Everyone knows what Indians lefthander Jeremy Sowers is capable of on the mound.
In his first full taste of Triple-A, Sowers has been quietly dominant, going 8-1, 1.27 in 92 innings at Buffalo. He uses his four-pitch mix to keep hitters off-balance, and hardly ever tops 91 mph with his two-seamer.
What a lot of people don’t know is Sowers is a different sort of cat. The 23-year-old lefty is a pop culture sponge, devouring all different kinds of music, dissecting feature films like Roger Ebert and gobbling up books faster than he can read them.
Sowers, who recently won Topps’ International League pitcher of the month, was the talk of the clubhouse a week ago, when reliever Andrew Brown casually asked, “Hey, I heard Sowers won some kind of McDonalds’ All-American award . . . What was that thing he won?”
But as he’s getting rave reviews across the IL and fans in Cleveland continue to clamor for a callup, nothing seems to faze the 2004 first-rounder out of Vanderbilt.
In fact, nothing has changed much since his first full season as a pro last year or even in spring training, when all he had to say about his extended look in big league camp was, “I saw myself in USA Today once, but that was about it.”
We sat down with Sowers last week when the Bisons visited Durham, and purposely kept baseball talk to a minimum during an unexpected off day because of a rainout. And just as we started, catcher Kelly Shoppach sat down next to him, saying only, “Don’t embarrass yourself.”
Baseball America: We saw some picture that’s been circulating around the Internet with you riding a horse of some kind, and you didn’t look too happy. Care to explain?
Jeremy Sowers: Oh, that was miserable. I went horse riding in Aruba and first of all, they had a sign there saying the company wasn’t responsible for the most bizarre things like struck by lightning, rattlesnake bites, gunshot wounds . . . I kept thinking ‘What in the hell am I getting myself into?’ They individually picked us out these horses and the thing they gave me was the biggest piece of crap–I didn’t want to ride it on the way back. The thing freaked out on me. Whatever. I’m not getting on a horse again anytime soon.
BA: So moving on to music for a bit . . . Journey vs. Foreigner?
JS: Journey–for no other reason than Steve Perry. He’s probably one of the best singers of all time. Not from a talent standpoint, but yeah, I just like Journey. And Foreigner’s a little too ’70s for me.
BA: Peter Gabriel vs. Phil Collins?
JS: Peter Gabriel, although I like Genesis music with Phil Collins more than Genesis music with Peter Gabriel. But . . . do you watch South Park at all? They hammer Phil Collins because he’s just sort of an idiot. Peter Gabriel’s a lot more talented than him. Phil Collins just happened to write better pop music for that band.
BA: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi?
JS: Def Leppard. I grew up listening to the ‘Hysteria’ album since my parents listened to it so much. Bon Jovi’s good, but they’ve got like three or four songs. I like ‘Livin’ On A Prayer,’ but come on . . . ‘Photograph’ is one of the best songs of the ’80s. And that was sort of the turning point of heavy metal getting mainstream. They were at the front of the movement that merged pop culture and heavy metal, which hadn’t happened before.
BA: Eric Clapton vs. Bruce Springsteen?
JS: Springsteen, because he can write songs . . . although he’s a huge liberal, but I’m sure Clapton is too.
BA: Breaking out a one-hit wonder here, Dexy’s Midnight Runners vs. Men Without Hats?
JS: Probably Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I always get Men At Work and Men Without Hats mixed up. It would definitely be ‘Come On Eileen’ over ‘The Safety Dance.’ No doubt.
BA: OK, so Australian battle–Men At Work vs. INXS?
JS: INXS without a doubt. Not new INXS, but with Michael Hutchence. The guy they hired from that TV show as their new singer sounds like him, but it’s just not the same. It’s kind of like Journey. I know they had some accomplished musicians in that band, but without Steve Perry, they’re not Journey. INXS isn’t the same without him. Michael Hutchence doesn’t even need music to sound good. And the song ‘Mediate’ is perfect example of that.
BA: Nirvana vs. Rage Against The Machine?
JS: Well technically the real comparison is Nirvana versus Pearl Jam, but I’d go Rage Against The Machine. I think Nirvana just happened at the right time. I like their music, but I think the guy is over-praised. Plus, Rage Against The Machine is arguably one of the first bands to mix rap and metal . . .although they’re anarchists, which I don’t particularly agree with.
BA: So not to get political, but you’re more conservative than liberal? How does that all go down if you’re such a huge South Park fan?
JS: I’m more conservative fiscally, but socially–helping people out, I’d be more liberal. I consider myself as kind of moderate-leaning conservative. But every time I watch TV and hear very conservative people talking, it doesn’t agitate me as much as when I hear absolute don’t-understand-the-world hippie-vegans–meat is murder–that kind of stuff. Or celebrities that have no idea what it’s like to live in the real world. You know, fashion people trying to push hybrid cars–then they go hop in their private jet because they can’t fly with regular people.
BA: Are we talking about people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?
JS: I mean, their intentions are good, I don’t like people that use that platform like the Oscars or something to get some kind of message across. That’d be like me trying to give you some kind of political message right now because I have that opportunity. I’m not a Michael Moore, in other words.
BA: So final question, and moving straight away from the celebrity hype machine . . . being a big music guy, does that mean you’re a big karaoke guy as well?
JS: Well, I’m kind of into some of the crooners like Frank Sinatra–I don’t know what you’d call it–like lounge music. I like the Sinatra-type stuff mostly because I feel like maybe there’s an outside chance if I had any kind of singing talent it’d probably be to do that. It’s not saying anything–it just means I have nothing except a monotone. My fiancé and her roommates were playing the PlayStation2 karaoke game a lot this fall. I got dragged into it and just got my ass handed to me. The only song I made it through the whole way without getting booed off the stage was ‘New York, New York.’ So I at least have that going for me.