It took Will Rhymes about two seconds to completely win me over. I'd like to tell you it was because of the first great defensive play he made at second base for the Tigers. Or maybe that first multi-hit game back on July 27.
But I gotta be honest. It was when he said on Twitter that he loves The National -- and still listens to Boxer -- enjoys Arcade Fire and listens to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That, and when he posted Jose Valverde's short joke about him.
Suddenly I realized I had found my baseball kindred spirit. It's like me out there on the field in the Old English D. Only a version of me with more hair and who is actually really, really, really good at baseball and didn't have his coach move him to another position because he kept overthrowing the first baseman from 20 feet away in little league. At least, as far as I know. I mean, maybe Will can clear that up.
You can ask him yourself if you want.
As just the third Tiger to join the Twitter revolution, he's easily become the most popular. Robbie Weinhardt and Casper Wells could only watch as Will flew past them in follower numbers. If you haven't already, you can follow Will at twitter.com/willrhymes or like his page at Facebook.com/willrhymes28. Will's been quite entertaining and accessible to his fans, and plans to really have even more fun as soon as he gets to his 2,000 follower. (He's at 1632 as of when this was posted).
Will was nice enough to take some questions from us at Bless You Boys, talking about everything from his first home run to his enjoyment of molecular biology in college.
Before we get too far we've got to hear about your first MLB home run. You had to wait around at third base while the umps ruled on it, then your teammates gave you the silent treatment when you got back to the dugout. What what going through your mind during all that, and how does it feel to get the first one out of the way?
Well, when I first hit it, I thought I got it. Then, as I was rounding first I could see the right fielder tracking it so I started talking to the ball. Something to the effect of "Carry, Carry, Come On" with probably an expletive or two. Then I thought he caught the ball and was really relieved when I saw it on the ground. After that it never occurred to me that it was a home run, even after Brookens was arguing, I thought it was in vain. We looked in the dugout and Laird indicated that it was a home run. That was the first time I got a little excited but thought it could still get overturned. After a bit, Lamont told me to get ready to give him a high five and run home, so when they came back out, that’s what I did. I couldn't control it. I had a huge smile on my face running home. It was just an unbelievable feeling. I felt like the team enjoyed it and that made me feel even better. I'll never forget it that's for sure. Who gets to sprint to third, then wait around for five minutes and jog home for their first career home run?
You're not the first of the Tigers to join Twitter (as @WillRhymes), but you've been by far the most successful. Can you tell us a bit about how you use the service and what you plan to do when you get to your 2000th follower?
I have really enjoyed Twitter. It is a great way to interact with the fans. I try to give people a small glimpse into the life of a baseball player, hopefully share some things they otherwise wouldn't get to see, and let people get to know me a little bit off the field. There are plenty of places they can go for baseball information and Tigers information. I put pictures up of my dog and talk about music and things that interest me. I'm new to it but that is the vision. I am giving away an autographed ball to a lucky follower after I reach 2,000, maybe with a trivia question. I'm going to have lots of other giveaways and contests during the off season when I have a little more time. I've also recently ventured into the facebook world, http://www.facebook.com/willrhymes28. I might be the last person on earth to get into facebook.
You're quite the popular player at Bless You Boys, so I asked some of our readers if they had any questions they'd like to ask. Here are a few:
What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
My brother and I had Bert and Ernie slippers. I can't remember who had which, that is all I remember about cartoons. I'm not even sure that is from a cartoon.
They say baseball players learn something new at each of their minor league stops. What do you think helped you most in your successful transition to the majors?
People make a lot out of the transition from each level. To me the lower levels are roughly equivalent, short season-hi A. Obviously you are continually learning at each level and people can make improvements or struggle at different levels but from a competition stand point, it is very similar. AA begins to separate the men from the boys a little but I disagree with the jump to AA being the biggest. To me AAA is a whole different animal. You have a lot of veteran pitchers who really know how to pitch. You also see a lot of major league-ready arms, and the bullpens are much improved. Overall defense is better, and all of these things make it harder to hit. It is the first level where people are really playing for their career, for their families, to make a living. At that level you are either taking someone’s money or making them money. It isn't for fun and to see how long you can avoid the real world anymore. The big leagues is another major jump, since the game can speed up on you in an instant. The pitchers in general have really impressive stuff and you have to grind out each at-bat.
Did you have any career trajectory or timetable for reaching the majors?
Not really, I was going to play until it became obvious or someone I trusted flat out told me I couldn't play in the big leagues. I knew I could, but wasn't sure I would ever get the opportunity.
You were a biology major at William & Mary, what were some of your favorite topics to study?
My concentration was more on the cellular/molecular side. I took some Neurobio, endocrinology, immunology, evolutionary bio, molecular cell, things of that nature. I also took a lot of philosophy classes. I took some ethics, logic and morality courses. I loved the reading for philosophy, but just hated all the writing. I'm a multiple choice kind of guy.
If you weren't a baseball player, what career would you be in?
Well, that is hard to say for sure. Who really knows what would have happened. I was pre-med with the bio major, and was planning on attending medical school, probably back in Texas. I never took my MCAT's because I was afraid they would expire before I was done with baseball, and I'm glad I didn't waste the time now. It is not like I had one foot in the door at Baylor college of medicine and the Tigers dragged me away. I don't know for sure what I would be doing.
Rookie pitchers get to carry a pink backpack. As a rookie position player, do you have any equivalents?
Well, to be in the big leagues I would endure any hazing. So far that has only included getting some drinks, singing on the bus, and dressing up on a plane ride with my fellow rookies. Of course I had to sing " I wish" by skee-lo.
Do you have any off season plans, baseball-wise or otherwise?
I usually work in the off season. I have worked in an evolutionary physiology lab, installed insulation, and taught baseball. This year I may teach a few lessons but I probably won't have to work too much. I'm really looking forward to seeing friends and family and hanging out with my dog. I took last year off from traveling, but went to Paris and Costa Rica the previous two off seasons. I'll probably be heading back out of the country this winter. A little perspective is a great thing. Of course, most of it will be spent preparing for next season. Meditating, visualizing, and taking thousands of dry hacks in the mirror of my apartment.
Bless You Boys, obviously!!!! So watch what you guys say about me.
Again, I just want to thank Will for the great Q&A! We wish him the best of luck the rest of the season and beyond!