MY PRESEASON AL MVP PICK
The Rays' third baseman, 24, is coming off a season in which he hit .281 with 33 homers and 113 RBIs and won his first Gold Glove
Dan Patrick:How do you feel about being my MVP pick?
Evan Longoria: It's really a funny thing for me to grasp. I can't even imagine being in the same category as the guys who have won it before me.
DP:I don't want a humble MVP.
EL: I know, but it's not really in my blood to be outspoken.
DP:How happy are you that Roy Halladay is pitching for the Phillies?
EL: Really happy. Really, really happy.
DP:What's that like when you show up at the ballpark and find out you're facing Halladay?
EL: I already know the night before, so it's a rough sleep. We had good success against Roy in both my years. I think we beat him six or seven times. But it seemed like we'd grind so hard the day we had to face him that for the next three or four days we'd take a hiatus and end up slumping.
DP:When's the last time a pitcher woke you up in the middle of the night?
EL: Never. If there was ever [a bad dream], it would probably be to the sound of Metallica, and Mariano Rivera running in from centerfield.
DP:Has Rivera ruined Enter Sandman because he comes in to it?
EL: It's one of those songs that you hear on the radio and you think about the guy. [Laughs.] It's not a good feeling.
DP:Are you superstitious as far as same hat, same shirt?
EL: I don't think of it as a superstition. I like to think of it as a habit. I tell the clubhouse guys not to switch out my pants when I get a hole. I just have them patch them up. I wear the same pair of pants for every game, same undershirt, same socks.
DP:Yeah, you're superstitious. Do you wear the same hat?
EL: Until it becomes so smelly that I can't even put it on my head before I smell it.
DP:What would bother you more: If I picked up your bat, or if I picked up your glove?
EL: My glove, by a landslide. Bats are interchangeable for me.
DP:O.K.—if I were talking to your girlfriend, or if I was picking up your glove?
EL: Picking up my glove, by far.
DP:You don't think I have a chance with your girlfriend is what you're saying.
EL: I don't have a girlfriend, so let's put that out there.
DP:Well done. Your New Era commercial debuted during Sunday's Red Sox--Yankees game. Would you have watched the game if your commercial wasn't airing?
EL: I didn't watch it anyway. I had already seen the commercial.
DP:Why wouldn't you watch?
EL: Because I'm not interested. We play them enough. [Laughs.] I don't watch baseball when I'm not playing. I think that's true for a lot of major league players.
DP:What are you watching?
EL: I don't watch TV, and if I do, I stay within three channels: the Travel Channel, Discovery or National Geographic. That's all I watch. I love Man v. Food, Food Wars and Bizarre Foods. They're all awesome.
DP:Do your teammates give you grief?
EL: No, they're right there with me. We have a thing in the training room when we're getting our ankles taped. There's four of us in there watching Cash Cab. We're all in there doing the trivia.
Men vs. Boys
When he first saw this year's Duke team at Mike Krzyzewski's fantasy camp last summer, Grant Hill (above, with Coach K) was unimpressed. Hill and a few other ex--Blue Devils played a pickup game against the current team. "We had our way with them," Hill told me. "These guys are half our age. Jay Williams, who, God bless him, can play on only one leg ... he's killing Jon Scheyer. [Christian] Laettner's killing the Plumlee brothers. I was like, You should still play. I was a little worried, but [this year's team] certainly came together."
With the Nets having a new, deep-pocketed Russian owner, a high draft pick this summer and an imminent move to Brooklyn, coach and G.M. Kiki Vandeweghe told me, "The future is very bright." But Vandeweghe, who took over the coaching duties after the team's 0--17 start, is looking forward to getting off the bench. When I asked him if he saw himself coaching next year, he answered quickly, "No, I don't think so."
Line of the week
Butler's 33-year-old coach, Brad Stevens, said that before the Bulldogs reached the Final Four, he was so anonymous (and baby faced) that he had been mistaken for a player: "At a Subway I was asked if my coach ever comes in."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Colt McCoy discusses the QB crop in the upcoming NFL Draft.
2. Reggie Miller picks his alltime all-oddball NBA team.
THE FINE PRINT: San Diego has four outfielders whose fathers played in the major leagues. Can somebody tell new G.M. Jed Hoyer that Padres is a name, not a strategy.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (HILL AND KRZYZEWSKI)
JOHN BIEVER (STEVENS)
MITCH STRINGER/ICON SMI (LONGORIA)