3 more weeks of this semester and then I’m free for a month. Forgive me for not posting regularly! As some of you might know, I take my studies very seriously, and I’m doing so even more now that I have motivation to keep my scholarship! I admit it: I’m a nerd. But I have all A’s so I don’t care!
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with their families and friends. I know I did. There’s nothing better than a week off when everyone is home and you have time to catch up on things. The rest of your life just kind of disappears for a while. And not to mention, everyone loves all that yummy food.
It’s this time of year where we all sit back and marvel at what we have in our lives. I’m incredibly grateful for my family and friends. But I’m also thankful for the New York Yankees (who are like family to me) and my blog, and the opportunities that it brings me. Every time I log in, I never know what I’m going to find. I love receiving reader feedback, but I think the thing I’m most thankful for with my blog is the people that I meet and the connections that I make. They can be very inspiring.
I recently had one of these experiences, and I’m honored to be part of it.
Haley Smilow is ten years old, and although young, she is quite the Yankees fan. In fact, she has already lived one of my dreams: to interview a Yankee. This past August, Haley and her family followed the Yankee schedule and attended the away games. And in July, she was able to interview one of my favorite Yankees, the adorable All-Star and should-have-been MVP outfielder Curtis Granderson. Her interview was even published in Baseball Youth Magazine.
I was asked if I would be willing to share Haley’s interview on my blog. Hmm…let me think: would I be willing to post an interview by a ten year old girl who is a huge Yankees fan, who from what I know reminds me of a mini-me, who interviewed one of my favorite Yankees, and who is an aspiring journalist?
Now I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed the interview. Haley asked the kinds of questions that real fans want to know. I learned a lot about Curtis through this interview. Sure, she talked baseball, but she also helped me discover fun facts about Curtis, such as how he likes his pizza and who his favorite wrestler is.
I now present Haley Smilow’s interview with Curtis Granderson. Enjoy!
Haley: In August my family is following the Yankees to US Cellular Field, Kauffman Stadium, Target Field and Camden Yards with stops at Miller Park, Wrigley and Busch Stadium. Do you have a favorite ballpark, and why? Is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well other than Yankee Stadium?
Curtis:I like the Anaheim Angels Stadium because it has good weather to play in and the playing surface is well taken care of, making it a nice place to play ball. I also enjoy the Rally Monkey because he is fun to watch, but as a player it means that the Angels are doing well. Other stadiums that I like to play in are Mariners Safeco Field and of course at home in Chicago at US Cellular Field and Wrigley.
Haley: Since I am going to be in Chicago, who has the best Pizza in Chicago? Who in New York? Do you like Deep Dish or Thin Crust Pizza?
Curtis: My favorite Pizzerias in Chicago are Lou Malnali’s, Giordanos and Gino’s and in New York Artichoke Basille’s. Sometimes I like Dominos thin crust pizza, because I like my crust crunchy. If I am really hungry I will order deep dish.
Haley: Coney Island Hot Dogs or Nathan’s Hot Dogs?
Curtis: Since I played in Detroit I would have to say Coney Island Hot Dogs.
Haley: What is your favorite meal?
Curtis: I really love Thanksgiving dinner because you get to eat a little bit of everything and you can go back over and over for more helpings.
Haley: My little brother is a fan of WWE, I heard you are as well. Who are some of you favorite wrestlers of today?
Curtis: Of course I like CM Punk because he is a great wrestler and from Chicago. John Cena is another favorite. I also like the Divas because they work hard and are as good as the guys.
Haley: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Curtis: I have an older half sister, Monica.
Haley: In your book All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It, you share the lessons that you learned growing up. What is one lesson you would tell the Baseball Youth readers if they haven’t read the book?
Curtis: The selection of friends, good and bad, positive or negative and the people you surround yourself with, will shape your whole life.
Haley: I also know you are an ambassador for MLB and have traveled to England, Italy, South Africa, China, and New Zealand. Is there any place you would really like to go and represent MLB?
Curtis: I have never been to South America so that would be amazing. I would also like to go to Japan and Australia, those would be on my top 3 list.
Haley: Why did you choose the #28 in Detroit and #14 in New York?
Curtis: I was given the #28 in college, which was great because the numbers 2 and 8 are my favorite numbers, so it was both of them together. When I became a Yankee Joe Girardi was #28 so I chose #14 because that was my number from high school.
Haley: I get to go to a lot of Yankees games, and I have noticed that you have two rituals. Can you to explain them? When you step up to the plate you tap it with the bat from left to right then the top. Why?
Curtis: No particular reason, I guess it is just a habit.
Haley: When you are leading off from first and the pitcher makes a move, you always walk around first base same way every time. Why?
Curtis: Because I don’t want to get picked off or called out.
Haley: Do you have any other rituals or superstions?
Curtis: I only chew sugar free bubble gum.
Curtis asked Haley: “Do you like gum?” Make sure you take a hand full when you leave the dug out.
Haley: What is it like in the Dug Out before and after a game?
Curtis: It is a fun place filled with energy and lots of handshakes. We are always meeting people before games. After the game it depends if we won or lost. If we win everyone is happy and celebrating and if we lost we need to move on to the next game.
Haley: When you are on the road do you share rooms with your teammates?
Curtis: In the majors we get our own rooms. In the minors we share rooms, I used to share with Ryan Raburn, Joel Zumaya and David Espinosa.
Haley: AJ Burnett has created a celebration for a walk off win, a pie in the face. Have you ever gotten pied?
Curtis: No, I have not been pied. If I get pied it means we won but I am afraid it will burn.
Haley: Who is the biggest practical joker you have ever been on a team with? Have you ever been the victim of a practical joke?
Curtis: Brandon Inge on the Tigers will do funny pranks, silly ones and even some gross ones. We had a little battle going when I played for Detroit. Once I opened his car and filled it with paper and construction tape making it a big mess inside the car and out. Jorge Posada is a real joker as well.
Haley: In 2007 you became just one of four players in MLB history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs & 20 stolen bases in a single season, what are some of your other accomplishments you are proud of?
Curtis: Graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago, and that I am 1 of only 37 players with college degrees. Making it to the 2006 World Series.
Haley: Do you have any other favorite sports besides baseball?
Curtis: I like basketball, especially college ball. I also like hockey, football and bowling and I used to run cross-country.
Haley: What’s your favorite team?
Curtis: The Kansas City Jay Hawks.
Haley: Who would you consider your closest friends on the Yankees?
Curtis: Of course I have special bond with my fellow outfielders Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. But I also like to hang out with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Russell Martin we go out to dinner and movies together.
From this interview, I learned some important things: Curtis Granderson is as darling in real life as he seems on TV, and he and I have the same taste in wrestlers!
Not to mention, I learned that young female Yankees fans are extremely ambitious, talented, and extraordinary individuals.
I’ve been inspired by Haley, and I wish her and the Smilow family the best. I hope to share more of her work on here in the future.
Haley Smilow Social Networking Links:
The World Series has been over for awhile now, and I’d like to express my congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. They had the most heart out of any team I’ve seen in awhile. I said that if my Yankees couldn’t win, I’d be pulling for them, and I’m glad they took the title home. I hope the Cardinals can keep Albert Pujols. As much as I love the guy, I don’t want the Yankees to get him, and they have no need for him, so I don’t even know why I’m mentioning this. The Yankees still have a lot on this year’s offseason agenda, and a bat and price like Albert Pujols, or Prince Fielder for that matter, is not on the list.
So now that baseball is officially over and I don’t have to deal with the pain of other teams playing while my team is not, I’m feeling a little bit better. The offseason can be pretty exciting, at least through the holidays. I think this offseason will be more rewarding for Yankees fans than last season’s was, because the already crossed off the big #1 on their list: bringing back their ace, CC Sabathia.
I had mixed feelings about the CC Sabathia situation. Now I love my Chubby Chunk, but I feared that this lefty was getting a bit too hefty. I remember how he lost about 25 pounds last offseason, and progressively gained it all back by the time the season ended. To me, that’s a sign of laziness. An athlete of Sabathia’s caliber (and price) should be doing whatever possible to maintain tip-top shape, and stuffing your face with Cap’n Crunch isn’t acceptable.
At first I was unsure to whether or not I even wanted Sabathia- he has been one of the best aces in the bigs and has worked a tremendous amount of innings – but even so, I felt his weight gain and lack of success at the end of last season was worthy of concern. Since the Yankees have an excessive amount of long term contracts, some of which I don’t want (ahem, A-ROD), and CC was starting to get on my nerves and I thought he would want a huge contract, I felt that maybe it was better for the Yankees to just let him walk.
But then I wondered: what would the Yankees do without CC? Was it really worth it to let him go, just because we didn’t want those extra few years, and to not have the rest of the prime years? On the other hand, were the prime years worth the giant contract?
Luckily, I didn’t have to worry after all. The Yankees gave me the best of both worlds: an extended contract, but not too huge.
Instead of the 4 year/$92 million he had left on his original deal, CC now has a 5 year/$117 million deal with an option for a sixth year. I recently said that I don’t want any more contracts greater than 5 years, so this deal made me happy. I feel that long term contracts create laziness, just like with many teachers I’ve had who have tenure: their jobs and money are guaranteed, and in the case of these big money guys, it’s hard to move them, so they kind of have a free pass. But this deal is just the right length. Hopefully, Sabathia will come into camp in solid shape at the start of the 2012 season.
Another huge priority has been crossed off the offseason to-do list for my Yankees, and that was bringing back Brian Cashman, one of the architects of the organization. He’ll be back for another three years at least, meaning that he’ll be around to craft #28.
Let’s make it 28 in 2012 my boys!
106 days until pitchers and catchers report.