Father, Writer, Dilettante.
WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO?
Do what makes you happy. The less I worry about what other people think about me, the easier it is for me to be happy.
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
There’s always a book there. It’s the first thing I grab in the morning and it’s the last thing I put down before turning off the light at night.
WHAT GIVES YOU GOOSE BUMPS?
Thousands of people cheering for the same thing. I love that feeling of oneness with everyone else in the stands.
WHAT IS YOUR BAD DAY BACKUP PLAN?
Usually I try to reset myself by reading for a half hour or by playing a boardgame app. My bad days are often days where I just can’t get my brain going in the right direction. Sometimes even writing a blog post about anything other than baseball is enough to knock over the mental obstacles stopping me from doing my job.
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
How much time do you have? I’ve been very fortunate throughout my life, from my family growing up to the opportunity to go to some great schools to getting into baseball at the right time with the right people. So many things conspired to get me to where I am today, and I can’t take credit for good luck or for the kindness of others. All I can do is try to pay it forward by being generous with my time and my money.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
I used to define it in terms of money and fame. Now I define it in terms of happiness. Of course I’d love to make more money – wouldn’t just about everyone, if only to give more of it away? – but as long as I’m happy and my family is happy, then I consider myself successful.
BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
I have always been prone to black-and-white thinking. When I was with the Blue Jays, the longtime scout who became my mentor always told me not to “kill” (meaning to eliminate him from consideration in the draft or in trades) a player for a specific flaw or issue. It should just become one more variable in the overall equation – does he have enough other positives to overcome that negative. It’s applicable to all aspects of life: there will always be a negative, a reason to say no, but instead of just giving into that, look at the entire package and decide whether everything else outweighs that one thing that’s stopping you.
BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GIVEN?
I get questions from young readers about what to study in college. When I was at school (with you!) I studied what I thought I was supposed to study, and I was frequently unhappy. If I could do it over again, I’d study the stuff that I always loved and to hell with what anyone else expected of me. I would have gotten better grades anyway!
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW THAT YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT?
My first book, Smart Baseball, has been about a year in the making, and it comes out April 25th from Harper Collins. I’m big on achievements – a therapist once told me I have a ‘striver’ personality – so even just saying “I wrote a book!” has real value to me, even if no one likes it. (But I hope everyone likes it.)
HOW DO YOU PRESS PAUSE?
It’s the hardest thing to do because my job is so amorphous. I don’t have set hours. I don’t have an office. I talk to people across the country. I am often asked to write stuff at odd hours because news is breaking (like a baseball trade). Our last two vacations were outside the U.S. because I could turn the phone off and avoid any news for a whole week. (Of course, now every hotel seems to have wifi, so I can’t even fully disconnect while I’m out of the country.) While I’m home, we play boardgames as a family pretty frequently, and if I’m by myself I can get lost in a good book very easily. I read about 90 books a year, and I think without that I’d have lost my mind a long time ago.
WHAT DID YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF LOVE DOING?
Reading and playing baseball in any form, even just wiffleball with my friend Sean from down the street. My daughter’s been asking me to play wiffleball with her lately to teach her how to hit, so I’m revisiting all those old memories.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE MAGIC POWER WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Flying. Isn’t that everyone’s answer?
WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT?
Writing. If I’m in the zone, I can forget to eat long enough that I’ll feel my blood sugar start to drop. I also used to play a PC game called Baldur’s Gate that was so immersive that I’d forget to eat lunch, but fortunately I got over that and I won’t play similar games anymore because I clearly cannot be trusted.
WHAT 3 THINGS WOULD YOU GRAB IN A FIRE?
If everyone’s out of the house safely, including our pets, I can replace anything else. I guess my computer or just the backup drive I keep would be the only thing that would be difficult to replace. But even that is just stuff.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE – YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE?
Being a father is much more challenging (and rewarding) than anything else I’ve had to do. It’s become even more so because I can see myself so much in my daughter’s personality, and I want to maintain her independence and confidence while trying to nudge her in directions that will keep her from making the same mistakes I did. Fortunately she’s extroverted, unlike me, so in one very real sense she’s better-equipped for the real world than I ever was.
Sanguine, because for whatever reason I had a hard time remembering what it meant, and because its etymology (bloody, bloodsthirsty) is so disconnected to its present meaning (hopeful, optimistic).
FAVORITE WORK OF ART?
I don’t know that I have one; art has always been a little over my head. Although for a few years I used Paul Klee’s “The Twittering Machine” as my background on Twitter.
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. I first read it in college in a class called “Comedy and the Novel,” and read it again a few years ago, which is saying something because I almost never read any book twice. It’s such a tour de force of imagination, satire, and humor, and still the best novel I’ve ever read.
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