On screen, Tobin Bell plays serial killer Jigsaw in "Saw II," the horror sequel co-starring Donnie Wahlberg that opens on Friday. Off the screen? He coaches youth baseball and flag football teams. But he does have at least one sporting skeleton in his closet.
How does someone from Massachusetts wind up a Yankees fan?
You live in New York for 27 years. It would be hard not to become one. I was raised as a Red Sox fan and I can recall going to camp and being in this big dormitory down in Duxbury, Massachusetts. And this guy would walk down with his flashlight to make sure no one was awake, and I would always have the Red Sox game on under the covers on my little portable radio.
A legitimate Red Sox fan and you just gave up on them?
I moved to New York to become an actor. I've always been an American League guy and I still am. I find myself hard-pressed to be interested in the Dodgers or some of the teams that come into [Los Angeles], but I went through the '70s in New York. New York in the '70s was Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Chris Chambliss, Bucky Dent and George Steinbrenner, who took over the team at that time. The newspapers were total Yankees coverage, and you kind of got caught up in who's going to get fired this week. . . . I'm a great, great fan of baseball in general. You can't put all your eggs too heavily in one basket, because look what happened to the Yankees this year. It can crush you, it can just crush you if you don't think of the game as bigger than your team. If they lose you've got nothing left in your life but air, and that's depressing. You've got to look at the big picture.
So are you a good coach?
You know, I have my moments. I've learned as I've gotten older that you treat 10- and 11-year olds differently than you treat 16- or 17-year-olds. They talk to these high school football players now like they're in the Marine Corps. With 10-year-olds, they're beating each other over the head and goofing around. They'll come out of the huddle and the ball will be hidden under the grass because the defense has covered it. They're just totally off the wall, so I learned to try to channel that energy. They're only 10, and they're doing what they're supposed to be doing at 10 years old.
Any coaching highlights?
For me, it's a highlight if you see someone who doesn't necessarily have a lot of talent get in the game, and you see them make a small advance. At the end of the last season we had a guy who doesn't have a lot of athletic ability knock down a pass in the end zone. He's not a big smiler, and this big smile came across his face. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I'm sorry, but it just does. There's the moment right there.
Who's a more frightening character, Jigsaw or George Steinbrenner?
They'd be very interesting in a room together, Jigsaw and George. But success turns a bad guy into a good guy sometimes, and George definitely became a good guy in New York. George will go down in history as being a guy who genuinely cared about winning, to the extent he put his money where his mouth is. He'll be a legend.
-- Dan Steinberg