Now, I’m not a tech savvy guy at all…the furthest I get into the world of technology is this site and listening to some of my favorite podcasts on my iPod while mowing the lawn.
Current Texas Rangers relief pitcher C.J. Wilson, on the other hand, has quite a reputation as being “the guy” when it comes to all things "tech" (iPods, computers, etc). I had a chance to talk to him a little about baseball, past teammates and the L.A. Lakers.
HOVG: With the latest release of the iPhone 3GS, I’ve gotta ask...are you getting one?
CJ: I don't like the iPhones. I need a keyboard so I can text accurately, so I use a Sidekick.
HOVG: Alright, I had to get that out of the way. It seems every interview with you online talks about three things…you being a technology nut, Tommy John surgery and being a “free spirt”. I’d like to try and take it a different direction…if at all possible. In your first game, you give up a single to the only batter you faced…then in the next inning, you get lifted for a pinch hitter. You’re down 12-5…why not let you hit?!? You were quite the hitter in college, right?
CJ: Why not let me hit? It's a puzzling question that I still am upset about five seasons later.
HOVG: Would you ever petition (Rangers manager) Ron Washington to let you hit in some ballgames or, as a reliever, is that a moot point?
CJ: I'm a decent hitter, but realistically, (I won’t hit) until I'm a starter or a National Leaguer. American League closers don't get a lot of at bats, so I'm just going to take my batting practice homers and call it what it is...unfortunate.
HOVG: I spoke with Ranger great Fergie Jenkins who, while in Chicago, came to the mound to “Canadian Sunset”. Rollie Fingers told me that if he played today…he’d opt for no music just to make the opposing hitters nervous. What plays when you take to the bump…and why?
CJ: My song this year is "Call Me Up" by Chromeo. It's a really fun jam and hopefully it makes our crowd feel positive and energetic. I've strayed away from former metal songs because our crowd just isn't into it and they get bummed. Energy is contagious, and it's better to have the crowd behind you in that regard.
HOVG: And speaking of coming out of the bullpen, the Rangers are off to a good start…what’s it like being part of, arguably, one of the better relief staffs in the American League? Is it easier to stay loose in the bullpen?
CJ: The entire team dynamic is better this year, and I think the bullpen has always been a source of fun for me. We're like a team within the team. It's pretty impossible to accurately characterize the bullpen lifestyle, so I'll just say that you never really know what to expect…but somehow you get used to it.
HOVG: Let’s talk teammates. You’ve had the pleasure of sharing the clubhouse with some of the game’s greats. Let’s play word association with some of your more colorful teammates...starting with former pitching coach Orel Hershiser.
CJ: Scoreless innings streak. He had tons of ideas on how each pitcher could improve.
HOVG: 2005 teammate, starting pitcher Kenny Rogers.
CJ: Awesome guy and super helpful to me in my rookie season. He also had a lot of advice when he left town and we would run into each other.
HOVG: 2007 teammate,closer Eric Gagne.
CJ: The single player I learned more from than any other player.
HOVG: 2006 teammate and polydactyl Antonio Alfonseca.
CJ: Weirdest body in baseball.
HOVG: Current teammate Omar Vizquel reached a milestone the other night when he tied Luis Aparicio’s mark for most hits by a Venezuelan. Is it safe to call Omar the best shortstop of all-time?
CJ: I think with the "best shortstop ever" discussion, it all comes down to Ozzie Smith versus Omar.
HOVG: Across the diamond…who has been the toughest out for you?
CJ: There are a lot of tough outs, but for whatever reason (Yankees outfielder) Nick Swisher keeps getting hits off me. The last two have been infield singles…it's really frustrating. (NOTE: Swisher has five hits in twelve at bats against Wilson…a .417 batting average)
HOVG: Is there anyone, living or dead, that you would like to go head-to-head and battle?
CJ: The players I would've liked most to play against are Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth
HOVG: Alright, enough baseball. Your Lakers just won their 15th championship…are they the NBA’s best franchise ever given the way the won this last one?
CJ: The two best NBA franchises are the Celtics and the Lakers. It's impossible to compare teams of different eras, but I'll say that Phil Jackson is the best pro basketball coach of all time.
HOVG: As a midwest guy...I agree about Phil.
C.J. Wilson is a native of New Port Beach, California. He has spent his entire career with the Texas Rangers both as their closer and set-up man.
In 2003, his season in Double-A Frisco was cut short due to an elbow injury. Subsequent Tommy John surgery kept him out the entire 2004 season. In 2005, Wilson was able to return to Frisco in before being called up to the majors later that season. He’s been a fixture in the Ranger bullpen ever since.