What’s up, 2011?? The holidays are over; it was a lot of fun for me with a lot of sun! I always enjoy being here in Venezuela, but now that the vacations are over, it’s time focus. Time to focus and start looking ahead to SoxFest and, of course, Spring Training. The month of January is always fun for me because we have a lot of birthdays in my family that we get to celebrate. Other than that, I have so much planned, which is great because I would always rather be out doing things than sitting at home. My guys over at Triple Crown have been working hard and, boy, do we have some awesome things planned for this year! I’m sure some of you guys have noticed I am pretty hyper, but I enjoy seeing all the fans and look forward to being in Chicago very soon. Baseball-wise, I can’t wait for this season to start because a lot of changes have been made and a lot of teams are going to make it exciting.
Here are a couple of pics from my time in Venezuela:
On that note, I was SHOCKED that my boy Robbie Alomar is a Hall of Famer (hahaha). In my opinion, he was the best player in my era. This guy could beat you in every way possible and was probably the smartest player ever to wear a uniform around me. Congrats to him and his family. And then there’s Bert Blyleven. … It’s about time!!! Mr. Curveball was a great pitcher and one of the best guys on and off the field. I love him because he has so much fun being around the game. Congrats to him and his family, too!
On to more of your questions:
Q: What are some of your favorite memories of Old Comiskey Park?
A: My favorite memories of Old Comiskey would have to be my first game, of course, and the last couple of days of that park. Those are the memories that stick out to me as being special. Playing on the same field as Luke Appling, Chico Carrasquel, Luis Apparicio and Nellie Fox, for me, was a thrill. That field had the BEST plying surface in the game. Thanks, “Sodfather,” Mr. Roger Bossard, for making me a lot of money (haha).
Q: How do you like sharing a Spring Training facility with the Dodgers?
A: To me, it was a great experience and still is to be with such a great organization. I’m looking forward to seeing and competing against Donny (Don Mattingly), one of my favorite players coming up. And, of course, now I get to see my boy Uribiiiiiittttoooo (Juan Uribe) all spring long.
Q: Do you feel any more pressure going into this year to win than previous years?
A: I never feel any pressure. I approach the game the same way whether we are in first or last place. I know what my coaching staff and I can do, so I trust them. Thanks to the front office for putting a good ballclub on the field once again. Pressure is when you have seven kids and only make $2 a day like a lot of people do around the world. That’s real pressure.
Q: Now that the holidays are over, what will you do to keep yourself busy from now until Spring Training?
A: I will play some golf in Miami and of course get on my boat. I will go to SoxFest like I do every year since it started. I have never missed a single one. Maybe another record; who else can say that?? … Maybe Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Ed Farmer (hahaha).
I would ask all of you to stay tuned because now on, in every blog I will include something about me that you don’t know. Also, make sure you pay attention to me on Facebook and Twitter because I will be having some contest to give away some free stuff coming up soon. So be on the lookout for that!
‘Til next time … and remember, if you want your dreams to come true, just wake up!!!
This week, I had the great opportunity to go with Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor to Woodside Ranch, a new sports complex they’re building in Mauston, Wis. This place is gonna be mind-blowing and great for the kids up there. I only wish I had something like that when I was a kid!!! I want to give a special thanks to Damon Zuwalt and Orlando Cepeda Jr. I had a great time up there doing this, and it was good spending time with you guys. What can I really say about Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor, besides the fact they’re Hall of Famers and they played the game right. They were what I felt were two of the best right-handed hitters I ever saw.
This week, I’m going to Miami to see my son, Ozney, even though he clearly is doing fine without his parents. I hope to catch a couple of his games, but the game that is really going to be fun is the Bears-Dolphins game — and, yes, I will be tailgating. It will be fun to be in South Florida and around my old stadium (when I was there, they called it Pro Player; but who knows what they call it now). I will be sure to try and post some pictures.
OK, now on to the questions.
Q: Do you think Derek Jeter deserved a Gold Glove this year?
A: I’m not really in a position to judge whether or not he deserved it, but in my opinion, there were a few guys better than him defensively at shortstop. Some who come to mind are Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus and Yuniesky Betancourt. And not because they are all Latinos, they were just better at playing shortstop this year.
Q: Does it bother you that sometimes your “crazy” antics get in the way of how people perceive you as a manager?
A: First of all, I’m not crazy, because crazy people, the way I see it, are in hospitals and mental facilities. I’m not going to any of those places any time soon, unless you ask my wife and she might agree with you guys. I am honest; there is a big difference. I say what I believe to be the truth. It doesn’t bother me that people see me that way because I know what I’m doing on and off the field, and especially with my relationship with my players. Don’t forget that I have been in this country since I was 16 and have learned many valuable lessons throughout that time.
Q: Do you get much of a chance to sign autographs for fans during Spring Training?
A: Yes, I get a chance to sign autographs before and after games. During practice a lot of times when fans are waiting around, I usually stop by and sign more than a couple at a time. I never say “no” to an autograph unless I’m busy, because if I have time I usually say “yes.”
Q: As a player, what were the best and worst playing surfaces you ever played on?
A: The best playing surface, by far — and this is no lie, you can ask anybody in the game, and they usually give the same answer: Comiskey Park (or U.S. Cellular Field), to me, is the best and always will be. Thank you to “The Sod Father,” Roger Bossard, and his grounds crew — those guys are amazing and make me a lot of money (hahaha). The worst had to be old Anaheim Stadium and Tropicana Field because it played so fast. But, remember, I haven’t played since 2000, so I’m sure they have changed.
OK, that’s all for now. Remember to keep the questions coming! Talk to you guys soon.