Atlanta Braves right-hander Spencer Strider and his mustache took the majors by storm in 2022, setting strikeout records and helping his team reach the playoffs.

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There’s more to Strider than a lot of Ks and lip hair, as he showed in an Answer Man session with Bally Sports in the waning days of spring training.


Apr 1, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (99) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

You reportedly stray from the vegan diet, when there are no alternatives, for a piece of fish. How would you prepare Billy Marlin? And what wine would you pair with him?

The mascot from the Marlins? I mean, maybe a nice Spanish rice and some beans. Something in that direction.

But it's not really OK to have fish sometimes if you're vegan?

It's not "OK." It's simply that, if I have to eat, and I can't eat anything else, and rather than starve and harm my body — which I need to play — if I have literally no other choices, that's what I will do.

So the world is not accommodating to vegans, almost, at all?

The world doesn't have to be accommodating me. But there are simply situations where there aren't any other options. It's something that happens maybe a handful times a year.

Have you heard of, or from, any other MLB players who also are vegan?

I have not heard from any. I have heard of some, but I haven't got confirmation. I've heard conflicting information. So I won't throw names out there, and then all of a sudden somebody is expected to be vegan and they're at McDonald's and they get yelled at.

Have there been any unintended consequences of going vegan?

Nothing negative. I guess something I didn't really anticipate was more of an affection for animals. That wasn't one of the reasons I did it. But now it is something I think about. I like to support companies that don't harm animals, or that interact with animals in a kinder way.

Did you really blame yourself last year when you got an oblique injury, didn't pitch well in the playoffs and the Braves lost?

You might have heard me say that I hold myself responsible for losing the series. I do.

Obviously, it's a team game. There's multiple people on the field. I can't win or lose the game entirely by myself, but I knew I had limitations going into that game. Rather than figure out a way to embrace them, I sort of ignored them, and, had I not done that, in hindsight, maybe I could have managed the inevitable fatigue that I would experience having not pitched in 30 days. It's not something I'd done before.

You live and you learn, unfortunately, but it cost us the season.

You have a peace symbol on your glove. Do you ever look at it, consider the state of the world and go, "Who am I kidding?" The world is not anywhere close to being at peace, it's probably never going to achieve peace and it's pointless to even hope for peace?

What I like about the peace sign is that it is nondenominational. Some people interpret a (Christian) cross as representing that sort of holistic approach to society, the world and to culture. The cross has additional meanings to other people. To me, the peace sign is encompassing of everybody, and it's something that should apply to everybody. It doesn't alienate anyone.

So while a cross is a good sign to me, it doesn't necessarily represent people who are not of a Christian worldview. It's not all encompassing. It can't be shared by everyone. A peace sign includes everyone.


Sep 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Can you describe your worldview?

My worldview? I don't know if I could. I'll have to refrain from doing so.

Do you think that a baseball team, the 26-person roster, is inherently socialist? How it's organized, how the labor is divided. Everybody has to do their own part in order to reach a common goal, and it won't happen unless they all pull together?

I wouldn't describe it that way. I would say it's a pirate ship. You have a bunch of guys, all in the same entity, all after the same things. And if somebody wants it too bad for themselves, it will deprive everybody else. And if one person fails at their job, for whatever reason, it harms the rest of the ship.

So I've actually heard that analogy used to describe how (musical) bands work. And I actually think it applies to players or teams, specifically, specifically baseball, because the roles and the positions and things are all so different, similar to a ship.

The pirate ship captain is the manager?

Yeah. You can place the analogy anywhere you'd like. You could say the captain is the catcher if you want to keep it on the field, or between the lines.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the world? Oh boy. My honest answer would not be received well, so I wouldn't say that. So let me say, it would probably be: no more weapon-based war.

You changed your uniform number to 99 for Ricky Vaughn from the movie "Major League"?

Part of it was wanting to pick my own number in the big leagues. And my number growing up was 28. Matt Olson has that number here. I wore 29 at Clemson, but that number was taken by John Smoltz here and retired.

So the only other number that had any significance for me was No. 99, for Rick Vaughn partially, and then Paul Rabil. He founded the Pro Lacrosse League, and also played at Johns Hopkins.

As far as Rick Vaughn goes, your command is so much better than his. Isn't that misleading?

I don't know that I would go that far. But I appreciate the compliment.

Was Crash Davis right, that strikeouts are fascist?

No. That's the one thing I disagree with in that movie. I think they are the most efficient way to procure outs in baseball.

You are the pitcher, but let me push back on this. What about a one-pitch tapper back to the mound?

I could throw it over the first baseman's head.

Mostly, you wouldn't do that. Is the pitch clock by its very nature oppressive?

"Oppressive." Yeah. I mean, that may be too dramatic of a term to categorize it. I don't like it. I hope that the byproduct of it is a good product, and that it doesn't detract from what's inherently enjoyable and good about the game. But I don't know.

I think the pitch clock by its very nature is contrary to what's good about the game. I don't know that it really changes how I pitch or how the game flows necessarily as a player, but in the long run, I think it might. But we'll have to see. Give me a couple seasons, and then we'll have to discuss it again.

Is Charlie Morton kind of like a cool college professor who's also in your class?

Ooh, that is a great way to describe him. He might be a little quirkier than that. He's a cool college professor that could very well live downtown on a bench. By his own choice.

Your exploits in the weight room are well documented. How much can your mustache lift?

Not that much, surprisingly. It sort of just exists.

Are you at all like Strider from "Lord of the Rings"?

No, and I have never seen nor read "Lord of the Rings" with no plans to do so. No interest whatsoever. The comparison — made very rarely — goes over my head, and I don't react.

Are you like any in literature or film?

Ooh, like anyone in literature or film? I like to think of myself as Spider-Man. But I'm not. He's even cooler than me.

When you were single, did you consider hitting on Mrs. Met?

Never. No, I didn't. She's too rounded for me.

If the Phillie Phanatic accidentally runs over Blooper and puts them on the IL, which one of your teammates would step in and be a good mascot in a pinch?

Anybody but Ozzie Albies. And they wouldn't fit in the costume.

If the shoe was on the other foot and you are curious about another person, would you ever go up to them and say: "I mustache you a question"?

Haha. I refrain from mustache-based puns as much as I can. Although they are made to me quite frequently, so.

Oh, really? Did we do any here?

I don't think we did, no, which I appreciate.

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