Evan Longoria is an emerging superstar in baseball, as he's leading the Tampa Bay Rays through the 2010 postseason. Last night, his two-run home run lifted the Rays to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. Tomorrow night, Tampa Bay will host Texas in a fifth and final game in the series, with the winner taking on the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Longoria sat down with Comcast today and discussed last night's victory and what is ahead for him and the Rays, and also covered off on several topics, including his favorite baseball movie and even his fantasy football ownership. Check out what he had to say...
Q: Evan, thanks for joining us today. Can you talk to us about what the emotion level was like going into Texas to pull out a couple of victories to bring the series back to Tampa for Game 5?
Longoria: We are excited to be back at home with the opportunity to win the series. Going there, we were all in pretty good spirits with the opportunity to continue to play October baseball and not be going home. To have the chance to come out of Texas with two wins, we are obviously very excited to be playing back at home and have an opportunity to win.
Q: What have the Rays done differently in the last couple of games to turn things around in the series?
Longoria: We really realized that our backs were against the wall and nobody was ready to go home. We wanted to continue to play October baseball and did a great job taking things one game at a time. We won our first game, carried that momentum over to Game 4 and before we knew it we had a chance to come back home and play in Game 5.
Q: Talk to us about how you are feeling going into Game 5 and what your outlook is.
Longoria: I am feeling as good as I've felt up to this point. My leg gets a little sore throughout the course of the game and so after the game I do treatment and the next day it feels pretty good. I am using the off-day wisely to get some treatment done, take it kind of easy, and am hoping that day after day it continues to get better. My injury will not keep me out the lineup. I am hopeful to just keep moving forward and keep playing.
Q: For fans watching at home, what is your approach to an at-bat during the postseason? Does it change at all?
Longoria: My approach to an at-bat during the postseason is the exact same as it is during the regular season. There are just a couple more eyes watching you at the stadium and at home on television but other than that, I try to just keep the same approach and go into the game with the same plan that I have for all 162 games during the season. I just try to keep things as simple as I can.
Q: Technology is now prevalent in nearly every corner of sports. How do you think technology has affected the way players approach the game of baseball?
Longoria: Technology has definitely affected the game of baseball. The main way that it has affected the game at the Major League level is that we now have replays. If there is a questionable home run or a call that could have gone one way or another, we are now able to correct that. From a team standpoint, we have scouting reports and in-depth analysis of every team that we play against and we now have video of pitchers and hitters that we can look at and use for our own benefit.
Q: Speaking of technology and how it's changing the way we watch sports -- as networks begin to broadcast baseball in 3D, do you think it will help fans to see the game in a different light?
Longoria: I think the biggest thing about 3D is that it helps you realize really how difficult it is to hit and pitch at the Major League level. Home plate is not very big and to do what pitchers do with a baseball is pretty unbelievable. I had an opportunity to see some baseball played in 3D at the 2010 MLB All-Star Game and it is pretty amazing to watch the ball come towards home plate in 3D. You can see all the little things that you can't really see watching the game on a regular television.
Q: Tell us about your early memories watching baseball on television. Are there any memorable moments that had an impact on you as a young sports fan?
Longoria: My most memorable baseball moments growing up were watching Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run to break Roger Maris' record and finish the season with 70 home runs and later see Barry Bonds hit 72 in a season to break the all-time baseball record. Those two memories stand out for me because I really didn't start following baseball as much until that point.
Q: Let's talk a little bit about off-the-field. You were featured in several national ad campaigns this year. Has that affected your recognition away from the game?
Longoria: Definitely. I've been blessed to be in a couple of national media spots. It's definitely bumped up my recognition. It's a good thing as an athlete. Sometimes, you want to go out and have a quiet evening and you are seen by some fans, which again, the cool thing about that is being recognized off the field. It's give and take, and I definitely enjoy it.
Q: We know that fantasy sports are a big deal with a lot of professional athletes. Is there a fantasy league inside the Rays' clubhouse? Do you play fantasy football?
Longoria: We have a fantasy football league going right now. This is just my second year doing it, but I've gotten a little bit better at making deals and being a GM. Last year, we had a 10-team league. This year, we have a 12-team league so it's a little bit tougher getting players. I would say that the two most successful (team owners) in my two years have been (teammate) Gabe Kapler - he's really good at fantasy football - and our GM Andrew Friedman, who owns a team with a friend. Their team has been good as well.
Q: Do you have any TV shows or movies that you've watched at home that you think are particularly good? Anything you keep up with on an as-available basis?
Longoria: The only show that I keep up with really is Dexter, the SHOWTIME show. I've seen all of the seasons up to this point. I also watch Californication and SportsCenter when I get home at night.
Q: Field of Dreams and Major League are considered two classic baseball movies. What would you say is your favorite baseball movie and why?
Longoria: I'd have to say The Sandlot is my favorite baseball movie without a doubt. I grew up watching that movie and I used to watch it - no joke - every night. I like it because it's a growing-up story for a kid who comes into a new neighborhood, really doesn't have any friends and becomes a part of this group through the game. For me, it's a feel good story for the kid and they have some good times - it's just a great movie.
Q: And did you picture yourself to be Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez growing up?
Longoria: I actually liked the new kid in town (Scott Smalls, played by Tom Guiry). I liked his story a little bit better than Benny, although Benny was the best player. It was a great movie.
Q: Rumor has it you're a huge hockey fan. Tell us how you feed your passion for the sport.
Longoria: I just like to go! I have a pretty good relationship with Jim Mannino, who's the ticket director at the St. Pete Times Forum, where the Lightning play. Whenever I'm in town and they're in town, I just go over there and get hooked up with some pretty good tickets. I love it, man. It's a place I can go and feel like a fan and cheer and I really enjoy that.
Q: One fun question, as we wrap this up. There's been a lot made of your hairstyle these days, do you have any comment on that?
Longoria: You know, I actually copied (Rockies shortstop and former Long Beach State teammate) Troy Tulowitzki, a good buddy of mine. Last year, he had a mullet, and I thought it was just cool and funny. When I started to do it this year, I didn't even know he had it again. He's actually doing it for a pretty cool reason - he's donating money to a charity for him to grow his. I don't have a cause like that, but I've been letting it grow and hopefully, I can let it grow through to the World Series.
Thank you for your time, Evan, and best of luck tomorrow night.