Results tagged ‘ District 9 ’
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 9 of Inside Pitch.
1. What was your experience growing up near Chicago and visiting Wrigley Field?
I had a really good experience. I played Little League, but I didn’t really start pitching until travel ball, when I was 12 or 13. Growing up, I was a Cubs fan, so I went to a lot of Cubs games. My family, they’re all Cubs fans. I have a lot of support around that area.
2. Do you have a baseball role model who you looked up?
My two role models in my life are my mother and my father. They do everything for me, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done. If I had to pick two people to look up to, it would be them.
3. Did your mom or dad have a strong influence on your interest in baseball?
They just encouraged me to do what I wanted to, and to excel at everything I did. There wasn’t a decision about what I should do or what sport I should play. They were just happy for me if I was happy.
4. What was it like to pitch so close to home in Single-A (Kane County)?
It was awesome. It was my first full year as a rookie in the Minor Leagues. To live at home, it rarely ever happens for anybody. I had family and friends come out all the time to support me. It made it a lot easier for them to see me.
5. How have you adjusted to pitching in a new organization?
There are a couple of guys from Oakland who play for Washington now, which made it a lot easier. Also, the coaching staff here is great. Everybody who works for the Nationals is really helpful and supportive with everything. The biggest thing is having Paul Menhart and Matt LeCroy as my first coaches in this organization. They really helped out with everything and did a great job of getting me ready to go to the big leagues. They made me feel welcome.
6. Was there a chip on your shoulder after being labeled as the “player to be named later” in the trade with the Athletics?
Not really. I just really kind of took it and ran with it. I came over to the Nationals and just played baseball. I didn’t worry about a thing. The only chip I have is from all the struggles I’ve been through. It makes it so much sweeter to make it up here after all of that.
7. Can you believe that you’re sitting in a big league dugout just four years out of high school?
My mom and dad tell me all the time, “Don’t ever wake up. Take every moment in and enjoy it, don’t get ahead of yourself, just soak it all in.” But sometimes I have to take a step back and look at where I am and what I’ve been able to accomplish so far. It’s pretty sweet.
8. What was your first Major League memory after you were called up?
Probably when I stepped into the clubhouse for the first time. I’ve never been in anything like that. I stepped in and my locker was all set up for me. That’s when it first really hit me, like, ‘Wow, I’m in a big league clubhouse, I get to put on a big league jersey, and go out and play big league baseball.’ It was unreal, so surreal. It’s everything I could ask for.
9. What’s the story behind your Twitter handle, @IanKrolTKB?
It’s kind of a funny joke just between me and my friends. They used to call me “King” back in Oakland, because that’s what my last name means (in Polish). I was off Twitter for a while, so when I came back I used “TKB” in my handle: The King is Back.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 7 of Inside Pitch.
1. After the first two months, how would you describe your 2013 season?
I can tell you I had a lot more fun month two than I did month one. I’m getting closer to where I want to be with each day and each game that goes by.
2. How have your years of experience helped you and your teammates stay relaxed through the good times and bad?
It’s great because I can relay to these guys the importance of not panicking over a small slump. The longer I’ve played, the more I know that when I look back at the year the numbers will be fine, and the production will be there. There’s nothing to worry about.
3. Even when you’re struggling, discuss how your defense never takes a day off.
It is two separate parts of the game. You’ve got to be able to learn not take a bad at-bat into the field, and to not take an error in the field to your next at-bat. If you’re not hitting, you can at least do something productive.
4. Does the fact that the baseball carries farther in warmer weather give you more confidence at the plate?
It’s almost like going to smaller ballparks. The ball flies, so even if you’re in a deep rut there’s a little bit of hope in the back of your mind. You’re thinking, ‘Man, I could miss one here and still hit it off the wall or hit a home run.’ It’s the same thing when it warms up.
5. With the heat rising, do you anticipate your teammates getting hot as well?
They say hitting can be contagious, and I’ve actually seen it over and over. A couple guys get going and other guys get going at the same time. That’s just a part of baseball.
6. With three multi-home run games to your credit already this season, is it any coincidence that you hit them in bunches?
It may have something to do with getting the first one early and going up with a little different outlook. Confidence is everything in this game. Once you hit one and you’re feeling good that day, you get into that groove.
7. You’ve won a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award. What would it mean to you to add an All-Star appearance to your career accomplishments?
I thought last year I had a good shot — at least I was in the conversation. If and when that happens it would be pretty special to add to the list.
8. As you’ve grown up, how have you found the balance between baseball, family life and your offseason, off-the-field pursuits?
It has been easy for me, it always has. Without going into crazy detail, I’m a religious person. I feel like this is why I was put in this position of playing baseball … to be an influence. I choose not to let the game of baseball dictate who I am as a person.
9. What is it like having your son Drake with you on the road?
It’s awesome. Do you want to interview him?
The video below is a supplemental bonus feature for the Gio Gonzalez: Positive Energy cover article in Issue 9 of Inside Pitch. For the full story, be sure to pick up a copy this homestand at the the ballpark.
Plus, check out our District 9 with Ian Krol, where he reveals the mystery behind his Twitter handle.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 6 of Inside Pitch.
1. How do you deal with pressure-packed situations coming out of the bullpen?
I know it’s a cliché, but every pitch matters and you’ve got to take it one pitch at a time. You’ve got to be able to shut your mind off and really focus on what the task is at hand.
2. How do you stay focused throughout the grind of the 162-game season?
It’s definitely tough to have that mindset the same every single day. That sense of urgency has to be built deep within, working every day and getting ready for whatever comes to you throughout the season. If you’re ready for it, it’s only going to help you along the way.
3. How do you define your role on the team?
My role is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t complain about the role I’m going to be in. Every team needs those role players so the star players can do their thing and lead the team. I’m the blue collar, dirty work type of player on the team.
4. What is your specialty?
I’m a guy who can throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. I can throw two, three (innings). In extra innings I’m a go-to guy that finishes off the game. If Davey needs a guy to eat up some innings and keep the game close, that’s who I am.
5. What’s the most underrated part of your game?
My hitting. Every pitcher will say that, but I used to do alright when I was starting.
6. Your sinking fastball has been excellent this season. How did that develop as a pitch?
Every year, I’ve always tried to get better in some form or fashion. I just throw my pitches every day and practice throwing them exactly where I want to throw them. I’ve just gotten better every year locating my sinker.
7. What’s it like being in the “zone” with your catcher?
I wish I knew how to get there every time – if I did, the game would be easy. When you’re on the same page and you’re thinking along the same lines, you definitely have more success. It takes being in sync with the scouting report, studying the hitters and the catcher knowing me and my strengths and what I’m doing well that certain day.
8. Describe the camaraderie of this Nationals bullpen.
It’s almost like we’re our own little team. We’re watching the game, talking about the game with each other and rooting for each other when we come into the game.
9. How do the guys in the bullpen feed off of each other’s successes?
You don’t want to be the guy who lets the team down. If everybody is doing their job, you’ve got to do yours and man up and protect the lead.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 1 of Inside Pitch.
1. What was your relationship like with Nationals fans during your first few months with the team?
When I first came over, the first game I played was a sellout – 40,000-plus people in the stands. It was just amazing support. Being able to celebrate the division championship with the fans, showing them the appreciation we have for them supporting us and always having our back, was a special moment.
2. Describe running out on the field during the postseason in front of the home crowd. What was going through your head in that moment?
I was thinking just how awesome a feeling this is – this is what you play for. To be able to run on the field knowing what’s at stake was awesome.
3. How have the expectations changed for the Nationals since last season?
We’ve got a bull’s-eye on our backs now – people are gunning for us so it’s a little different. I think we’re thriving off of it. The attitude hasn’t changed. It’s a whole new season, and we’re focused on 2013 and getting the job done again.
4. What did you want to work on going into Spring Training this year?
The most important thing is to build rapport with the pitchers. To me, Spring Training is the most important part of the season because it gives me more time to build relationships with the pitchers, catch their bullpens and learn more about them. I think the closer the bond you get, the easier it is to get on the same page.
5. What’s your defensive mindset when there’s going to be a close play at home?
To me, the play at the plate is the most exciting play for a catcher. Our job is to minimize the amount of times the opposing team crosses home plate. Having a good play at the plate where you get the guy out and everything works out perfectly is the best feeling.
6. How does your catching hand feel when you’re catching this flame-throwing pitching staff?
I didn’t need a radar gun to tell me that we had the best arms in the league, I just knew from receiving them. It was impressive.
7. Is there anyone on the pitching staff that you think could have a breakout season?
It’s so hard, because they’re all good. To me, I think a big key will be (Ross) Detwiler. Catching him, I think he’s due for a big year. He’s got a great arm like everybody else does. I think a lot of people after this season are going to know who Ross Detwiler is.
8. What have you learned about playing for Davey Johnson?
Davey always has your back. He knows you’re going to make mistakes, but when you make mistakes he tries to teach you and correct you rather than taking you down. The biggest thing for me is that he’s always on your side, always protecting you. That’s huge for a player’s confidence.
9. Tell us a little bit about the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation. How did that come about?
My wife Renee and I decided to do a foundation, and we decided to choose something that was close to us and close to our family. She has a sister with a rare kidney disease. My dad had kidney cancer and has been in remission for five years now. We’re really so grateful to be in a position to help out.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 3 of Inside Pitch.
1. How do you prepare yourself to win every day, especially over the grind of 162 games?
It was the way that I was taught to play ball. It didn’t matter if I was on a bad team, a team that was supposed to lose or a team that was supposed to win. Nothing’s ever been handed to me. When there’s a task at hand, I want to finish it the correct way.
2. Describe the team’s mindset now that it’s the hunted, instead of the hunter.
When you get onto the field, other teams should feel your presence. Mentally, you should already be up 1-0.
3. How does swagger factor into your game?
Swagger is just confidence, it’s how you carry yourself. It’s not being cocky, it’s just being confident. I think you go out there and play hard, and when you do something like hit a home run or make a big play, you act like you’ve done it before. You don’t showboat it.
4. What kind of relationship do you have with Davey Johnson?
I just see Davey as one of the guys, but I think that’s how he wants to be in the clubhouse. I was brought up to call everyone Mr. or Mrs., but he told me immediately to call him Davey.
5. What does toughness mean to you?
I don’t think I’ve ever asked for a day off. I played 160 of 162 last year. I’ll never ask for a day off if I haven’t hit a pitcher well or don’t feel 100 percent. You’ve got to learn to play with certain injuries or soreness.
6. Would you rather win a Gold Glove Award or a Silver Slugger Award?
Silver Slugger. I love defense, but I’d rather win a Silver Slugger.
7. Describe the boost you get playing in front of a sold out crowd at Nationals Park.
When you have a home crowd that’s behind you and likes you as a player and as a person, and they’re pulling for you, you want to come through. You always want to come through, but you feel like it’s just right for you to come through.
8. What is it like when you deliver in a key moment of the game?
It’s the best feeling in the world to come through in the clutch. To help the team out — put a bunt down, hit a sac fly, get a big base hit, make a nice play on defense — it feels great. You know your teammates appreciate it; they know how hard you play or how hard you don’t play. The fans appreciate it when guys play hard, run ground balls out and play the game the right way.
9. Talk about your defensive chemistry with shortstop Ian Desmond.
We’re both young and we both enjoy playing hard, and I think we’re both pretty athletic ballplayers. We like to get after it hard, get things done and take every hit away — we don’t want anything to get through the infield.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. On the docket today, new MASN sideline reporter, Julie Alexandria.
1. You’ve held quite a number of jobs already in your career. What do you think is the most interesting part of your resume?
I think the most interesting thing, if not the most random thing on my resume, would have to be The Maury Povich Show – and I promise it was not as a guest spot. I was actually a guest host for one show. But he happens to be a huge Nats fan, and his dad (Shirley) has a long history here.
2. You’re also a championship figure skater. At how high of a level did you compete?
I was a competitive figure skater for a really long time. I competed on a precision team, which is basically like synchronized swimming, or cheerleaders all doing the same formations, on ice. I competed up to a national level with the Superstars from Paramount, California. I also competed solo, by myself, up to the age of about 16. Then school took over and I had to make a choice. I do skate in my spare time, I keep it up, I try to skate as much as possible. But in New York (offseason home) in the winter it’s great, because there are so many outdoor rinks. So I’m always in search of a good ice skating rink.
3. In addition to hosting and reporting, you’ve also been a stand-up comedian. Do you have any funny stories?
(Laughing) Oh gosh. Yeah, I did some improv and some stand-up comedy for a while, I tried it out. It’s very difficult! It’s so much harder to make someone laugh than to make someone cry. It was a good challenge. I actually found out that I could do a really good Christopher Walken impression.
Care to demonstrate?
Depends on where it will be used. I’ll do it when the cameras aren’t rolling.
4. We know you just got to D.C., but have you found any favorite spots in town yet?
I actually just arrived to Washington on Sunday. I am fresh off the train. I have a lot of recommendations of where people have told me to go. I haven’t been to any restaurants yet, I haven’t seen anything, been to any museums yet, but I hope to go on an off-day.
5. You’ve worked in baseball before. What was your best memory of your time spent working around the game?
My best memory working in baseball would have to be Spring Training. There’s nothing like Spring Training. The access that fans get, the ability to be right there, up close and personal with their favorite players. It’s just a fun time. It’s before any interviews or detractors, and you’re just able to have fun and watch some baseball in a free and open setting.
6. You’ve also covered a lot of football in your career. What are some of the similarities and differences in the two sports?
I covered college football for three years, and I’ve also covered baseball for three years. So I think the similarities are in the players. I have such a great time interviewing them. That’s really my favorite thing to do, just to sit down and get to know the player, get to know who they are off the field as well as on the field. Get to know the human side of their sport, what it is about their sport that they love, that makes them want to get up and play every day.
They are very different. In my college football experience, they are younger. Baseball players are some of the smartest players.
7. What was the draw for you to come back to baseball and work with one team for the whole season?
Last season I covered college football and we were basically going around to a new school each weekend. There were some repeats, but the rosters were so big and so deep at every position. So it was great to be able to make the decision to come to one team, to get to really know the players, to be really involved and steeped in the culture, to get to know the fans, to get to know the entire baseball culture. I love baseball. I’ve always been a baseball fan. So that was really appealing to me, to be sticking with the same team, getting to know how their story is woven into the season, getting to know how they react to different pitchers, how they react in different cities, to different fans, what that experience is like.
8. Have you heard about the Nationals walk-off celebrations and, if so, how have you prepared yourself for them?
I have heard about said celebrations. Word around the campfire is that you guys like to take Gatorade and like to dump it on said sideline reporter and player during the interview. What is that? What is that? Really, is that an initiation thing? Is that something you do just to see the reaction? Or is it something you do specifically to ruin my outfits. I really don’t know, I’m really scared. I’m scared for my wardrobe, I’m scared for my hair. You don’t want to see this (pointing hair) without product in it, especially in the summer here in D.C., we’re going to have a problem. I’m a little wary.
I think of all the messages I received on social networking sites once people found out I was coming to the Nationals, every single one of them was about the Gatorade bath. Let me tell you something – I’ve got a plan. I’ve got a plan that might just get me through and avoid a few of those said Gatorade baths. Does it get old?
No, not really.
You guys just keep doing it. I’ve seen a couple of the slow motion ones online. Does that cancel out the pie? Does the Gatorade bath mean you also get a pie, or if you get the Gatorade bath, then you don’t get the pie? Do I get a pie with my Gatorade bath? How does that work?
Usually just the player gets the pie. Usually.
Is this in my contract somewhere? In my contract, does it say that I have to get a certain number of Gatorade baths? I would like to know.
Have you already signed it?
I did sign it. I should have asked.
9. What are you most looking forward to this season working with the Nationals?
I am definitely looking forward to meeting the fans the most. That is probably one of my favorite parts of the sport. And I think Nats fans are pretty awesome. From what I know of them, they are fantastic and they love their team. And they have a real reason to cheer for these guys this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting the players and traveling with the team, and again, being with the team the entire season to see what that’s like, really getting to know them as people as well as players.
And I’m really looking forward to a Gatorade bath. Just a couple. Not too many.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then taking our favorite submission through Facebook and Twitter from the fans for the final question.
The Washington Nationals inked their 2012 first-round pick just 30 seconds before the signing deadline on July 13. Lucas Giolito, a tall, power-pitching right-hander who has touched triple digits on the radar gun as a teenager, was highly regarded by talent evaluators everywhere and when he was still available when the Nationals picked at 16, EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo said it was a “no-brainer” for Washington to draft him. Curly W Live sat down with the youngster as he visited Nationals Park on Tuesday afternoon for the first time as an official member of the organization.
1. It must have been a tough decision turning down an offer to play at a powerhouse program in your own backyard like UCLA. What was the turning point for you in signing with the Nats?
It definitely took a lot of thinking about UCLA. Coach (John) Savage and the whole UCLA baseball program is unbelievable. But, coming to D.C. in that first trip I took out here, being on the field, meeting the guys, seeing the city was really a huge turning point. Being able to be a part of it was unreal.
2. You visited D.C. a month ago when the Yankees were in town. What was your favorite part about that trip?
Probably going out seeing all of the monuments, all the sights. I’d never been to D.C. before. So seeing the city was a great experience.
3. Your mother, father, uncle and grandfather have all worked in the entertainment business in LA. Did you ever have any interest in getting into acting?
Yeah, a lot of my family is in the entertainment industry but I really never got into it. I actually never really watched a lot of the movies or television shows they were in. I was mostly focused on playing baseball.
4. How do you know Samuel L. Jackson, who gave you a shout out on Twitter after you signed?
My dad is friends with Sam, he’s played golf with him in the past. Sam’s actually given me some autographs, an autographed Mace Windu lightsaber and stuff like that. So we go back a little.
Shout out to @LGio27! The real FASTBALLAFAHKKHA!!!!!!—
Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) July 15, 2012
5. Was there a friendly rivalry between you and teammate Max Fried, taken seventh overall by the San Diego Padres?
I know Max really well. I’ve known him for a couple of years now. When he got to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year – he was a senior transfer – we kind of had a friendly rivalry from the start. We’re best friends, but we always like to compete against each other, so competing against each other at the next level will be even cooler.
6. Before the draft, people drew comparisons between you and Roy Halladay. What does it mean to you to have people use your name in the same sentence as a Cy Young Award winner?
That feels unbelievable. Obviously I’m not anywhere close to a Roy Halladay or a (Justin) Verlander or a (Stephen) Strasburg like we have here in D.C. But to be able to work hard and try to get to that kind of point is something I’m really focused on.
7. When you look at the young pitching talent already in this organization, how excited do you get thinking about the possibility of joining them in the big leagues in a few years?
I couldn’t be more excited to maybe pitch in the same place as Strasburg, Gio (Gonzalez), (Jordan) Zimmermann, all those guys. I have so much respect for them and what they’re doing. Being able to start at the bottom to try to work my way up there is unbelievable.
8. At 6’6”, you are a half-foot taller than Gio Gonzalez. How do you feel about the nickname “Little Gio?”
I think it’s kind of funny. I wouldn’t mind that. Obviously I know Gio is a much bigger name than me, so it kind of fits.
9. What’s your first order of business now that you are officially a Washington National?
The first thing I want to do now that I’m part of the team is go to the game tonight and root on, well, I guess I can call them my teammates of the future. I’m really excited.
Fan Question, from @mthardyyy on Twitter: How does it feel to be drafted by such a young organization with such a bright future?
I couldn’t agree more. I think that the Nationals organization is the best organization in baseball and I’m so excited to get started and move my way up.
Note: This article has been updated due to the rescheduled FREE Nats Live post-game concert, featuring Dierks Bentley.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then taking our favorite submission through Facebook and Twitter from the fans for the final question. This time around, we’re chatting with the last of three NatsLive Post-Game Concert Series performers, Dierks Bentley!
1. You were born in Arizona and went to school in Vermont for a year before transferring to Vanderbilt. When you came down to Nashville, was that more for the school side of it or did you already see your career path knowing that’s a huge music hub?
I moved there for music. I was 17 and I really knew what I wanted to do, which was play country music. It’s hard to take a dream and actually put the rubber to the road and make it happen. I took a leap and tried to figure out how I was going to pull this thing off with no help, no contacts, no family members that sing. I had zero to start with. It took a lot to figure out how to make it happen. The best way was to try to get to Nashville and try to get to school there. I had a friend who helped me get in, which was great because I am not a great listener, nor a great student. The day I got there I went over to the Country Music Association and got an internship there. Then I started grinding away. I moved there in 1994. I got a record deal in 2002; it was about eight years of grinding away and trying to make it happen.
2. You were the third youngest inductee to the Grand Old Opry. What did that honor mean to you?
The Grand Old Opry is great. Keith Urban just got inducted recently. It means a lot to us, as country singers who really love the music, the history of it, love to be a part of it. It’s one of the biggest career honors you can have. It still means a lot every time I walk out there. It’s great to be a part of that history and that family.
3. So you’re touring for your seventh album right now. Do you have a favorite one that really sticks out for you at this point?
This one is one of my top favorite seven (laughing). They all are really my favorites in some way. Every song that has gone to radio has been a song I had written. Most of the albums have been mostly comprised of what I have been a part of as a songwriter. Yeah, they are all really special. I can’t believe there have been that many. You always feel like your next one is going to be better the one before. You always want to top it.
4. What have been your big influences and have they changed at all over the years as you have matured as a songwriter?
I definitely always listen to new sounds and ideas and what the current sound is out there. I grew up listening to country. My dad listened to a lot of old school stuff. He loved Hank Williams and John Williams and George Strait and Randy Travis. Then in ’89 when Alan Jackson and Clint Black and Garth Brooks came out that was a big influence on me. As soon as I moved to Nashville, I started digging deeper into bluegrass music and Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Osmond Brothers but even now Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and U2. There are a lot of rock bands that I think are great, and that influence the live part of our show.
5. You have a couple of daughters now. How does that affect your songwriting and your career in general, always being on the road?
It’s a part of my music of course. There is a song on my record called “Thinking of You,” which is about being away from my three year old. It’s tough, they just break your heart, they’re the greatest thing in the world, so it’s tough to be away from them. In a weird way, it makes the show better just because you know you are making a sacrifice by being away from them and they are missing you, so you go out every night and it actually makes the show that much more important. You tell the guys in the band before we walk on stage, “We’ve got people that are missing us, we’ve got to make this day worth it, worth that sacrifice.” You have to go out there and put on a more kick-ass show than any of them have had before, need to make it worthwhile for everybody. It actually makes me feel better in a lot of ways.
6. The song “Home” on your new album has a military connection – obviously we have a lot of military connections here with the Nationals. How big of an influence has the military had on your life and what was the background for writing that song?
My dad was in the army; my grandfather was in the army. We’ve played military bases like Twin Palms and Walter Reed, even on military bases in other countries. It’s something you think about every day. A lot of soldiers and families are backstage for meet and greets every night. I see them out in the crowds holding up their dog tags and military ID cards. We’ve done stuff to continually support the Wounded Warriors Project. It’s something we speak about a lot. The song “Home” kind of started about a lot of things. It starts off in the current moment, in the plane bound west and looking down the country, thinking about the good and bad and the hard times and the great times. But as the song progresses, I think it’s the third verse, it talks about the founding fathers, actually talks about the first immigrants. Thinking about people coming here for religious freedom, for whatever, and they signed their names for something they believed, talking about the founding fathers. Risking their lives to sign the Declaration of Independence. “How the blood ran red and we laid our dead in sacred ground.” Thinking about all the military people that have sacrificed from the very beginning to now, the people who died for this country, I wonder what they would think. That’s definitely the connection there and it’s a part of the video and it’s a big part of the song. I’m glad there are families out there and they can connect to that.
7. How excited are you to come to D.C. and play at Nationals Park?
I love the baseball stadiums, they’re a blast. I get a chance to watch a game and sometimes throw out a pitch and hang out. Then when I go out there, everyone is already fired up and usually in a good mood, either way, win or lose and I go play some music in a huge venue. Playing ballparks is a blast.
It’s not just me, it’s everyone in the band. Everyone is really excited to get out there. We are all huge baseball fans in the whole bus. Just being able to go to a game and enjoy a day like that and get a chance to go out there and play, it’s great. We’ve had a lot of people that hit me up in the area about this particular show and performance, a lot of people coming out that are friends of mine. It’s just going to be a great day. Gives me a great feeling. It seems like a real American type of gig. It’s a night at the ballpark playing music. It is fun for all of us. We are fired up.
8. Do you have any superstitions before every gig?
I have these old boots that I have had for a long time that actually require duct tape every night to put on, because they have so many rips and tears in them. I guess that’s a weird ritual. As far as food goes, its whatever you can find. Some days it’s a great meal, some days it’s whatever is lying around. It’ll probably be some hot dogs over there when I’m at Nationals Park.
9. You talk about looking forward to the first pitch. Did you play baseball growing up?
Yeah, I never progressed too far with it. I played a little bit as a kid. I love being out there on the field. It is a great feeling and it’s cool to hang out and talk to some of the players. Turns out a lot of them are country fans. It changes your world a little bit. Checking out the stands, checking out the locker rooms and the clubhouse, seeing how those guys do it. Talking about traveling and being on the road, there are a lot of common things we share. It’s always good to see someone else’s world. And being on the mound, it’s a great feeling.
Fan question, from @AngelMickey1993 on Twitter: “What advice would you give an aspiring country singer?”
That’s a great question. Sing wherever you live. Sing as much for friends, family, or find a local place and sing there too. Just look for any avenue possible to get going. There is no one way of doing it. All I can say is sing and sing to as many people as you possibly can.