This afternoon, CC Sabathia takes the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays to open the 2012 regular season for the New York Yankees. But when the Yanks' playoff run came to an abrupt end last year, many people were speculating whether or not that would be the last time CC ever donned the pinstripes. On October 31, the newly slimmed-down ace put to rest the collective fear of Yankee fans everywhere by announcing via Twitter that he would not exercise his opt-out clause, and instead, signed an extension with New York.

With contract negotiations out of the way, Sabathia can now focus all his attention on being the stalwart in the pitching rotation that will help lead the Yankees to World Series championship No. 28. We caught up with the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history to discuss everything from his new teammates to what he's currently bumpin' on his iPod.

Interview by Jose Martinez (@ZayMarty)

Would you call yourself a big gamer?
I play a lot. I have an eight year old that also plays a lot. We play the PlayStation, we play Madden, NBA 2K12, MLB The Show, so it’s a lot of fun to be here and be a part of this. I grew up with video games. My generation kind of grew up with the Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. Then, I had a Dreamcast and finally, the PlayStation. So yeah, I’ve always been a big gamer.

Wow. You brought it back to the Dreamcast.
[Laughs.] Yeah, you remember the Dreamcast?

Oh yeah. What was your first huge game addiction?
I guess, Madden, but I remember R.B.I. Baseball from Nintendo. That was the game. It was all the real players. We used to have battles in that game.

So, what's your team in Madden?
The Raiders. I’ve always been playing with the Raiders. No matter what, up or down, that’s my squad.

So, you were okay with Jason Campbell at QB when he was starting?
Yeah, I was okay with it. Then I updated the roster and we got Carson Palmer.

You weren’t tempted to put CC Sabathia at QB?
Nah. My son likes to create players, though. He just likes to make running backs and draft them, but it’s always fun.

Last season, you had a big decision to make, whether or not you wanted to remain with the Yankees. What was your main reason for staying in New York?
It’s been home. My whole family moved here from California. We’ve been in the community and we love it here. We love the city. I love my teammates. There was no better place to go. It was kind of an easy decision, one that I made a long time ago. I’m happy to be with this organization and I hope to retire as a Yankee.

What's been the highlight of your offseason?
I went to the Jay-Z concert at Carnegie Hall, which was crazy. I went on both nights actually. [Laughs.] That was a lot of fun. Musically, I listen to everything. Right now, I’m listening to Rick Ross’ mixtape, "Rich Forever."

Who are some of your other favorite artists?
Honestly, Joe Budden. I feel that no one gives him the credit he deserves. I also like Meek Millz and Wale.

Seems like you're a big fan of the Maybach Music Group.
Yeah, but I also like Jay-Z. I grew up on E-40 and Mac Dre, from The Bay. There’s a bunch of guys I listen to. You know, I got my iPod all over the place. [Laughs.]

As a New Yorker, you’ve been hearing all about these stories about Victor Cruz and Jeremy Lin. What’s your take on both of those guys?
Man, it’s unbelievable. What Victor Cruz did was amazing. You can’t put anyone on that level. Jeremy Lin has been great, don’t get me wrong, but Cruz lead them to a championship. Eli played great and the defense stepped up, but he just turned it out. Lin being from the Bay is real cool. To watch him do his thing and get the chance to show his talent, that’s exciting.

Do you think that there’s a player on the Yankees that could be the next Jeremy Lin or Victor Cruz?
I think Michael Pineda. It might be him. Obviously, he has the talent, but no one has really been able to see him pitch up close. I think he’ll be great and I’m excited to see what he can do for us.