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OPEN MIC: Mike Cameron

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Once upon a time, centerfielder was best known as the guy that was supposed to replace a Seattle legend in Ken Griffey, Jr., something of an unfair label to tag upon any player, but especially a young one trying to make a name for his career. But as Griffey has struggled with injury during the portion of his career, the have certainly enjoyed their end of the Feb. 2000 trade that sent Griffey to the banks of the Ohio River and Cameron to the land of the Space Needle and Starbucks coffee. Like his Seattle predecessor, Cameron has emerged as one of the top defensive outfielders in the American League and as a force at the heart of the unstoppable ¿ lineup. The 30-year-old Georgia native has stolen 31 or more bases in each of the last two seasons and consistently has provided Seattle with a powerful bat in center field, slugging 25 homers in both 2001 and 2002. However, Cameron was unhappy with his final totals in 2002 (a career-high 176 strikeouts, accounting for just a .239 batting average), and has worked hard to reverse that trend. So far, so good, he says. FOXSports.com caught up with the centerfielder recently to discuss his focus at the plate, the M¿s hopes at toppling the mighty in the postseason, MLB highlight shows and more: You said earlier this season that you were ¿fighting¿ to stay consistent with your swing. Do you still feel that way? Oh, I¿m not fighting (anymore). Fighting implies you¿re struggling. It¿s just going out and putting forth the mental effort to do it, and that¿s about it. If you had to grade yourself so far on that, what letter grade would you give yourself? It¿s been pretty good so far, man. All I try to do is do what I¿m capable of doing on the baseball field. Some days are better than others, but for the most part, I¿ve been doing very well. As far as letter grades or anything like that, I have no idea. We¿ll see when the season¿s over, or at the All-Star Break. (Then) we¿ll see where I¿m at. You talk a lot about ¿feeling¿ when you¿re up at the plate. Can you put that into words, how things feel when you¿re going good? Normally, if you feel comfortable when you¿re at the dish, you¿re going to see the ball well and be able to lay off of bad pitches most of the time, and be able to put the bat on the ball consistently. You put it in play pretty hard (every time), and you give yourself opportunities to get hits. I know hitting it hard is overrated, but more times than not, if you hit it hard, you¿re going to give yourself ample opportunities to get base hits. If you could script an ideal finish to this season for yourself personally, how would that go? Personally? I¿d like nothing more to get a chance to go play at Yankee Stadium and redeem myself in the playoffs, and see if we can go make it to the World Series, man. Go get us a title. First, the would have to make it there. Yeah. They¿ll be there. Believe me, man, when it¿s all said and done, they¿ll be there. Are they the toughest team for you guys to face? Well, the top-caliber teams are all tough. But I think to get to the next level and go to the World Series, you¿re going to have to go through Yankee Stadium. When you go into Yankee Stadium as an opposing player, does all of that so-called ¿Yankee mystique and aura¿ weigh on you? Not for us. We¿ve been through it all. We¿ve been through the works there. It¿s not anything different than what we do every day; just try to put together a solid nine (innings) and put more runs on the board than the opposition. We seem to do that pretty well. Is there a stadium ¿ and I know you mentioned Yankee Stadium ¿ where you guys look forward to going? Yankee Stadium. Just Yankee Stadium. It¿s the best. I don¿t think it¿s any personal choice that we¿d like to play better, but what better place to play than the Mecca? The Mecca of baseball. What¿s the worst stadium in the majors? (thinks for a second) Philly. It¿s just terrible. The turf is bad. It¿s terrible. Everything is ¿ it was all terrible. It wasn¿t all terrible. It wasn¿t that good either, but field-wise, it¿s not a good place. It¿s kind of crazy out there. That, and Detroit, those are by far the worst. But Detroit has a new field though. Yeah, but it sucks. The stadium sucks. It¿s a brand new stadium and I don¿t think anyone likes it. The team¿s not too great either. Well, that¿s for you (to talk about), man. But they¿re not good, I¿ll tell you that. You¿ve made your share of great catches on the highlight reels over the years. You guys don¿t ever get tired of watching them replayed over and over, do you? No (laughs). They don¿t show mine quite as much. They show everybody else¿s. I don¿t get it. But I try not to think of them as great plays, I just try to make the plays, it¿s up to certain people to decide what kind of play it is. I don¿t try to do anything different than just making regular plays. When you hit the road, what¿s the one thing you¿ve got to take along with you, that you can¿t live without? PlayStation and music. I like a little bit of everything (musically). More so R&B than anything, that kind of thing. I¿ve got a bunch of mix CDs that I bring, no specific names or anything, they¿re all mixed. (On the PlayStation) I go for sports games. I don¿t play baseball too much, but basketball, a couple of strategic games, that sort of thing. It¿s all good. Bryan Hoch is a contributing writer to FOXSports.com. He can be contacted at bryanhoch@yahoo.com.
Tagged: Yankees, Mariners, Reds, Mike Cameron

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