A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire appears in the June 25 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
DP: Ever had a vanity plate?
|Opposing catchers have watched Mark McGwire go yard 583 times.|
MM: Unfortunately, I did: 49 IN 87.
DP: So, your rookie year when you hit 49. Are you embarrassed about that plate now?
MM: Yes, very much so.
DP: And are you going to get one that says: 70 IN 98?
MM: No. I'd get BIGJOCK. My fellow motorists would say, "Look at him, he must be a porn star!"
DP: Is the DH legitimate?
MM: No. I've never liked it.
DP: You feel like half a man? You're less than a major leaguer? You don't have a glove?
MM: You just don't get the money for all that leather.
DP: What do you full-timers wear that you actually pay for?
DP: The cup?
DP: See, that's living the life.
MM: Oh, yeah.
DP: Have you ever tried a corked bat?
MM: I've never in my whole life even seen a corked bat.
DP: You liar.
MM: Swear to God. Never seen one.
DP: Are you going to manage?
MM: I would love to manage someday.
DP: But all you know is hitting home runs. What the hell could you teach a guy about base hits?
MM: Everybody wants to learn how to hit home runs.
DP: Part of the problem with baseball, isn't it?
MM: Not from my perspective.
DP: Do you ever feel sorry for a pitcher?
MM: God, I've never even thought about it. Umm ... no.
DP: You never felt, "You know what, guy, I hate to do this to you, but I'm going to take you deep"?
MM: I wish it was that easy to do.
DP: I thought you were a sensitive, caring man. Guess I was wrong.
MM: I didn't know I was supposed to feel sorry for pitchers. Dan? Are you crying?
MM: Can you hold on a second, my girlfriend's calling. Hey, Stef.
DP: I love you.
MM: I'm talking to Dan Patrick right now. Stephanie says, "Hi, Dan."
DP: You are G-O-N-E.
MM: She's a good girl. It's taken me 13 years to find somebody.
DP: You are a sensitive man. Mark?
MM: Yeah, Dan.
DP: I love you.
MM: Me too.
DP: Have you got any pets?
DP: Have you ever had a pet?
MM: Yep, I tried.
DP: You tried?
MM: Yeah, I'm allergic to them, and plus, they kept running away.
DP: But if you were a dog with you chasing after you, wouldn't you run too?
MM: Oh yeah.
DP: Describe your dance style.
MM: Oh, cool '70s.
MM: Oh, yeah. You know, the "Staying Alive" bit...
DP: What Playstation game are you playing now?
DP: You don't do any of that?
MM: I don't like them, they give me headaches.
DP: But when you do play, do you usually pick you?
MM: Never played, never.
DP: Growing up, did the kids call you anything on the playground that bugged you? Did they make fun of you?
MM: Let's see -- they called me Tree, because they thought I looked like a big redwood tree, with my red hair.
DP: Did that hurt?
MM: No, 'cause on the back of my letterman jacket in high school, I had "Tree" on the back of it.
DP: Well, I think it's a compliment.
MM: And then sometimes I get people in L.A. going, "Hey Tree." I don't want to look -- too embarrassed.
DP: Meanwhile, these guys were making fun of you, and you never realized it. You're like, "Yeah, that's a good nickname."
MM: I like it, man, I like it.
DP: What's a home run sound like?
|Mark McGwire spent 10-plus seasons with the A's before being traded to the Cards in '97.|
MM: It sounds like two 2x4s hitting perfectly together.
DP: You know instantaneously that you've hit a home run by that sound?
DP: What do you think it sounds like to a pitcher?
MM: What does it sound like to a pitcher? "Oh, no."
DP: As David Cone told me, it's, "Uh-oh, let me bend over and grab my ankles." Greg Maddux said a home run sounds like two cars crashing, to him.
MM: Oh, really.
DP: But he doesn't give up too many home runs.
DP: What sporting events have you not been able to attend because of the baseball season that you'd like to go to? The Masters?
MM: The Masters would be a good one.
DP: Do I have to ask the questions and answer the questions?
MM: Well, some of them because I don't know if you want me to be funny or serious.
DP: I want you to be funny. I don't want you to be serious.
MM: The Masters.
DP: On CBS.
MM: Unfortunately, yes.
DP: Define a clutch performer ... by your definition, what is and who is a clutch performer?
MM: A guy who or woman who has all eyes looking on 'em, at that given moment, to come through -- and they do.
DP: Who are some of the best clutch performers in baseball?
MM: One of them was Dave Stewart. Dennis Eckersley.
DP: What about nowadays?
MM: Nowadays, I'd have to say Pedro Martinez is a clutch performer.
DP: Are you a clutch performer?
MM: It depends. Sometimes, yes. But I think hitters are on a different level being clutch, because they rely on somebody else, you know what I mean? The clutch performer as far as pitching and basketball and golf, I think they control their own destiny. They are more apt to be more clutch than a hitter.
DP: Last CD you bought?
DP: Your favorite actor and his best movie?
MM: Gene Hackman and -- he's got so many good movies out.
DP: Were you going to say "The Replacements"?
MM: No, no, no.
DP: "French Connection"?
MM: No, no, no ... "Hoosiers" is it.
DP: Did you cry?
MM: Shut up.
DP: Are you concerned about the new strike zone?
DP: Doesn't affect you at all?
MM: No, I mean only if -- I don't know if it's going to affect anybody, really.
DP: Do you get disappointed that you're only known as a home-run hitter?
MM: Not now.
DP: You were before?
MM: Yeah. Now I'm OK with it.
DP: You don't mind hitting more home runs than you do base hits?
DP: Do you want people to focus on your defense?
MM: Oh, I'd love that, sure.
DP: Give me your ranking as far as your fielding -- where would you place yourself? One to 10.
MM: Oh, probably 7-1/2 or 8.
DP: So you're not in J.T. Snow or Mark Grace territory?
MM: No, but I'm adequate, I'm very adequate.
DP: What hitters do you would actually take time out to watch when you're in the dugout?
MM: Tony Gwynn, Nomar Garciaparra, Jose Canseco -- let's see, who else ... [there are] so many ... Juan Gonzalez, when he's healthy.
DP: But would you rather watch a hitter, a pure hitter, or a power hitter?
MM: I like both of them, I can't pick just one.
DP: How far have you hit a golf ball?
MM: 300-plus ... say 350.
DP: Would you join the Senior Tour when you get to be 50?
MM: I'm not that good.
DP: They don't care. They want a draw on the Senior Tour. And by then you may be good.
MM: Maybe I would then...
DP: Uniform that you could never see yourself in that your body, your shape would not look good in?
DP: So you wouldn't look good as a Yankee?
MM: Or a Cub.
DP: Do you think it would accentuate your build, your girth?
MM: It would make me look skinnier.
DP: You would want that, wouldn't you?
DP: Oh, you want to look imposing?
DP: So you have your uniform probably one size too small, so it...
MM: Oh, I have it bigger.
DP: Why's that?
MM: Bigger, baggy.
DP: But that doesn't make you look imposing. You look like David Wells if that's the case.
MM: No ... I've got a nice uniform.
DP: When was your last triple?
MM: Let's see, my last triple was in '99.
DP: And who was it off of? Did you huff and puff?
MM: Off of Trevor Hoffman.
DP: Did you slide?
MM: No, I was standing up.
DP: Last base you stole?
MM: Last year, in Detroit.
DP: Did you get the green light to go? Or was it a double steal?
MM: No, it was a green light.
DP: Do you have the green light whenever you get on first?
MM: That day I did.
DP: Did you pick up the bag and take it with you?
MM: I wanted to but they wouldn't let me.
DP: You did a Rickey Henderson?
MM: Yeah, I'm the greatest base stealer of all time.
DP: Why did you pick your number? Or did somebody pick that number for you?
MM: They gave it to me.
DP: Do you like that number?
MM: It's turned out pretty good.
DP: Do you have jewelry with your number on it?
MM: No, I never did that. Never had jewelry with the number on it.
DP: How would you describe your home-run trot?
|Mark McGwire chased Roger Maris in '98; this summer, Barry Bonds is chasing Big Mac.|
DP: No, come on, more than decent. Is it quick? Is it, "I'm sorry, I don't want to show you up"? Describe it. You have to have a theory behind how you do it.
MM: Just get around the bases and get in the dugout. You know.
DP: Is there a good home-run trot? Who has a good home-run trot? And who has a bad home-run trot?
MM: A good home-run trot, I always thought, was like Reggie Jackson.
DP: Bad home-run trot?
MM: Oh, there are so many who run around the bases so quick.
DP: So it's somebody who flies around the bases? ... All right. Well, how long should a home-run trot last, time-wise?
MM: No more than 30 seconds.
DP: So 30 is the absolute maximum?
DP: But you also want to milk it. So you probably want to go at least 25 and don't flirt towards 30?
DP: What other sport do you wish you had played?
MM: Oh, football, basketball.
DP: What position would you play in football?
MM: Football? I'd love to have been a defensive end.
DP: But at USC they never talked to you about playing football?
MM: Heck no. I wasn't that big in college.
DP: But you're still 6-5 in college.
DP: You know, they probably didn't ask Randy Johnson if he wanted to play, but you -- you had some beef.
MM: Where's the beef, where's the beef?
DP: But you didn't even think about playing football in college?
MM: Never played football at all, I didn't like it.
DP: You didn't like to get hit?
MM: No, no. I just didn't care for it ... I liked basketball and baseball better.
DP: So if you were going to play a professional sport, the only sport you could probably play right now is football? You couldn't play professional basketball?
MM: No, I couldn't play basketball because I don't jump very well.
DP: Is there anybody you can outrun on your team?
MM: Andy Benes.
DP: He's a pitcher. Anybody who does, like, full-time work that you can outrun?
MM: Yeah, let's see. I could outrun -- let's see, let me think of somebody here -- how about our trainer?
DP: No, that doesn't count.
DP: You're the commissioner for a day. What are you changing?
MM: Can I change a lot of things?
DP: It can be a grocery list if you want.
MM: No DH, 30-second clock after the time the ball's been pitched or hit ... if there's a doubleheader, it's only seven innings, both games ... if it's raining, the game's called.
DP: What if it's just sprinkling?
MM: No, the game has to be called if it's raining, and ... whoever is leading at the end of that inning wins the game.
DP: OK, what else? Sounds like you've got a lot of issues.
MM: Let's see, what else.
DP: How about three balls and two strikes, instead of four balls?
MM: You know, I would do that. Three balls and two strikes would make the game go quicker.
DP: And can we do something for the pitchers? Is there anything to do for the pitchers now to make them catch up with the hitters? Not that you care about this, but I do, because I like the game.
MM: I'd raise the mound.
DP: All right, anything else?
MM: That's about it.
DP: You'd keep the juiced balls?
MM: Oh, they're not juiced.
DP: You don't think?
DP: Hey, if I can take one out they're juiced.
MM: What field was that?
DP: With the Mariners.
MM: Oh, really.
DP: In spring training.
MM: Oh, congratulations.
DP: It was a changeup, and I was sitting on it. Nobody sits on a changeup quite like I do.