October 22, 2013

A 12 Year Old's Interview With Justin Turner

My name is Tom. I used to write my own blog, but didn’t have the time to dedicate to it solo, so I’ve joined Effing Mets so that I can write when I actually have something valuable to say, instead of scrapping together nonsense for the sake of posting. A little about myself: I’ve been a fan of the team since the 1980’s, when my season ticket owning, former Brooklyn Dodger fan grandfather told me I can’t root for the Yankees. It’s been a passionate love/hate relationship ever since. I played college baseball, amateur league baseball and was even scouted. I know a lot about baseball. However, I’m not expert, and I’m not going to be like other people and pretend to be. I am simply a Mets fan who finds it therapeutic to talk about them with other fans.

So I was sitting at work wondering what I should even write, and I checked my email. In it I received an email from a father, explaining to me that his 12 year old daughter Haley had gotten the journalism bug and looked to make it a passion. She started traveling to stadiums and was actually granted access to interview players for Baseball Youth Magazine and SI Kids. So recently she was able to interview Justin Turner. I read it, and it reminded about what baseball is all about. It’s a kid’s game. It supposed to be fun. It’s been a rough stretch for the Mets, but we keep coming back.

I agreed to have it posted for a few reasons. The first being that who am I to not help a kid try to achieve something. Let’s be honest, she’s probably more insightful than a majority of people you talk to on Twitter. And secondly, I’m a Justin Turner fan. The guy is just a regular dude who is lucky enough to play a sport, and he has fun with it. A lot of Mets fans hate him, and I’ve never understood it.

So in order to help a girl take the next step in fulfilling a dream, here is Haley Smilow’s interview of Justin Turner:

HALEY: Do you have a favorite ballpark and why?

JUSTIN: My favorite place to play is probably Camden Yards. I came up there and the Baltimore Orioles were my first big league team so it was my home field. It is just beautiful park and the warehouse in left field is incredible.

HALEY: Who has the best Hot Dogs? Cincinnati Kahn's Hot Dogs, Baltimore Esskay Hot Dog or New York Nathan’s Hot Dogs?

JUSTIN: I actually got to try a Nathan’s hot dog last year and it was pretty good. It lived up to the hype so I am going to have to go with Nathan’s.

HALEY: What is your favorite restaurant in New York?

JUSTIN: In New York it would have to be STK Steakhouse, I got to meet one of the general managers there and he takes good care of me so I go in and get a big fat steak. They also have these really good cheeseburger sliders.

HALEY: And in Southern California?

JUSTIN: When I am back home, I grew up going to a little Mexican Restaurant called Mi Casa and every Friday night my mom, and my dad and sister would go in there and have some extended family come in so its kind of a little tradition we have so it probably my favorite place to eat.

HALEY: What was it like growing up in California?

JUSTIN: Sunny! Always had good weather. So the best thing was getting to be outside and playing with my friends year round. We used to ride are bikes everywhere, playing wiffelball, football, baseball, pretty active, I was always outside.

HALEY: Who is the biggest practical joker you have ever been on a team with?

JUSTIN: That’s a tough one. I’ve had some good ones. I had a pitching coach with Cincinnati Reds named Teddy Power he was pretty good. Fellow Met, Tim Byrdak as well, I wouldn’t call him a practical joker but he is full of little things that make everyone laugh.

HALEY: Have you ever been the victim of one of his practical jokes?

JUSTIN: Yeah I have been couple of times. Guys putting bubble gum around the top of a cup of water and sticking it to the roof of the dug out right above my head and after about 15 seconds it falls down on top of my head.

HALEY: Have you gotten them back?

JUSTIN: Laughing, yeah I got him back, but I am not going to bring up how but I definitely got them back.

HALEY: Do you have any other favorite sports besides Baseball?

JUSTIN: Ah, I am sports fanatic I kinda like everything. I wouldn’t call it a favorite, but I love going to Hockey games during the off-season and basketball, I’m a Lakers fan, and football. I like the Dolphins; the last couple of years I have made a trip down to Miami to watch them.

HALEY: Do you have any rituals or superstitions before and during a game?

JUSTIN: Before the game I go through the same routine. I stretch out. I always go out 15 minutes before game time. I always like to have a ball after I play catch and throw it to a kid in the stands. During the game, I always take a cup of water and I only drink half of it and throw the other half out. I never drink the full cup and I don’t know why I do it. It’s something I’ve always done I drink half, throw out the other half and then spin the cup and try to make it land standing up

HALEY: Other than winning the 2004 College World Series what other accomplishments are you proud of?

JUSTIN: Playing in the major leagues. That’s something that I’ve always dreamed of. In 2009 when the Orioles called me up and I got to play my first game at Fenway Park.

HALEY: Last year you played all over the infield, what is your role with the Mets so far this season.

JUSTIN: That’s hard to say right now. We have a couple of guys that are a little banged up right now and if they are healthy then I’ll probably end up being a role guy. I added a first baseman’s glove to my collection, last year so hopefully I’ll get to play first base again this year, but wherever Terry (Collins) needs me to do, whatever it is, I’ll go out there and do my best.

HALEY: What types of community service or charity work are you involved in?

JUSTIN: Throughout the season, we go out and do lots of stuff. We go to schools and fire departments that the Mets set up for us. During the off season, I have a couple of little cousins that play little league and I go out and help them and work out with the kids up there. I really have fun with them and really enjoy it. I think they really like it too.

HALEY: If you were not playing baseball, what else could you see yourself doing?

Photo by Michael Baron
JUSTIN: I don’t know. I think the only other thing I’m decent at is tweeting, so hopefully by the time I am done playing they’ll have a professional tweeting job.

HALEY: Somewhere I read you said that your father was your greatest influence. What baseball players or coaches do you think most influenced you?

JUSTIN: Two of the biggest influences other then my dad were my college coaches. Coach George Horton he was the head coach at Cal State Fullerton. I played under him for all four years and he basically taught me everything I could possibly know about the game of baseball and was super detailed about everything. The other was his assistant coach Rick Vanderhook who is now the coach for Fullerton. He is actually like an uncle to me I grew up with him and is one of my dad’s best friends. He gave me the opportunity as a kid to hang around Fullerton and be a batboy for the team. I was constantly around baseball. I have to give them a lot of credit.

HALEY: I have heard you are active on twitter, do you think it is a good way to interact with your fans?

JUSTIN: Absolutely, I love being on twitter. I have over 34,000 followers now most of them are all New York fans. I get asked all kinds of questions every day and it is a great opportunity to interact with them. It gives fans/followers a little more insight about what’s going on over here with the Mets and me.

HALEY: What is your twitter name?

JUSTIN: @redturn2

HALEY: How did you decide on that name?

JUSTIN: Red because of my hair, turn because my last name is Turner so I shorted it and 2 because I play second base and turn double plays, also because I wear #2.

HALEY: What advice would you give to young players?

JUSTIN: Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. I was never the biggest, tallest, strongest or fastest guy but I always worked hard. I always appreciated and loved the game. Everyone always told me I wasn’t going to make it but if you believe in yourself, keep working and practicing you can make it.

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