Monday, August 16, 2010
Inside Pitch Live With Miguel Batista
This past Saturday afternoon, shortly before Our Washington Nationals took on The Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park, the latest edition of Inside Pitch Live was featured in the PNC Diamond Club. These Saturday home game "Meet & Greets" are set up for premium ticket holders from Presidents Club, Diamond Club and Washington Suites--and consists of 15 to 20 minute question and answer sessions with players or front office members from Washington's Major League Baseball Team. Hosted this week by MASN's Rob Dibble, Miguel Batista was the guest. And here is the complete transcript to that conversation.
Rob Dibble: Welcome to another edition of Inside Pitch Live and my guest today is Miguel Batista. I’m Rob Dibble. I will be your host for this afternoon. (Applause) I guess you know him well, so let’s get started.
Dibble: You were voted the Number 1 Good Guy in Major League Baseball by The Sporting News in 2003. And in that same season you were suspended for 10 games when you hit another good guy--Cardinals 1st Baseman Tino Martinez--that led to a bench clearing brawl. Were you not able to use your good guy status to lower that suspension?
Miguel Batista: Well, the good guy started it. That was a mistake. (laughter) They couldn’t find anyone else to give it to--so I ended up with the bill (suspension). But that brawl, well things just seem to happen. It wasn’t intentional and then he started screaming stuff and before we know it--there were people punching each other. It was kind of funny because I didn’t throw at anyone.
Dibble: You two are probably the nicest guys in the game.
Batista: Everybody else fights but us. That was fine for me.
Dibble: You’ve played for nine different teams. The first team you played for in the Gulf Coast League was The Montreal Expos minor league team in the Gulf Coast League. So, over your past 20 years what’s the journey been like?
Batista: Long. (laugher). I’ve been with this team (Nationals/Expos Franchise) three times, I think. It’s been real interesting. I've seen this team revolve from being in Canada to changing from that ugly uniform we had, to this (The Curly “W”)--that was a good improvement. And seeing great superstars come up. It was funny because somebody told me the other day that I am the only guy that is still playing that actually played with Andre Dawson. That wasn’t very fun for me (to find out).
Dibble: I think Matt Stairs first came up in 1992, so you two have to be near the last of the original Expos that are still around. What’s the secret to staying in great shape and pitching for 20 years in professional baseball? What do you have to do to keep yourself physically fit?
Batista: The first thing I learned was knowing yourself, knowing what you can do, what you can’t--knowing your role. Some guys now take weightlifting too hard and they forget they have to be ready to pitch. Some of them want to look like bodybuilders out there trying to pitch--that’s not something I want to do--especially at my age. I am one of the few dinosaurs left--as they called me the other day. I try to do the best I can to be ready to pitch every day. I do a certain amount of maintenance. As a pitcher, you know, there are certain things we need to do to be ready--especially when we are relievers. We have to be ready every night--regardless of how many pitches you threw the night before.
Dibble: You’ve been called ‘The Poet’. You’ve written a novel called ‘The Avenger Of Blood’. You have a poetry book out called: ‘Feelings In Black & White’. What is your inspiration for both books?
Batista: Anything. Whoever writes a books knows inspiration comes from everywhere. You just have to have to nerve to do it. Writing a novel is a totally different thing. You can improvise, especially in fiction. I think fiction is the greatest thing in the world. You can be as good as God and as bad as the Devil--and you don’t hurt anyone. Poetry is a different thing. It’s a moment in time. You have to frame it when you see it, and if you don’t, you might not remember the reason why later.
Dibble: Who are some of the authors you love reading?
Batista: When it comes to fiction, probably Ben Brownback. If you go to other types of books, there are a lot of people who I read. It depends on what my interest is at the moment.
Dibble: On July 27th, Stephen Strasburg was scratched. You made the spot start and when you were introduced, the fans booed you. You then went out and pitched five scoreless innings. Did you use the negative vibe from that night for motivation?
Batista: No, I was surprised they started booing me before I took the mound. (laughter) As I got there, I thought, ‘OK, you haven’t seen me throw a pitch and you are already booing--that’s not good.’ When I get to the mound, I try to block everything out. We had a game plan to execute. There is a lot going on, especially for pitchers. We have to be alert for the signs from the catchers, the signs from the infielders. And know everybody’s position so we make sure they don’t get a hit when they (the batter) makes contact or not. So you have to block everything out and execute your game plan.
Dibble: After that game, you had some comments, you said: ‘Imagine if you go to see Ms. Universe and you end up having Ms. Iowa?’ Do you wish you would have compared yourself to Ms. South Dakota or Ms. Wyoming?
(chuckling from the audience)
Dibble: I actually thought it was funny.
Batista: Oh yeah, you might be one of the few. (more laughter)
Batista: No. My original thought was that people were booing without seeing the product. They just heard: ‘Ah, Miguel Batista is pitching’ and they started to go boo. I say, okay--what is this? It’s like you’ve paid for a Mercedes-Benz and all of a sudden they bring you a little car and you say: ‘what happened?’ Well, seeing the performance, after the night was over--Ms Iowa wasn’t as ugly as they thought it was.
Dibble: Both women were beautiful--was the point.
Batista: Believe it.
Dibble: And then she came here and you got to meet her and you are now friends.
Batista: I wouldn’t call us friends.
Dibble: But now she understands you.
Batista: Yeah, it took me like three dozen flowers and a lot of apologies. We had to explain to her how the whole thing went out of proportion.
Dibble: Right. You’ve been a closer, you’ve been a starter, you’ve served pretty much every role in the bullpen--do you see yourself as, sort of, a super utility pitcher?
Batista: I believe that as things have changed with guys in specific roles in the last 10 years--a lot of people are taking more observations as to what utility players do. Guys that like to do the same things that I do. They used to call us ‘swingmen’ back in the days. I believe we are utility right handed pitchers. We can do short, long, a lot of rest--no rest. The same thing that a utility player does as he goes from the outfield to the infield and vice versa. And I think that is going to bring a lot of work for younger players that are coming up.
Dibble: They (The Nationals) just put Craig Stammen in the bullpen. His first reaction was that he had relieved years ago, but he said: ‘it gives me the sense I am going to play everyday.’ Some guys can sit there for four days (between starts), not play and then pitch. I wasn’t able to do that--that's why I went to the bullpen. How do you make that mental adjustment from the starter to that reliever thinking: ‘OK, I’ve got a routine as a starter, but as a reliever, there is no routine for that.’
Batista: When Stammen went there (to the bullpen), we were talking about that. In your case, it was different, you had so much power you were almost unhittable. In his case, he’s been a starter for so long, I was telling him that sometimes it’s good for guys to go down to the pen and pitch as a reliever for a couple of weeks because it will bring them a change in mentality. Sometimes when you go on the mound as a starter, they want to nibble around because they want to last six or seven innings. And when they open their eyes, they have the bases loaded and they are behind in the count. But when you go into a game as a reliever, you are just going to give whatever you have that first pitch. If they then start being aggressive from the beginning of the game, before they know it, things are going fine.
Dibble: What would you like to do once your playing days are over?
Batista: That’s a helluva question. I don’t know. I really have no idea. I know that I have to find something to do. I have a lot of interests and things I have already tried--broadcasting, writing for ESPN and things like that. But I haven’t actually pinpointed what I wanted to do, not yet.
Dibble: You also play the saxophone, which I see you carry everywhere on the road with you. How many years have you been playing saxophone?
Batista: I’ve tried on and off for two years, but it’s like I’ve said: It’s like being married to a woman from another planet--we don’t understand each other very well. (laugher)
Dibble: Your first year in Arizona in 2001, you won The World Series. Is that your greatest baseball memory?
Batista: In a lot of ways, yeah. I believe what makes it special was the fans. We were out there after The World Series was over, and people started looking at us as if we were rock stars. I understand that Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson might be used to that sort of attention--but not me. And I don’t know, I was going down the street and people were waving to me like they know me. And I am like: ‘OK?’ I wasn’t used to that much attention.
Fan Question: Going from city to city and changing teams as many times as you have in your career, how difficult is it to adjust to new teammates and a new city?
Batista: Well, every place is different. People are different. The way people act is different. You have to try to adjust to the way they react. Some fans are more into the game than others. I played for The Cubs one time and it’s incredible. You go there during batting practice and it’s like being in a club--everybody is drinking (the fans). There are fights, balls are flying into the stands and they get hit in the head and they don’t care. They are drinking beer. (laughter) Here is different, people want the ball, people know who you are--some people know your stats and everything. So it’s very interesting. You go to play for another team, you see how different things can be.
Fan Question: What do you do when you are on the road? Do you have a lot of down time? What do you do between games?
Batista: It will depend. When we go to the west coast, we spend most of the time on the plane. A lot of guys like to play cards, they watch movies. I actually read a lot, or try to write--that’s the only time I can find. We don’t have as much free time as people think we do because when the game is over, some guys like to do weights after the game. Then by the time you get to the hotel it’s midnight and we actually get to the ballpark between 1PM and 2PM (the next day for a night game). Guys wake up late, we really don’t have that much time. That’s why we try to enjoy our off-seasons as much as we can.
Final Question from a kid: Who would you love to strike out?
Batista: Oooh! That’s a good question. I’ve struck out a lot of guys and a lot of guys have got me too. But if I had a chance, I want to strike out Jesus. I want to see if he can hit a curveball. (everybody breaks up laughing).
Dibble: OK, thanks everyone for coming. That concludes Inside Pitch for today.
Please thank Miguel Batista for being our guest.
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