Answer Man: Evan Longoria talks Tampa Bay, Dick Vitale and Eva

The rise of the Tampa Bay Rays began before Evan Longoria made his first major league appearance, but the rookie third baseman gave the club a genuine superstar-in-the-making in the middle of the lineup at a time when that's what it took to go from the basement to the penthouse of the AL East. You might have heard that he had a monster performance in his postseason debut on Thursday, hitting two homers in a 6-4 win over the White Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS.

You also might not have heard —or heck, not even made the connection — but Longoria's name is almost identical to another superstar, this one from Hollywood. The Rays' Longoria knows about this "other" Longoria.

Boy, oh, boy does he know about her.

Shortly after the Rays wrapped up their first division title at Comerica Park in Detroit, the more masculine of the Longorias sat down for the latest Answer Man session.

Question: Why does every picture of you on the Internet look like the woman who's married to Tony Parker?

Eva(n) Longoria: We're not going to go through the whole interview talking about this, are we?

Q: Mmm, not all the questions, no.

EL: OK. What does the question even mean? How do you want me to answer? Like, as in a joke?

Q: Right, if that's how you want to take it

EL: I guess people get us confused often.

Q: There was an Internet report that Eva sent you champagne and you responded with a gift. What's truth, what's made-up crap?

EL: She sent me a bottle of champagne to congratulate me for making the All-Star team and she also sent me three jerseys to sign and send back to her.

Q: As an aside, let's say the whole interview was about you and Eva Longoria. Why would that have been bad?

EL: I don't... I'm done talking about that. I did it all through the minor leagues. That's all I had to hear was her name associated with mine. I think we're kind of past that. That's all.

Q: [Hurriedly scanning through questions to find one that has nothing to do with Eva]... One of your stops in the minors was with the Durham Bulls. Does that team put too much pressure on itself to be as funny as the 1988 Crash Davis/Calvin LaLoosh squad?

EL: I don't think so but we had a good time while I was there. There's all that history with the movie and the team, but for as long as I was there, we enjoyed it. I also played for another team that had a movie made about it, the Chatham (Mass.) A's in the Cape Cod League.

Q: How accurate was Freddie Prinze's portrayal of a Chatham A's player in "Summer Catch"?

EL: I've seen parts of it, but I couldn't tell you specific details.

Q: You watched it just for Jessica Biel.

EL: Yeah, I love her. ... But, I'll say this. To this day, other than this summer, that year in the Cape was one of the best of my life.

Q: So you've been in two organizations that have had movies made about them already, so if they make a movie about this team, who plays Evan Longoria? You're the casting director, as well as the inspiration.

EL: Who would I want to play me? Mark Wahlberg.

Q: Can you hear Dick Vitale from his seats?

EL: He never cheers during the game. He might clap. I never hear him vocally. He sits right on top of us, on the other side of the field. He's spoken to us multiple times during the season in the clubhouse, though.

Q: Rocco Baldelli's from a town called Woonsocket, Rhode Island. On a scale of 1-10, how funny is the word "Woonsocket"?

EL: It's funny [laughs] and his nickname's the "Woonsocket Rocket," which is even funnier.

Q: Jason Bartlett was voted your team's MVP, but some people remain skeptics. To convince them, please list every valuable thing he's ever done.

EL: He's been the most solid defensive player we've had all year. He's gotten so many big hits for us, especially in August and September. Just those two months alone. I think he hit, like, .385 in the month of August. He's definitely carried us on the field, defensively. He's been everything a shortstop needs to be to an organization. A leader.

Q: What about off the field? Does he pick up a check? Always there to talk on the phone? Is he a nice guy?

EL: He's a family man. He's always with his wife; they just had a baby. I don't really see many of the guys who are married at home, anyway, and on the road I can honestly say I've never been out with him.

Q: Who on this team should not have gotten a Mohawk, no matter how much a team guy he wanted to be?

EL: Well, he still doesn't have one. Carlos [Pena]. And I told him not to. He asked me multiple times if he should get one. I just don't think he'll look good with it. He's the clean-cut Latin guy on our team. I guess it's debatable if he's Latin or not. He is Dominican. I told him not to.

Q: Has he been in the United States "too long" to be considered Latino anymore?

EL: I don't even look at him as Dominican, and that's nothing against Dominicans, but he's been in the States for so long — he went to high school and college here — in the States. He's very well educated and it's tough for me to look at him and think he came from the Dominican.

Q: When you first met him, how long did it take for you to stop staring at Joe Maddon's glasses?

EL: Ha! I never really stared, but I did realize from the get-go that everything was about his glasses. That's what makes Joe unique.

Q: Your high school is named after St. John Bosco, which has to be the coolest sounding saint name ever. He sounds like a hard-drinkin, hard-livin' miracle-worker. What can you say about his life and times?

EL: Ha! I probably should know something, but I don't. I know he was a Salesian priest, but that's about it. I probably shouldn't even letting people hear that I don't know so much about it.

Q: Then you went to Rio Hondo Junior College. Sounds like John Wayne's alma mater. How many shootouts did you have in the hallways?

EL: It wasn't too bad there. No gunfights, no stabbings. It's not a tremendously large school. It was a pretty ethnically diverse school and I enjoyed it.

Q: You got a lot of publicity about the contract you signed one week into your major league career. Times being what they are, I have to ask, when are you going to demand to have it renegotiated?

EL: Ha! Probably that last year. Hopefully, I'll have all my options picked up and I'll be nine years deep into the deal before I have to worry about trying to get some more money.

Q: The length of the deal caught many surprise. It stretches far into the future, when society might not even use money anymore, like in "Star Trek." Then where will you be?

EL: I'll still have money! And it'll have to be turned into something, no matter what we're using. It is a long time, but it gives me financial security for the future.

Q: Was anyone in here particularly clever in ribbing you over the deal?

EL: Cliff Floyd. Cliff gets on me a lot. Cliff and Eric Hinske are the two, if I don't pay for something, or ask them to buy me lunch, they'll give me a little quick left jab to the cheek about it. Mostly everyone's good about it.

Q: How would it affect the game if you guys moved the Rays Tank to short center field.

EL: Ha! It would drastically affect the game — unless they put it underneath the ground and put a glass top over it. I like the Ray tank. It's pretty far. I think I hit it once this year. But to put it into play, it would be like putting a goal post in the middle of a football field.

Q: You guys clinched at Comerica, but have you seen old Tiger Stadium? It's like they're doing an autopsy on it.

EL: It's like half knocked-down. I don't know what's up with it. We drove by it and Hinske said, "Hey, they tore half of it down." I had never seen Tiger Stadium when it was still erected. And the part that's left, it's all beat-up. It's kind of sad. It doesn't look like there's a whole lot of building at all in the downtown area. Detroit Rock City, it's a landmark city. I'd like to see them build it up. I know it got cleaned up a lot when they had the All-Star Game and then they had the Super Bowl here, too.

Q: You have used Pantera and Tantric as at-bat music. So, you rock pretty hard?

EL: When I pick a song, I just try to pick something that the crowd is going to get excited to hear. It's mainly just the beginning part of the song. I'm changing for the playoffs, but I don't know yet what I'm doing. I'll go through my iPod and listen to songs I don't know, and listen to all of them, and pick something new.

Q: Hypothetical scenario: The Rays play the Cubs in the World Series. Don Zimmer has split loyalties. Can we trust him anymore with a fungo bat?

EL: I tell you, Zim, he don't have any split loyalties to me. I watched Zim on TV growing up with the Yankees for however long Zim was with the Yankees when [Joe] Torre was there. He talks about the Yankees now and he's thankful for what they did for him, but he's not loyal to them. So I know he's not loyal to the Cubs. He's loyal to us and he's going to give us any kind of support we need.

Q: Can you tell yet if there's a difference between the kind of person who lives in Tampa vs. St. Petersburg?

EL: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It's almost like — from my perspective — the difference between being from Long Beach and being from L.A. I don't want to say there's a — I don't want to say "stuck up" — but the St. Pete natives come to the game dressed as baseball fans. Tampa people come dressed to go out. There's girls in heels dressed up and ready to go out. Usually, the St. Pete people that are fans, are FANS. They're there to watch the game and support us.

Q: How do you know this?

EL: That's just the way it is. Tampa's a smaller version of L.A. I think it's because the night life is better there. The people there are more prone to being more up[scale] socialites. I don't know how to explain it more, but there is a definite difference.

Q: So, just one last thing about "her:" When did you reach the Eva breaking point again?

EL: When I was in the minors. You have no idea how many times it would come up. This is by the time the [Sports Illustrated] article came out. I mean, I like her a lot. I want to meet her someday. She seems really cool. But it would be nice for me and my friends to move on to something else.

Previous Answer Men:
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

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