Previous installments of The Walkoff Walk Interview have been straight transcripts of conversations that I had with my subjects. Both Alberta Griffey and Helene Sovern proved charming and engaging, and me, even more so. Both interviews had a flow that lent themselves to that kind of presentation.
But of all the Q&A's I've done for the site, I was obviously the most excited for the one I had on Tuesday afternoon with Rinku and Dinesh. Before they broke worldwide, we'd been cheering them on for months here at WoW. We'd talked about them so much we felt like we knew them. When I contacted Jeff "JB, Sir" Bernstein with the request on Monday he quickly agreed and the wheels were in motion. I had sort of envisioned asking questions through a translator. I knew that the guys had been working on their English but wasn't sure exactly how far along it was.
When I called them, I found out I was wrong. I talked one on one with Dinesh and then with Rinku. While their English was pretty great for two guys who had only started learning the language a couple months back, it still limited the questions I could ask, and certainly limited the scope of their answers. For that reason, I don't think the transcript format will work best here. It's probably best that I just relay some of the high points.
First off, they were as polite on the phone as they seem on their blog. I almost crapped when they called me Kris, Sir. I asked them both if they felt prepared for spring training after the training at USC. They both seemed confident saying that they had played with good players there. Delving into the issue of teammates a little more, I asked Dinesh if he felt it was more difficult playing a team sport than individual one like javelin. He laughed and had a definitive answer.
"Team sport is harder. In team sport you care about everything. Individual sport, it's only one person. Team sports have many things going on the same time."
I asked them whether or not they still get homesick. Rinku says they miss their families very much but they talk to them weekly and now with the increased media coverage of them around the world "they get to see more what we're doing."
Dinesh's favorite pitcher is Cliff Lee, who would probably also be mine if I had just started watching baseball last year. In any case it's probably a good sign that he hopes to take cues from a crafty lefty. After winning this opportunity based purely on his velocity it seems like he's interested in learning how to really pitch. I didn't understand Rinku when he told me his favorite pitcher because I was interviewing them at work and someone slammed the door to the walk-in fridge.
I asked them if they had heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet. Dinesh said they were visiting February 15 and were "excited," which leads me to believe that they haven't heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet.
Regarding the Pirates as an organization, unsurprisingly they didn't know much about the franchise's history, which is just as well. It would probably behoove more minor leaguers to not worry so much about the franchise and just work on improving their game. Especially with a team whose futility is as weighty as the Bucs, ignorance to that fact is probably a plus.
- My final question for each of them was open ended. I asked about their goals here in America, specifically for next year. Dinesh said he wanted to learn more about how to pitch, but Rinku took it a step further.
"Get better at pitching. Help my team. Help the Pirates win the World Series." Kid's got guts, I'll tell ya.
Before I hung up I got to talk to JB a little. He made the point that more than Rinku and Dinesh being Indian, it's just amazing that two guys signed a pro contract in a sport that they hadn't heard of 7 months earlier. We racked our brains to come up with someone else like that and couldn't. He asked me if I'd seen the "Babewatch" blog entry. I said I had but I didn't want to bring it up since Rinku seemed mad about it. JB said "he wasn't mad, he was INCENSED." That made me laugh.