TEMPE, Ariz. -- James Street constantly weaves in and out of the conversation. Veteran closer Huston Street is in the driver's seat of his Lexus GX 460 on this Sunday morning, on his way to Angels Spring Training and explaining the stringent, unwavering, obsessive routine that engulfs his day-to-day activities.
The conversation never goes far without a mention of Street's late father, the Texas Longhorns legend who passed away nearly 30 months ago but lives on in the words -- the actions -- of his distinguished son.
A photo posted by Huston Street (@thehustonstreet) on
"Everything affects everything."
You'll hear Street say that a lot. It means that everything a person does -- the food they eat, the sleep they get, the breaths they take -- creates a compound affect that makes a profound difference over time.
Street ranks 20th on baseball's all-time saves list and owns the game's best save percentage since 2009, and he did it all without ever throwing harder than 92 mph. Street thrives with little margin for error, so off the field, he calculates his every action, performs all tasks with distinct purpose and never wastes a minute.
Street won't pick up the empty water bottles from his car because the time spent doing it can be used elsewhere. He wears the first shirt and shorts he'll see so he doesn't have to think about how he'll dress to get to the ballpark. He makes sure his skin is lubricated so his body doesn't burn the energy to do it for him.
And Street has very specific rules, some of them kooky, like ...
• Never sit down for more than 45 minutes at a time.
• Always tie the right shoe first.
• Don't pick up any of your sons more than three times in a day.
"It all lines up to just one solid path moving forward through the season," Street said. "What I've kind of become neurotic about is that process."
James Street laid the foundation at the onset, and legendary closer Trevor Hoffman helped personalize a routine specific to Huston's job four years ago.
"The thing about me is I need to put a ball within inches of where I need to put a ball," Street said. "I need my ball to move a little bit later, I need my slider to break a little bit down. So I'm just not going to take that lazy step. Never a lazy step. That's another one of my dad's sayings. Everything I say is from my dad or my mom, because they just ring true."
Street isn't crazy, and no, this isn't fun.
"I'll be completely honest," Street said. "I hate it sometimes."
Sometimes it's September and Street has done the exact same thing 143 days in a row, and the last thing he wants is to do it all over again. These are the moments that he believes separate life's most successful people. And it is in these moments that Street remembers perhaps the most memorable phrase his father ever uttered ...
Someday, bud, you're going to be 90 years old, and you won't have [anything] to do except remember all the [stuff] you did. You better be proud of what you did. Because if you're not, then life becomes a prison sentence.
"I take that to heart in everything that I do," Street said. "I just remember that I don't get to do it again; I don't get to be here again."
And that intense routine manifests itself during the regular season with a seemingly endless string of days that look something like this.
It's 10:30 a.m. on the West Coast, and the sun is shining on Street's three-story, 6,000-square-foot ocean-side home in Sunset Beach, Calif. The alarm on Street's smartphone starts chiming. First pitch at Angel Stadium is 7:05 p.m., and Street has been in bed for exactly nine hours.
He walks downstairs, brews a cup of coffee and sits at the head of the table.
"My little boys, Ripken and Ryder, they're well aware of my routine," Street said. "They'll be like, 'Daddy, is that your first cup or your second cup?' Because they know I won't go play or do anything until I've had two cups of coffee."
With the appropriate amount of caffeine in his system, Street is free for 30 to 45 minutes of playtime at the beach. He's back inside by 12:30, where his wife, Lacey, always has the same breakfast waiting: four eggs scrambled, half an avocado, a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey, and a bowl of mixed berries.
Sometimes Street will say he's losing too much weight and will ask for bacon.
"Those," Street said, "are my favorite days."
By 1 o'clock, it's time to go. Street grabs a 33.8-ounce bottle of water from the fridge and takes it with him. It must be consumed by the time he completes his 18-mile drive to the ballpark.
The two and a half hours of pre-stretch clubhouse time include a shower, a 30-minute session of answering messages and about 45 minutes of card games.
At 2:30, Street eats another meal that never changes -- turkey breast, tomato slices, half an avocado, a handful of marcona almonds and one Gatorade -- and places five water bottles at the top of his locker, all of which must be empty before stretch time.
Street's stretching routine starts at 4:20, a few minutes after the rest of the team begins, and then, in rare form, the loquacious closer goes silent.
"I don't talk during stretch," Street said. "I don't talk to anybody during stretch, I don't let people talk to me during stretch -- I don't let people talk to the guy I'm playing catch with during stretch."
At 4:35, and not a minute before, a game of catch with Steve Soliz (catching and information coach) or Tom Gregorio (bullpen catcher) ensues. Street throws from 45 feet, then 50 feet, then 60 feet, then 65 feet, the reps dictated by how frequently he has pitched in previous days or the chances of a save situation materializing later that night.
After running, shagging fly balls and eating another meal -- usually a turkey burger or sushi -- Street grabs the three water bottles that will be consumed for the rest of the night. He'll drink one of them during a 30- to 45-minute escape playing online speed chess, which pretty much takes him to the national anthem.
Street is an observer and a cheerleader from the dugout for the first two and a half innings. In the bottom of the third, he's relaxing on the clubhouse couch, sipping his second bottle of water and talking baseball -- it has to be baseball -- with one of his teammates, usually setup man Joe Smith, who gets a real kick out of all this.
By the fourth, head athletic trainer Adam Nevala is working on Street's arm.
Street then grabs his third bottle of water, mixes in some protein powder and an electrolyte packet, puts on his jersey, walks down the tunnel to the left-field bullpen and gives each of his reliever teammates a fist bump.
Now it's the sixth inning.
"And then from there," Street said, "I'm just counting baserunners, looking to see who I'll face."
Street's stretching routine begins in the bottom of the seventh. By the bottom of the eighth, he's starting to warm up. At that point, everything is in slow motion. He's trying to find his rhythm, looking for his arm slot, making sure his delivery is in sync.
Three fastballs to the glove side, three fastballs to the arm side, two fastballs to the glove side, two fastballs to the arm side -- sip of water.
Three sliders glove side, two sliders arm side, two changeups, five more pitches -- top of the ninth.
Street jogs in from the bullpen and begins to compartmentalize his thoughts.
Get the first guy out. Get the first guy out.
He picks up the baseball and goes over the signs with his catcher.
As soon as it's over, Street spends a few minutes replaying the inning in his mind, because, he said, "In that moment, right after that moment, that's when you have the greatest feel, memory, touch, taste."
But then he forgets about it, no matter the result.
"And that is why I think I've been a good closer," Street said. "I genuinely don't care about yesterday, and I'm not really worried about tomorrow."
An arm program follows each game, then a half hour of ice, then a dip in the hot tub and a dip in the cold tub. If the Angels win, Street won't shower in the ballpark. It's tradition. If they lose, Street showers immediately. It's symbolic.
At midnight, he's out the door. A little before 1 a.m., he's home for some quality time with his wife, however brief that might be.
"Usually she wins on what movie we're going to pick," Street said, "and then within six minutes, she's sound asleep and I'm just back to watching my series."
By 1:30 a.m., the TV is off and Street, too, is fast asleep.
In exactly nine hours, another day will follow.
"This all sounds neurotic," Street admits, "but I believe in it. The devil's in the details."