Since we're Top Ten-ing everything else related to the decade, allow me one small measure of self-indulgence -- my All-Interview Team.
Not everyone on this list was/is a great quote, per se, but they're guys I liked talking to for various reasons, and who doesn't enjoy the occasional peek behind the curtain? Also, No. 1 on my list is 1,000 percent real, I swear.
1. J.D. Drew
I know what you're thinking, but I'm telling you, no player had a better handle on baseball's relative insignificance. Drew played because it made him rich (he's notoriously cheap) and he was really good at it, but he never wanted it to define him. A folksy conversationalist, he was also sneaky funny, like the time he hopped up the dugout steps to boos during BP in Philly, proclaimed, "This is MY house," and then went 4-for-5 with a three-run homer.
2. David Ortiz
Big Papi will end up topping a lot of best-of lists in the next couple of weeks, and for good reason. But beyond providing countless moments of drama, he was a hell of a colorful interview, speaking unfiltered and from the heart, even when it might've behooved him to go the diplomatic route. He'd get ripped for bitching about his contract or a lost RBI, but what reporter would complain about that? He made great copy, and when he held court, his blue streak would make Lenny Bruce blush.
3. Jonny Gomes
Critics ripped him for being a self-promoter, and while I wouldn't totally absolve him of that charge, his impact on the 2013 clubhouse was real. The most impressive part of talking to Gomes was just how closely he paid attention to the rest of baseball. Some guys can't tell you what's happening outside their clubhouse door, but Gomes knew everything about everyone in the AL and NL, and he'd talk baseball with anybody.
4. Xander Bogaerts
For someone who won his first World Series just a couple of weeks after turning 21 and recently signed a nine-figure contract, Bogaerts has remained remarkably humble and grounded. He spent his early seasons in the background, ceding state-of-the-team responsibilities to veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. But now that he's entering his eighth (!?!) season, he recognizes the need to be a spokesman, especially when things are going poorly, and he's as accountable as they get.
5. Daniel Bard
When Bard's career went south in 2012 following a failed move to the rotation, no one was secretly more disappointed than the beat writers. Bard was always a thoughtful quote, with a keen intelligence befitting his lineage -- his grandfather coached at MIT for years -- and a willingness to offer insight. Some believe that intelligence worked against him, causing him to overanalyze his mental woes, and we'll never know how his career would've turned out if he had remained in the bullpen.
6. Carl Crawford
While there's no question Crawford disappointed on the field, it wasn't for lack of effort, and those of us who were around him every day could see the toll all that failure took on him personally. Extremely popular among teammates -- most of whom he greeted with, "Wassup, big man?" -- Crawford was honest to a fault with the media, even when the questions were relentlessly negative. He may not have been worth $142 million, but he was no villain.
7. Clay Buchholz
A truth about reporters: sometimes we only reluctantly ask the toughest questions, because we know our subjects will get their backs up and then we have to steel for a fight. Then there's Buchholz. You could ask him the most pointed question about why he was terrible and everyone hated him, and he'd answer without rancor because it's just how he's wired. He just shrugged and took nothing personally, which is a gift.
8. Jackie Bradley Jr.
After the birth of his first child, Bradley was leaving Fenway Park when a couple of reporters held the door for him and wished him a Happy Father's Day. Bradley turned around, confirmed they had kids as well, and said, "then Happy Father's Day to you, too." In an industry where narcissism is practically required, Bradley manages to treat people with respect instead of contempt.
9. Burke Badenhop
Here's to the nerds! Badenhop was unapologetically wonky and one of the first players to embrace advanced analytics in pursuit of self-improvement. A business major at Bowling Green, he had landed a coveted job at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in 2005 before baseball came calling. The son of an English professor and contributor to a book on finance for young college grads, he considered writing for "Saturday Night Live" his dream job.
10. Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis could be confrontational. He constantly railed against negativity. He once yelled at me for calling him the Greek God of Walks, because, "you know I hate that name." Despite all that, I enjoyed interacting with him, because deep down, he was still just the kid from Cincinnati rooting on the Bengals from the nosebleeds, and even after he signed a $40 million contract, that everyman regular guy remained a part of him.