<
>

Talking points not on Hawkins' agenda

Editor's note: Gene Wojciechowski, senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, moved from his suburban Chicago home to an apartment 4½ blocks from Wrigley Field – all to chronicle the 2004 Chicago Cubs, and those who live and die with the franchise. His book, "Cubs Nation: 162 Games, 162 Stories, 1 Addiction" (Doubleday), will be available April 12.

2004 background: Earlier in the season, reliever LaTroy Hawkins called a press conference to announce he wouldn't be talking to the press anymore. He later made several exceptions. This was a portion of one of them.

"Don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes. Like I told the media here, I can do what you do; you can't do what I do. I can go to school to be a journalist, writer, write a column, right? I can go to school to learn that, right? But you can't go to school to learn how to throw a 95-mph fastball.

"[I remind him that I can blow a save as easily as he can.] You sure can. You sure can. But you got to get to this point first. You can't get to this point without getting out of the Gulf Coast League, rookie ball. I started at the bottom.

"I don't want to be the center of attention. I don't. Let me do my job and go home. We got guys working their [butts] off every game, getting four, five at-bats a night. Talk to those guys. I understand sometimes that I need to talk, but let me talk when I'm ready to talk. When I'm sitting at my locker icing my arm and I turn around and there's 50 people standing around me, where they got me surrounded and I can't move – I don't like that. I'll let you know when I'm ready to talk. Don't be standing around me.

"It was totally different [in Minnesota]. But I had a different relationship. I didn't like the media in Minnesota. I had one person I talked to and that was [Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter] Jim Souhan. One person, because I couldn't trust nobody else.

"Souhan was consistent. That's all I ask. Just don't be writing about me when something goes wrong. If you're going to blast me in the paper, that's fine. You're entitled. You're entitled to write what you want. At least say, 'How you doing today?' But don't, when you see me, go tucking your tail and run like a b----.

"I'm different. I'm different from everybody else. I'm a unique fella.

"They should know we're f------ crazy, so leave us alone. If I was sane, I'd still be starting."