January 30, 2009
BLS contributor Nick Friedell is at the Super Bowl this week and has been posting like a fiend over at Shutdown Corner. Today he ran into Stew favorite and Tampa/St. Pete hometown hero Evan Longoria on Radio Row and came away with this Q&A.
Evan Longoria is just like every other celebrity hanging around Tampa this week. The Rays' star third baseman spent Thursday morning walking around Radio Row at the Tampa Convention Center pitching a baseball DVD called The Sportys. I caught up with Longoria for a few minutes as we discussed a wide assortment of topics, including the lack of interest in the WBC, who he likes in the Super Bowl this Sunday and just how much he'll miss having Jonny Gomes around in 2009.
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Big League Stew: So you've had a few months off since the World Series ended, what have you been doing with yor time?
BLS: I saw where you participated in the Bob Hope Classic recently. Were you recognized out there?
EL: Here in Tampa I get recognized in Tampa.
BLS: Not on the national stage yet though?
EL: No, which is a good thing. You kind of want to have your anonymity I guess, and be able to do your own thing. Tampa is a little different because it's my home city, I can still use my name to get on a restaurant's short list, but at the same time I get my privacy.
BLS: How does the media attention you've seen the Steelers and Cardinals getting during Super Bowl Week compare to the attention you got during the World Series?
EL: I would say this is probably double the size of what we went through in the World Series. There was a lot of media people on the field I guess but this is definitely a bigger event, more widely covered. I mean football in America is a lot bigger than baseball is to most people. [Football] is definitely covered a lot.
BLS: You've seen all the hoopla which surrounds the NFL's Media Day. If baseball had the equivalent and you could interview any player, who would it be?
EL: Alex Rodriguez was my favorite player growing up, still is, but I think Manny, Manny Ramirez because he would give the best interview. He's just funny; he's a great guy to be around. You never know what you're going to get out of him.
BLS: If you had to ask him one question what would it be?
EL: If I had to ask Manny one question I would say, (Pauses) I don't know. Something to get him to say, "Manny being Manny" or something. Something silly like that. How much he wants, he always answers it funny when you ask him how much money he wants, 'cause he's always saying how the gas prices are going up or something silly like that. He's great.
BLS: Have you ever had any weird conversations with him before a game?
EL: No, you know I actually sat next to him at the All-Star game. He was my lockermate. But, [we had] pretty serious conversations about baseball there. Him and Alex were talking a lot so I didn't get to slip in, in between them. He's quite a character.
BLS: Why don't you think more players are interested in the WBC?
EL: I think because the game of baseball on the worldwide scale isn't as big a game as say soccer or rugby even for the European countries. I just think baseball is not as widely publicized worldwide, and [the WBC] just doesn't get as pumped up, as say, the Super Bowl or whatever.
BLS: The Yankees obviously went on a quite a shopping spree this winter. Was there a part of you that watched all that and went, "Damn, I can't believe this."
EL: No, because you know that they're going, we always understand that teams that have a lot of money, whether it be the Yankees or whoever, the Angels, they're going to do all they can to better their rosters, and it's unfortunate that, well it's not unfortunate, I mean who cares? We're just right now, our team is not in a position to go out and spend a lot of money.
That's just the way it is. We proved that you can build from within and build from draft picks, so I think those teams are obviously going to be good, but I think we're confident in the acquisitions that we've made, and the way we've gone about building the team.
BLS: Does it make you laugh that the Yankees are trying to recreate what the Rays have done in terms of winning the AL and reaching the World Series?
EL: Uh, no. That's just what the Yankees have done. I don't care to comment about what they do. This is our city and our team and that's all we've got to worry about really.
BLS: As you look back on October is there one specific memory that you remember?
EL: We had so many great ones, but my first two at-bats, I hit two home runs in my first two at-bats so you can't really put that away ... I think if I had to choose one, probably just catching, I caught the pop fly that put us into the playoffs, and just for us to kind of turn that page. It was kind of like a new day for our franchise. We made it to the playoffs, it was a new experience.
BLS: What was up with the glove slap after you caught the ball?
EL: (Smiles) I was just pumped up, I don't know what I was doing I was just excited.
BLS: On a different topic, are you an Entourage fan?
EL: No, a lot of my friends are but I'm not.
BLS: You've developed an image as the ladies' man of baseball.
BLS: Do you feel like you're the Vinny Chase of MLB?
EL: Nah, I think [the image is out there] because I'm a pretty sociable guy. I enjoy going out, I'm young. I enjoy having a good time, but you've gotta do it in moderation, and this place [the Tampa Bay area] is as good as place to go out as any other place, and I think we all understand that, so you've got to pick and choose your spots.
BLS: It's safe to say you're not struggling for a date or anything.
EL: (Smiles) Nah, nah, nah, fortunately.
BLS: But you've seen the show though?
EL: Yeah, I've seen Entourage.
BLS: Who is the Turtle of baseball?
EL: Of baseball? Oh, I don't know. Nobody has to be "the Turtle" because everybody's pretty well known. But I don't want to throw anybody under the bus.
BLS: All right.
EL: I've got a Turtle in my group of friends.
EL: Yeah, that's for sure.
BLS: Do you call him Turtle?
EL: No, no, no, but everybody else recognizes him [as our Turtle] ...
BLS: Your manager, Joe Maddon, is a big Arizona Cardinals fan. Do you have a team you follow? Do you have a pick for the game on Sunday?
EL: I don't have a team I follow. My pick, just because I have family from Pennsylvania, I'm going with the Steelers.
BLS: So tell me why you're here. Tell me about The Sportys DVD.
EL: It's not an instructional DVD. It's a way to teach kids kind of the nuances of the game is what we're calling it. A lot of kids and a lot of coaches they assume that kids know where first base is ... the coaches assume, they tell 'em go to center field and they know where it's at. Those things are sometimes not known by young kids, it's geared for kids ages 3-11 ... it teaches what the strike zone is, what the batter's box is.
BLS: So it's a cartoon?
EL: It's a cartoon, yes. Michael Clarke Duncan is the voice for "Stitch" the main character.
BLS: Would Jonny Gomes make a good cartoon character?
EL: Jonny, yeah he would, just some big like superhero with a cape and a big jacked body or something. I love Jonny. I miss him.
BLS: We'll wrap it up on this one, if the Rays had to line up as a football team how would you guys fare?
EL: Probably not so good. (Laughs) We're all baseball guys.
BLS: You didn't play football in high school?
EL: No, no ... we're all athletic, I mean we'd probably be able to throw the ball and catch it, but baseball is a very, very different game than football as you know. Those guys are a lot bigger and a lot more physical than we are. We'd probably be hurt.
BLS: But you guys would have the best team mascot in Zim, so that's a plus.
EL: (laughs) Yeah.