Sometime between the final out of the 2014 American League Division Series, where the Baltimore Orioles outscored the Tigers 21-10 in a three-game sweep, and one of the 374 snowstorms this winter, we looked at the Metro Times budget and tried to find a way to finagle a trip to spring training. The prognostication wasn't good. It turns out that our unique brand of business hustle can take you to London, Ontario, by way of upstate New York, but couldn't physically get us to Florida.
But we were committed to covering the Tigers in the best way possible, given that geographic hurdle. Unfortunately, the players are in the midst of, you know, practicing and getting ready and probably not eager to hop on the phone with an MT staffer to answer questions about the back end of the bullpen and whether a Kate Upton curse really exists.
The friendly Tigers communications team offered the next best thing to help us out: They'd take a list of questions to some players and grab the answers. For that, we are certainly grateful, even if some of our better questions were left on the cutting-room floor. We really did want to know what Jose Iglesias thinks about the future of youth baseball and MLB recruitment in Cuba as U.S relations with the island country evolve in historic fashion. We wanted to know what fans Joba Chamberlain thinks are best at heckling the bullpen. We wanted to know if Victor Martinez would do things differently, knowing now how his career has affected his body.
Those didn't get answered, but many others did (even if they're spun from the mouths of babes through the delicate cycle in the PR washing machine). And thanks to the Tigers for that.
Maybe next year we'll get down to Florida to ask some stuff in person. If we leave today, the Metro Times van might even make it there in time.
Metro Times: What songs get you pumped up before the game?
Joba Chamberlain: It depends on what mood I'm in. There are some days I want to listen to country music; there are some days I listen to rap. Some days I want to listen to classical, so it kind of just depends on what mood I'm in, really.
MT: Who has the best beard in baseball?
Chamberlain: Well obviously if this was last year it would have been me. This year ... I haven't really seen enough people in spring training to see whose beard is going good. Ian Stewart from the Nationals has a pretty decent one that I have seen.
MT: Do you think it's time for stirrups to make a comeback?
Chamberlain: I'm a huge stirrup guy. I wore them all my first year. I wear them every once and a while, but everything goes in cycles so there will probably be a few other guys wearing them.
MT: How much do you like beating the Yankees?
Chamberlain: I like beating everybody. I mean it's obviously a little different, I would be lying if I said it wasn't a little different. I spend most of my adult life over there, grew up with a lot of those guys, and saw my son grow up. So it's always nice to go in and do really well. So I would say it's a little bit sweeter winning.
MT: Is there anything Miguel Cabrera can't hit 1,000 miles?
Chamberlain: No. That was another reason I signed back, so I didn't have to face him again. I've seen him hit balls off me and other [pitchers] for homers, so I can speak firsthand that there are not many things he can't hit out and it's fun to watch him every day, that for sure.
MT: If you could play any other position outside of pitching, what would it be?
Chamberlain: I mean I play the outfield every day in batting practice. I feel like I'm pretty good at that. Probably first base, you're almost in every play. I wouldn't want to catch; that's too much work. Probably first base because I'm flexible and can do the splits. It would be fun.
MT: How do you feel after missing a year?
Jose Iglesias: I feel really excited. I feel really happy about the opportunity to get back on the field and be healthy and to give 100 percent for my team.
MT: What is your walkup song going to be this year?
Iglesias: "Seven Nation Army." I've had it since I've been here.
MT: Who has the worst walkup song on the team?
Iglesias: I don't really pay too much attention to that. I like all types of music.
MT: Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, or Alan Trammell?
Iglesias: I've never had the chance to meet Ozzie Smith. Trammell is a special human being who helped me a lot and is a guy I want to learn from a lot. Derek was my role model when I was playing. It's tough to say; they are both great human beings, they are both unbelievable players, they've done great things for their organizations. I don't know, I would say both of them.