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Saunders delivers opinions

Q: You grew up in the same town and attended the same school (Glen Burnie High School in Maryland) as R&B singer Toni Braxton. What do you remember of her?

A: Well, I did not know her that well she was a few years before me. She was at school with my older brother. But I do remember Toni and her sisters and the fact that they were already singing and apparently had a record out when we were still in high school. I don't remember her that beautiful and talented then, but she is now.

Q: You got an opportunity to meet President Clinton and visit the White House, what was that like?

A: It was exciting. I grew up in Maryland, so it was a big thrill getting to meet the president of the United States. ... For me to go inside the White House, get the tour, it was neat. One thing that is very clear is that everyone there is very serious, especially the Secret Service personnel. You can't joke around with those guys and I guess you have to be that way when you're protecting the President. But they were very uptight. President Clinton was a lot bigger than I thought he would be. He's a pretty big, well-built guy. But he was also very down to earth, just like everybody else. He was friendly, and that was what made the impression on me. I thought he was going to be quick and impersonal, but he was not that way.

Q: Speaking of politics, you say you have never voted. Why?

A: I know that's sad to say, but I have never voted. The reason is not knowing. I don't want to go out there and vote for someone I really don't know about. Until I get more involved and really know who and what I'm voting for, then I'll vote. I have a lot of opinions on a lot of things, but I just want to see someone in government who really has the best interest of the people at heart. Of course, I'm going to say lower the taxes, but the people who go in, whether they are Republican or Democrat, have to be a strong people, with strong convictions because their decisions will affect millions and millions of people.

Q: You say you don't read the newspapers, particularly the sports pages. Why?

A: I used to read the papers when I was with the Marlins, and when I was pitching good, all the stuff was good about me. But then I had a period when things were rough on the mound and I was reading the paper and they were really on me. If you keep reading that stuff, all the time, all the time, you start to think: "Am I that bad?" I remember in a particular game I walked five guys and some (columnist wrote about) how could the team send me out when I can't do my job. I just did not want to read about it. It seemed like everything you do gets blown out of proportion. I decided that day not to read the papers anymore.

Q: What is it about the media that really bothers you?

A: I can't stand these people who have never been out there, have never put on a uniform, at any level, who have an opinion of that magnitude. If they want to go out and do what I do, then I'll accept anyone's view. But when I get a frustrated individual who can't play any sports, or has never played any sports, telling me how to do my job, I have a problem with that. It would be like me calling up your editor and telling him or her that you don't know how to do your job. I don't tell you how to write, so you don't tell me how to pitch. Report on my pitching, but don't try to tell me how to do it. I understand that media people have jobs to do, but if every time you interviewed me I told you how to do your job, would you keep interviewing me? I don't think so. You're entitled to do it, but I'm not going to pick up the paper and see you bashing me. When you're paying my paycheck, then I'll worry about what you have to say.

Q: You're a big fan of professional wrestling, how do you feel about wrestling not being in is not on the sports pages and often made fun of in the mainstream media?

A: I really don't know. Those guys are as much, if not better, athletes than anybody I know. Look at what they do. Those guys are so big, so strong and to be able to do what they do. People don't realize how hard that is. Think about it, you go wrestling around with your buddy for five minutes and think about how tired and sore you get. You can't move, you can't lift your arms. These guys are out there wrestling for 20 minutes and constantly moving. Think about a guy who is 7-foot, 300-plus pounds jumping off the top rope and landing on somebody and not hurting them. Think about how hard that must be. These guys are phenomenal athletes. I know it's fake and entertainment, but how could you ignore what these guys are doing in the ring?

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