David Brown

The Best of Answer Man 2010: Baseball spills its guts

Big League Stew

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Vin Scully admitted he depends on Jolly Ranchers candies to get through every Los Angeles Dodgers broadcast without having to use the restroom.

Nyjer Morgan(notes) of the Washington Nationals did a 20-minute interview without breaking character.

Heath Bell(notes) said he would emulate pro wrestler Jake "The Snake" Roberts in a baseball fight.

Jayson Werth(notes) revealed that he dabbles in mixed martial arts (at the executive level).

Luke Scott(notes) ... well ... you know.

You never know what you'll get during an Answer Man Q&A, and 2010 was full of surprises.

I have a lot of fun preparing and conducting Answer Man interviews, but nothing got me more excited than interviewing Scully. He's been the closest thing to a hero of mine ever since the early 1980s, when he broadcast games for NBC.

Reminiscing with him about the '83 All-Star game, or the '86 World Series, or Kirk Gibson in the '88 Series — that was fun enough. But to "break news" on why he likes Jolly Ranchers? Well, it was the highlight of my season.

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David Brown: I heard you like Jolly Ranchers candies. Are they the things that really get you through broadcasts?

Vin Scully: No, what it is, working alone, you're talking a lot — especially when you're doing three-inning simulcast [on the radio] and then six more on television. And I often thought, "I can't drink any water" because the inner tide would cause me to have to rush off to the men's room. And that would not be too good.

And I thought, "What I need is something to moisturize my throat without actually drinking any fluid. So I had some hard candy — whatever it was — and what I do is, it sits quietly [in its wrapper] until the third out. I'll put it in my mouth — I don't keep it in there, just a couple of swallows and then I'll take it out — and then maybe three outs later, maybe nine outs later, I might do it again. And I've found that it helps a great deal.

DB: So, you will not use the washroom after the game starts?

VS: No, no.

And then, as if his word weren't enough, Vin reached into a coat pocket and produced a handful of Jolly Ranchers to prove his previous response to me.

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Usually, the Answer Man Q&As try to be funny. Hands down (feet down, too) the funniest Answer Man of 2010 came via San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell during spring training. Among his musings, Bell complained about the Padres not having a 2010 promotion in his name (so we settled on Pez Dispensers — pictured right).

Read the whole thing in order to grasp Bell's stream-of-consciousness, but this little snippet — in which he mentions a WWE legend — says it all:

DB: There's recent video of a horrendous baseball fight in Cuba. You should look for it. How do you act in a baseball fight?

Bell: Like a wrestler. WWE. Jake the Snake. I'm picking up guys, putting their heads in a bag with a big, giant anaconda. I've got one in a box in the dugout just in case we get into a fight. And I've watched the Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura video so I'm really hoping that someone someday charges me so I can do the ...

DB: Head noogies?

Bell: Yeah! The worst part is, unless we're in San Francisco [where the bullpens are close] and we get into a brawl, I'm not going to get there in time. Literally, it's like, "Hey, buddy, how ya' doin'?" to the other bullpen. It's always like, "Man, we never get anything good!"

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Heath Bell was funny. But if you want pure whacko, Nyjer Morgan delivers in character as alter-ego "Tony Plush".

DB: When you left home to play junior hockey, did you leave a note?

NM: Yeah, I left a note telling friends and family, "It's been nice knowin' ya" and, basically, this one of those times when I'm in my crossroads and get into my grown man shoes and get out there and get used to the world and see the world.

DB: Do any of your junior hockey parents still send you care packages just to make sure you're OK?

NM: Actually, I did get a little letter from one of my host families. She was definitely a cougar at the time — or should I say mountain lion at the time — hah, hah, hah! — and she sent me her praises and I sent her a little shout back that I appreciated the love.

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My favorite interview of the season was probably Jayson Werth (now of the Washington Nationals) mostly because he talked about his side business as a cage fighting guru.

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DB: [Shane] Victorino produces Ed Hardy-esque clothing, Jimmy Rollins is a music mogul, Ryan Howard makes sandwiches, Charlie Manuel works for Nutrisystem. Cole Hamels is an actor. What is your second-most marketable skill after baseball?

JW: I actually have a very small, modest company back home and we put on pro and amateur MMA fights. Capital City Cage Wars. It's a couple years old. It's a minor success. It's more for entertainment purposes.

DB: Wait ... your own personal MMA minor league?

JW: We've got a large venue — we bring upward of 2,000 people. We have two or three fighters already in the UFC [including Matt Hughes, a nine-time world welterweight champion]. It's actually really cool, because I don't have to go anywhere to see MMA, UFC-style fights. I can watch them, basically, in my backyard.

This is a guy I want to get to know more.

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And then there was Luke Scott, who would like to clean up America's deer problem:

DB: Is there a movement to allow hunters more deer?

LS: There should be, but in Maryland they do stupid things. They brought in coyotes. Now, what's going to happen is, they don't just eat deer. They eat everything else.

DB: Like family pets?

LS: Yeah. People's pets are going to turn up missing like in California — you remember Jessica Simpson, her dog got snatched up by a coyote.

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LS: And they're very wily and they adapt to any type of environment. In most places in this country, if you see a coyote, you're supposed to shoot him. They eat people's pets. They're good to have as part of the natural food chain, but they proliferate. And there's no predators for them. People hunt them, but not like they should.

DB: It's not a game animal.

LS: There's just not much interest. You don't eat 'em. I like to hunt them just hunt them. Take their skin and get pelts made. It's pretty neat.

DB: What's the most powerful gun you've ever used?

LS: The most powerful gun I've ever used? I killed those two deer with a 7 mm Magnum — which is a really nice weapon. It's very powerful. I killed that red stag with a 4570, which is another heavy hitter. I've got a gun to kill elephants — a 458. I got a Weatherby Magnum — which is pretty much an anti-aircraft gun [laughs].

No matter what you thought of Scott's political and social rants, we all should agree on one thing: Him calling coyotes "wily" was the greatest moment in Answer Man history.

Here's to more fun, laughs and surprises in 2011.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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2010 Answer Men • Luke ScottVin ScullyMatt StairsGary CarterBucky DentFred LynnCharlie ManuelNyjer MorganJoe MauerBilly WilliamsHeath BellTroy TulowitzkiJayson WerthGoose Gossage

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