Thu Mar 18 04:47pm EDT
Sitting at a makeshift desk in the middle of the home team's clubhouse at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz., Colorado Rockies infielder Troy Tulowitzki(notes) studied the field of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. He filled out his many brackets and, satisfied, moved to his locker to ponder why his alma mater, Long Beach State, missed the field this season.
Despite sticking to baseball as a profession, Tulowitzki keeps an eye or two on other sports as well, as he demonstrates in chatting up the Answer Man.
David Brown: Filling out an NCAA bracket: Is it more science or art?
Troy Tulowitzki: I'd say science. You're really dissecting the teams, looking in to see what they've done lately. I kind of like picking the upset, picking some of the underdogs and feeling good about your research. I'm into all different sports, but especially college basketball at this time of March.
DB: Who do you like going far?
TT: Kansas, I think. Their point guard [Chicago's Sherron Collins] is probably the best player in college basketball. Usually, a point guard who leads the team is going to be hard to stop. My upset pick is going to be Cornell. They're a 12-seed, and I think they're going to upset at least one or two teams.
DB: Long Beach State made the basketball tournament, didn't it?
TT: No, they lost to Santa Barbara in the [conference] championship game. They lost by a couple points.
TT: I don't know. I probably could have played but I don't know how great I would have been. Anybody who can shoot threes, basically, would be valuable to a team. That's basically what I did. I'd like to say, "yeah."
DB: "Tulowitzki." Is that Polish?
TT: Yes, yes it us.
DB: What's your favorite Polish joke?
TT: You know, I don't know too much about Polish dishes, Polish jokes or anything. It's just kind of my last name and that's where it ends, kinda.
Jason Giambi: He'll never get any Polish jokes — his last name's too cool. "Tu-Lo"? I mean, c'mon. ...
TT: My nickname in high school basketball was "Polish Rifle."
DB: Three-point shooter?
TT: Yeah. Always just put it up, so ... that's the closest anybody's really ever come to using my Polishness.
* * *
DB: I hear you're into muscle cars, that you have a collection.
TT: I don't know about a collection [laughs]. I basically have two old-school '67 Camaro RS's. Not a collection yet, but maybe one day.
DB: What prompted you to get into that?
TT: Where I'm from, the Bay Area/Northern California area, is big muscle car territory. They're always having fairs with all kinds of muscle cars. And just the look, the sound, and a lot of my buddies were into them, growing up in high school. So, a couple of my buddies had '65 [Ford] Mustangs and one buddy had a [Chevy] Nova, and I was always attracted the cars.
DB: Do you race them?
TT: No, no. No racing. I like the looks, I like the sound. I'm not into speed too much, I'd rather that it sound good and be original inside, as far as the interior goes. I don't race them. I don't care about the biggest engine, I just want it to sound and drive well.
It's got all of the original stuff on the inside and. On the outside, I've done some things with the engine and put on rims and tires. But with the interior, everything's original, from the radio to the seats to the steering wheel.
DB: What are the colors?
TT: It's a teal, almost like an aqua color — outside and in.
DB: Switching to another hobby, your fantasy football team, what are you doing as far as OTAs, offseason stuff to keep the guys in shape?
TT: [Laughs]. I'm a non-stop football fan. My favorite team is the Miami Dolphins; my dad just grew up a Dolphins fan and anything my dad liked, I liked, so I'm a huge fan. Fantasy football-wise, I'm always on the computer, trying to keep up. Once the teams form, I'm always trying to do trades with my teammates. Last year, I actually came in second place to Huston Street(notes).
DB: You guys talk trash?
TT: Oh, all the time. We have this big ol' event, The Draft Thing. We do it inside a big room and we have a thing where you even get the jersey of the guy you draft. It's a big fantasy draft party.
DB: Are there keepers, or do you start fresh?
TT: We start fresh every year because we always have new guys on the team. We're very picky about who we let in, too. They have to spend several hours and look at their trade offers every single day. We don't just let anybody get into the league.
DB: No absentee ownerhip?
TT: Exactly. And you can only be in one league, so there's not excuses, like, "Oh, in my other league I'm doing well." You can only talk about this league.
DB: Do you rely on Yahoo! at all for fantasy information?
TT: Yeah. Yeah, we do. Actually, the draft I do with my [hometown] friends is through Yahoo! But we rely on the stats, check for the little flag to let you know someone's injured, or that they're "hot" or "cold." We're always on there, checking out the guys and getting the updates.
DB: So, you've got two teams?
TT: [Laughs, busted]. You're going to get me into trouble. I've got a few teams. One back home with my buddies, the Rockies team and, usually, one other one I'm in. So, like, three.
DB: That's a lot.
TT: That is a lot, but I can definitely handle even more — that's how much I pay attention to it.
DB: How close was the championship game with Huston Street?
TT: My team actually snuck into the playoffs and I went on a run. Me and Street had the first two picks [in the draft] but ended up trading our whole team away. That goes to show, if you can make some moves, it can pay off. Peyton Manning was the key for me. He's consistent every week. I got him in the second round, like the 25th pick, something like that. My first pick was Maurice Jones-Drew but I ended up trading him.
DB: You've got Jay Cutler on the pay-no-mind list now that he's not a Bronco anymore?
TT: Yeah ... um ... I don't think he'll be on my fantasy team [laughs]. I'm not a huge fan of the Bears, and plus, [me] being loyal to the Broncos, he left Denver, so. It's kind of sour on that end.
DB: You ever go up to these guys and tell them, "Hey, I got you on my fantasy football team."
TT: Yeah, Knowshon Moreno and a couple of other Broncos guys came into our locker room last year and we got to talk to them last year. That was the first thing that I mentioned to him — that I drafted him and he "better play well." I'm sure they get it all the time, but we always pay attention to football before our [baseball] games start.
DB: Your hair. It always looks like it's trying to be a mullet, or wishes to be a mullet, or that it's on the way. But it never quite makes it to full-blown mullet.
TT: This year, it's going to be the final product. It's going to be put out there on the field. The mullet is going to be in full effect this year.
DB: You've really been working on perfecting it?
TT: I'm planning on not cutting it the whole year. I'm going to get it done, finally. Not just halfway.
DB: Is there anyone else in the league who has one?
TT: I don't know, not that I've seen. Last year I did some stripes on the side of my head — and I saw A.J. Burnett(notes) had them in the playoffs. Actually, there's going to be a couple of guys on the team that are going to join me with this mullet thing and we're going to raise money for the Children's Hospital. It's going to be a big event to watch for.
TT: It's kind of mind-boggling. But, like I've said, I was in the right place at the right time on defense and the wrong place at the wrong time on the bases.
DB: You're still waiting on your Gold Glove, but you did win a Fielding Bible award. Did those folks send you a holy looking trophy?
TT: If they did send me something, I never received it. Hopefully ... I knew that I had won it, but I didn't get anything from it, no piece of paper, a certificate, or anything. I'll remember it, but it's not quite publicized like the Gold Glove awards. Hopefully, one day, I'll have one to be proud of. Until that day, I'll keep working hard at defense.
DB: Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke to the Long Beach State baseball team in the offseason and jokingly said:
"I went into their clubhouse and this thing is an absolute dirtbag clubhouse. Rubber floor. This 1993 big screen TV elevated up into the wall. Just really a messy clubhouse.
"I asked them what's up with Longoria and Tulowitzki and the Weavers. C'mon, let's go! Let's pick this place up. But it did suit the 'Dirtbag' image. He's rooted in this. This is where he comes from."
Would you and Evan Longoria kicking in a little extra cash to spruce up the clubhouse defeat the purpose over there?
TT: [Laughs]. Yeah, maybe a little bit, though it's funny. Everyone knows about the program over there, how great it's been and how many players are in the big leagues now. But that's the whole mentality we have — it's almost like how a public school feels compared with a private school. You get the kids who just grind it out and work very hard and appreciate what they have.
You don't want to give them too much because they might think things come easy. The locker room isn't the best, still. The cages at the practice field are dirt floors. It's the whole part of it. The balls we use aren't nice, white, new balls. They're old. I think it would kind of take away from it a little bit.
I think there's different ways we can put back into the program but leave the baseball side of it like it is, because it really makes you appreciate where you come from.
DB: You and Longoria turned out to be fine baseball players, but except for the team's unofficial nickname, nobody would ever call you a "dirtbag."
TT: Evan and I take pride in not just being good baseball players but being good role models off it. Playing the game the right way, hard, and we both care about winning a lot. We're in similar situations, the Rays and Rockies, being young and experiencing winning for the first time. We're both kind of the faces of the franchise, so to speak, coming from the same school where we were roommates. We're good friends and have a lot in common when you compare us.
I always think back to how we could be playing together. The Rockies had the second pick in ['07] and we took [Greg] Reynolds, who hopefully turns out to be great, but at the same time, there's always that thing in my mind that says it would have been pretty cool to have Longoria here.
But we're doing different paths and both are being successful, so it's cool to see a good friend succeed and be such a good player.
DB: You going to be on the cover of a video game soon like Longoria?
TT: Heh, we'll see. Hopefully. That would be pretty cool. I'm a big video game guy and who knows? Denver is not New York, not Boston, so who knows? Crazier things have happened.
I like the sports games. A lot of guys are into the shooting games, but I still stick to the sports games. Any sports games. I get on there and play some basketball, and I like the fantasy drafts in baseball. It gives me a chance to get certain guys, like Evan, or other guys around the league I like on the same team. I have fun with that.
DB: Do you have trouble hitting the same guys on video games as you do in real life?
TT: Usually, I try to get those guys on my team because I know how tough they are. But, if I have to face them, I'll do it in the video game first. If I can hit them there, I figure I can hit them in real life [laughs].
* * *
Follow DB on Twitter — @answerdave.
* * *
Previous Answer Men (and Woman):
* * *