from San Diego!
SV: (Simultaneously) He's from San Diego. Next closest thing to surfing in Hawaii.JG: (Simultaneously) He's from San Diego.
MG: I tried it once and it's hard to do. OK, I'll let you do your interview.
Giles goes away.
DB: Where can I sign the petition to name a volcano after you?
SV: Call Obama. He's got some Hawaii ties.
DB: Would you like one? Mauna Victorino?
SV: After me? No chance. I'd rather have a baseball field named after me.
DB: You don't even have your high school field named after you?
SV: St. Anthony. We didn't even have a field. We played at a community field and it's named after Iron Miyahara, a scout.
DB: What are some of the cool stories that Jamie Moyer tells about pitching against Hank Aaron and Willie Mays?
SV: I've asked him who was the best player he's ever seen play and he still hasn't given me an answer. He's named a lot of guys, but he said there's no one player through the decades.
DB: I was trying to make a joke about how old he was.
SV: I know that, but... if he DID pitch against Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, we'd be in trouble. It definitely SEEMS like he did. How's that?
DB: Where'd Marcus go?
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2008 Answer Men (and Woman):
• Hunter Pence — April 10 • Justin Morneau — April 17 • David Wright — April 24 • Erin Andrews — April 25 • Andy Van Slyke — May 1 • Derek Jeter — May 8 • Bob Uecker — May 15 • Bert Blyleven — May 22 • Torii Hunter — May 29 • Joba Chamberlain — June 3 • Larry Bowa — June 13 • Zack Greinke — June 20 • Kerry Wood — June 26 • Huston Street — July 10 • Josh Hamilton — July 15 • Milton Bradley — July 24 • CC Sabathia — July 31 • Mike Mussina — Aug. 7 • Jason Bay — Aug. 14 • Cole Hamels — Aug. 22 • Ron Santo — Aug. 28 • Francisco Rodriguez — Sept. 11 • Ryan Dempster — Sept. 18 • Evan Longoria — Oct. 2