Speakers up.

NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese and Yankees’ OF Nick Swisher have a nice little conversation.

SJK: Describe your offseason workout routine.

NS: It’s so funny, man, because yesterday we were all talking about this — feels like the season just ended. I think we wrapped up the season around the middle of November – I was back in the gym on the first Monday of December. I was down in Scottsdale, Arizona which was great. I had bought that house in 2007 right before I was traded from the A’s and I’ve never really got a chance to live in it. My girl and I went down there. We get it all nice and ready — really homey.

We spent two weeks down there and I spent that time with K-Long [Kevin Long] really working on my stroke and my swing — the postseason was kinda rough. But hey, you live and learn, man. If you stop learning in this game, then I think it might be time to shut it down.

Come January, I was back in Los Angeles. I started two-a-days the first week there. Then I picked up boxing. It’s amazing. It made me throw up. My buddy Gabe in LA just does an amazing job. Regardless of how bad your day is going, you can always take it out on the heavy bags. We would get in the ring and spar. It’s a very respectful thing. You respect him, he respects you. Man, it’s just an amazing workout, man. It really trimmed me down and got me exactly where I wanted to be for Spring Training.

SJK: So you’re telling me if you charge this mound this year, you’re gonna be better prepared.

NS: (LAUGH) I sure do think so.

SJK: You definitely have a particular approach at the plate that is unique. How would you describe yourself as a hitter?

NS: I think the word would be ‘patient.’ I try my best to see as many pitches as I can. I think I’ve been in the top 5 for pitches seen every year of my career. I think that’s always been my style. I walked a lot in college, in high school as well. Just in general, man, I try to be selective. I’m not a free swinger. If I am free swinging that definitely means I’m not seeing the baseball. But yeah, man, that would probably be it. I caught a lot of heat in the postseason last year, but you know what, man, that stuff’s gonna happen. You live and learn and it’s only going to make me better for this upcoming season.

SJK: So this patient approach, this selectivity — it’s something that’s always come natural to you, it’s not something you’ve had to work at? Have you always had a good eye, basically?

NS: I guess, man, I guess I was just blessed with it. I’ve never really thought about it. When I step to the plate, I’m never like “Hey man, you have to see at least five pitches.” I’ve never said that to myself, it’s always come natural.

One of my worst pet peeves about myself is making an early out. You know what I mean, swinging at the first pitch and rolling over on something — for me, that’s a pet peeve on my behalf.

Then again, you look at different guys like Derek Jeter who’s amazing on the first pitch. I feel like like the deeper I get into the count, the better hitter I become.

SJK: Along those same lines, in Moneyball, Billy Beane is described as having almost a romantic, mancrush type of love for you… (Swish cuts Sensei off)

NS: Billy Beane is a great man. I have a lot of respect for him. He gave me my first shot. I wish all those guys the best.

SJK: Did you feel any extra pressure being one of the stars of that book?

NS: You know, it was funny, because we were in the minor leagues at the time and that was the first major press that any of us ever got. To be a part of that book, I was honored. It was great. We signed a lot of books.

A lot of things in life you have to be in the right place at the right time. It just goes to show you how small your window is. To get that opportunity and to do something with it makes me very proud.

SJK: And speaking of opportunity, how was your first year as a Yankee?

NS: Oh man, the phrase that comes to mind is “Dream come true.” Never in a million years did I think I’d be a part of the New York Yankees.

2008 was a rough year for me, on and off the field…(Sensei cuts Swish off)

SJK: Let me ask you about 2008 for a second. You hit .219. It was probably the worst offensive year of your career, however Cashman made a trade for you. Many fans, including us, really liked the trade because if you really dive deep into your numbers, it seems like you suffered from an amazing case of bad luck. You hit more line drives than any other year of your career…(Swish cuts off Sensei)

NS: Yeah, but nobody says that.

SJK: Yeah, but did you realize that? When you were going through that were you like, “God I just suck” or were you like “I’m hitting balls hard but right at people?”

NS: That was a tough year, bro. Because I felt like, everything felt good, but the results weren’t coming. And when the results weren’t coming, that’s when I changed a lot of things. And that’s one of the worst things you can do. Don’t make drastic changes, just make little adjustments. I went to total extremes, tried so many different things, and that’s when I think things started going downhill.

SJK: Now, do you pay attention to — when I talk about line drive rates and batting average on balls in play — do you look at any of these more advanced statistics?

NS: I’ll tell you what, when I was in college we had the stat sheets thrown out of the locker room. I’ve never paid attention to it. I just know if I give everything I got everyday, then I feel that I’m going to be successful. I’ve never really tried to look at that stuff. I’m not gonna lie though, every now and then I get hung up on the home run. But that’s one of the things I’m really trying to work on, just accept your singles. Like Derek, he’ll inside out one, inside out one, single, single, and the next thing you know, he’ll go deep.

SJK: And speaking about home runs, if you think of the perception of the new Yankee Stadium and if you look at some of the park factors, Yankee Stadium was arguably the most favorable home run hitters park in the league, in all of baseball last year. Yet, if you look at your splits, your power numbers on the road were much, much better than they were at Yankee Stadium. What’s the deal, son?

NS: HA HA HA! I really don’t know what happened, man. I had a great road routine. I think I felt a little more comfortable on the road at the beginning of the season than I did at home. And towards the end of the season, that’s when everything started coming together. I felt like I learned to hit at Yankee Stadium.

One of the taboos for me is getting pull-happy, especially from the left side. From the left side, you really have to stay up the middle, the other way…When the ball started going to left-center a little bit, then it started to feel a little more comfortable for me to open it up, ya understand. It was just feeling more confident in the Stadium itself…

I tell you this, man, those Bleacher Creatures over there in right, I love ‘em.

SJK: I was going to ask you that, you put on a show out there for people.

NS: I’ll tell you what, man, that’s one of the major traditions in Yankee Stadium and I couldn’t feel more honored to play in front of them everyday.

But least year, man, coming out of Spring Training, not even being a starter…X goes down with the elbow injury and I stepped in and got a great opportunity and I just tried to make the best of it.

SJK: Would you have been comfortable with that type of platoon role? When we first heard about it, our website advocated that you should have initially been the full-time starter based on your track record. Would you have been comfortable in that situation?

NS: I guess it would have been a situation where we would have had to cross the bridge when we came to it. It was very difficult for me at the beginning of the season. You bust your tail all offseason and for me, I felt like I needed to have such a comeback season from 2008 and let people know, hey that wasn’t me, that was something completely different. And to come in and I gotta pinch hit Game 1, pinch hit Game 2….got a start day 3 and I had a monster game…I think all my hard work really paid off..early in the season I had a really great run.

I will say the one thing I never really worried about…the one thing that Skip does an amazing job of – his communication level is so amazing. He lets you know exactly what he’s thinking, he lets you know where you stand – the one thing he said during Spring Training was that everybody’s going to play and I believed him. So even if we had to do a platoon last year, I don’t think it would have been an issue.

SJK: One of the things you’re commonly cited for is bringing a new atmosphere to the Yankee clubhouse – the stiff corporate Yankees, no facial hair, business as usual, that type of thing…Now the clubhouse is seen as looser, more enjoyable, etc, etc. Do you believe that those types of things make a team better or do you think that winning creates chemistry, and talent is something that creates winning?

NS: It’s funny you bring that up, because last year when we were doing extremely well, in the middle of a long winning streak, we were having a debate on that — if winning creates fun, or fun creates winning. You have so many guys who think one way, and so many guys who think the other way…but either way they both go hand in hand.

You gotta think about it, man. AJ started bringing out the whipped cream pies, man. That’s something that New York has never seen. And I love to hear that when people say that about me, but it takes 25 guys on the same ship, going in the same direction. We all wanted to win. That championship had been out of New York long enough. We wanted to bring it back.

With those Core Four leaders that we have, we look at those guys in times of need, there’s no doubt about it. Those guys are true leaders, and those guys are true Yankees. When you think about being on the New York Yankees, those are the guys you want to be. And to come over here and to learn from them, to be around them, to rub elbows with them — it’s a pleasure for me and I’ve learned a lot..and it’s stuff I’ll never forget.

SJK: That’s very poetic, Swish. Very poetic.

HA HA HA! I’m trying to sound smart.

SJK: Moving on to a few non-baseball questions, talk to me about your guest starring role in How I Met Your Mother.

NS: That was so much fun. We had a blast, man. My girl Jo had done the show two weeks prior. She asked me if I wanted to go see the set, and I was like “Absolutely, I would love to see how that works.” And not only that, but that’s one of the hottest shows on TV right now. So I went over and the next thing you know, a couple of the writers came up and they were huge Yankee fans — and they said, “Hey Swish, man, would you want to be on the show?” And I was like, “Hell yeah, man.” So after that, we got in touch and I went over there and filmed from 3pm-10pm…it was so fun to see how all that stuff goes in. That whole acting thing though, it’s a little different from playing baseball. There’s a lot of waiting around when you’re doing that acting stuff.

SJK: Did you get any offers to be on The Jersey Shore?

NS: HA HA HA! Absolutely not. No way.

SJK: Whenever you hit a home run, John Sterling uses the word “Swishilicious.” When you were kicking it to your girl initially, did you ever use that line on her?

NS: HA HA HA HA HA! Hell no, man. HA HA HA HA! No way.

That nickname kinda started in Oakland as a little joke. And when I got here, John Sterling called me “Jolly Ol’ St. Nick” on one of my home runs early in the season. And one of my buddies called me and said, “What are you fat and 70 years old!?!” So I went to John and said, “John, do I look like Santa Claus to you?” And we laughed about it and that’s when the new home run call started.

SJK: Last season, your AB music ranged from Big and Rich to Ludacris and R. Kelly, why not pick someone good to come up to?

You’re just going to have to listen to the audio clip of this one. And don’t be surprised if Swish includes a new track this season.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


SJK: Last question, you definitely seem to be increasing your presence on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, what’s the reason for that?

NS: I’ve always been one of those guys who tries to have a personal relationship with the fans. I’ve always been an outgoing guy. I enjoy people coming up to me. When I’m eating, I don’t enjoy it. But when I’m not eating, I really enjoy it. I love shaking hands with the fans. New York has really brought me in and I feel so thankful for that.

SJK: Alright Swish, that’s all I got.

NS: Ok, bro. I appreciate the time. Have a wonderful day.

– Audio clips from the interview –

Swish talking about his plate approach (and the tail end of him talking about his boxing training

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Swish talking about his biggest pet peeve as a hitter

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Swish talking about his 2008 season after being asked about his high line drive rate and being unlucky

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Swish talking about his home/away splits

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


After talking about his guest spot on How I Met Your Mother, Sensei asks Swish about other potential TV roles

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Swish responding to being asked about “Swishilicious” (and yes, SJK stumbled over that word. You trying say it fast.)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


*Props to Louis Winthorpe III (video) and the rest of the NoMaas staff for contributing to this interview.