Last month, I had the great opportunity to interview Orioles relief pitcher Darren O’Day. In the first part, I interviewed O’Day about his community service to military service members and family as a nominee for the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award. In the second part, I talked to him about baseball topics, like how he developed his signature sidearm delivery. Here is the 2nd part of my Darren O’Day interview!
Matt’s Bats: When did you start playing baseball?
Darren O’Day: I first played organized baseball when I was five. I’m 32 now. I guess that makes me old! I’ve been playing for a long time. I took one year off in high school. Its been the one constant in my life as long as I can remember.
MB: What values can baseball teach kids?
DOD: First of all, it keeps you out of trouble. If you’re busy practicing and you’re busy playing catch and hitting batting practice, you’re not going to be out doing things you shouldn’t. The game teaches you to get to know different personality types. If you play athletics you know how to get along with other people. You’re not going to succeed in athletics unless you work hard. That’s proven – the higher up you go the harder you have to work. There’s not many lazy Major Leaguers. There’s a lot of applicable things you can learn in sports.
MB: You’re going into the off-season as a free agent for the first time. What is that like?
DOD: You’re right, it’s the first time I’ve been potentially a free agent. I’ve been on four different teams already so I kind of know what its like to be in different places. You never really know what’s going to happen. It’s tough because I have a wife and a child and two dogs, so there’s a lot of things to consider, like where they would be happy. I might come back here [to Baltimore], I might go someplace else. You never know!
MB: Another new thing for this year was your first All-Star Game selection. Congratulations on that!
DOD: Thanks for that. I never knew if I was going to be in the Major Leagues, first of all. And I never thought I would be an All-Star! But it was a really cool honor and I’m glad I did it. I had a lot of fun.
MB: You throw side-arm, one of the few baseball pitchers that does that. But every coach I’ve ever had has encouraged us not to throw side arm. How did you start throwing side arm?
DOD: You have good coaches, then. You don’t want to screw around throwing side arm until you figure out you’re not very good at overhand. I threw overhand my whole life, all the way through high school. I tried out for my college team and didn’t make it throwing overhand, so I thought I was done with baseball. But I screwed around throwing side arm, figured out I would try out again, and this time I made the team. I played for four years in college and its been an interesting career.
MB: How did you master the side arm?
DOD: Everybody can throw side arm, but not everybody can throw strikes. Its like anything else. If you tried throwing left handed, you wouldn’t be very good at first. But if you kept practicing and practicing you’d get pretty good. I know it seems hard, but you could do it. I’ve also had some good coaches along the way. I’ve been doing it so long I probably know the side arm motion better than a lot of the coaches now. Its been a lot of hard work, a lot of video, a lot of repetition. And I learn as I go.
MB: When the Orioles were down in Washington, you witnessed the incident between Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Machado. [Jonathan Papelbon was ejected from the September 23 Nationals-Orioles game for throwing chin music at Manny Machado]. What are your thoughts on the big dugout fight between Papelbon and Bryce Harper?
DOD: Baseball is a funny game. Different people have different interpretations about what is right and what is wrong. It’s unfortunate the Papelbon-Machado incident is what came out of that series, instead of the news being us [Orioles] sweeping the series. Sweeping the series was the big story for us and for our team. It shows that guys care and that they love what they do and they are passionate about it.
As for what’s going on between Harper and Papelbon, I can’t speak with any authority about what’s going on there.
Thanks for reading the latest Matt’s Bats Chat. I will have some more posts coming out in the next couple weeks. Next week, I will be covering the third annual Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, where I expect to bring you another Matt’s Bats Chat with Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and other celebrities. ALSO, stayed tuned for one of my favorite posts of the year: my Holiday Gift Guide around Black Friday. If you are buying gifts for kids or adults who like baseball, you will definitely want to read this before you buy anything. And some companies have given me some giveaways for readers, and you could win some really cool things. So stay tuned to MattsBats.com throughout the off-season!