The Beastie Boys Mike D compared his string of hits to Rod Carews in the 1994 single, Sure Shot. Phife Dawg made a similar simile, comparing A Tribe Called Quest to the Braves and the Yankees on 1993s Award Tour. However, ever since baseball went on strike in 94, it seems Abner Doubledays invention may have lost its connection to Hip-Hop. While Peter Gammons and Harold Reynolds might not care, we at AHH say, Why is that?
We went looking for answers in the Washington Nationals outfield as the MLB season started. Balancing his time between the New Orleans Zephyrs a AAA affiliate, and the Nationals, some baseball analysts believe that Watson stands a shot at Rookie of the Year in this young 06 season. An avid Hip-Hop fan, and affiliate of car-maker to the stars, 310 Motoring, we spoke to Brandon about Americas Pastime and why Hip-Hop needs to come on back now.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: As a Center Fielder, I know you probably didnt choose to play the position, but what Center Fielders were you looking up to as a kid?
Brandon Watson: I always had my eye on Kenny Lofton when I was younger. I could kinda relate to doing what he was doing, as far as getting on base, and not always hitting home runs stealing bases, and playing good defense. Thats somebody that I looked up to.
AHHA: Ironically, last year you did hit a homerun, and were caught stealing twice in two attempts
AHHA: Respectfully though, I gotta imagine that the homerun felt real special
Brandon: It was definitely different to hit one in my first game in the big leagues. I didnt expect to do it. I first hit a double down the right field line, then hit an opposite field homerun in Houston at my debut game. I just hit a homerun somehow. No, I didnt steal any [bases] while I was [playing at the major league level] last year, but my game is stealin bases and gettin bases.
AHHA: So Pitchers and Catchers should be on the lookout this year?
Brandon: Definitely this year. [laughs]
AHHA: How soon after you were called up did you get to play?
Brandon: Everything was the first day. They called me up to play.
AHHA: Being in Houston, was anybody in your family able to attend?
Brandon: Yeah, I had my brother and my dad in the crowd. It was a Sunday afternoon game that I got called up. We had Monday off. Tuesday was my debut. I got to Houston on Monday night.
AHHA: Thats dope. The Yankees and Mets are an exception. But in the rest of the country, with the exception of hockey, it seems that baseball is perceived as not Hip-Hop. Why is that?
Brandon: Its hard. Its a lost art. Baseball is a sport that you play as a kid. A few people continue it. Others just go to basketball or football. You really do have to love it to play it. Nothings gonna be given to you. You have to earn a lot in baseball. When you go and get drafted, you dont go straight to the league. You go through the minor league system first. If you do well there first, then they put you in the big leagues. I went through every level. Football and basketball, you go right outta college. Baseball, you get a trial period. You gotta top the system before you can jump in. Theres a couple people that have just gone straight to the league. [The Washington Nationals] have a guy Ryan Zimmerman, he made it in the same year. Thats very rare, but hes just an exceptional talent.
AHHA: Its funny, because thats very much the Hip-Hop attitude: Yo, I want it now. I cant wait. I think battling and performing is a good minor league system for rappers to see if theyre worthy of that deal.
Brandon: I agree. Its definitely different. You might think youre ready, but you never know until youre through it. Its important to play minor league ball in a smaller city. I played in Burlington, Vermont thats all they have. Theres still 10,000 people at the games. [At the opening game on April 4] we had 55,000 people [at Shea Stadium] in New York. Its a bigger stage with the same game.
AHHA: The age-bracket is another thing. Barry Bonds is over 40. Granted, Flava Flav and Ice-T are too. But most Hip-Hop kids may have a hard time relating to somebody who could be older than their fathers. Who in baseball, represents the Hip-Hop mentality?
Brandon: Thats a good one. Thatd be like a Gary Sheffield of the New York Yankees. Hes one of the guys that stays the same. He voices his opinion. Hes smart and down to earth. Hes of the few brothers that you can talk to about stuff. Eric Davis is a retired player, who is like a mentor to me in talking about the game. Hes Hip-Hop too, cause I can relate to what he says.
AHHA: Having grown up in Los Angeles, he really mustve been that dude from his later years with the Dodgers.
Brandon: Yeah, him and Darryl Strawberry were my guys.
AHHA: That was definitely a team that had the Hip-Hop attitude. The 91, 92 Dodgers. You also had Roger McDowell in the bullpen another character on the squad. The MTV Rock & Jock years.
Brandson Watson: Yupp, yupp. Rock & Jock, thats right
AHHA: So what music do you get when you come up to bat or get juiced or whatever?
Brandon: I listen to whatevers I mean, my all-time favorite is Tupac. Im always gonna love him. When we were [at home, I came to the plate to] TIs What You Know. I go with the beat thats goin on in the street. I like all Hip-Hop and R&B.
AHHA: Now Tupac, I believe, had a 310 Motoring license plate on his 95 Jaguar in the All Eyez On Me insert. 310 is family to you, right?
Brandon: Basically, when I was a kid, my dad did a commercial for 310, called Phone Zone. It was a low-budget lil commercial, but my dad was glad to do it. Later on, they developed into this big 310 company later on in life. Now, its just history. Marc [Laidler] is my uncle, and I love him, and hes a good dude, and Im so happy for him. To blow into what they are from the phone zone till now, its great.
AHHA: On the strength of that, what are you whippin right now?
Brandon: I got a Range Rover. Im about to get a Benz in the next couple months.
AHHA: All done up?
Brandon: Yeah, its not done yet. But they took care of me.
AHHA: It doesnt involve you, per say. But nobodys ignoring this steroids topic. Being a new guy tryin to make a bid for Rookie of the Year, how do you feel about this hangin over baseballs head?
Brandon: Anytime you have something negative around your sport, its not good. But its gonna end up bein all right cause its taken care of, they got the testing in. Baseballs clean again, and thats the most important thing.
AHHA: If anybody on AllHipHop plays fantasy baseball, can you make a convincing argument on why players should follow you? Im sure, as a rookie, youre a bargain.
Brandon: Im a bargain. Everybody knows Im a rookie. Thisll be my full season in the big leagues. If you can get me, may as well go head and grab me, cause Im gonna play and do all I can: steal bases, score runs, and hit for average. Ima do what I need to do to be successful.