What’s the one thing Evan Longoria hates more than a fireball-throwing closer chin-checking him with 100 mph heat?
“Call of Duty” online snipers, that’s what.
“I can’t stand when they show the kill cam and some guy sniped me while hiding behind some bush off in the corner of the map and you don’t even know where he’s at. That’s so frustrating,” Longoria says over the phone as we talk about his offseason gaming habits. “I play ‘Call of Duty’ online all the time. I have a theater setup in my house in Arizona, and I’ll sit there in the dark playing 'Call of Duty' against my friends.”
So who on the Rays has “Call of Duty” skills, and who likes to talk a big game even if Longoria and crew are mowing them down match after match?
ESPN Playbook heads straight to the source for answers.
ESPN Playbook: What is it about playing “Call of Duty” that you find so addictive?
Evan Longoria: I think it’s the interaction with the other people online. I don’t play a whole lot in single player, but online is cool when you can get six of your buddies and you can all be on the same team and talk trash through the headsets. It’s just an awesome game.
Do you like to play at night after games, or is this more of an offseason habit?
My little brother will play until four in the morning, but I’m not as intense as that. I probably play the most video games during spring training. After practice, I’ll sit there and play for a couple hours at a time. I played a little when I was on the DL, but during spring training, we have the most time to chill out and play video games. I’m not a big gamer throughout the course of the season, because my whole day consists of waking up, eating lunch, and heading to the field. We’re there until about midnight, and by the time I’m done, I’m exhausted. But spring training and the offseason, that’s when I jump on “Call of Duty” and get after it.
Do you play against your teammates?
Yeah, we try to all go on at the same time, and that’s what really makes it fun, when we’re all linked up and we can talk to each other as we play. We try to all get on the same team, or if there are more than six of us, then we try to get an even number on both sides.
Who on the Rays has skills? Anyone who thinks they’re good but you shoot them all the time, no problem?
We got a guy who’s not in the big leagues, but his name is Ricky Orta, and he must be ranked in the world, he’s that good in the game. David Price is the one who thinks he’s really good, but we go back and forth. We shoot each other up pretty good.
When did you first get into “Call of Duty”? Did you start playing back with the original, or did you pick it up more recently with “Black Ops” or “Modern Warfare 3”?
I probably really got into it with “Modern Warfare 2,” but I actually think “Black Ops” is the best in the series so far.
Since you’re a big “Call of Duty” guy, and “Black Ops” is your favorite series, what are you hoping to see new in “Black Ops II”?
I think one of the things I’d really like to see is the ability to use vehicles more in online game-play. I want to use tanks and helicopters and find different kinds of ways to destroy stuff. I think it would be cool to have one guy jump in and drive the tank and have somebody else jump in and use the gun. I’d also like to see the maps become more destructive, if that makes sense. I want to be able to blow holes through walls and different stuff like that.
What type of “Call of Duty” player are you? Do you like to run crazy and knife people? Do you snipe? Are you out there hiding behind a wall waiting for people to walk through the door?
I’m running around. I’m not a sniper. You have to be pretty good and pretty patient to be a sniper. I like to use my grenades and flash bangs and run up on people and surprise them by knowing the maps and knowing where to hide.
How many times have you been killed by a little kid and had to listen to his squeaky voice talk trash over the headset?
[laughs] Usually I just mute them. If there’s three or four or us in the party, we go into our own party chat so we don’t have to listen to what other people have to say.
Are you more of a Xbox guy or a PlayStation 3 gamer?
Xbox, definitely. I don’t even like holding the PlayStation controller.
There are a bunch of professional gamers out there making hundreds of thousands of dollars playing “Call of Duty” for a living. Think you have the skills to play against them, or would that be like asking a pro gamer to step into the box and take some cuts against David Price?
I’d have no chance. I can’t even play against my brother, and he’s not even ranked as one of the top players in the world or anything like that. I try playing against him, and he just comes out of nowhere all game and knifes me. It take a lot of time to master these skills, and the top gamers out there, the guys who do this for a living are just incredible. I grew up playing a lot outdoors, so I can’t sit there long enough in one stretch to get that good. I enjoy playing “Call of Duty,” but after a while, it hurts my head. [laughs]
What was the first video game system you remember playing?
I grew up gaming. I didn’t play the original Nintendo too much, but Super Nintendo is really where it all started for me. I was a big “Mario Kart” fan, and I used to love playing games like “Contra.” That’s the first shooting game I really remember playing. It’s crazy to think that I’m only 27 years old, but when I first started playing, all we had was “Contra.” Now we have games with the detail and action of “Call of Duty.” Makes you wonder what’s going to come in the next 20 years. We’re going to be running around our houses with all the gear on or something.
With the playoffs going on right now, do you have a World Series pick?
My personal pick would be the Orioles because I feel that they were like us back in 2008. They surprised everybody, and against all odds, they’re doing well. I hope they continue to play great and make it all the way to the World Series. If we’re not in it, I’m cheering for the underdog.
Do you have a favorite player to watch? Whom do you cheer for when you’re just a baseball fan watching the game at home like everyone else?
To be honest with you, I just really enjoy watching the game. Obviously, the guys who I’m closer with and who I know on a personal level, I’m going to cheer for them. Adam Jones is a guy who I’m probably the closest with on that Orioles team, but it’s just the guys you respect and you go out and enjoy competing against, those are the guys you want to see be successful.
Adam Jones told me about his love for “Mario Kart” back during the All-Star break. Have you guys ever raced?
No, we haven’t. I think he’s coming out here to Arizona after the season, so we’re going to have to talk about that. We need to sit down and play some “Mario Kart” and see who has skills.
A lot of people counted the Rays out before the season, but you guys were right in the thick of the playoff race up until the end. What is it about this team that seems to defy expectations?
We just have that ability to get together and as a group, believe we can succeed. It all starts with the manager -- you have to have a manager that you want to play for and who you believe in -- and then you just go out and not worry about what the media said or about what anybody else said, you just go out and play hard. We find a way to win, and that all starts with good pitching. Our pitching gives us the ability to stay in games, and they kept us close all year.
With “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” coming out in November, do you see the game as a way for you and your teammates to continue to bond in the offseason and into spring training?
I know I’ll be doing it, so hopefully I can get a bunch of the guys to come over to the house and play. I know I’ll be bringing my Xbox to spring training with me again this year for sure, so I definitely want the guys to come over. Playing video games is a great way to bond with teammates, for sure.