Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS
With one swing and a toss of the bat, the Dominican-born slugger, 35, brought Canada a moment of baseball glory it had not experienced in more than 20 years
I operate differently. And I'm sure from this conversation you're going to be able to tell that.
I don't like following guidelines, or footsteps, or the crowd. I don't do what everybody else does. I find ways that work for me to get it done. I definitely don't follow the normal route most people take when I want to accomplish something. If we're all chasing the same goal, and we all use the same guidelines, then that means a lot of us end up at the same level. And I'm not trying to be one of the bunch, I'm trying to stand out from the bunch. And for that reason you have to think different and be different.
It's more important for you to accomplish what you want than to miss the things you're giving up.
Everybody fails. That's what allows you to enjoy success. If life was nothing but a continuation of a bunch of successes, I don't think anyone would enjoy winning.
It means it's one strike, and in life there is no 'three strikes out and you're out' rule.
It's up to you to give up or continue. Failure to me is just another chance to be successful.
Anyone in any profession, they have tough times, where there are always obstacles to overcome, and I'm no different. But because I had the love for the sport, I knew it was what I wanted to do. It was easy for me to get out of bed every day and tackle all those potential obstacles or issues.
Take it one step at a time. Don't call success just one thing. Moving up the ranks, taking it one step at a time, you're going up the ladder, and you might have the main goal, but there are successes to achieve along the way.
My main goal was to get to the big leagues, to be a successful major-league baseball player, but in my journey to get there, I had many successes – getting a college scholarship, doing well in college, getting an opportunity to sign a professional contract, climbing at every level in minors I've been in. Those were all great successes.
If I never got to the big leagues, I still would've considered myself a successful person, and never a failure just because I didn't make it to the big leagues.
I can't say it's destiny, but I think you need that internal desire and passion to do it every day, whether someone pays you or not.
I try to always say yes.
I have a pretty defined game plan … I delegate. I find good people, I bring them to my team, and I let them do their job, just like any company. I don't see myself as a company, but I have to operate like one in order to remain efficient. That's why I have the moving parts I have in place. A business manager, a tax specialist, a PR group, and I have people around me all the time who can help me.
I like to think about and ideas and projects and strategize with everyone else to make sure that this is a seamless operation and that I don't miss out on anything.
I do have six to eight hours of each day blocked specifically to focus on my baseball career, be it eating proper meals, getting enough rest, to do the proper workout and get enough rehab and treatment.
After 12 years in the big leagues, the experience certainly helps, and now I can tell what I need to do on the daily basis to prioritize. Being a family man is number one, a father to my kids, being there for my wife is a priority, and then baseball is number two. Everything else comes after that.
One thing I learned from my parents was to not attempt to box anybody into any role, no matter what you want. Everyone needs the freedom of choice. What you can do is set the right example and create the proper environment surrounding them.
I think instinctively we are animals, and we have more direct contact with that than we might want to admit. Whenever you box an animal in, he's going to try to find a way out. So the last thing I'm going to try to do with my kids is tell them exactly what they need to be and how to do it.
They're still at the age where they think that this is what everybody's daddy does.
I always like coming in touch with positive messages. Life isn't really designed that way, so you have to create you own environment to operate under. Everything else can be extremely negative, and I don't have control over it. Positive reinforcement helps me in my attitude toward life.
I did a very descriptive article on the Players' Tribune about [the bat flip] … The only thing I'd add to it that gets lost in everything else, is the game is so commercial, so business-inclined and focused, that a lot of people forget that. And what gives me so much joy and satisfaction out of it is creating those experiences and memories for the people who were paying attention.
When you look at it later in time, next year, in five years, 10, 15 years, no one is going to remember anything else other than those memories. That's what will stick with me the most. To be a part of that is a great feeling. It should be for any person or athlete, just to live in people's minds and memories for a long time. That's way more satisfying than anything that can come with playing a professional sport.
It's not a choice, it's not like I have one, but that doesn't bother me. I go about my business the way I think is right, which would automatically set a good example for the kids that follow me.
You adjust, and you learn and you adapt. And if you don't you get left behind.
I like to understand how things work, why they are the way they are, and if I don't get it, I ask questions. I try to make sense of it. I use logic. I don't consider myself more intelligent than other people, but I try to pay attention and make sure that I know what's going on. I don't mind asking questions. I know a lot of people are shy about it because they feel maybe they'll come off like someone who may be ignorant or not knowledgeable, but I'm the opposite.
I have a process where I identify the things that I specifically need to sacrifice in order to get to the end goal. A lot of people don't go through that exercise to begin with, so they never find out what it is.
Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail
I have one social life in Toronto – I can only enjoy certain lifestyles in Toronto, and it's a little different and more freer in the off-season. I do everything I want to do, I just do those things when I feel I can handle it and everything that comes along with it, specifically when I go out in public in Toronto in the summer.
In Tampa, I have a lot more freedom in the offseason. I get to enjoy things I normally wouldn't, like going around town, doing my dry-cleaning, going grocery shopping, doing things normal people do. I'm a normal guy, but it's just timing and managing a schedule. If I did the same thing in Toronto, it would take about four hours [because of photo and autograph requests].
Life doesn't end at a particular thing you might have achieved already. I always think that baseball, life in general and everything else I do, is a constant learning process.
Some people praise you, and others critique you. But you take it with a grain of salt because you know what keeps you successful in the first place, anyway. So whoever is happy and satisfied, so be it. And whoever is not, again, so be it.
– As told to Jamie Ross