12/14/2009 2:06 PM ET
Justin Speier: Keeping the game fun
Reliever makes sure things stay loose in the clubhouse
You play your best when you're relaxed, so I believe it's very important to enjoy this game. That's one of the reasons I have as much fun playing as I do.
For most professional players, baseball is a game that takes you back to your youth. When you're a kid, you joke around a lot and have a lot of fun. When you're out on the field, though, you're as serious as a heart attack.
I was fortunate to be around baseball at the highest level while growing up because my dad, Chris Speier, was a Major Leaguer. I practically grew up in a baseball clubhouse. My dad played for a long time and he played for a number of teams. I had the fortune of seeing the way my dad went about his business in the clubhouse.
Part of that business was having fun. He had a lot of fun cutting it up with his teammates. They joked around a lot, and they had a good time together. I'm cut from the same cloth as my dad. I'm sort of a throwback player, I guess you could say.
Like my dad, I, too, have played for a number of teams. I've also been fortunate to have played with a lot of great and funny guys. People like Denny Neagle, Todd Jones, Greg Maddux, Larry Walker and Torii Hunter immediately come to mind.
Torii, whom I played with on the Angels before my release, is so valuable for a team. He keeps guys loose. If you're in a rut, he helps bring that humor and that fun back to the game. He's the funniest guy I've played with recently, but I like to think that I had my moments, too.
Once, in the 2008 postseason on the day after a tough loss to Boston, I thought we needed some humor in the clubhouse. I wanted my teammates to smile and have a laugh that day. So I dashed through the room wearing a wetsuit and flippers while toting a boogie board.
I like to have fun at my job, and I like to have a good time. In fact, I try to have fun every day, but I also do my work and take my job seriously.
Free-agent reliever Justin Speier, who appeared in 41 games for the Angels in 2009, is a veteran of 12 big league seasons. His father, Chris, played in 1,900 games during his long career as a shortstop.