Lance McCullers Jr., reggaeton superstar join 'No Layups'

David and Raheel have a star-studded show today. Astros pitcher, Lance McCullers Jr. joins the show to talk about helping Houstonians hurting from the winter storm.

Video Transcript

DAVID NUNO: --Rahell, good mood David. How are you?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I know. This is rare. It's a happy David. It's been a rough week but we are here.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And we've got your favorite interview that you've been trying to nail down, I think for two years now, although we haven't even been doing the show, but it's been like two years. It feels like two years.

DAVID NUNO: Technically we've been doing the show since 2008.


DAVID NUNO: But this rendition, the ABC 13 version of the show started back in, I think it was March when we started, right?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah, about there.

DAVID NUNO: Yep. So we got Nicky Jam. And it's funny, man, like, I can tell who knows him and who doesn't. I bring him up to certain people, they give me this look like, who? Like, like who you talking about? And then I bring him up to another demographic, I'm going to call 'em my Latino family, and they're all like, you got Nicky Jam? I was at soccer practice today, and, like, literally standing with one from my community, one from another, and I brought up the name. The guy on the left was like, no clue who you're talking about. The guy on the right is like, dude! He's like Drake on the Latin world. I was like, yeah, I know. So-- and he actually said dude with his hand.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: He was like, man! Like that?

DAVID NUNO: Oh yeah. And he was like, [INAUDIBLE]. So he did all-- it was great. So-- that's an insider joke. We're going to talk to him. We're going to talk to the great Lance McCullers. We had to start the show a little early, Raheel, because the governor's stealing out thunder. He's got a live press conference there at 2:30.

But I do want to-- before we start this interview, which we're going to start here in a couple of minutes, I do want to-- I started the show happy, but I do want to take a moment to, I guess do a detour for a second and recognize somebody who was very important to both of us.

You know, we've been going to China Garden for how long? You know, 15, 20 years. And one of the classiest, awesomest people I've ever met Mamma Jue, who is a staple in Houston restaurants and just service, and just a delight to be around, passed away from COVID. We've been going to China Garden since the show started, before that. Carol's one of our dear, dear friends.

Everybody who has gone to Toyota Center at some point has probably gone to China Garden. Mamma Jue was-- my kids loved her. Like my kids knew her, and she knew them. And she would always bring me a wonton soup the way I like it. Not the one on the menu, like the off the menu wonton soup, like the huge one.

She passed away from COVID. I didn't know about it until yesterday on the news, I found out. But, you know, everybody that we're-- you know, Lou Savarese, the Granado family that we're dear with-- everybody. Like everybody in the media knew Mamma Jue. So it was very difficult to hear that news yesterday while I was on air. I had no clue.

Fought from December up until last Thursday. And just my thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and her family, and just the whole China Garden. It's just, not only the best food in town for me, just great people. And I know you had a great relationship with them as well.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. And the reason I was smiling, I was just thinking about every time you walk in, the first person you saw was Mamma.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And that's what everyone called her is just Mamma, right. And as soon as you walk in, she might not remember your name, but she remembers you. Right.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And she always gave you the hug. She's always asking, hey, how are things going and ask about your family. And it was like you were part of their family, right, whether it be from Mamma, from Carol, Lisa, their niece who has been working there for a while.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Everyone there-- it's just a staple, right, as you mentioned. But it was because it was a family atmosphere. It's a family-run business for the longest time. And Mamma was the-- she was the spirit behind that business, and she'll be dearly missed. I mean, just that warm greeting, man. It doesn't matter what you're there for, it was always the same warm greeting.

DAVID NUNO: She knew exactly what I wanted. "You want some egg rolls? You want some wonton soup? You want the big one, right?" Yeah. And she just knew. So I'm going to miss her. I was very shocked yesterday. It caught me off guard. I actually texted my kids late night because they felt like they knew her. Like, she was just that kind of great person.

All right, so let's start the show because we got Lance McCullers joining us here at 2:10. But earlier in the week, before things got too crazy in Houston, we did an interview with Nicky Jam, the reggaeton artist. I love all his music. I think he's amazing. For those who don't know who he is, he is kind of like what that guy said to me, like, the Drake of the Latino world. Raheel, you don't listen to a lot of Spanish music, but you are aware of him. And he also won you over in this interview. Am I right?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. I enjoyed talking to him. I wish we had another 30 minutes with him because he was so candid about the business. He was so candid about his career. And I truly enjoyed the conversation. Even though I don't listen to his music on a regular basis, I've got so much respect for somebody that's been in the business for so long, that has gone through the ups, the downs, and rebounded the way he has. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. Here he is, Nicky Jam. You ready?

DAVID NUNO: Hey, let me say this real quick.


DAVID NUNO: Good friends with Will Smith, like real good friends. Has been in "Bad Boys 3," has a hit show on Netflix. Like this is not like a-- just for those who don't know, this guy does English market stuff, Spanish market stuff, and he is one of the pioneers of the reggaeton music. So with that, here it is.

So Nicky, I got to tell you, man. My partner Raheel's going to make fun of me. I've been in the locker room with LeBron, Dirk, Kobe. I've been to MJ games. I do a lot of sportscasting. I've been bragging about interviewing you for so long, man. I've got to thank you so much for joining the show, man, and showing [INAUDIBLE] over here.

NICKY JAM: Oh my god. I mean, you just mentioned people that are really, really-- I'll be starstruck 100% if I see any of these guys. But I'm honored. Thank you, man. I'm humbled.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Man, he's been so pumped for this, so pumped for this, Nicky. Like you don't understand. I don't think he's putting enough excitement behind this, man. You're like-- you are his LeBron. Like, this is a cool moment, man.

NICKY JAM: Thank you, man. I appreciate that so much, man.

DAVID NUNO: So I think you're coming for my job though, because I saw your new show, "The Rock Star Show," where you're interviewing folks. You had Maluma on the first week. You're like, very gifted at doing this, man. Talk a little bit how the show kind of came together.

NICKY JAM: I was in a pandemic and this whole, you know, quarantine situation. And I'm a workaholic. I just like working. I can't stop working. And I feel sick if I don't work. So I was doing some virtual shows, you know what I'm saying, like streaming shows. But I was recording at the studio. And then I came with this idea and said, well this is a good moment where you can interview people. And podcasts are having so much success. But I didn't really want to podcast. I wanted more like a talk show.

And I've had interview-- you know, obviously me being a singer, an artist, a lot of people have been interviewing me. But I've been feeling that they never ask me questions-- a lot of questions that I think are really important. So only a singer would know what-- only an artist would know what questions are really important to ask and what would they like-- what would they love to be asked? And that's what I'm focusing on the show.

I told my team and they looked at me like I was crazy. They're like, you're a superstar. Like what are you going to do, sitting down with these other guys, and would this look good for your career or whatever. And I think there's no rules anymore. I mean, I think, you know, you can do whatever you want to do.

And first it was like everybody's scared. Now we have so many offers from these companies that want to buy my show, that now my management are very happy and the numbers are really doing good. And I feel like I'm working every day, you know. Like I'm back to what I do, because I just don't want to stay in my house, bro. It's OK. Vacation is OK, but forced vacation is the worst thing in the world.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: It's also got to be fun, right, catching up with some of your friends and peers that you admire, that you haven't seen in such a long time. David and I have been doing this show throughout the pandemic, and we haven't seen each other in person in a while. So to catch up with some of your friends and talk to them about what they're going through, what their experiences are right now, as well as some high moments in their career, that's got to be-- it's got to be a great, enjoying thing for you as well.

NICKY JAM: It is. It is. And it's my opportunity-- well, when the whole Instagram thing started back in 2014, you know, when you had the videos for 15 seconds and now you have a whole minute. Before it was 15 seconds. I started-- you could say I was one of the first influencers in the Spanish game doing funny things, funny videos, and talking with people, and making fun of people, and doing singing videos, and showing them my music.

And it became a time where I felt that I didn't want to do it anymore, because people was telling me, Nicky, you have to do this because this is what people like about you. And when you have to do something, it's something that you don't want to do anymore. It's not organic. It's not something that, you know, you're doing it because you're having fun. It doesn't look organic. It becomes a business.

And it came to a moment where my management wanted me to do videos on Instagram just to, like, maintain an engagement. And bro, I'm an artist. I'm a singer. I don't want to be a comedian on Instagram or YouTube or an influencer or whatever you want to call. So I just disappeared from Instagram for years, more than four years you could say.

And people love me so much, they miss that about me. So they're getting this in the show now. They're seeing me again. They're seeing the funny Nicky, the guy that, you know, that's down to earth, the guy that will say anything because I have no hair on my tongue. I don't care about-- if I have to curse, I'll curse if I have to. Make fun of an artist-- I'll make fun of an artist. I'm the best at making fun of myself.

And I'm reconnecting with the people again. I'm feeling an engagement, something that I wasn't feeling in a long time because I was so-- I don't know, you could say I was hiding from social media. Because I feel that the social media today is not the same one as four years ago. I'm pretty much sure that anybody that hears this is going to say, well, if you say that, imagine how it was like 10 years ago.

Yeah but what I'm trying to say is, the engagement and the people that used to text, write and leave comments on Instagram is not the same than in 2014. Like today is like really a lot of bullying and craziness and it's insane. And I don't care about the bulliness. I know how to deal with it. I ignore but.

But I could admit that in a way it took me away from social media. I wasn't really like pumped on the-- and still I have almost 40 million followers because I left the impact-- so much impact on people that even if I wasn't posting, people will keep following me and I will still have an engagement.

DAVID NUNO: Speaking of Instagram, that's where I heard your new song with Romeo. Talk to me about the new song, and also, I think "Infinity" should be coming out pretty soon, right?

NICKY JAM: It's coming out in March. The song with Romeo's a song that-- well, we finished the song. Because I've sent Romeo like, more than three songs and he wasn't feeling the song. Because he's very picky. You know, he's the type of guy that, you know, you could give him a hit song and he will say, I know it's a hit song, I just-- I don't feel myself in that hit song.

So that's how picky he is. That's how you can tell he's a genius, because normally people would tell you, well that's a hit. I don't care. I'm going to get in it. You know what I'm saying? And, you know, he don't care if he's hit. He just wants to see himself in the song.

So when I sent him this song, he fell in love with it. We made a crazy video, a funny video that I think it's something that Romeo needed, because I think that he's more, like, the boss type look. I made him a little bit more goofier in this video.

And that's just the second song of the album. And the album's not even out yet. It'll probably be out like, I don't know, probably half of March.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Nice. You got to send David an advanced copy. Come on, hook him up. All right? I'm throwing him the alley oop here.

NICKY JAM: I'll send it to both of you guys, man.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yo, I'm in. Hey, how much has the game changed for you since you started? Because it's fascinating to look at your career, everything that you've gone through and the sound, how it's changed. You stayed true to yourself, but how much has the actual industry and the game changed?

NICKY JAM: Well, you got to understand, you're talking to a guy that started this business back in '92. So I'm going to talk about real changes. I mean, you know. Today everybody has their professional studios and we had a closet with a microphone and a coffee-- what do you call that thing to, uh--


NICKY JAM: Yeah. Well anyways. We had to beg to perform in shows. We had to go to sweet fifteens and just trash the party and get up stage and sing for people and hope they don't throw us out. And from that it came to, you know, stadiums and arenas.

And what changed? Yeah, a lot changed. Back in the day there was only rappers. Now you've got rappers and singers. Now you got to be a rapper and a singer. You have to do both to be good in the business, mostly. You know, you have to have melody in your voice when you sing.

Apart from that, it's just, you have to be of influencer too. You have to work on social media and know how to engage the people and make a buzz. That's something that we didn't have back in the days, you know what I'm saying. Back in the days it was one song a year, you know what I'm saying, and probably one album a year. Now it's probably three albums a year and probably 50 songs during the whole year.

So it's a change, man. It's a business now. Back in the days there was no endorsements. Now we have endorsements. They didn't believe in us. Back in the days we could of have good numbers, and for them-- back in the days it was national. It was only in Puerto Rico.

Now it's all over the world. We're doing shows in Israel. We're doing shows in Greek. We're doing shows in Germany. We're doing shows in Paris. You have Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel and Saturday Night Live doing other things. But back in the days we would beg for that, and they will probably like laugh in our faces. We just Spanish people. So, I mean, I could tell you so many changes it's insane.

DAVID NUNO: Nicky, I know your story and I know you grew up with a lot of hip hop. And I look at reggaeton today, and it kind of reminds me of that early hip hop scene where you guys are all like buddies. You know, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Maluma, all you guys not only collaborate together, but it seems like you have a genuine appreciation for each other's artistry.

NICKY JAM: Of course. I mean-- well, if you are going to talk to me about-- let's say if you're going to talk to me about Maluma and J Balvin, you've got to understand that you're talking to one of the architects of this music. So when we going to talk about people that was here when this was-- some of these people are not even here anymore. They're not even doing music anymore. Some of them are not even alive anymore. You know what I'm saying.

I'm talking about back in '92. Maluma and J Balvin, my respects to them. But these people started Monday. You know what I'm saying. These people are from, I don't know. I don't even think they have 10 years of career, J Balvin. My respect to Jay Balvin. He's an icon. And this is how humble I am. He probably has more numbers than me right now.

But what I'm trying to say is, there's so many people that started this movement, you know, and so many people that, they're not here today. So I would include my Maluma and J Balvin, but I would say Daddy Yankee, cause Daddy Yankee is one of the guys that started this movement 25 years ago. And there's like 30 other singers that, you know, made this happen today.

So it's insane. I bet there's-- every time I win an award I try to mention these guys. There wouldn't be a J Balvin and a Maluma and a Bad Bunny and none of these guys today if it wasn't for all these cats from the old school that paid their way for them, you know.

DAVID NUNO: I was going to follow up with Daddy and your relationship. Obviously he helped mentor you. He brought you on very young, and you guys had a little part where you weren't talking as much. But just how important has he been to your career, Nicky?

NICKY JAM: I could say more than 80% or 90%. Because he's the guy that I follow. He was my mentor without trying to be my mentor, even when he wasn't my mentor. Because when I was doing wrong and I was doing bad things in the streets and I wasn't focused on my career, he was the guy that-- he was a blueprint to what's success and what's the discipline that I have to have to do good, you know.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Man, that's awesome. That's so awesome to hear, like, just the energy that he provided in your life. Let me talk about influences now. I mean obviously you've had so many influences in your musical career in everything you do. What influences are impacting your career right now?

NICKY JAM: Influences like, you mean like other artists?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. Musically, sports, anything.

NICKY JAM: You always try to look for the big ones, man, in everything. You know. I mean, Drake is somebody that I respect so much. And to see how it's been more than 10 years and he's still number one on top, like that's something that you don't see. That's something that-- no disrespect to the other rappers that have been in the game have done. I mean, 10 years nonstop, you know.

And LeBron, obviously seeing how, you know, he keeps doing his thing. And I'm a big Michael Jordan fan. So it's kind of--


NICKY JAM: You know how old school cats like me, when we talk about LeBron is a little bit sketchy, you know what I'm saying.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Hey, come on, man. We're old school cats too. We love Jordan here too. Come on.

NICKY JAM: I'm a Jordan fan 100%. You know. But I respect LeBron. I respect how he's like the Drake of the basketball. Or you could say Drake is the LeBron of the music industry, whatever you want to call it. But these are the guys I look up to. These are the guys that, you know, I follow their blueprint.

And I could say I'm in that same situation. I mean, I've been 25 years in the game and I'm still here. I'm still doing music. I'm still touring. I'm still, you know, I still have a big fan base. And, you know, those are the guys that-- those are the guys that inspired me so much.

DAVID NUNO: Nicky, man, I got to thank you so much for joining us. Huge fan, as you can tell. Love all your music. Can't wait for the new album to come out. And we will hopefully chit chat again soon.

NICKY JAM: Hey, David, god bless you, man. I appreciate it. Man, this too quick, too easy, man. Thank you.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Hey, man. We appreciate it, Nicky. Thank you, man.

NICKY JAM: All right. All love.

DAVID NUNO: There it is, the interview with Nicky Jam. Love talking to him, man. My question about the other reggaeton artists, he took it a different direction. I wasn't ready for that one.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: He was like, man, they've been here since Monday. I've been here for months. What are you guys-- what are you talking about? But you're right, like, they do interact more. It is cooler.

And we've seen that across multiple genres, right, whether it be in music, right, like with Kanye embracing the younger sound, with sports, right. We saw Kobe towards the back end of his career starting to mentor a lot of the younger guys and those guys became the mentees, right, like Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram. All of these guys-- excuse me, Jayson Tatum as well. I think he's one of the biggest ones.

But we see this now a lot more than we did before, where it was like oh, the new kid? We don't like the new kid. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas-- remember how they treated Michael Jordan? Like, we don't like this new kid. Whatever. Now you see the older guys embracing the younger guys and helping them, helping them not make the mistakes that they did.

DAVID NUNO: Well it's one of the cool things we're seeing in all music, right. We're seeing it in hip hop, we see it in rock, you see it in country. It's the crossing of different genres together, right. So in hip hop we saw like Kanye with Coldplay, let's say, right. In the reggaeton scene, you're seeing them doing things with Drake. Drake's got a song with-- he's got two different styles with Bad Bunny. Right. And you see Nicki Minaj. You see other artists just kind of crossing.

And then you're seeing them cross over to pop culture. So Bad Bunny's on like every commercial now. He's got that commercial with Snoop. Snoop's got a song with him as well. You've got--

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And he was on SNL. Sorry.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I didn't want to cut you off, but Bad Bunny was on SNL yesterday.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. I think he's a champion in the WWE right now. Did you know that?

DAVID NUNO: Yeah. I saw it. My YouTube feed knows what kind of things I'll click on. And of course I don't watch any WWE like you do, but that I-- the kids and I, we watched Bad Bunny's terrible wrestling. He's been on RAW twice and I think on--


DAVID NUNO: --the Royal Rumble. It's like, how did he get there? But you've J Balvin who's got now, the Air Jordans. He's got his own sneaker.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah, the Balvin 1s are like fire, man. People love 'em. So it's cool to see that. And it goes back to what Nicky was saying that before when they were starting, it was hard for them to collaborate with companies, right, because they didn't understand the reach of their music. They didn't understand how influential they are to, not only a community that they make the music for, but other people as well. And now we see that, right. And we can back those numbers. That's the great thing about social media is, you can back the numbers. Like, hey, I've got 40 million followers. There's no denying that.

DAVID NUNO: Well he's got 40 million followers, and he made a point of saying he left Instagram for four years and he still had all the followers. And I think it also crosses over into like the Super Bowl last year. We had Shakira, we had J Balvin. Wasn't Bad Bunny there? Who else was at the Super Bowl?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah, I think they were.

DAVID NUNO: [INAUDIBLE] with her. I mean, this year Maluma was expected to perform there with the Weeknd. They got the Hawaii song together. That didn't end up happening. But it's been a lot of crossover.

So programming update-- a lot of you are now wondering, hey, I'm an Astros fan. I want to talk to Lance McCullers. Lance hit us up. He's going to be a couple of minutes late to the show. So I want to let everybody know this. At some point this stream will stop, because we have to take the governor out at the press conference. The interview will continue. We will post it in its entirety. So if you're watching this live, it make a cut off at some point during Lance, depending on when the governor does begin.


DAVID NUNO: If you're watching it on demand, sorry. You're having to hear this little statement beforehand. But the whole Lance interview will be here. He said he's going to be about 10 minutes late. That puts him here around 2:20. Governor Abbott starts at around 2:30. So hopefully we can get most of the interview in, if not all of it, depending on Lance's time. So I just wanted to give that programming update.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Like, we're popular, right. Like we're getting there, but we're not governor popular yet. Like, they're not going to say, sorry Governor Abbott, we're not going to take your press conference live because No Layups is on right now. So it's just it's just the way of the world right now.

DAVID NUNO: Well you know what my thing was? It was more the branding and the marketing right. We had a graphic made for this episode. This is starting at two o'clock. And then one of my managers called and said hey, can we change the show time? I'm like, well we've got marketing. Like, no lamps and our 19 followers. We've got to make sure that they are satisfied, my friend.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: That's what we-- we're for those 19 people that watch. But, you know what? It's all right. It is what it is.

DAVID NUNO: So I don't know if you paid attention this week to my amazing reporting, but a lot of news reporting from the Nuno, like a lot.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. I saw that.

DAVID NUNO: Like a lot. Like I did some sports news, but like I was in like legit news. Like it's-- dude, people respond to you and like, they have questions that I can't answer. Like you have to get legit journalists to do like, news. Like you can't like-- I know all about the Astros and Texans right. Like, you know, I'm there, I see it, I absorb it. I don't absorb rise the Verizon and AT&T like, I don't know what the percentages are. I had to have like the news department to help me get some statements. And like, that's a different level of commitment, man. I got to give props to the Steve Romos, the Tom Abrams of the world, the Ted Obergs. Those guys are like legit journalists, man.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Man, it's crazy. Like, it can't just be a report any more. And that's one of the great things about what Channel 13 has been doing is, all the reporters that are out there, it's not just one report. I mean, like, I saw Erica Simon just going-- she had to do like a bunch of-- she has to do a bunch of hits on Instagram as well. So it was pretty wild.

Hey, Lance is actually here. Lance is ready go.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. Look at that.

DAVID NUNO: Let's go.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. Let's put him in. Let's see if we can hear him. Lance, what's up, man?


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I don't know. We can't hear-- yeah, we can't hear you. I think you have to go in the settings and enable the mic.

DAVID NUNO: Oh, man, you're going to make Lance do that, Raheel? You can't do that for him?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I can't do it for him, unfortunately. Let me see. Edit mic settings. Let me try. No, I can't do it. Lance, can you hear us? Just thumbs up if you can hear us. OK. We can't hear you, unfortunately. Let me see.

DAVID NUNO: Worst case, can he do it on this phone, Raheel?


DAVID NUNO: Worst case, can he do it maybe out on his phone?

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. You can do on your phone too, Lance, if it's not working on the laptop. Let's see if you can do it without the-- if you want to take the buds off and turn those off. We can just do it off of normal sound.

DAVID NUNO: Oh, man. I feel bad. Lance is like rushing back from spring training. We're already giving him work to do. But, hey, we've been doing a lot of stuff with all the Astros players. He can't hear us.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: He can't hear. Oh, man. Yeah, just take the buds off and just turn 'em off. Let's see. Talk now, Lance. Let me see if we can hear Lance. Lance can hear us. This right here. All right. I think he's messing with the settings. What were you saying, David?

DAVID NUNO: I was just saying like, this week, I mean, one of the cool parts of my gig was I was able to kind of go and see what all the athletes in town are doing, from Lance to Carlos Correa. I mean, it's just been so-- even James Harden in Brooklyn doing his stuff. All the things that people are doing for this great community.

And like, it's funny because Harvey had an impact on us that was so severe. But this was a different level of severe, and for some people much, much worse. Like, they couldn't get their supplies. They couldn't do anything. And it was just-- our community was not ready for it. And Lance stepped up with his initiative with his wife here. Carlos is stepping up. Altuve's stepping up. I mentioned a lot of the Astros because those were the ones--


DAVID NUNO: Alex, of course. Yeah, Alex had his event today. I think the Brantleys were involved with his event today. Just some really cool stuff there. So we'll get with Lance here in a moment. We'll edit this so on the replay, this version is not on. We do have to take the governor here in about 14 minutes. So we'll hopefully get our interview set up with Lance.

Raheel, do you want to-- you can't chat with him, There's not a chat function.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: No. Lance, if you can, just-- I think he's going to do one more thing to-- Yeah, I was going just going to tell him to refresh it. I don't know if he can hear us anymore either. But he's going to try one more thing. So let me remove him real quickly. And I'll watch him in there. Let me see. I think he's trying his other headphones. And, I mean, like, yeah. We'll get him in here in a second. There you go. We can hear you, Lance. I can hear something rustling there.

DAVID NUNO: We hear you, Lance.


LANCE MCCULLERS: You can hear me?



LANCE MCCULLERS: I can't hear you guys now.



RAHEEL RAMZANALI: OK. We'll get him in. It's going to work out.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Let me see here. Let me see. Hold on a second.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I think we just got the settings and let me see if I can put it in there. Settings, audio, headphones. Let me see.

DAVID NUNO: We've never had this problem in the history--

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I know. It's so weird. It's all good. I think he's going to-- he'll figure it out here in a second. His mic is-- unmute mic. OK. As he does that-- but you're right. It was really cool to see how everyone stepped up.

You know, we talked to Mattress Mack about this. And Mack said that he got a heads up that, look, this might be pretty bad, so start getting all the supplies ready, start getting things ready. But a lot of us didn't know it would be this bad where we're now going almost a week into this, right. Like there's still people without water. There's still people struggling to get groceries. I mean, it's been hard to find stuff. So to see everyone step up and as a community help people get through this.

And then on top of that, like, we're not even talking about the repairs you've got to do. Right. Like you still have to figure out plumbing. There's not enough supplies. I saw that Mayor Turner tweeted that they need supplies. They need plumbing supplies. They need plumbers. Because it's just been that much damage here. And it's been scary. But I think as a community, seeing so many people talk about just having the community here for you has helped them get through it, day by day.

And again, that's the thing-- that's the one thing we learned Harvey is, take it one day at a time. Take it one day at a time. Because that's the only way to do it. You can't stress out over what's going to happen a week from now, two weeks from now. You can only control that day. And it's the same thing now.

DAVID NUNO: I just realized, we need a producer.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Can you guys hear me?



LANCE MCCULLERS: All right. Got you. Got you. Luckily, you know-- luckily I used to be a streamer. So--


LANCE MCCULLERS: --we can make last minute adjustments on the fly.

DAVID NUNO: Hey, man. Thanks so much for joining us. Sorry you had to jump the hurdles, man. How you doing?

LANCE MCCULLERS: Ah, it's OK. It's OK. I'm doing well, you know. Our spring today, it was a little pushed back. We had a little bit later of a day. So we were a little bit rushed here. But I'm glad I made it, and I'm happy to be on with you guys.

DAVID NUNO: We appreciate it, Lance. Hey, I do want to start off and just, again, any time Houston is in a crisis, anytime Houston has an issue, you're out there on the forefront, you and your wife Kara, again, helping out. Talk a little bit about your partnership with the Houston Food Bank and how you're trying to help bring water to all those people struggling today.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah. I mean, Houston is-- Houston's our city. I wasn't born and raised there, for sure. But it is somewhere that we've lived since 2015. When I got to Houston as an athlete, I wanted to try to make a difference in the community. I've always said that if I have to leave Houston one day, I hope that my off the field impact outweighs my on the field impact.

So any time something comes up like this, my wife and I, our hearts goes out to everybody. We want to be there. Like a number of other of my teammates have stepped up and just done such an amazing job. So we really looked at it as, what is the biggest need right now? And we have a lot of things in the work for the animals that have been going through a hard time during the winter storms and people who own animals that are going through hard times.

But immediately we're like, the immediate impact needs to be water distribution. And we called the Houston Food Bank. We've done work with them in the past, and they were basically like, you know, we can get it out right away as long as we have the funds. So that's kind of where our initial, I guess, donation came from. It provided almost 400,000 bottles of water for Houston residents. And we're hoping that we're going to keep climbing and get close to a million.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: How hard was it for you to not be here, to be able to be on the ground and actually give back? Because that's one of the great things. Like when I think about this group of the Houston Astros, obviously what happened after Hurricane Harvey, what you guys meant to the city and to all of us, but it was more that you were actually out there. Like, you're there giving back and you really are part of this community. How hard was it?

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah, the whole storm, it just took a 180. You know, at first it was like-- it was just snow, right. And everyone was kind of excited and happy. Everyone's like, oh, it's snow. And then all of a sudden it changed, you know, when the power went out and it was lasting. You know, people started suffering.

And we've seen people die. We've seen families get torn apart from this weather storm. And it's incredibly sad. It breaks our heart. So we really wish we could be there. I mean, when Harvey hit, we were able to be home. We were able to be on the ground and do a lot of work there actually in Houston.

We're not there right now. But we thought at least we can kick it off and get the food bank going. And they are on the ground in Houston, which is one of the main reasons we partnered with them, outside of the fact that they always do amazing work, and we're honored to be with them on this.

DAVID NUNO: So Raheel, I got a story for you. Poor Lance has heard this too many times. So I apologize, Lance, but I love to tell it. Back in September of 2017, the Astros were obviously on the way to winning a World Series. Right before the season ended, I'm talking to Lance in the clubhouse.

And I don't know, something clicked on our conversation about pet adoption, because that's important to Lance. And it was Lance's conversation with me in the Astros clubhouse that got me to go adopt two dogs, back to back in November and December of that year, Beckham and Ray, my two pups that are now, obviously three and 1/2 years old. It was Lance who helped start that. And every time we chat, we always talk pups, man. And Lance, I'd love to give you the platform because I know that's something that's so important to you.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah. Animals are where my heart lies. Obviously want to help people. Our foundation does-- we do a lot of work. We've done work with Sunshine Kids. I do work-- I'm the Big Brothers Big Sister-- Big Brothers Big Sister ambassador here in Houston. But animals in Houston really face an uphill battle, especially when I first got here in 2015.

It is amazing to see how the community has rallied behind the homeless animal population, and the way we've been able to-- it's not turned around completely, but it's in such a better place than when we got here. Our transport program with our partners RPM, Rescue Pet Movement and Pet Set in Houston, last year alone we transported over 16,000 animals off the euthanization lists. Those are animals that would have died, to surrounding states. And they're living in their forever homes.

And since the inception of that, all of Houston, and actually the inception started with Harvey. Our transport program began out of necessity when Harvey hit because of the influx of animals that needed to get out of the city. So we've transported and saved over 60,000 animals, just through that one program.

So the city of Houston has rallied behind our foundation. Before COVID hit, we were we were holding annual charity events, and they were very well supported, and we were able to raise a bunch of money and then immediately distribute that right back into the community and make big grants to Sunshine Kids and other Houston-based charities as well.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Where did you get your giving spirit from?

LANCE MCCULLERS: You know, I just-- I went to high school, Jesuit in Tampa, Florida. And one of the requirements is community service. You have to have so much community service hours every year to actually graduate. And I'm not going to lie, man. At first, when I was so young and my scope of the world was so narrow, those hours were something that almost was a task.

But every year, as I kept doing more and more of it, I realized how much I love doing it, and how much it was a part of me. And when I got to Houston, I was young, but like I said, my wife is also very much into giving back to the community and trying to show the people where we live and where we play how much we care for them as people, not just the city we play.

And so I think the spirit of giving has kind of just come from the way that I was raised and through Jesuit, but also the way the Houston community has embraced me, my family, this team, and that connection with the players, back to the people there in Houston. It makes that even stronger.

DAVID NUNO: A couple of name-drops coming here, but I was chatting with my friend Carlos Correa the other day, and we were we were joking about how you guys have become like Joe Rogan, man. If you watch your podcast, if you listen to you on social media, when it comes to UFC, you guys break it down, man. You both love it, don't you?

LANCE MCCULLERS: We do. And it's something that we've always loved. One Carlos' and I's first bonding moments was the fight game. It was boxing and mixed martial arts, kind of how we broke the ice with each other. And it's been something that we get together almost every Saturday, off-season, in-season, whatever the case may be to watch fights together. And it's something that we've just grown close to over time and our relationship has become very much like brothers now. And we have mixed martial arts to thank for that.

So we have a podcast going out. It's the Walkout podcast. We have fun doing it. It's on Sirius XM. It hasn't been a burden yet. We love getting together. It gives us an extra chance to-- it gives us an excuse to get together, even extra time during the week. But it's been great. We're having so much fun with it. I think the fans that listen really enjoy it. A couple of bad ratings on there, but I think maybe from some people out there on the west coast and whatnot. But overall it's been great. We've really enjoyed it.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: How about Houston's own, Derrick yesterday, man, with the knockout [INAUDIBLE].

LANCE MCCULLERS: Ah, man. I know.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Love it, man. [INAUDIBLE] by the way, his coach, man.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I'm so happy for him.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah, so Carlos and I actually-- I trained with Coach Bob a couple of times this off-season over there at midtown. But Derrick is such an amazing athlete, such an amazing [INAUDIBLE]. It's so crazy to see a guy that big be able to move and strike the way he does.

And we didn't get to do a podcast on it, obviously, because of everything that was happening in Houston. But that was what we were looking for, man. We were looking for the double-leg, we're looking for the high crotch possible take-down. We were looking for Derrick to kind of stuff him.

So I can't lie, man. Blaydes was looking really good on the feet. And I was-- so early there in the second he was just kind of taking it to Derrick on the feet. He starting mixing the leg kicks and he tried to double leg him and Derek defended beautifully. And I was like, well, man, I don't think he's going to go for it again. And then for some reason he backed off the cage, kind of came to the center and his range was further than it had been. And he went for the double leg and Derrick read it beautiful, man, and just put his lights out.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: They were prepared for that, man. Have you trained at all in jujitsu?


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I know you've done some-- you have? It's the most humbling thing ever. Like, I roll and, like to me, I consider myself a pretty decent athlete. I can do everything. And then I go up against, like a 130-pound kid, right, and he will just work me all over the mat. It's the most humbling sport ever.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah. Shout-out to my coach, Coach Lester. He's over there at Renzo Gracie. He's a jujitsu black belt. So I actually had a-- my garage was a jujitsu gym this off-season. So I'm not sure if I was allowed to be doing that. But we're past it now. I didn't get hurt. We're past it. The mats are up. It's [INAUDIBLE] time.

But, yeah, he was coming over to my house about two times a week. And we would do a mix of Muay Thai standup with jujitsu for a couple of hours each time. And we would lose track. It would be like three, four hours sometimes. And you're right, man, humbling. Humbling is the right way to put it. But for me, I was like, oh, it's a good way to get cardio in. So it's a different type of cardio. So that's what I blamed it on.

DAVID NUNO: True story, Cougar Bob actually trained me three times. I was a disaster. It was disgraceful for me. I was not good at that.

Lance, I got to ask you, man. I'm looking at last year's season and how proud I was of the way you guys really finished. I know you wanted to win the World Series. You got very close. But the way that season went for you guys, all the adversity, how you turned it on. When you look at 2020 as a platform for 2021, what do you see?

LANCE MCCULLERS: I saw a lot of growth last year in a lot of the guys. Obviously we were dealing with a lot of media scrutiny and probably well deserved. We slipped up. But we came back came together as a team and we put that behind us. And I think our guys learned how to navigate through some of the turmoil that we were facing, and really came out on the other side better ballplayers and better teammates.

We gelled together so well. We still do. We have a fantastic team, the culture we have here that was set by Jason Castro, who's now back, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh. You know, all these guys who are not with us anymore, with the team, but definitely still, you know-- it's how we do things. And I think that's the biggest thing with the Astros is, everyone's a family here and we all want to win for each other. So I'm looking forward to a great 2021.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And this off-season has been different in that, you know what, OK, last season's over, all the media scrutiny stuff, whatever. If people are going to criticize, they're going to criticize. But it's almost like an exhale that, hey, we can just deal with the upcoming season, don't got to worry about anything else.

And then for you as well, you were actually healthy for the off-season. It's been a while. And--

LANCE MCCULLERS: The first time.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. It's got to be a blessing.

LANCE MCCULLERS: It was, man. I was going to be on an innings limit last year no matter what. I wasn't a fan of it. I didn't like it. But I had to come to that reality in spring training before the pandemic hit that I was going to be on some sort of innings limit. So for me it kind of worked out.

And there was just a lot of bigger things going on in the world and in our lives. We had have family-- we had teammates of ours who had lost family members, teammates of ours who really had to make conscious decisions to even come play with us, come play last year, and really kind of roll the dice.

Because you have to remember, it was very unknown. When we were in summer camp it was in July for us. So there was a lot of unknowns. There was a lot of-- it was still very new, and there was a lot of finding out to do. We didn't know what would work, what wouldn't work. So a lot of respect for the guys who showed up last year for us. And it worked out for me innings-wise, and I'm looking forward to put a full season in. I've never felt better.

DAVID NUNO: So Lance, we do this thing at the end of big interviews. Raheel he has these five random questions he'd love to ask.


DAVID NUNO: So he's going to fly away a couple of 'em at you and see what we can get.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: OK. So before I start the five questions, so this is an extra bonus, OK, a little bonus. How awesome is it to see Carlos turn into a hype piece before our very own eyes? I mean, that dude is rocking a new-- yo, he's rocking a new fit, new shoes every day now.

LANCE MCCULLERS: I hope, uh-- I mean, my guy. I don't know where he goes to get all these outfits. I don't know where he goes, but he looks good, man. He looks good. He's doing his thing. He's got the perfect body type for it, you know. He's big, he's lanky. The high tops with the pants, it all looks good on him. So every day it's a new look. And you guys all-- we all get to see it on Insta, so.


LANCE MCCULLERS: He's doing well though. He's doing good. He's pairing it well.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: All right. Here we go. The five questions, the same five questions we ask every guest. Number one, Lance, what is one song you wish everybody would listen to at least once in their life?


DAVID NUNO: On the spot.

LANCE MCCULLERS: One song I wish everyone would listen to at least once in their life.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: You can take your time. It's fine.

LANCE MCCULLERS: I would say, I wish everybody would listen to-- I'm just going to kind of throw like a-- it's not really answering your question, so I apologize, but I think everyone needs to try to listen to like a prime Lil Wayne song, like a prime years Lil Wayne. Especially these new kids. These new young kids, these new TikTok people. This music right now that's being put out, I'll tell you what, it's not great.


LANCE MCCULLERS: It's not great. So any prime Lil Wayne. So like '05 to '09 Lil Wayne, just click on one.

DAVID NUNO: I like that answer.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. I mean, you could even go with the bass-- you could go with "Lollipop" even and it's fine. Like you'll just get--


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah, anything.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. Anything is good there. OK. What's one thing you always have to have in your fridge?

NICKY JAM: Always have to have peanut butter in my fridge.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Ooh, peanut butter.

LANCE MCCULLERS: And I know it's debatable because some people put peanut butter in the pantry.


LANCE MCCULLERS: But I like it in the fridge.

DAVID NUNO: I like it in the fridge too.


RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Pantry guy. Dude, I mean, do you put it on a sandwich or are you going with the spoon?

LANCE MCCULLERS: Oh, brother, it's like, I'll eat dinner and like, I'll just like scoop some dessert with peanut butter. Yeah. It's like a dessert. Like if I'm playing video games and I'm having a rough one, I'm like, I got to get some peanut butter. It'll lock me back in.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: I love it. Do you get the honey peanut butter or just standard peanut butter?

LANCE MCCULLERS: No, just-- I like crunchy, standard crunchy peanut butter.


DAVID NUNO: I'm apart of the almond butter community. Very good. Big fan of the almond butter.


DAVID NUNO: Thanks, guys.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. He just wanted to one up you there. Like, hey watch out.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah. I actually like cashew butter. So--


LANCE MCCULLERS: Cashew butter is my new favorite.

- You got cashew butter. OK. Number three, what's one place you want to visit that you haven't yet?

LANCE MCCULLERS: One place I want to visit that I have not yet is Ireland or Spain, because my lineage is from both. So I would like to-- I would like to travel there.

DAVID NUNO: I got to ask the question. Spain, you got a soccer team you follow from Spain?

LANCE MCCULLERS: No. No, I don't have a soccer team that I follow hardcore. But it's just gorgeous. Actually my grandfather went when I was 12. He went to visit some family, and I was supposed to go with him but I had some baseball tournaments.

So I didn't go on the trip because I had already committed to the baseball tournaments. And the one thing my grandfather taught me is, when you commit to something you got to follow through. So he was upset I didn't go with him. But I used his little saying against him. And he was like, OK, I get it. So I didn't get to go, but hopefully one day when this stuff is behind us.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Absolutely. OK. Who's one person alive you want to meet and have coffee with?

LANCE MCCULLERS: One person alive I want to eat and have coffee with. That's a big one.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: There's a lot. There's a lot.

LANCE MCCULLERS: It's a big one.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: Yeah. And I'll buy you some time. You're paying.

LANCE MCCULLERS: OK. So we have to go to a cheap coffee spot. No I'm just kidding. Man, one person alive that I would want to have coffee with.

RAHEEL RAMZANALI: And there are no wrong answers.

LANCE MCCULLERS: No. It's not going to be anything crazy. You know, this is kind of going to be like, oh, he picked this guy. But if I could really just like have coffee with someone and just-- I think Drake.


LANCE MCCULLERS: I think Drake because like, my whole middle school to now, my life is a Drake-- it could just be like-- the music could be playing in the background. That's how I feel about like my-- that's like my artist of my era. Like Wayne and then and then Drake. And like now like Roddy Ricch and those guys. But, yeah, I think I would just love to sit and talk with Drake.

DAVID NUNO: The soundtrack of your life, man.


RAHELL RAMZANALI: That'd be cool. That'll be a good conversation too. I mean, the guy's accomplished so much.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Right. That's what I'm saying. Like different avenues he's been into. So.

RAHELL RAMZANALI: Yeah. All right last one. What's one app that you want to delete off your phone but you just can't do it.



LANCE MCCULLERS: Can't do it but I want to.


LANCE MCCULLERS: No. No, no, no. Not because of Carlos. Maybe I'll get a burner account and only follow Carlos.


LANCE MCCULLERS: That's probably the way to do it. Yeah, he won't even know it's me.

RAHELL RAMZANALI: Why do you want to delete Instagram?

LANCE MCCULLERS: I've not that I want to delete it. About, I think when my daughter was born, I didn't realize like how much I looked at it. And then I found myself, like, doing things for her while I was on Instagram. And I'm like, man, I got to get off Instagram. So it's not like that I don't like the platform. I still think it's fine. I just think that for a long time I spent too much time on there. And I've definitely gotten better. I have my hour notification now. So I got an hour a day. So I use it sparingly.

But, you know, I just think that as I get older and I start to realize the value of time more, I think that it steals a lot of it away. So just limit it a little bit.

DAVID NUNO: Hey, Lance, as we're about to let you go, anything else you want to tell us about what you guys are doing? Obviously that use the Houston Food Bank. You've got the water, you've got the Lance McCullers Foundation. Just if you can just give us one last spiel.

LANCE MCCULLERS: Yeah. So basically what we're doing is, we're trying to get to a million bottles of clean water, fresh water distributed to Houston. So we kicked it off at 400,000. I think as of last night-- I'm going to put an update today-- we had gotten about another 100,000 in donations. We're going to be matching. So that $100,000 will become $200,000. So we're about $600,000. So it would be great if we can get to a million. You know, not in a very quick time span, but in a relatively quick time-span because people need it. So I'm hoping maybe in the next week or two we can get to the million.

And then through our animals, we're going to be getting emergency transports out. As I mentioned, we do a lot of transports already, but there's going to be a need for some emergency ones. So we'll be getting some emergency transports out. We've teamed up with a mobile pet vet service in Houston called Rolling Vets. We're going to be getting together a program, probably the people around the Houston area who need vet assistance but cannot get there, cannot afford it right now. We're going to be doing free vet assistance through Rolling Pets.

And we're going to be continuing to try to team up with people. We had a project, front line going on for quite some time during COVID. We're teaming with restaurants, buying hundreds of meals and delivering them to hospitals for front-line workers. So we're going to try to use that and maybe get some over to some police stations some fire stations, try to get it to any warming shelters if there's any left or things of that nature. So we're going to be trying to do a little bit of everything.

DAVID NUNO: Lance, you know how much respect I have for you, man. You've always been there for me when I need you, man. Thank you so much for joining us here on the show and hope to see you here in Houston. I'm not going to spring training this year, but I hope to see you when you guys get back.

LANCE MCCULLERS: We'll be there. We'll be there early April. So I look forward to being back home.

RAHELL RAMZANALI: Thanks, Lance. Appreciate it.

LANCE MCCULLERS: All right, guys. Any time.

DAVID NUNO: Thank you very much. Lance McCullers. Love that guy. That poor guy, I hit him up so much for stories. I went to his house with all his dogs, did a dog thing. It was great. He's just classy and always accommodating, just like a lot of those Astros guys. Like George was always easy to talk to. Carlos, obviously is easy to talk to. Altuve, I wouldn't say he's-- he's just a little more shy, but he's obviously accommodating. Verlander-- we got some stars still, man. Bregman, he's accommodating.

RAHELL RAMZANALI: Yeah. And the thing that I think we take for granted, and that's why I hit on it with Lance is that not all pro athletes go out and volunteer in their home communities, man. Like these guys truly are out there a lot, and they really care about the city of Houston. They've embraced it. I mean, the way George embraced it. He doesn't live here anymore and of course he's not here anymore. He's a Canadian now, so whatever. OK. Bye George.

But it's so cool when they would do all these events and actually be out there when the community needed them. It wasn't just, oh yeah, we're just playing sports and that's it. No, like, we live here and we need to give back. And it's so beautiful to see. And I think it's a rare thing. Like I don't remember any team being this involved in the community. I can't think of one.

DAVID NUNO: So I don't even know if we're live on the stream or not. I don't know if the governor started his press conference. I've haven't seen it. But I got to admit, man, No Layups this week? Like, I think we're bigger than David Muir's show, ABC World News. Like, I mean, literally like, Mattress Mack--


DAVID NUNO: --Nicky Jam--


DAVID NUNO: --Lance McCullers.


DAVID NUNO: Oh, Trae the Truth. I mean, bro.


RAHELL RAMZANALI: Yeah, I know. They're going to be like, hey, guys, uh, look, you had a great week. What are you going to do next week to top this week?

DAVID NUNO: I got nothing. I got this dietitian that I'm working on that I had to reschedule twice because we had so many big guests. No, it's been a good week, man.

RAHELL RAMZANALI: Good week, man. And we're thinking about everyone and make sure you follow ABC 13 on social for the latest in terms of the recovery efforts from the winter storm. All the reporters that are out there, they're putting up new information as soon as they get it. So, you know, it's a tough time, but again, we'll all get through it.

DAVID NUNO: Hey, let me get this prop real quick before we end the show. I know we were giving props to the real journalists. But how about Tom Abrams the other day?


DAVID NUNO: Ted Cruz lands in Houston, does a little Q&A with a couple of media members from his house outside for two seconds, and guess who gets invited for an exclusive inside? Tom freaking Abrams.


DAVID NUNO: That guys. I mean-- and he didn't hold back. He had some really good questions. And I think Tom is one of the best, if not the best. He is just-- he can do it all. He can anchor, he can report, he asks tough questions. He's flown with Ted Cruz. I think he's flown with Trump. He's been involved in everything. So it's some props to Tom who, I just love the consummate approach to what he does.