Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Votto Interviews, part three

"In base-ball, as in many things, timing is everything. My father once told me that it is not enough for a man to be mighty; he must also come in the proper season, and through the proper channel. I thank whatever Divine Force guided my steps down from cloud-shrouded Canada to the Queen City, birthplace of professional sport, for summer is my season; and my channel, the glorious game of Ball. My approach is as follows: before ever visiting an opposing pitcher in the flesh, I take great pains to acquaint myself with his arsenal of pitches, his mannerisms, his favorite leisurely pursuits away from the diamond, his secret longings, his deepest sources of pain, and regret, and humiliation, etc. Indeed, my off days frequently find me alone in my parlor (or lodging if on the road), surrounded by likenesses of the pitchers I will meet in the coming home-stand or road-trip, trying to glean what I can from their very countenance. Then, when I meet a pitcher in a game, I observe some pitches, to the number of one-less-than-thirty, without offering my bat to a single one. During these instances, I observe not only the pitches, but study the expression of the pitcher also, his disappointment if he expected me to offer at his pitch, his relief if he was in hopes I would not, his anticipation when I pretend to swing, but do not, etc. Then, after I have examined one-less-than-thirty pitches, and I feel confident that the pitcher's very soul is bared to me, and it is often in the late innings of the game and the Reds behind a run or two, I fortify myself at the plate and resolve to strike a pleasing pitch into the field of play, and hope that good fortune is mine.

"I often find that my approach has a wondrous affect on the legions of river-people who turn out to witness our contests at the ball-park. My stubborn lack of engagement in the batter's box, throughout the evening, incites the greatest part of them to the most inconceivable howlings of lust and fury, they thinking that I should deliver the winning thrust earlier in the contest, and growing frantic at my delay. Their emotions may be readily imagined, but needless to say, when in the latter innings I finally strike true, and send the scoring balance into our favor, they erupt into an orgy of spirited huzzahing that continues uninterrupted until the ball-park is darkened and our loyal groundskeepers drive the joyful mob back into the streets; they winding themselves into such a pitch as they return to their tenements that, in their conversations, the Reds have won the pennant already and will soon be playing in the World Series. This is pleasing to those of us with more serious thoughts, for several gentlemen of our club are sickly, others poor and inconsequential batsmen, and our enemies in Milwaukee and St. Louis wax strong, etc."

- Joey Votto, Sports Illustrated Kids, April 2014 issue