STATELINE, Nev. – Last year’s American Century Championship winner, Mark Mulder, returned to Edgewood Tahoe last Tuesday to entertain local media.
Mulder pitched nine season in Major League Baseball (five with Oakland, four with St. Louis) and attempted a couple comebacks before becoming an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He now provides color commentary for select Oakland games, when he’s not golfing.
Mulder will look to win his second straight ACC title July 22-24.
You won it last year. You had a couple top 10 finishes before and we still have six weeks before the tournament, but is it a different feeling at all for you gearing up for this thing as the defending champ?
Oh, without a doubt. There’s going to be a little more nervous energy. Not as much as the first year I played in this, because I was real nervous. Every year it’s gotten better. I think, kind of the first day, once I get it out of me, I’ll probably be fine.
There’s going to be more pressure on myself to be honest with you, from me. I want to come back and win it again and defend the title.
You’ve talked about the nerves you had on the final green last year, do you expect those to be there again if you find yourself in a similar situation in six weeks?
I would hope to some extent, because I want that feeling again. As awful and as great as it was all at the same time. I want that again. I think every athlete does, especially ones that are retired because we don’t get it anymore. So you’re always searching for something to get your blood flowing a little bit. And that did that.
Walking up to the 18th green, I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t even realize that I had won the tournament last year. My caddy is telling me ‘hey, you just need to three putt,’ and I didn’t hear a word he said … I thought I tied. I couldn’t process what was happening to be honest.
So what was that moment like then when you realized you got it?
It was awesome. It was awesome. And they putted out and next thing I know, my kids are grabbing my legs and I’m kind of like, ‘I just did this.’ Because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I watched this tournament when I played baseball still. I always joked ‘I’m going to play in this one day.’ But I always wanted to win it. To have it happen was really cool.
In your eyes, what’s the bigger storyline of the (MLB) season, if there is one?
Ah man, well, the Cubs … Because if people think the Red Sox winning the World Series (in 2004) was a big deal, the Cubs winning the World Series (will be that) times 10.
I grew up in Chicago, I’m a White Sox fan, and I played for St. Louis so it’s incredibly hard for me to pull for them. But they have such a talented team. My favorite part about this team is they’re not talking. They’re just going about their business. Sometimes you see guys on good teams who search out the lime light, who search to be talked to, who search out interviews, who say stupid things. To me, this is a group of guys who just want to go on the field, handle their business and go home … In the long run, that’s what you have to do there. You’re in a city where you play a ton of day games. You can’t be out all night, every night and expect to win with all those day games. I used to joke with people, the Cubs are never going to win until they get a group of 25 married guys who don’t do anything at night.
You’re no stranger to comeback attempts. Tim Lincecum is trying to do it right now with the Angels, what do you think is a realistic expectation for Angels fans once he gets up to the club, if they do bring him up?
I don’t know. I was kind of surprised by that. This was months ago in spring training, the Angels came out and said we’re not spending any more money. We’re not guaranteeing any more money. There were other guys they wouldn’t even sign who were looking for minor league deals who were veteran guys. They knew they needed pitching in April and May when C.J. Wilson went down and to be honest, I’m shocked they would give him an actual guaranteed deal. I know it’s not much, but that’s not the point.
If they wanted him as a reliever or something like that, I could completely understand that. But to expect him to really help them, I’m not sold on that. The stuff hasn’t been there for a while … I think you’re going to see the same guy we’ve seen the last couple years.
You’re listed as the co-favorite with Mardy Fish at 3 to 1, but are you going to give us a guarantee? You got it in six weeks? You willing to go there?
Oh man. You know, I did it with Notah Begay (Golf Channel analyst) last year and a couple of the TV guys. The first day I showed up on the range last year, it was perfect. I couldn’t have hit it any better. And I guaranteed it last year and I don’t want go that far. I will be there at the end. I’ll say that. I’m going to have a chance to win this when it’s all said and done. I’ll just leave it at that.