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Ready to Rumble

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SURPRISE, ARIZONA -- I'd heard bad things about Carl Everett, horror stories from sportswriters who said he could be tempestuous and condescending. Whatever, I thought. That's news when an athlete isn't that way. I'm not a beat writer. I don't hang around every day; I fly low.

The following is the account of how I met Carl Edward Everett, center fielder for the Texas Rangers, when I tried to interview him for my feature in the team's spring training clubhouse. The parentheticals are my impressions of the situation at the time and also help to set the scene--take them or leave them; I don't care, this is my column. Enjoy.

Me: Do you have a second?

Carl Everett: (Standing in front of his locker.) Who are you?

M: I'm John, from the Dallas Observer.

CE: The Dallas Observer. (Grabs my press credential to look at it.) I never heard of the Dallas Observer.

M: It's a weekly magazine-style newspaper in Dallas.

CE: Oh yeah? What's your circulation?

M: Our circulation? (Wondering if he wants to advertise.)

CE: What's your circulation?

M: We have a big circulation. Huge. (Wondering, if he advertises, if I'll get a raise.)

CE: (Sarcastic.) Yeah, right. (Turns to clubbies.) Have you ever heard of the Dallas Observer? No? (Turns to someone else.) You ever heard of the Dallas Observer? No? (Turns to me.) See...

M: (Not happy now.) You're right, I made it up. Do you have a second?

CE: What do you want to talk about, man? Come on, talk...what's your story about?

M: My story?

CE: Yeah, what are you gonna write about?

M: I'm here to do a big story on the team--kind of an overview.

CE: Uh huh...talk, man.

M: OK...um...(Now trying to smooth things over.) I heard you like boxing.

CE: You're not here to talk boxing.

M: Why not? What do you think about Roy Jones Jr?

CE: (Turns his back on me; long huffing exhale.) I think he made a mistake. You don't want to talk boxing. (Only half kidding.)You wanna box me? (Turns to me, squares off, puts fists up by his head.)You don't wanna box me.

M: (Getting pissed now.) No, you don't wanna box me...now can we talk or not?

CE: Go ahead, man. (Rolls his eyes.)

M: OK...are you ready for the center field duties?

CE: Am I ready for the center field duties?...(Long pause...clearly irritated.) Yeah, man, I'm ready for the center field duties, that's my job.

M: Some people have talked about your weight. Is it an issue? Does that bother you?

CE: That's just y'all. That's the media. That's you guys. You don't know me.

M: Well, you don't know me, and you were lumping me with the other media and giving me a hard time about my paper.

CE: I don't like the media. I don't like them. I don't like the media.

M: OK...all right...(Searching...backpedaling.) Have you talked to [manager] Buck [Showalter] much? You know, what's it like playing for him?

CE: We haven't played any games for him yet.

M: (Getting more pissed.) OK, then how is he different from the other managers you've been around?

CE: How's he different? (Very sarcastic.) That's what you're gonna ask me?

M: Yeah.

CE: Everything's OK.

M: OK...What about last year? Was that tough for you?

CE: Nope.

M: The losing wasn't tough?

CE: Nope.

M: (Had enough now.) Why are you being so standoffish?

CE: I'm not.

M: You're not?

CE: Nope. You're just mad because I don't kiss the media's ass. I won't kiss your ass.

M: That's fine because I don't kiss ballplayers' asses...Now, the losing didn't bother you?

CE: Nope...I play hard anyway...that was the first time I ever lost.

M: So then it must have been different at least, right?

CE: (Huffing again.) Man, I said I play hard anyway.

M: All right...do you think you can contend this year?

CE: Did you watch the games last year?

M: Well, I wasn't in Texas, but, yeah, I watched some games...

CE: (Cuts me off.) No, you didn't. You didn't watch any games last year, 'cause if you watched some games last year, you'd know that we were a tough ticket. We didn't lay down for anyone.

M: How can you say that? You guys were 31 games out [of first place in the division]...

CE: (Really mad now.) First you ask me some fucking ridiculous questions, and then you're gonna ask me why I answered the way I did...

M: (Also really mad now.) Yeah, that's what I'm supposed to do; that's my job.

CE: (Screaming now...people watching.) If you're gonna ask some fucking ridiculous questions, then I'm gonna give you some fucking ridiculous answers...I mean, that's just fucking ridiculous.

M: (Also screaming now.) Why, because you don't like the fucking question?

CE: No, because I don't like the fucking media. That's it. Get up on outta here. (Motions toward the door.)

M: So that's it, huh? You're not gonna talk to me anymore?

CE: Yeah, that's right. That's it. Get the hell outta here. Go on, get out.

M: Well, this was productive. So that's it...that's the end?

CE: That's what I said. (Does shooing motion toward the door. Tries to get me to leave. I don't. He walks to other end of clubhouse. I go to middle of clubhouse and lean against a table.)

CE: (Mocking me now; yelling across clubhouse.) Asking me, how do I like Buck? Asking me, can we contend? (Makes grand sweeping motion, stares at me.) That's some stupid fucking shit. That's some shit your editor told you to come down here and ask.

M: (I yell back across the clubhouse.) My editor didn't tell me to ask anything. Those are my questions...you must be really mad at something.

CE: (Walks back toward me.) That's right. I'm mad because I don't like the fucking media. Keep it up. Go head, keep it up. Keep talking back. I'm gonna have you escorted outta here. And you better get up off that fucking table. You're gonna learn to respect us. This is our house. You're gonna learn. Get up off that table. (I don't move.) I said get up off that table. (I still don't move.) You better get up.

John Blake, Rangers PR chief: (Nods at me.) John, please get up. (I stand up, but I don't leave.)

CE: That's right. This is our house. You're gonna learn.

So that's it. I'm not sure if I caught him on a bad day or if he's just a bad guy or if, like one of my reporter pals told me candidly, I might have baited him a little by going back at him. I'm not sure, but I'm leaning toward him being the king jackass--come on, this couldn't have been my fault.

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