SO WHAT'S IT LIKE PLAYING IN THE ALL-STAR GAME?
The fun part of it is just being there. You're around the best in the world. It's a chance to sit around and talk to guys you don't get a chance to talk to and meet guys you've never met.
IS IT HARD TO TAKE A WEEK OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON AND GO TO MILWAUKEE?
No. I've always used the All-Star break as a mental blow I use the time to focus on getting myself going for the home stretch, the second half of the season.
ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR ALL-STAR EVENTS IS THE HOME RUN DERBY. IS THERE TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE LONG BALL?
No. People love power. That's human nature.
WITH ALL THE ALLEGATIONS OF STEROID USE, SHOULD PLAYERS BE TESTED FOR DRUGS NEXT YEAR?
Absolutely. I think they should be tested this year. You're only worried about something like this if you?ve got something to hide. Think about the ramifications of steroids. If one of these guys tests positive, does that make his career a wash? Do you vote for him for the Hall of Fame?
DOES THE POSSIBILITY OF A STRIKE BOTHER YOU? COULD THE GAME BE HURT LIKE IT WAS BY THE 1994 STRIKE?
It bothers me. I think both sides understand a work stoppage is not going to benefit anybody. The owners remember what happened in 1994. But the landscape is very different now. If franchises are really in such financial trouble, on the brink of extinction, maybe baseball needs to let some clubs go out of business, just like companies do in the real world. I don't believe the clubs are in that much trouble. They've been crying the same cry for a century now 'We?re not making any money.' Back then, baseball was as far from a democracy as possible a true monopoly and for the most part, it really still is.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST THIS SEASON?
I?m still in awe at the young talent that has come up in the last two or three years, especially the pitching. You look around at the amount of young pitching in baseball right now, it's pretty staggering. It's cyclical. In the All-Star game, there will be five shortstops on the American League team. Potentially, five of the top ten shortstops of all time are playing right now.
FOR A FEW YEARS NOW, YOU?VE USED YOUR COMPUTER TO REVIEW PREVIOUS GAMES AND PREPARE FOR THE NEXT ONE. HOW DOES THAT HELP YOU?
It gives me the edge. I go into a ballgame, more times than not, having watched video of me facing a batter 30, 40 or 50 times. Knowing what works and what doesn't gives you a tremendous advantage. I actually started doing it when I found out that Tony Gwynn did it. One day I?m facing Gwynn and I thought, 'This guy knows everything I do, when I do it and how I do it. Who's got the advantage?'
THE MENTAL ASPECT OF THE GAME IS REALLY THE BEST PART, ISN'T IT?
Oh yeah, it's what keeps you coming back. If you have any idea of how many decisions go into every single pitch in a game, it can be mindboggling.
YOU'RE ALSO A BIT OF A COMPUTER GAME JUNKIE. WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING RIGHT NOW?
Dark Age of Camelot ... Everquest ... Wizardry VIII ... a lot of fantasy role-playing games. I haven?t played too much lately. My wife and I just had our fourth child a boy so it's been kind of busy at home.
WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING NUMBER ONE AND TWO IN A ROTATION WITH RANDY JOHNSON?
Fun. The thing about R.J. and I that I treasure most is that I've got a friend for life. We?ve become very good friends, and I would like to think that after baseball R.J. will still be a very good friend of mine. And you don't get a lot of those in the game. He?s a good guy. He's a quiet man. He's the anti-Curt Schilling. He's a man of few words, which is one of the reasons why we get along so well. And he's going to end up his career as the greatest strikeout pitcher in the history of the game. I?d be dumb not to take advantage of the friendship.