Please explain what just happened.
The clock just struck 1:15 a.m. and Iʼm on a flight from Phoenix to San Francisco. We got beat tonight by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but at least we won the series. Later tonight we play Oakland in that ridiculous Interleague series. I hope to get to sleep by 3 a.m. but the DH rule will make it hard to sleep. As I type these words I’m listening to my talented friend Eve Selis serenade me through my headphones. I’m drinking a Pinot, the stars are all out and there’s a full moon. Up here it all works. I love this goddamned blessed road…
What is your earliest memory?
I live my life one day at a time (and sometimes one inning at a time), so my earliest memory was waking up today at 11:37 a.m. and realizing that I slept too much, and probably drank too much as well.
If you weren’t the third base coach for the San Francisco Giants or a successful musician, what other profession would you choose?
An organic farmer. And I’d still play music.
Describe a typical work day.
I have two seasons-baseball and music. I do my music shows from November to March and baseball season is March to November. They both require lots of hard work but the rewards from each are tremendous.
During baseball season I wake up, read the papers and get caught up on the league. Then I review the scouting reports of who we are playing that night. My mornings are infused with lots of coffee… Then I’m off to the Taj Mahal- AT&T Park (home field of the S.F. Giants). Coaches get there at 1:30 p.m. for a 7 o’clock game and we talk about lineups, review lots and lots of video, and discuss the scouting reports. The early preparations start at 3 p.m. when I work with the bunters, the pitchers and the base runners. I’m the third base coach so I make sure the players know what kind of move to first the opposing pitcher has and I make sure they have my signs down. We have team batting practice at 4:30 p.m. and then I’ll grab a snack.
The game starts at 7 p.m. and it’s three or more hours of intense competition. I love every second of it. I still wear metal spikes and get heavy adrenaline hits that sometimes make me feel like I’m going to vomit, but it’s so fun. We do our best, but this is the National League- my gut wrenches nightly because we win by one run or lose by one run every night. After the game we rehash what went down, deal with the media and start thinking about the next day’s match ups. I drink a Ketel One on the rocks and take some other things that my doctor says I need to take, and then I head to my rented hippie flat in the city, usually getting home at midnight. I turn my lava lamp on, pick up a guitar and play for an hour before finally going to bed. We play 162 games in 180 days. Most days off are travel days, which means flying east. Not an occupation for the weary kind.
Music season is totally different. In music season I play lots of guitar, write songs and accept inspiration from all the Universe has to offer. I rehearse nonstop because I expect the same from those who share my stage. I guess thatʼs the coach in me.
Is there a time you wish you’d lied?
I feel strongly both ways.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
Hey kid, everything is gonna work out, so try not to worry so much about the things ahead. There are bumps in the road but you’re gonna be fine. Try to enjoy each moment and donʼt worry about what you canʼt control. Love everything you can. Mickey’s Big Mouth, No Doze and The Allman Brothers will be part of your life. Get over the first 2 as quick as you can but never lose the 3rd.
Donʼt go anywhere that you canʼt find a way out. Your pimples will leave you and so will your hair. Get your crooked teeth fixed because they’ll never get knocked out like you thought they would. You’re gonna be loved by many- more than you could ever count. You’re gonna have a beautiful wife and three amazing children. You donʼt deserve it, but you’re gonna get them anyway. They will teach you the rest so follow them and what they say. You will meet a guy named Steve Poltz. He is insane and a stalker. Alert M.L.B security agents the first time he contacts you, which will be in Florida in a parking lot. He will appear very weird and confused and he will be wearing a dress. Yellow with white high heels, brass buttons on the straps, with a push up bra. He will kiss you and smell like bourbon and he’ll badly need to floss. Be careful. He is relentless.
If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?
Jackson Browne, Late for the Sky.
What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?
From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
It comes straight from my DNA.
Name three books that have impacted your life.
The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart, by Willie Nelson.
Road Mangler Deluxe, by Phil Kaufman and Colin White.
Letter to the Corinthians, by Saint Paul.
If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?
How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
No idea, although my cholesterol is probably higher than a strip of bacon’s. Love his band, though.
What makes you feel most guilty?
Not being in the moment. Whoops, just lost one. There goes another, and another… Quit feeling guilty- you’re losing precious moments. Gotta learn to give up guilt-you’re already forgiven. Now forgive yourself.
How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?
I listen to phenomenal, inspirational music on our midnight flights all over the country. As Mark Knopfler says “a million miles our vagabond wheels clocked up above the clouds…” The songs I fall in love with… I ask myself what they would sound like if I sang them? Do they sound like songs that I might write? Then I sit with it for awhile and the song will tell me if it fits. If it does, then I sing it like itʼs mine. Other times the song gives me a feeling that inspires me to write my own song. I just listen for the guidance. Iʼve been in professional baseball 32 years, 23 in the Major leagues, and I have been on the road for decades while most folks stay home. The road affords me lots of time to listen to music, which inspires me to create, and that’s a blessing.
Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind the song, “Breaking Things.”
I usually do most of my writing during baseball season, and then record and perform those songs during music season. With my new album, I had a pocket of songs I wanted to record before last season but what our team experienced really tested my will and spirit. I can’t count the number of incredible stories that came out of that last season and the characters that I live and work with on a daily basis. They gave me plenty of material and inspiration.
We were 8 games out of first place with 30 games to go and then we went a 20-10 run and we won on the last day to win the division. It was an emotional game. We beat the team I played for and where I live in the off season. When the game was over, I called home and heard “ you really broke a lot of hearts…” Then it was on to Atlanta, where the great baseball man Bobby Cox was leading his final team, and we broke their hearts too. We played Philadelphia for the pennant and after it was all said and done, the papers read, “Giants Break Phillies’ Hearts.” Finally, it was on to Texas, were we broke the rest of them. I never prayed to win a single game. It’s a song about not being in control. Itʼs a song of grace, a song of surrender. At 53 years old I was shown that maybe itʼs time to give up the wheel and enjoy the ride.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
“Pick your friends- donʼt let them pick you.” Also, “if you donʼt get a girl by midnight, then go on home.” Iʼm a coach and I have a son, so it comes naturally. My dad once told me, “donʼt let the same dog bite you twice,” and I have passed that along too.
List your favorite in the following categories: Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor
Comedian- whoever is making me laugh at the time.
Musician- Gram Parsons.
Author- Paul the Apostle.
Actor- Clint Eastwood.
If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?
To let the country know that the floods, fires, tornadoes, heat, rain, cold, and everything else that’s wrong, from your baseball team to your home loans, is not Obamaʼs fault. He hasnʼt been in office long enough to fuck up everything. Play as a team or go home.
What do you want to know?
The Great Mystery. And what Tyger’s Coffee Shop specials will be in the morning.
What would you like your last words to be?
No regrets. Please forgive me, I did the best I could. And donʼt believe any bad stories you hear about me after Iʼm dead. I have heard a lot of things about me that I never did, although I might have been in the area at the time… Only God and the dog know the real story. I love you.
Please explain what will happen.
You’re gonna read this and say to yourself, “this guy irritates me but heʼs been a gypsy for 32 years. Heʼs 53, he’s played lots of shows, released a bunch of records and earned himself a World Series ring. He’s been on the stage and on the field for a long time… I bet he has some stories.” Later you’ll think to yourself, ”Iʼm gonna go get downloaded with him,” as the munchies set in later that evening. You’ll maybe check out some of my tunes online or see me standing at third base in some SportsCenter highlight and you’ll smile because we shared this moment together. I’ll smile too, because I’ll feel it deep down inside. Then The Mayan Calendar ends, we all kiss each other and you smell like bourbon and teeth that need flossing. See, you didn’t listen to yourself.
Catch Flan in the new Showtime series, The Franchise, premiering July 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT!