Verlander delivers laughs on Conan
Justin Verlander has talked many times about his pregame routine of listening to music blaring through his headphones as he enters a ballpark on days he starts. He saved the story about his pre-gameday meal for the late-night talk show circuit.
When host Conan O’Brien asked Verlander about his pregame rituals during Wednesday night’s show, Verlander talked about his meals the night before he starts.
“The night before, as you can tell by my amazing physique, I eat Taco Bell,” Verlander said. “Every night.”
“You’re welcome, Taco Bell,” Verlander said as he turned to the camera.
(Link is here, since I can’t seem to embed the video on my blog. Also, according to Front Row Analytics and CNBC’s Darren Rovell on Twitter, that Verlander plug was worth $133,000. You’re welcome, indeed, Taco Bell.)
It was a rare relief appearance for Verlander, the Tigers ace who won American League MVP honors to go with the AL Cy Young award. But it was also a rare venue for him to try his hand at comedy. He retold the story of his hotfoot prank on teammate Don Kelly, which they replayed.
“The cup of water is really not enough if things get out of hand,” O’Brien joked.
While Verlander usually begins his mound outings by throwing his fastball at less than full velocity, he came to the set firing as soon as he sat down. He told O’Brien about seeing the giant orange Conan Blimp advertising his show flying over Yankee Stadium during their American League Division Series last fall.
“Here we are in the postseason in New York,” Verlander begins, “and you’ve got your blimp flying up there. It’s supposed to be a night game, and this thing looks like the sun. It’s huge!
“That’s what I had to stare at the whole game, because I’m a pitcher, so when I’m not pitching, I just sit around in the dugout and look around, because we don’t really do much. So every time I look up, I see this thing, and I can’t help it. I’m envisioning your face on the side of this blimp, and it’s just like haunting me the whole series.”
The show was taped in Los Angeles, where Verlander has been spending the week doing a shoot for the upcoming MLB 2K12 video game. Verlander was on Conan to promote the game, which features him on the cover pitching with special effects all around him.
“Do you like how you’re depicted on the cover? You look kind of like a superhero here,” O’Brien asked as he showed off the cover.
“I mean, it’s me. I look great,” Verlander said with a laugh.
Now, to be fair, Verlander isn’t the first Tiger to plug one of his favorite places to eat. Remember Chipotle’s Master Burrito Ambassador, Will Rhymes, last spring? Is there an equivalent title Taco Bell can give Verlander? Maybe an endorsement deal pairing Verlander with Giants closer Brian Wilson?