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Denny Neagle is a former 20-game winner, a World Series champ and one of the most successful left-handers of the past decade. He also is a huge movie fan and does a great Jim Carrey impersonation.
1. Your pregame routine is to always go to a movie before you pitch. How did that start?
Neagle: I think it started in 1997. I had always gone to movies, but it wasn't a set routine before a start. The first time I did it was "Air Force One" with Harrison Ford. Jennifer, my wife, said, "Hey let's go to a movie before the game. You always say you're too high-strung on the day you pitch, so let's go see a movie." So I said, "All right," and went to the movie, and I threw a four-hit shutout and had a knock and she was like, "I know you superstitious guys, we'll be doing this again." And it just started from there. I think I rolled off seven wins in a row.
Going to a movie and relaxing is one thing, but superstitiously, if I throw a four-hit shutout and get a knock and I don't try it again, there's something wrong with me.
Neagle: I was tempted, I was tempted.
But it wasn't a very good movie.
2. Is there a movie genre you won't see?
Neagle: There isn't a movie I won't see, but I would prefer not to see your typical chick flick. You know, romance, sappy, sad ending, where the wife has the tissues out at the end of the movie. That's really not going to do the job of getting me pumped up to pitch.
Yeah, you wouldn't want to feel sorry for the hitter.
3. Can we reveal that your deep, dark secret is that your favorite movie of all-time is "The Sound of Music"?
Neagle: Definitely. As far as classic, well-rounded movies, "The Sound of Music" is right up there. I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity to admit I love the "The Sound of Music."
Do you sing "I Am 16 Going on 17"?
Neagle: I sing all the songs.
But would you sing "I Am 16 Going on 17" in the clubhouse shower?
Neagle: No, I think I would stay away from the one. Then the guys would start to worry. Then I would end up on "Dateline" with Diane Sawyer.
Is there any song you would feel comfortable singing? "Edelweiss"? "Lonely Goatheard"?
Neagle: Maybe "My Favorite Things." But I'd have to throw in baseball lyrics. And Mike Hampton would do an X-rated version.
Neagle: We haven't seen that many this year, because we have a 2-year-old, so we've been limited to things like "Ice Age" and "Return to Never Never Land." And I liked "Jimmy Neutron."
But I saw "A Beautiful Mind." I'm not so sure of what kind of guy Russell Crowe is, you hear so many mixed reports, but the guy can act. I thought he deserved it for "Gladiator." People said it was just your typical chew-'em-up, blood-and-guts movie, but he made you believe he was that character. And then to make you think he is a schizophrenic like John Nash, that's incredible.
Just don't let him recite poetry.
Neagle: Or go too long on his speech.
5. Do you watch the Oscars?
So who will you be wearing?
Neagle: I would love to be wearing Michelle Pfeiffer. Clothes-wise, though? I would have to go with a nice Armani tux.
6. Which actor was the most realistic actor in a baseball movie?
Neagle: Costner was good but, actually, D.B. Sweeney as Joe Jackson in "Eight Men Out" had a good swing. I think he really pulled it off. If anyone looked like a ballplayer, it was him. I played with him in a celebrity softball game in Vancouver once, and he was switch-hitting and taking it seriously, playing good in the field. I talked to him about it. He's a good athlete.
Neagle: Yeah, Charlie Sheen. Tim Robbins was horrible as Nuke LaLoosh. Costner wasn't bad. And I read that Sheen hit 81 or 82 on the gun, which made it more believable when he was Ricky Vaughn in "Major League."
7. Who was the worst as a player? Who was just embarrassing?
Neagle: John Goodman was not very good in "Babe." I give him credit that he was naturally right-handed, and he had to do everything left-handed ... but still. On the other hand, it wasn't too bad, because all he had to do was look sloppy and fat like the Babe. So he had the appearance down. But the swing was awful.
8. Who should play you in "The Denny Neagle Story"?
Neagle: Most people would think I would say Jim Carrey, but I need a little more of a heartthrob. Because I've got that heartthrob thing going on.
I'm thinking Denzel.
Neagle: That could work. "Soul Man" in reverse. But you know what? He might not be a heartthrob, but he's my favorite actor, so I'll go with Nicholas Cage. He's a different kind of guy. He's out there.
Neagle: This is a good point. The last four or five, he has been struggling. But I liked "Family Man." Especially if you have kids, you can relate to that. But his other recent ones? I saw "Captain Correlli's Mandolin." And him trying to pull off that accent? That was bad.
9. Switching from movies quickly to ask our standard question -- which superpower would you choose, the strength of 100 men, ability to fly or ability to turn invisible?
Neagle: I used to want to fly. That was every kid's dream. Then as you get older -- as a boy you want to fly, then you want to be invisible and be a fly on the wall of the women's locker room. So that's my pick. Because my wife and her friends have these card games like Bonko, and from what she tells me about what gets said, I would like to hear the rest of the story. That would be fun.
Everyone picks invisible, but you're the first to say he wanted to use it to eavesdrop on his wife's card games.
Neagle: More than eavesdropping. I'd like to take in some of the sights, too.
10. Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner?
What will you serve?
Neagle: Beer, Ritz crackers and Cheez-Whiz.
Well, that's interesting.
Neagle: Because if Marilyn Monroe was eating crackers and cheese and drinking beer, that would make her all the more attractive.