Interview With Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams

At one time or another all of us have been influenced by that one person that affected our life in a positive way. Often times it's a youth coach that takes free time out of his day on a regular basis to teach and mold the youth of today to be the leaders of tomorrow. For their time and commitment those coaches should be recognized and that's exactly what Hilton has done with HHonors Outstanding Coach contest.

To enter go to http://on.fb.me/HHonorsLittleLeague and nominate Little League coach for Baseball or Softball
to have a chance to throw out the first pitch at the Little League World Series. Contest closes June 13, 2012.

Mitch Williams was kind enough to take time out of his day to discuss the contest and the Houston Astros.

Crawfish Boxes: What is the Hilton sponsored Little League program you are working with, and what kind of work are you doing with them?

Mitch Williams: Hilton has brought me on as the spokesperson for their "HHonors Outstanding Coach" contest. We’re encouraging parents to visit facebook.com/HiltonHHonors to nominate a Little League Baseball or Softball coach that has affected their child in a positive way. It’s really about recognizing these coaches who are not compensated and give their time throughout the season to our children.

TCB: Why is it important to honor Little League coaches?

MW: You know, we all start somewhere. You look at these big leaguers and a lot of them started in Little League. I’ve always viewed baseball as a house. Little League is the foundation of the house; our Little League coaches help give us something to build on.

TCB: Who was your Little League coach and what is the most important thing he taught you?

MW: The coach I’m going to talk about here is Larry Doty. He was a former pro punt returner for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. I believe he torn his ACL and that kind of forced him to leave the game. He is actually from the same area of Oregon that I grew up him, and he came back and coached Little League.

TCB: What was it like being traded to a young team like the Astros?

MW: Well, I was traded a lot throughout my career, but I’ve always viewed that move as the toughest because it was after the best year of my career but then we lost the World Series. I feel the Astros didn’t get the best of me because at that point I started viewing baseball as a job and I always told myself I would stop playing when it stopped being fun.

TCB: What did you think of the Astrodome the first time you saw it and what was it like pitching there?

MW: Big. From the first time I walked in there I just thought it was huge. I think I gave up a grand slam one of the first times I pitched there so I wasn’t a big fan. I’m not a fan of dome baseball anyways though, I would rather play outside.

TCB: The Astrodome is currently in a state of disrepair and there is an ongoing debate to either save the dome or demolish it. Saving the dome would likely cost more than demolishing it. What would you suggest be done with the Astrodome?

MW: At this point it’s just huge, taking up a lot of space. I’d say demolish it.

TCB: Last year, the Cleveland Indians had the Bullpen Mafia. This year Houston has the Regulators as a theme for their bullpen. What are your thoughts on bullpens forming their own group identities?

MW: I think it’s great if you have a good bullpen. If you have a bad one, what are you going to be, the "We Suck" bullpen? A lot of the time, these guys are generally flaky and have the time to think about things like naming their bullpen.

TCB: Who sticks out to you in the Astros bullpen?

MW: Brett Myers. He was in Philly and they moved him from that closer position when they signed Lidge, but Brett wanted to keep closing. He’ll be traded at deadline, I’d imagine.

TCB: Jordan Lyles has been shuttled back and forth between the Astros Major League club and Triple-A club four times already this season. What kind of affect can that have on a young pitcher, if any?

MW: It can have a big effect. If a pitcher is constantly looking over his shoulder, that’s no way to take the mound. They need to decide to keep him and work through the struggles or take it in a different direction, either way they need to make that decision.

TCB: How important is it for a bullpen to have a strong personality leading the way for everyone else? And does it have to be a veteran or have you seen younger guys fill that role?

Very important. You have to have a strong closer. If your closer isn’t successful then you have to move players from their comfort zones and it has a trickle down effect, so it all starts with a strong closer. He has to have a strong personality.

As far as veteran versus younger player, honestly, either. If a younger guy has dominating stuff then he can take that lead role. First he’s going to have to lead on the field. Once he’s established himself on-field then he can come in and lead verbally.

A big thanks to Mitch Williams for taking the time to answer our questions. Mitch is a regular on MLB Network so if you don't have MLB Network yet get it; it's good stuff.

To tell a story about your favorite Little League coach please go to http://facebook.com/HiltonHHonors

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