When you’re hitting .296 for the second best team in the American League, while also turning in web-gems on a nightly basis, the national media is inevitably going to end up calling your cell phone, in search of the secret sauce. That’s just what happened this morning when the infamous Jim Rome gave A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson a ring.
To be sure, JD gave the people what they want. Donaldson had no qualms about discussing the A’s love for flying remote control airplanes, lessons from Bull Durham, his take on walk-off etiquette and Yasiel Puig, his long lost buddy Jonny Gomes, and what’s behind his faux-hawk/rat tail hairstyle.
It’s not often Rome throws an A’s player a vine and invites him into the Jungle. Fortunately, the A’s once again have “Jungle Karma” on their side as they forge on in 2013, defending their AL West crown.
Read the transcript of JD’s interview with Rome below...
Jim Rome: “Here we are Josh. End of July. You got a five game lead over the Rangers and the Angels are way, way back. How do you explain the success that this team is having once again?”
Josh Donaldson: “Well I think what you have here is a bunch of guys that play together as a team really well. I think the X-factor is you have guys that are winners, you know. We don't have the big name guys or anything like that, but we have a bunch of guys working together, really just trying to pull their own.”
Rome: “Hey Josh, what about the chemistry? You got guys working together, but you got guys that are just different guys and guys that are allowed to be themselves. Guys that fly remote control planes on the field, guys playing hockey in the hallway, and a manager in Bob Melvin who gives you the freedom to be who you wanna be. How big a part is that in your success?”
JD: “Yeah, I mean, I think that just comes with it. You know, just making that environment where it’s cool to have fun and stuff during the game. But if you're not winning, that kinda stuff doesn't seem as cool or fun. Kinda like that Bull Durham quote where Crash Davis is talking about Nuke LaLoosh's shower shoes. He's wearing ‘em and has fungus on ‘em. Until you actually win 20 games in The League, they’re not gonna think this is cool. But once you win 20 games in The League they're gonna say ‘wow, he's so different, and that’s what makes him have success.’ So I think winning is the ultimate thing. And just having fun while we are doing it. Obviously that’s going to be a big part of it.”
Rome: “You certainly have your own kind of personality and confidence. When you first got to the A's, were you free to express that? Or did you keep it under wraps?”
JD: “I definitely kept it under wraps. In 2010 when I first got here I was a catcher behind Kurt Suzuki. He had strained his oblique and he was gonna be back in 4 weeks so I didn't want to step on anyones toes... That’s probably not the best way to look at it. You look at the Puig situation this year. He was probably not gonna be a mainstay right off the bat, they have a lot of talent in the outfield, but he went for it and really busted out in a big way. For myself I wish I would've thought about it a little more that way.”
Rome: “You mention Puig, let me get your thoughts. You're not there, but you gotta have a thought on this. When a guy hits a walk off shot, flips his bat and slides into home plate. Ordinarily the old school would say, ‘man that's so out of line, you can't show people up like that.’ Is the code changing or is that kinda thing way out of line?”
JD: “No, I think pretty much on a walk-off homer just about anything goes now. Unless like you directly say something to the pitcher or an opposing player. I've had conversations with pitchers about how they feel about walkoffs. I've hit walk off homers myself and sometimes its borderline whether the guy would take it the wrong way. You play with that fine line a lot. To me it just shows you he's really a young kid. It’s still a kids’ game, Jim. You want to go out and have fun. I think his game will change over the course of time.”
Rome: “Hey Josh, This is a big Jonny Gomes house. And I mention him because he was your teammate in Oakland last year and he took you under his wing. Talk to me about him, what was your experience being with Jonny Gomes?”
JD: “Being around him, seeing how he prepares for the game everyday. You know his mentality. It’s just so, he's got the in-your-face personality that a guy like me really appreciates. Just the way he approaches the game of baseball. It doesn't matter if it’s a ball back to the pitcher or a ball in the hole, you know he's going to get after it down the line. He would run through the wall if you you asked him to… if it would help win us a game. I really have just tried to take that mindset into this year for myself and just kinda learn from that.
Another thing he told me not to do was bunt. I used to try to bunt a little bit. But he told me last year that if I dropped another bunt down he was going to fight me. I remember doing it one time and he said 'all right, thats your last warning' and I said 'ok i'll stop'.
Rome: “That's incredible. Has Mike Gallego ever given you the bunt sign?”
JD: “You know I've only bunted on my own. I can't recall ever being given the bunt sign.”
Rome: “When you were in high school you used to tell your teachers, 'save my signature, because it's going to be worth something someday.' It’s cool and it’s a confident thing to say, but did you really mean it and did you know you'd end up where you are?”
JD: “Actually it was more so when I was in elementary school. I was in the 5th grade, getting toward the end of the year and I remember saying, 'hey, you know, you might wanna keep this'. But i thought it was gonna be more for football. I was really big into football growing up. I'm from the South and football is king in the South. I felt like I was gonna be a professional at something, and it turns out I'm a major league baseball player.
Rome: “You are. Last thought, the Donaldson Haircut has become a popular look among A's fans. Break it down for me. What are the key parts of ‘The Donaldson’?”
JD: “Well you know, you gotta go with the faux-hawk. A lot of people think its a mohawk, but I don't see it as a mohawk. I see it more as a faux-hawk. Really the major thing you have to have to pull it off is you have to have a rat tail. You know, I like to keep mine curly, and I like to play with it. So I think thats really the big key. And you have to go pretty low on the sides. At least a 1, if not a 0.”
Rome: “Alright, so what about the tail itself? Do you braid the tail? What do you do with the tail?”
JD: “You know, I’ve got to get it long enough so I can braid it. I like to just put my finger in it and twist it. You know how people grab their chin if they have facial hair if they're thinking? That's my thinking cap, you know, the rat tail.
Rome: “Wow. Oakland is killing it. First in the AL West and now you know. Josh, great to have you on. That was fun. Good deal.”