One thing he does make time for besides music, however, is keeping up with MLB--specifically, his favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals...who as all sports fans know have pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks in postseason history this year.
We at Our Country caught up with Campbell near the beginning of the National League Championship Series, at which his Cards were tied with the San Francisco Giants 1-1 following Game 2 at AT&T Park (as of posting, the Cardinals are ahead 2-1). Campbell was happy to discuss the team's strengths, pitfalls, and even some insider's insight: He's got a personal friend who's a very big deal to the team! Read on.
Our Country: I understand that you are not only a Cardinals fan, you're also good buddies with starting pitcher Adam Wainwright?
Craig Campbell: We've been friends for several years now. He's one of the golden people in this world. Just as good as they get.
How did you meet him?
Long story short, I have a buddy who actually is the co-writer on my new song, "Outta My Head"--Cole Swindell. He introduced me to a fellow, Blaine Boyer, who was also a pitcher, and Blaine and Adam were really good friends, and both loved country music. I gave Blaine one of my CDs a long time ago, back before I had my record deal, and he played it for Adam and we hit it off. He's also from Georgia. We hit it off on all kinds of different spectrums--we actually talked on the phone for a year before we actually face-to-face met. So yeah, we've been buddies for a while now.
Tell us about your association with the Cardinals. How long have you been a fan?
I grew up in south Georgia, so we grew up with the [Atlanta] Braves, and the Braves pretty much dominated in the '90s--the National League at least. So I was kind of a Braves fan by default. And Adam was actually drafted by the Braves. But then traded to the Cardinals--and I just kind of went with him. It's a good thing to be behind.
So I'm sure you are deep into watching the NLCS now. What did you think about the controversy involving Matt Holliday in Game 2?
Well, you know, I was watching the game via my mobile, so I didn't get to watch the whole thing play-by-play. So I didn't get to see all of what went down. But I did watch Game 5 against the Washington Nationals--and that was spectacular. I just felt so bad [for Adam] giving up those home runs that early in the game. They had his number, they were just hitting everything he was throwing. But I kept the faith-- the Cardinals scored 12 runs a couple nights before--and sure enough they pulled it off. I was excited.
How would you account for the big difference in the Cardinals' regular season performance and how they're playing now?
There's several things you can look at. They lost two big key factors, [manager Tony] La Russa and then they lost [star infielder Albert] Pujols in the off-season. So there was a big dynamic in their team that was gone. So they were still having to learn [new manager Mike] Matheny's game, Matheny was having to learn their game. I think they did extremely well given what transpired over the off-season, and things are starting to get back to where they were.
Speaking of Pujols. Any personal theories on why Pujols decided to go to the Angels?
There's speculation all over the place. I haven't talked to anybody on the Cardinals team about it. My assumption would be--and it's a total assumption, I don't have any facts--I think Pujols wanted a long contract, and the Angels were ready to give that to him and the Cardinals weren't. Who knows why they weren't, but that's my assumption.
Would you like to see him playing with the Cardinals in the NLCS now?
Absolutely. He's always a clutch player, and when it comes down to it he was always able to deliver when it meant making it to play another game.
But, overall, you think St. Louis is doing just fine without him?
Oh yeah. It was a bump in the road, but we're over that, and we're kicking butt!
Let's talk about the Giants vs. Cardinals specifically now. How do you think both teams stack up against each other, skillwise?
They're both loaded in the pitching department. And the bullpen on both sides is extremely well. So that's what it's gonna come down to. We've got some heavy hitters on our team; they have the same. They have a good middle of the order. Definitely two of the best teams have made it all the way to the National League Championship Series.
On the ALCS side of things. Do you think Detroit is going to beat New York?
I think so. It was a huge huge blow to the Yankees when Jeter broke his ankle. Not only is he just a great player, but he's the leader on that team. He'll be in the dugout rooting his team on, but it's still not the same, him not being in the lineup and on the field. So I think Detroit is gonna be able to pull it off.
And you're pretty sure St. Louis is going to the World Series too--for another year straight.
Oh absolutely. Absolutely. St. Louis vs. Detroit, and they're gonna go six games, and it's gonna be the Cardinals winning.
If they do beat the Giants, will you be in the stands at the World Series?
We'll see. I'm doing a lot of touring right now. Definitely if the Cardinals make it to the World Series, I will try to work it in there somehow.
Well, you certainly have good connections for seats!
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- Adam Wainwright