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NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 7, 2016
BRAD HORN: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, and welcome to the New York Athletic Club. My name is Brad Horn, I'm vice president of communications and education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. We're all thrilled you're with us here today for this special day for the Hall of Fame and an even better day for our two newest members of the Hall of Fame family.
I'd like to introduce the dais before we begin. Jack O'Connell, secretary/treasurer of the Basketball Writers Association of America. Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. 2016 electee Mike Piazza. 2016 electee Ken Griffey, Jr. The president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Jeff Idelson.
We are honored to be joined by several members of the baseball family today. From the Mets we'd like to welcome owner Jeff Wilpon, general manager Sandy Alderson. John Ricco as well is here representing the Mets today. Gentlemen, thank you for being here.
Representing Major League Baseball, it's always an honor to have Phyllis Merhige and Katie Feeney with us.
As part of our inductees' families, we are very excited to have with is Alicia Piazza, and from the Griffey family, Melissa Griffey, son Trey, son Tevin. And we are joined today also by a very special guest, former Major League player Ken Griffey, Sr., who is with us as well.
I'd like to ask Jeff O'Connell to say a few words about yesterday's election.
JACK O'CONNELL: It takes different paths to get to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In 1987 Ken Griffey, Jr., was the first player selected in that year's player draft. The next year Mike Piazza was the 1,390th player taken in the draft. Yet here they are today, shoulder to shoulder, heading into the Hall of Fame.
The baseball writers congratulate both these men. It was a very satisfying election for the BBWAA. Not only did we elect two very deserving Hall of Famers, but the results show that several other players should be encouraged by their finishes and their future on the ballot. It was a very satisfying election for us.
I want to thank the Elias Sports Bureau, Steve Hirdt is here today, did a lot of work putting the bios together that go in the packet for the ballot. Also my accounting partner from Ernst & Young is here as well, Mike DiLecce. This is our 20th election together. Thank you all for coming.
BRAD HORN: Thank you, Jack.
I'd like now for Jeff to say a few words.
JEFF IDELSON: On behalf of Jane and our board of directors, the entire staff of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I'd like to thank you for being here today. I'd like to welcome three of our board members who are with us, Bill Gladstone, we have Harvey Schiller, and Kevin Moore.
Jane and I would like to commend Jack and the baseball writers for their exemplary work in evaluating candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame, which we know is not an easy task. And to echo what Jack said, we would like to thank Mike and Ernst & Young, our partners since 1996, in verifying not only the vote but the process as well.
As I stated before, one of the most difficult career paths in the world is to the Major Leagues. Think about it, in the long history of professional baseball there have been just over 18,500 players who have been privileged enough to wear a Major League uniform. Only 1% make it to Cooperstown. That's how special the Hall of Fame election is. These men on the dais today are among those select few.
The backbone of a baseball team's defense is its strength up the middle. Yesterday the Hall of Fame roster became a lot stronger, thanks to the writers, with a premiere centerfielder and premiere catcher joining our already impressive roster.
The class of 2016 has had a significant impact on baseball and I think their elections are richly deserved. Both had something to prove after being drafted, as Jack said, Ken was taken with the first pick in the '87 draft and had to live up to those expectations. He did so becoming the nation's first‑ever No.1 pick to earn a plaque in the Hall of Fame. Mike was taken by the Dodgers in the 62nd round at the opposite end, 1,390th pick overall, and he had to prove the critics wrong. He did so every step of the way, all the way to Cooperstown.
Mike set a standard behind the plate, hitting for both power and average, launching 427 home runs, including a record 396 among catchers, while posting a .308 lifetime batting average, an incredibly durable catcher, lead the National League in putouts four times and assists twice. 12‑time All‑Star winning MVP honors in his hometown in 1996. Earned 10 Silver Slugger awards, and was the 1993 Rookie of the Year.
Ken parlayed I'd say a pretty strong baseball gene pool when you think he's a third‑generation baseball player with true five tool ability over 22 seasons into a Hall‑of‑Fame career. I think we all know he had a picture‑perfect left‑handed swing, blasted 630 home runs, which ranked sixth all time. He still ranks 13th overall in total bases and 15th in RBIs.
13‑time All‑Star, winning game MVP honors in 1992. 10 American League Gold Glove awards consecutively, and the 1997 American League most valuable player.
Like Stan Musial, he's from Donora, Pennsylvania, hits and throws left‑handed and even has the same birthday.
Gentlemen, you combined to wear the uniform for eight different teams during your careers. Now you're teammates on the greatest team ever assembled, the Hall of Fame team. We're going to give you both lifetime contracts, you're not going anywhere. Sandy, I'm sorry. You can't have him. We're absolutely thrilled to welcome you to Cooperstown.
It's our pleasure now to ask you to stand so that Jane and I can outfit you with your new uniforms.
JEFF IDELSON: Ken, let's start with you with some opening comments and remarks.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I am very honored, humbled by this tremendous‑‑ wow. It's something that you can only dream of. I knew I could play baseball, but I didn't know at this level until later in my career what I was able to do.
At age 19, it's pretty much trying to survive day in and day out of baseball. As I got older, I think I started realizing around 35 my place in baseball.
Had a little help from my father, who is somewhere around here, when we hit back‑to‑back home runs. Being 20, when I shook his hand, he was like, You know what we did?
I was like, Yeah, we went back‑to‑back.
Like every other 20‑year‑old, it was like no big deal.
He was like, Yeah, we just went back‑to‑back. Nobody's ever done that. Now let's do it again.
He understood the history of the game, being 38, 39, where I was just like, I'm ready to play every day.
As I got older, I finally understood, you know, what I've accomplished and what I had a potential to be. Now it's paid off. So I'm going to go into the weekend with a Seattle Mariners' hat on.
JEFF IDELSON: Thank you, Ken.
MIKE PIAZZA: First and foremost, I would like to thank God for this blessing today. I mean, I'm really honored. It's really overwhelming. Thank you to the writers for you guys voting us in. It's so rewarding to be recognized by those who cover the sport and know the gravitas of this hall and the history of this sport.
Thank you to the hall, distinguished members here on the dais for their incredible dedication to the history of the game. It's truly a special club, as they mentioned. The passion and the incredible detail with which they honor the game is truly inspiring.
Ken, what an honor it is to go in with you. I remember signing with the Dodgers in 1988. One of my first games was against the Seattle Mariners. I remember being awed by watching your athletic talent. Knew I was the complete polar opposite of you. But I knew I had one thing I could do, get the bat to the zone and hit. As a young catcher, I knew I had a lot of work to do.
I think that speaks volumes about how wonderful this game is. You have such an amazing, diverse role system that players can find their way and really, truly make a great living at this sport.
For me being a student of history, a student of the sport, it something, again, that is truly overwhelming because everybody knows it's not easy, it's a grind. There's so many stories. When you get an honor like this, you truly think back from your days in the Minor Leagues, living with three guys, going to the late‑night fast food, all the work and dedication that you do put in. It's something that, again, it brings it all around in focus. It's something that's very special.
My wife, Alicia, I want to thank her for her support and love. Ken and I were laughing, retirement isn't that easy for us guys. They put up with a lot. I'll tell you what, they truly do support us. Sometimes it's tough when you leave the game because you go from having a job to no job. They know it's not always easy. So they've been, I'm sure in your case, in my case, very instrumental in carrying us through.
But as far as my hat, I want to be very clear and say that as much as I loved coming up with the Dodgers, I will always cherish my time there, I'm going to go in as a New York Met.
Jeff and Sandy here, again, I enjoyed coming up with the Dodgers and had an amazing career there as far as getting to know Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, the Hall of Famers. But fortunately for me I eventually ended in New York in some way, shape or form and became a New York Met. I truly have a special relationship here with the fans of the Mets. Thank you very much.
JEFF IDELSON: Thank you, Mike.
We're going to open this press conference to Q&A at this point.
Q. Can you go into your decisions a little bit more on why you determined that Mets were good for you, Mike, and Junior the Mariners over the Reds.
MIKE PIAZZA: I'll tell you, I talked to Tommy last night, LaSorda, I talked to him this morning. I kind of told him what I was thinking.
You know, I think this game is funny. We have sort of similar paths. Obviously when he went to the Cincinnati Reds, it's tough. I mean, for me, again, as much as I enjoyed my time there, I ended up in New York. I feel like the fans here truly brought me into their family. Every time I've come back, I've been so incredibly honored from the response.
Unfortunately we do have to choose one. For me, I always sort of enjoyed reconnecting here in New York.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Well, for me, I played 13 years in Seattle, which is longer than any of the other two teams I played for, Chicago and Cincinnati.
I think I did most of my damage as a Mariner. Want to be the first in a lot of things, and to be able to wear a Mariners' hat and to go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner, that's also one of the decisions I needed to make. I felt being 19, they gave me an opportunity to play the game that I love. I spent most of my time in Seattle.
Q. Mike, the transition that you made. You came up as a first baseman, then you had to go to a very difficult position, catcher. And, Ken, I'd like to ask you about you were such a great player, was there a time in your career where you felt you were slowing up a little bit, where you could feel it at all?
MIKE PIAZZA: For me, it was day one when I started slowing (laughter).
You know, as far as my experience, as far as converting into a catcher, I think one of the things that I was blessed with is so many great coaches to help me along the way. I remember a great piece of advice that I tell young guys all the time, Listen to everybody, if they tell you 10 things, but if you can retain one thing, that will help you, keep that.
My first catching coach was Johnny Roseboro, Kevin Kennedy and Joe Ferguson. They allowed me to really get to a certain level very quickly because they had experienced that through their careers.
I was just blessed. Coming here to the Mets, working with John Stearns, Jerry Grote. I'm sure Ken will attest, we've had a lot of amazing coaches help us along the way. So for me that was very important.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I ain't really slowed up (laughter).
MIKE PIAZZA: We were just talking. I think our lives are more hectic now than when we played.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: When I get home, first thing I have to do is take out the garbage (laughter).
Having a dad that's gone through it, you understand things earlier, at an earlier age. He would always say, At 20, 30, you're going to be fine. When you get 35 to 40, you're still going to be fine, but you're not going to be able to do it every day. You're going to have to pick and choose the days you can do it. It made sense.
But (indiscernible) undefeated. So you just have to try to play as long as you can and do the things that you can to get you out there. Nobody's going to be great all their life. There is going to be a time where you're going to slow down. Perfect example is you have Kobe right now who just said, You know what, my body can't take this anymore.
It's going to happen. You play hard enough, long enough, things are going to happen.
MIKE PIAZZA: As you said, it makes a lot of sense. That's one of the real huge challenges as an athlete, is when a certain skill starts to diminish. How are you going to deal with that, what adjustments are you going to make? The way I was being pitched in the second part of my career than the first part, I had to make adjustments. When you are facing Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine, if they see a weakness, they are going to exploit that weakness.
The minute I knew there was one thing I was lacking, I had to work on it and try to close that hole. That's the great challenge about our sport which I think is unique as well, those battles within the battle that take shape. As your skills slow down a little bit, how to mitigate that and get through it.
Q. Mike, I remember the day you showed up with the Mets. Johnny Franco graciously turned over his number 31 to you. I remember you said you had a thing about wearing a number in the 30s. Is there a story behind the day from when you changed from 25 to 31 and how did that become your number?
MIKE PIAZZA: Yes. The short version of that is when I came up with the Dodgers, I had a really great veteran staff, Orel Hershiser, Kevin Gross, Tom Candiotti, and Roger McDowell was there. I actually caught Roger McDowell and Bobby Ojeda in September of '92. Roger had 31, and Bobby had 37. He left the team. Roger loved Bobby so much, he took 37.
My lucky number is always in the 3s. I wore 13 in high school, but I didn't feel comfortable wearing 13 in the big leagues, so I said, Let me do 31. There is a connection with the Mets there.
I hope that was the short version.
Q. Junior, basically I want to take you back to the beginning of your career, April 26, 1990, at Yankee Stadium. You made the phenomenal catch off of Jesse Barfield, robbing him of his 200th homer. An added element to the catch was the fact that it was the third out of the inning. The Yankee Stadium crowd after being silent gave you a standing ovation. Among the people in the stands that day was your father. The reason I know that is because I was sitting with him. Where does that catch rank for you as all the catches you made? Where does that moment rank for you as far as all the great moments you had in your career?
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: It's up there. I can say the catch is up there. Having a dad who played, his catch in Yankee Stadium, I think it was Marty Barrett who hit it. We argue all the time whose catch was better. I say my catch was better, or he'll say his catch was better. I will say my dismount and stuck the landing was a little better than his.
But all the practice that you do as a little kid, running up my mom's wall, throwing the ball up against the wall, trying to make a catch like that. All the practice from A ball from when Donnie Reynolds was my coach in San Bernardino. Those are things that you practice.
It was the very first time that I ever robbed somebody on any level. In Cincinnati we didn't have fences. You had to hit it. If you stopped running, it was a home run. That was it.
I didn't play with fences till I got to summer ball, then eventually pro ball. So more or less I was laughing because it was the very first time that I've ever robbed somebody in all the years from being three climbing up my mom's wall till now, it was the first time I ever robbed somebody. It was just like, Oh, you can let go and laugh.
My dad has always told me, When you hit, if you hit a home run, you can't really embarrass that person. He knows he made a mistake. Just get around the bases, let the next guy hit. Baseball has a way of policing itself. But on defense you can show a little more of your character and spirit. Being able to dive, rob somebody of a home run, it's not really showing somebody up if you come in laughing, not really laughing, but showing a little bit of enthusiasm about what you did compared to hitting a home run and running around and doing it that way.
But I would say it's in the top 10.
Q. What are your memories of games you had playing against each other?
MIKE PIAZZA: I saw a picture the other day I think when we first came to interleague play with the Mariners. He went deep. I remember I didn't want to throw that pitch. Pitcher shook me off.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I didn't shake you off (laughter).
MIKE PIAZZA: I know (laughter).
Yeah, I think that's another thing, because when the interleague play came in, I thought that was the coolest thing. Junior came to Dodger Stadium. It was definitely unique the way the game was changing.
But I remember a couple of times, even Cincinnati, when you were in Cincy, there were a couple of balls he went deep on.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I have a picture of both of us looking up. That was on the web this morning.
MIKE PIAZZA: True.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: When you play against great players, and Mike's a great player, it's one of those things that you battle. I know that from our standards, being opposing players, you don't want him to beat you, and he doesn't want me to beat them. It's a mind game.
You see something from centerfield, you run in there, He's not swinging the bat real well, he's not doing this, you might want to pound them in, you might want to do this. And they're doing the same thing.
You have a mutual respect for each other. It's a lot of fun playing against guys that you know that they're giving it their all. Mike has done that. Just walk him, he's going to hit the ball to rightfield, I have to run over there.
MIKE PIAZZA: Especially at the Kingdome. I'm starting to remember. The first year of interleague play. Fun to hit the ball to right there.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: It's not fun to go get it (laughter).
Q. Ken, the immortal trip around the bases to win the playoff series against the Yankees, your thoughts about that. Mike, the tumultuous eight or nine days from the Dodgers to the Marlins to the Mets, what that was like.
MIKE PIAZZA: I'll try to keep this brief.
It was an interesting time for me and for the team. The team was obviously in transition. It was sold. It was sold several times after that. It was just one of those things. It was maybe a combination of egos and bad timing, whatever the case may be. It just wasn't meant to be. We couldn't work out an extension there.
So I guess the powers that be there just decided to obviously trade me. Somehow I ended up with the Florida Marlins, which was a whole 'nother story. They had just come off a World Series. As you know, Huizenga didn't get the stadium there and decided to unload the team. I ended up there for only a short amount of time.
At one point, I thought I was going to another team. Lo and behold, I ended up with the New York Mets, which believe it or not at the time I had no idea I would end up here.
Again, it's funny. Sometimes in life change is difficult and it's tough. But if it happens, it knocks you out of your comfort zone, sometimes you just have to go along for the ride and try to make the best of it.
For me at first it was a tough time here. I don't feel like I was embraced. I wasn't by any means playing well. Eventually I decided to try to do the best I could. The fans responded. Ended up having an amazing experience here in New York, eight amazing years. I've been rewarded and blessed by the support I received here.
As I said, to be embraced in NewYork City is something very special, as you all well know being here. Something I can't describe.
It was an interesting journey, and maybe it was just a transition time in the game. Sometimes you just have to, again, make the most of a situation that is thrust upon you in some ways. That's what I did.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: About the slide. I got it.
MIKE PIAZZA: I love that story. Take all the time you want.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: It's one of those plays where you know you have to get a good jump. Everything has to be perfect. You have to be ready. These are the things that you go over every day, you practice it every day. During batting practice, you get the jumps. You practice stealing. You practice first to third. You do this in spring training every day. You do it every day during the baseball season.
It just so happened that it lined up perfectly. Edgar hit a ball down the left field line, I knew I could get from first to third. You want to make it tough on the third base coach. You don't want to make it easy for him. I think a lot of kids make it easy for him by not busting their butts to second and just cruising to third.
I knew if I make it tough for him, he's got to either hold me up or send me. About three‑fourths of the way there, I could see him moving his arm. I'm like, Okay, here we go.
After I touched second, I glanced out there, then I hit third. I was like, You've got a chance to score. I didn't really see the catcher moving too much. You know when the catcher is about to catch the ball and drop the hammer on you. He was sliding out. I was like, I got the plate now.
I can see all the players behind me going, Get down, get down. When I slid, everybody jumped on me. The only thing I could think of when I was underneath that pile was, Get off me, I was just coming back from a broken wrist.
MIKE PIAZZA: Can't breathe under there (laughter).
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I got my hand out of the way.
But it's one of those plays that everything lined up. It was one of those things that just happens one or two times in a series. It just happened to be that time.
Q. Most players have some mementos that they've saved from their career, first home run ball, award you're proud of. Do either of you have anything like that from your careers? Is there anything in the Baseball Hall of Fame museum that is special to you?
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I haven't set foot in the museum yet. I'm really superstitious. Played there three times in the game but never actually walked into the building. I know I have a few things there that I've donated over the course of my career.
Do I have anything? Yeah, I have the father and son jerseys, when we wore the uniform for the first time. I think that's my first jersey. You always take your first hit, your first ball, the bat, those type of things. But I do have the jersey that my dad and I wore.
MIKE PIAZZA: I played in the Hall of Fame game I think it was '93 or '94. I wasn't as superstitious. I figured the only way I would get in there was to pay, so I went in (laughter).
No, it's truly an awe‑inspiring, inspirational event for a ballplayer. It's the history of our game. That's why it's such an interesting thing about the game, the way we have the connection with history. That to me is something which defines us, defines what we do, kind of maybe separates us from other sports and other halls of fame.
I think the '96 All‑Star bat, from Philly, I gave them that bat, a couple other things. I got a few other things I can part with, so it's no problem.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: So your house is like mine. My wife is, I know you have some things I can get rid of. Get them out of my garage.
I thought that was my garage.
MIKE PIAZZA: No, my space keeps shrinking every year, for some reason.
Q. Ken, clarification on the hat issue. Forwards or backwards?
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Forward.
MIKE PIAZZA: And then backwards (laughter).
Q. Ken, many years ago I interviewed you about who was your instructor. Since your father was playing in the Major Leagues, you were so great playing baseball, who helped you from childhood on. You said it was your mother. Can you talk about that a little bit.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Well, having a mom who has seen a whole lot of big leaguers play, it was her word, because she would take me to the games, go to practices like that, the shuttle that moms do. She would be able to relay things to my dad. My dad would say something. She had a way of saying it much differently than my dad would say it. You know how dads can be sometimes.
So she knew my swing. She knew if I was fielding right, what I needed to do there. She watched six years of big league baseball and Minor League ball. She was able to say, You're doing these things wrong, you're doing these things right. As I got older, it transferred over to my dad because there's certain things he could tell me that she couldn't.
But moms are always the ones that start off with, I should say, the nice rides home. Because if you ask Trey and Tevin who would they rather ride home with, they would rather say mom than dad, because I have a way of critiquing things, where mom has a way of smoothing over things where you can understand it, where dad is just going to yell.
Again, she watched enough baseball to be able to tell what I was doing wrong. She even told him what he was doing wrong. I thought I'd throw that in, dad, sorry (laughter).
KEN GRIFFEY, SR.: You have no idea (laughter).
Q. Mike, a lot has been made of the number 1,390. On a day like today, what does that number now mean to you?
MIKE PIAZZA: Wow. Just shows how great our sport is. You just need a chance. I was able to sneak into this game, kind of limp in, if you will. Through a lot of hard work and determination, some luck, some timing, was able to build a pretty good career. That's something for me that, again, I've been very vocal about the amount of support.
As Ken mentioned, his family growing up. My dad made a joke last night. He said, Man, today he might have been arrested like with child labor laws because he forced me in that cage every single day. He said, Man, I could have been arrested, it could have been child abuse.
My father was so instrumental in getting me to focus. I think that's something we struggle with today because you don't want to be so intense, but you also want to focus kids and get them going.
He was probably closer to going over the top than most parents today. Nonetheless, he was able to see it was a passion that I had, knew I was able to take it. It's something that I responded to.
Again, just real quick, as a kid, my dad's unique relationship with Tommy, the fact not dissimilar to Kenny's, but for me, I got to see the pennant celebration the Dodgers had against the Phillies in '77, be in the clubhouse, things I said before. That's pretty powerful as a kid to not only go to a big league game, but also much a pennant‑winning celebration. It's inspiring.
As much as our pasts are very different, as I said, it shows how great this game is. I watched the kid Altuve, I think from Houston, he's not a crazy big guy, but he just hustles and plays. That's what our sport is. You look at a basketball guy, chances are you can pick him out of a crowd, a football guy. But baseball is unique in that sense, there's many roles that we can find to have a good career.
Q. You both came in from opposite ends of the draft obviously. Reflect what happened after that, starting your pro careers, in Albuquerque, Bakersfield, how that prepared you for what ended up being a Hall‑of‑Fame career.
MIKE PIAZZA: I think those moments, as much as they were difficult, were some of the more innocent times and the fun with the guys, Musketeers against the world. Once you get to the big leagues sometimes it's a lot more pressure and it's different.
But those are the times that you have to kind of cut your teeth and go through those struggles, especially for me. I remember just my short story about having to run back to the backstop, and pitchers that came from good colleges. They're like, Who is this guy catching? He's terrible. We need to get another guy back there.
Fortunately I was able to get better and work harder and at least, as I said, improve to where I was able to be a pretty good Major League catcher.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Wow, I just remember those bus rides. You touched it all with having roommates and things like that, people you don't know.
MIKE PIAZZA: No money.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Mine was 700 bucks a month.
MIKE PIAZZA: My first contract was $850 a month. Tommy LaSorda always has a great expression. When I played in the Minor Leagues, you couldn't even get a hot shower. He always used to say, Good, I don't want it to be comfortable here, I want you to work to get to the big leagues.
Now you go to the Minor League stadiums, it's great, you have baby changing rooms in the clubhouse. This is comfortable, I don't know if I ever want to leave here.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: It's changed.
MIKE PIAZZA: Yeah, it's crazy. I'm happy for the players today. They're incredible nonetheless, they're talented. But, man, I think it's harder in a way. We wanted to get the hell out of there. It was tough conditions sometimes.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Playing in ballparks.
MIKE PIAZZA: Bad lights, bugs. That's part of the fun about this. It puts everything in panorama from the start to the beginning.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: There's always a No.1 pick. Each year there's going to be a No.1 pick. There's going to be a first‑round pick. But you got to go out and play. Once you get drafted, that number doesn't really mean anything. You may have one more chance than everybody else, but you've got to go out there and play.
I knew that when I got drafted. You're No.1 pick. So what? You still got to go out there and play like everybody else. We're not going to treat you any different than anybody else. From Rick Sweet being my first‑year manager. He actually fined me for missing curfew. Only reason I missed curfew is I'm allergic to fish, I went to eat after a seven‑hour bus ride. He doesn't care. You missed curfew, here is a hundred. When I got to Cincinnati, I asked for my money back. He said he didn't have it. That was good (laughter).
But when you have guys who have been in the Major Leagues and now they're coaching, they're riding the bus along with you, they've got 10, 15 years in the big leagues, you sort of listen to them. They're teaching you how to be a pro from A ball. It's not like high school. It's not like college. These guys are teaching you what it's going to take to get to the next level. Then you have another coach that's going to try to get you to the next level.
They're not going to sugarcoat things. They're going to treat you like young men. You better do the right thing or they're going to get you out of there.
I've watched plenty of players throughout my career get released and stuff like that. I was like, He could play.
We don't deal with attitudes like that.
Like I said, doesn't matter when you get drafted, you still got to go out and perform. We're still playing on the same field.
MIKE PIAZZA: Everyone matures differently, too. I remember watching him play. The pressures that he had were different than mine in a sense that obviously expectations were high. For him, everybody was watching. For me, nobody was. I had to kind of cut my teeth and do a different route.
For me, I've seen so many guys that were a lot more talented than me that didn't make it because it's not easy. It's a tough road. Guys get injured. Life is sometimes not what happens but how you deal with it. This game is a true test. The conditions we mentioned really separate the guys that can play and the guys that can't.
JEFF IDELSON: On that note, we'll close the press conference. Thank you.
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