The 28-year-old first baseman leads MLB with a .366 average and a .489 on-base percentage and has the Reds in first place in the NL Central.
DAN PATRICK:You're from Toronto. Did you root for the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup finals because you were a Wayne Gretzky fan?
JOEY VOTTO: I did not. I grew up loving [Devils goalie] Martin Brodeur. It's kind of funny that he's still playing. What the heck is he doing still playing?
DP:Will you be still playing at 40?
JV: I think I'm contractually obligated to.
DP:How long is the deal you signed this off-season?
JV: It's actually 12 years.
JV: I'm sure that's what Reds fans are saying to themselves right now: Oooh. With an option, too. Can you believe that? What the heck is going on with the world?
DP:You're having another MVP-type season. Should you be getting more attention?
JV: I'm perfectly happy with the attention I'm getting. I really enjoy not being distracted with a lot of miscellaneous stuff. We played a Sunday-night game. They can be a distraction—a later start, extra media requests. It's good for baseball, [but] it doesn't really mesh with my personality.
DP:What's with all the no-hitters? Is it becoming a pitcher's game?
JV: That's probably about where it should be. Everybody who followed baseball growing up [knows] good pitching beats good hitting. That's how it's always been, and it's back to where it is.
DP:Is it good for baseball that we don't have watered-down home run numbers?
JV: No question.
DP:Were there times when you saw a second baseman hit an opposite-field home run and said, This is ridiculous?
JV: I was wondering that the other day whether [my teammate] Brandon Phillips was on steroids. [Laughs] He hit an opposite field home run, and he's a second baseman.
DP:How many times are you tested for performance-enhancing drugs?
JV: Brandon Phillips [laughs] and I are tested probably five to seven times a year—HGH included.
DP:What is the process?
JV: Blood test for HGH. Urine samples for everything else. Pants down. Microscope right next to your groin. They can do that as often and as randomly as they want.
DP:Am I safe to predict the Reds will win the NL Central?
JV: Yeah, I think you're good with that. The Pirates, they are awfully pesky. Holy cow. The Cardinals are always the Cardinals. I hate to say it out loud ... it doesn't feel the same without Albert [Pujols] there. Carlos Beltran has replaced him well. But Albert is a pretty special player.
DP:At what point do you become Joe Votto?
JV: My dad was Joe Votto. I've always been Joey Votto.
DP:But can you be Joey at 60?
JV: At some point I should probably grow up. I was born Joseph, so I could take that on.
DP:Do you want to declare that now?
JV: I am Joseph Votto and I am clean of steroids.
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GUEST SHOTS SAY WHAT?
I asked Karl Malone which Dream Teamer—other than Jazz teammate John Stockton—he would have most wanted to play with. "I would start my team with Scottie Pippen," Malone said. "When Michael [Jordan] retired, Scottie led that team in every statistical category. Plus, he could care less about scoring. He wants to stop the best player on the other team." ... Clyde Drexler had trouble at first putting NBA rivalries aside to be on the Dream Team. "Back in the day we really didn't like our competitors," Drexler said. "Now guys are hugging and kissing and yucking it up." ... NBA TV's Brent Barry says critics who claim the Thunder's Russell Westbrook shoots too much are unfair. "It makes me sick to my stomach that people keep calling him a point guard," Barry told me. "Oklahoma City does not play with a traditional point guard." ... Lakers coach Mike Brown said he hopes reports that the team is shopping Pau Gasol aren't true. "I'm extremely pleased with the way Pau played this year," Brown said. "Pau changed his game based on Andrew [Bynum's] emergence."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
MITCH STRINGER/ICON SMI (VOTTO)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (BROWN)
RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES (BARRY)
THOMAS CAMPBELL/US PRESSWIRE (DREXLER)
ELISE AMENDOLA/AP (MALONE)