Last season was the first time Evan Longoria played as himself in a video game. "['MLB 2K9'] was the first game I played where they had my stats right and the way I move. It's actually a little strange to watch your likeness in a video game," Longoria says. "You look at it like, wait, do I really do that?"
As for the play-by-play?
"I grounded out to short my first at bat," Longoria says with a laugh. "I walked up there like I was going to get a knock, but I didn't have the timing down yet.
"Growing up I played mostly sports games, from the Super NES all the way up. I played a lot of 'Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball,' 'Ryne Sandberg Baseball (Bases Loaded),' and even a lot of 'RBI Baseball' on the original Nintendo."
These days, Longoria isn't only appearing on the cover and acting as a spokesman for 2K Sports' "MLB 2K10," he's being used as a consultant as well -- something this old-school gamer takes pride in as he's helping shape the virtual hitting experiences for millions of gamers worldwide.
"I'm really trying to give the developers any kind of insight I can into the duel between pitchers versus hitters," he explains. "Obviously last year they had Tim Lincecum on the cover, so this is the flip side now. It's time to fine-tune the offensive side. I'm here to help in any way I can and add any input on pitchers that I faced and my data that I have in my own head. I'm going to provide this information to the production team to try and make this game as real as they can."
Jon Robinson: What's the toughest part about capturing the real-life hitting experience for a video game?
Evan Longoria: The actual intimidation factor is tough to capture because obviously you're not going to be scared when a computerized you is stepping into the box. But when it's really you stepping in there by yourself and you've got 50,000 fans screaming and you've got a guy like Tim Lincecum on the mound, where, if he wanted to he could put one in the back of your head. That's just an experience that's difficult to recreate in a video game. You can get hit all you want in the game but you'll never feel a thing.
Robinson: One aspect of baseball that they're going to great lengths to capture for the game is the whole atmosphere and the way the crowd yells and reacts to certain plays and players. What's the funniest line a fan has ever yelled at you? Anything ever get under your skin?
Longoria: I always laugh because it's usually an Eva comment. I remember last year I made an error and someone yelled out, "Hey Eva, keep your skirt down!" I always get Eva comments. It's fun because on the flip side, when you hear someone yelling and taking jabs at you for an entire game and you hit a home run or drive some guys in, you get to look at them like, "What now?"
Robinson: So when fans are yelling at you and calling you Eva, they could be having the opposite effect and get you pumped up to play better?
Longoria: For sure. It's definitely had that effect on me before. When you can actually hear a fan yelling, that probably means there's not that many fans there. It's easier to get excited and up for a game when there are a lot of fans, but not so much when there are only a few. So it gets you going when you hear that one fan yelling. It's a way to get some energy and adrenaline going.
Robinson: Speaking of adrenaline, baseball video games still don't let you charge the mound and take control of your players for a fight. Is that something you'd like to see added to the game?
Longoria: Yes and no. I think at times, charging the mound is good, but I wouldn't want to see any kind of violence added. It's part of the game, don't get me wrong, just like running over the catcher at home plate is part of the game, but for the guys at 2K Sports, they're trying to target guys of all audiences, from children who are like 5 to older people who are 30, 40 and 50. So I don't think they're trying to introduce that element of violence, but if I was making the game, I would definitely add it in.
Robinson: So when people unwrap their copies of "MLB 2K10," why should they play as the Rays?
Longoria: Our team is just so dynamic. We have guys who run -- Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton are two of the best outfielders in the game. We have guys who hit for power -- not only myself, but Carlos Pena and Pat Burrell. Our team has a lot of offense and I think you're going to see a lot more out of our team next year as we continue to find ways to get the most out of each other.
Robinson: What else do the Rays need to do in order to rebound back to that top spot in the American League?
Longoria: I think the main thing we need to do is solidify the rotation and the pitching and get back to where we were in '08. And obviously, we need to stay healthy. I think that's the main thing, from top to bottom in our lineup and all of our pitchers. I firmly believe we have the team to be able to do it again. We just need to stay healthy, keep all of the guys on track, and have some good team chemistry and camaraderie. I don't have any doubts that we can get right back to where we were.
Robinson: Does playing video games together as a team help build that chemistry and camaraderie?
Longoria: For sure. There are a lot of things that help, but when we get a group of guys together to play "Madden" or "Halo" or "Guitar Hero," it just builds that bond. We spend so much time together, that anything you can do to crack a smile and hang out with the guys and just enjoy a moment, it just brings the team closer.
Robinson: How many plastic guitars do you have at your house?
Longoria: Just two brand new ones.
Robinson: What's your favorite song to play in the game?
Longoria: Anything Guns N' Roses or Journey. I love the classic rock songs in those games. The newer-school stuff is OK, but to me, it's all about Metallica, AC/DC, Boston and those types of bands.
Robinson: What's your favorite instrument to play in the games? Are you a singer?
Longoria: I started playing the guitar just because "Guitar Hero" came out before "Rock Band," so I got really good on the guitar. But then when "Rock Band" came out I started playing the drums. I'm not too good on the drums, though, and I never sing. I can't sing at all. It's sad.
Robinson: Getting back to "MLB 2K10," is there anything about your character in the game that you wish you could do in real life?
Longoria: I think he runs a little bit faster than I do. That's the one thing that they say you can't teach, and it's true. If a guy can run naturally, you can teach him how to hit a little bit better and field a little bit better. Carl Crawford always tells me that he wishes he could hit like me and I tell him that I wish I could run like him, so I guess it's give and take.
Robinson: So if you had to bet your entire bank account on one video game battle, what do you think you could beat me at? Would you stick with baseball? You are on the cover.
Longoria: I think I would challenge you to any song in either "Guitar Hero" 1, 2 or 3. I'd bet the bank if I had to bet it, but then again, you get paid to play video games, I don't. I think I'll keep my money. [laughs]