I don’t think I’ve ever really dedicated a blog entry to this man. Which is really strange, considering that he’s my favorite Padre all-time. Now, all of you know that I am a huge fan of Trevor Hoffman, and he is one of my favorite players. But notice that he’s ONE of my faves. Yes, there is another player who holds a place in my heart. That man is Kevin Kouzmanoff.
I love that picture :)
Anyways, this guy is like my celebrity crush. Well, not really. But sort of. The main reason I love Kouz is because of his performance on the field. But I also like him because he’s a great guy off the field. I think we need a story.
It was Friday, September 21, 2007. I went down to the game with three of my friends to celebrate my birthday. We got to the game early, before the gates opened. As we were walking toward the left field gate, we stopped by this place under the Western Metal Supply Building where you can look through a tunnel out onto the field. The Padres were already on the field, so I was trying to check them out. But there was this guy coming towards us and he was blocking our view. Now, you have to understand that there was a glare coming through, so I couldn’t see the guy’s face. But then he rolled a ball under the gate.
I instantly thought, “It’s Marcus Giles!” When I was at another game earlier that year, I had seen a different player walking on the field and I thought he was Marcus too. I though a lot of guys were Marcus that year.
Anyways, this guy was not Marcus Giles. It was Kevin Kouzmanoff. My friends and I were awestruck. We seriously didn’t say a thing to him. We just breathlessly pulled out pens and paper and he signed autographs for us.
It was so amazing. I became his biggest fan right after that. During BP that day we also got balls from the groundskeeper and got Trevor Hoffman’s autograph, so it was a pretty amazing night. The game went 14 innings, but the Padres lost 2-1. It was a sad game, but my guy had a few hits, a couple walks, and a hit-by-pitch. It was a lot of fun!
So, that act of kindness to some Padres fans made me a huge fan of him. He’s a really great guy. I love listening to interviews of him, reading articles about him, and watching interviews on him. But most of all, I love watching him play baseball. He’s a stellar third baseman, he’s got a great glove. And he’s been growing in his hitting too. But he does have a chronic back problem, so he has to work really hard to keep himself healthy and able to play. He did have to miss time in the last two seasons because of it, but he takes great care of himself. He’s kind of a quiet guy, he doesn’t talk to the media as much as some guys. I love watching him flash that leather at third. He’s good.
I love “Kooz-ing” when I’m at the ballpark. Similar to the Red Sox’s player Kevin YOOOOOUKalis, we “Kooz” whenever Kouz comes to the plate or makes a great play. It’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of sounds like we’re booing him or mooing like cows. But no. We’re “Koooooz-ing”!! Another thing, I never call him Kevin. That’s just weird. It’s just doesn’t sound right. I mean, Kevin? No, KOOOOOOOOZ!!
Last year, I had the opportunity to go to an autograph session that Kouz was signing at. It was outdoors, probably over 100 degrees outside. It was hot!! After that encounter at the game, I was very frustrated with myself because I didn’t say anything to him. This time, I wanted to actually say something useful to him. I had no idea what, but I wanted to say something besides “hi” and “thank you”. You know, it really helps if the player is funny and outgoing. When I met AC Green last week, it was really easy to talk to him because he was really funny, and he got a conversation going. But Kouz is not outgoing enough!!! So it’s hard to talk to him. He needs to work on that. Anyways, I got his autograph without saying anything useful to him. Oh well. Maybe I was just too hot to think clearly. Hopefully I will have other chances to really talk to him.
There has been a teeny bit of talk that Kouz could get traded this offseason. Our rookie and highest-rated prospect, Chase Headley, is a natural third baseman, but because Kouz has that covered, Chase moved to left field last season. The Padres might eventually want their prized rookie to play his natural position. I would be devastated if they traded my dude, but I think I’m getting used to losing players. That doesn’t make it any easier. But I think Kouz will be sticking around for a while. He doesn’t get that much notice, but he’s a good player. Did you know that he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues, first AB and first game? Pretty incredible. He’s a great player, and great guy, and I really really like him. I hope he has a wonderful season, and hopefully his shoulder and back will be good all year. Go Kooooooooooz!!!