Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is one of my favorites. I especially love how he plays defense. Off the field, he is as thoughtful about his craft as any guy I've been around.
I wanted to get inside his head a little bit to find out what makes him tick as a baseball player.
Q: When's the last time you were nervous on a baseball field?
A: Yesterday. Whether it's jitters or excitement, you feel some kind of nerves every day. It's usually right when the game starts. It's just part of it.
If it's not there, something's up. And if it's more than normal, something's up, so you want to hopefully get your body into that same feeling every day.
Q: Are you superstitious?
A: I think we all are. (The game is) definitely habitual and routine-oriented. Putting your left shoe on first before your right is more of a routine of the day than a superstition, but I definitely won't put my right one on before my left.
Q: If I took all your gloves and said you can't use them today, would you be able to perform?
A: With someone else's glove? Just for a day I think I could make it. I'd be very conscious about it. Defensively, you think about what it takes to be perfect, and my goal is to be perfect every day and you want everything to be just right.
You want to prepare the same way, and, for me, not having the most important thing, I think my turns would work out just fine. They'd be a little slower because I'd be a lot safer picking the ball out of my glove where normally (I) wouldn't have to think about it.
Q: Do you talk to your glove?
A: I think I've only talked to my glove once or twice before I threw one in the garbage one time. Other than that I'm not much of a talker-to-the-glove guy. Usually I talk to myself before I talk to my glove.
Q: Do you ever see teammates disrespect their gloves?
A: Sometimes I can't believe people let (clubhouse attendants) put their gloves in their bag. The bags get tossed around on the plane, and who knows what way your glove is bending?
I've had clubbies give me a hard time because I come in after the game and my bag's packed. I unpack the bag, put my shoes in the right way, pack my gloves in the right way. I'm very careful about that.
Q: Do you have teammates who want to put on your glove and you're like, "No"?
A: One of the benefits of winning the Gold Glove is no one touches your glove. Everyone respects the fact that that's part of your craft and even where you set your glove down every day, that spot is always there for you.
There have been times where, I'm not going to say something to someone (if) they put their fingertips in there, but they're definitely not going to get a good look from me if they stick their hand in there.
Q: Is there an area in your life in which you are not meticulous?
A: With my kids and bed times, I'm very easygoing on that. (In) baseball, I'm very "one way, one way, one way" (but) when it comes to kids and stuff like that, I live in the moment.
Q: Would you rather hit the game-winning homer or make the game-winning defensive play?
A: I would rather hit the game-winning homer just because you can make the game-winning defensive play in the third inning.
It could be the biggest situation defensively. When you're batting in the ninth inning and the game's tied, you're the only one up there and all eyes are on you, so that's usually more exciting.
•Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper and check out his [URL]blog entries;http://wgntv.com/news/stories/len-and-jds-cubs-baseball-blog/[URL] with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com. To post comments or questions for Len, click on the comment link with his column at dailyherald.com.[/URL]