To my good friend from the old days who goes by “Bergkamp,” DO NOT READ THIS!
Never meet your idols, folks. Or, perhaps, listen to them. That is, if your idols are A-Rod-hating, Bautista-hating, soft-tossing, strike-throwing, bean-ball-loving, let-the-players-police-themselves-ing former Blue Jays starters.
Josh Towers, everybody! The man who made — hold onto your asses — eighty-nine starts for the Blue Jays from 2003 to 2007, joined Barry Davis’s Outta The Park podcast (Soundcloud / iTunes) this week, and spoke candidly — I’ll give him that! — about his Blue Jays days, his dislike for A-Rod, for José Bautista and the Texas Rangers both, and just how much he likes a whole bunch of bullshit that’s sure to get all the meatheads fist-pumping.
Here are some highlights from part one of the interview!
On That Time He Plunked Alex Rodriguez…
You know, what I’m more pissed off about than anything is that Barry Bonds happened to break the record the same day, so we didn’t get any television pub. Because we needed it — Alex needed that.
I mean, listen, I played with the guy right afterwards, I went to New York in 2009, and he was the first person to come up to me and say ‘welcome to the team,’ which was ironic1. And, you know, we hung out in Vegas afterwards — mutual friends and stuff — and it still feels great, man. The guy’s just not a nice person. He’s just so disrespectful to everybody.2
My buddy’s a lieutenant for Metro and he’s a huge Yankee fan, and I said, ‘Bro, you gotta come out with us, Alex is gonna be there, Stacey Kiebler, some other people,’ and he was like, ‘I’m not gonna go,’ and I was like, ‘Well, you’re a Yankee fan, I want you to meet a Yankee,’ and he was like, ‘Alright.’ But the reason I brought him out was I wanted him to see first hand how bad of a person he was, and after we were done going out to dinner and going out to the club he was like, ‘Wow, what a… you know what.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I just wanted you to see that.’3
Even in front of friends, with nobody else around, he still couldn’t just be a normal dude, man. I said more to him when I got drunk that night, too, but it’s just, ‘Come on, man, you’re such a bad person.’
With him, I was looking at him, I was getting ready to drill him, and I was like, I’m going to hit him in his damn knee. I’m like, if I hit him right in his knee, that’s going to hurt a lot. Forget hitting him in his butt or his rib or his hip or his thigh or something, I’m gonna hit him right in his knee, and man I smoked it right in his knee4, and man, that shit was more rewarding than anything.5
1Does Josh thinks “ironic” means someone who was trying to be the bigger man?
2 Wait for it…
3 Sorry, which one of you two is “so disrespectful” and “not a nice person? Because… uh…
4 Ooooh, a blazing 86 miles per hour!
5 Yeah, you seem cool.
On the Lead-up to the Plunking…
Brian Wolfe, my good buddy, was making his major league debut later on that game1, and you know, I was like, ‘Hey B, just smoke him,’ and I think John Gibbons told him not to hit him2. Which, you know, John seems to say that a lot.3 Brian didn’t really know what to do, so he didn’t hit him. So we go to New York — that was the last game of the series, I believe — I’m pitching, and I’m just going to drill him. I’m waiting, we’ve been talking about this, everybody’s excited. I’m in the bullpen warming up and I get a phone call, and it’s John Gibbons. … I’m getting loose, and I was like, ‘What do you want?’ and he goes, ‘You can’t hit him.’ And I said, ‘Yeah right, I’m hitting him.’ And he says, ‘Josh, Major League Baseball just left my office — if you hit him, you’re getting fined, I’m getting fined, you’re getting suspended, I’m getting suspended.’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll go to lunch together then, deal with it.’ He goes, ‘Do not hit him,’ and he hung up.4
So, pissed off, I finished my bullpen, I’m walking across the field and Matt Stairs is running sprints. Stairsy is somebody I look up to, and Stairsy’s like, ‘Why are you so mad, we’re getting ready to start the game?’ and I was like, ‘Gibby just called and told me I couldn’t hit Alex.’5 And Stairsy didn’t skip a beat, he goes, ‘Then don’t hit him.’ I said, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Josh, we play them in three weeks in Toronto, if you don’t hit him today everyone will forget it, and then smoke him.’ I was like, ‘That’s why I love you, Stairsy.’ So we didn’t hit him in New York, we let it go, let everybody think that we forgot.
We get back to Toronto, and I was gonna wait an at-bat, but I gave up two runners, so I was mad, so he comes up and I just drill him.6 I knew what was going to happen, it was going to be an all out war, because we really didn’t like each other and, you know, Alex doesn’t have the heart to charge the mound — he always is a One Step And Stop guy, so he has to let his teammates fight his battles. Shelley Duncan and the boys start throwing punches, and it turned into a good ol’ time.
Yo, so we separate — no one gets tossed, I don’t think. I don’t remember. Shelley should have, but — I love that guy too, by the way, one of my favourite teammates of all time. So we separate, and I’m standing on the mound with Lyle Overbay, and we hear chirping from first base. And I was just like, ‘Oh my god, Lyle please tell me that’s not Alex — PLEASE tell me that’s not Alex running his mouth.’ Lyle looks over to first base and Tony Pena is just wearing me out, cussing me up and down nonstop, and I was like, ‘What??’ I went at Tony Pena, I took off at Tony Pena and Lyle’s trying to grab me — Tony’s grabbing Alex, because Alex goes, ‘What me?’ And, in other words, I was like, ‘No, not you — Tony.’ So Tony and I went at it, and next thing you know, here come the benches and we start throwing punches again. It was nuts, man.7
1 Clap for the Wolfe, man. (Though, speaking of Bergkamp, I’m pretty sure we always thought that this would be a much better intro for the Jays’ then-reliever.)
2 Gibby the best.
6 That sounds real fucking helpful to your team.
7 Brawls are entertaining, I cannot deny it. But holy hell, such unbelievable stupidity.
On Baseball Fighting in General…
Hockey’s great because they’re like, ‘Alright, you guys got problem, slug it out — ahh, you hit the ice, get up.’ Baseball’s, like, we’re so sensitive and sissies1 that we’re not allowed to do anything. Sometimes people just need to get punched.2 I think Major League Baseball at times should just let us go — it might actually stop us from using weapons like baseballs and bats to throw at each other, and we just handle it like men. And then you know what happens after any old fight, you’re friends.
. . .
Major League Baseball does not know how to handle confrontations. Every time we’ve had beef, Major League Baseball steps in the way and has escalated the problem and kept it around longer. That fight lasted three years, because when I was a Yankee in ’09 and we fought the Blue Jays again in Yankee Stadium.3
1 Go back to 2006 you fuck.
2 Sure, if they’re Nazis. But, uh, when they got upset because you purposely “smoked” them in the knee with a pitch because two months before they had yelled “mine” and caused your infielder to drop a pop-up? Maybe chill, bro.
3 I’ll give him this, if this is an audition to take Gregg Zaun’s vacated seat on Blue Jays broadcasts, it’s sure going to go over well with whichever morons thought it was a good idea to give Gregg Zaun a seat on Blue Jays broadcasts (who are perhaps some of the same people who thought giving Dean Blundell a radio show was a good idea).
On José Bautista and the Texas Rangers…
I gave up a lot of home runs every year1, it’s just what I did, I threw strikes.2 José Bautista, wow. You were a journeyman until you’re thirty, you played on all those teams, all of a sudden you show up in Toronto and you’ve figured it out — now you’re too cool for school? José Bautista, as much as I respect his baseball IQ, was completely in the wrong in that bat flip3 — it didn’t even win the game, it didn’t win the series4 — I mean, bro, are you serious? Just run the bases. He got too big for his own shoes and thought he was too cool, man, and he was completely wrong with the bat flip — and that not me being a pitcher.5
On the flip side, I’m definitely not biased, a spade is a spade, I’m an Oriole and Blue Jay man through and through, I love these two organizations, and I root for the Blue Jays a lot. I watch every game. But for the Texas Rangers to wait to the very end to do what they did is tired. And for Bannister to rile the crowd up after is tired. The Texas Rangers, to me, were a bunch of wusses for doing that. If they had a problem with him, they should have hit him the first time the Jays were in Texas, and they didn’t, and I think that was tired and terrible of that organization.6
1 We know.
2 That’s… ahh… that’s sure one way to put it.
3 We regret to inform you that we have already filled the vacancy on our broadcast, now kindly get the fuck off our set.
4 My memory is a bit foggy, but I’m pretty sure the Rangers were so humiliated that they didn’t come out to play the rest of that game, so yes, it did.
5 *Jerk-off motion*
6 Did you seriously not just, like, one minute ago brag about holding off on plunking a guy? I’m just checking, because I totally thought you did.
* * *
Hey, but don’t take my word that these are really the things he said — watch/listen to the clip yourself!