October 12, 2004
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Game One
Q. Everyone saw the tumult that surrounded Grady Little after the playoffs last year, take us through your thought process and how you deal with the daily tumult. And also, this is for Phyllis, does Pedro get fined for being a no-show in the post-season?
PHYLLIS MERHIGE: No, he doesn't.
Q. And why does MLB not follow the NBA?
PHYLLIS MERHIGE: No, Pedro is invited to appear in the interview room. It isn't mandatory, and Major League Baseball I believe has always taken the position that if someone didn't want to appear here, there's no point in forcing the issue. What's the point of having somebody sit here and sit stoney-faced if he doesn't want to be here? We appreciate all of the players that come and make themselves available here. We think it's the right thing to do, but if a player chooses for whatever reason to decline the invitation, we consider it that. The complaint on the part of the media has been lodged with the Commissioner's Office on behalf of the baseball writers, particularly. He's assured us that he will come in and talk, win or lose, post-game tomorrow, and I don't think I can give you any more than that. Terry, your turn.
TERRY FRANCONA: So I can leave now? As far as I think you said something about the tumult of the scrutiny in Boston, from the beginning I just felt like I would prepare my hardest to do the right thing or what was right in my opinion. And I knew going in, if it didn't turn out right and we didn't win, you had to answer question and I understood that. Just like you ask the players to do the best they can and try to do the right thing, that's what I did. I think I had enough confidence in what I was doing that you do it, you live with the results, and then you answer the questions. On the flip side is, I don't wake up in the morning and run to the newspaper or turn on the radio see how I'm perceived. I really don't care. What I care about is winning and I think we've done a pretty good job of that.
Q. Particularly in the post-season, the fans enjoyment of the game and some of the press is looking at what the managers did, what they might have done differently, second-guessing managers. Some of it's fair, some of it isn't, what is a fair way of evaluating a manager?
TERRY FRANCONA: You have to win. That's obvious.
Q. Beyond that.
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think it's a fair way and I don't think this will ever happen, but if you think along with a manager during the game and you write down what you would have been at the exact moment, I think that makes it fair. Because in this job, and it's going to happen, that's okay, there's a lot of interest in baseball, that's what makes it so good. If you lose the game, your move was wrong. Well, if you're sitting up there and you do the move at the same time and you think it was wrong then, then you're probably fair in saying, hey, why did you do that. But when we do something here, we're going to have a reason, but it's still made by you, and if somebody can't hang a pitch, you lose. But that doesn't make me sleep less when that happens. We prepare really hard to do what we think is right.
Q. Is there anything beyond won/loss record to see if a manager has on an average job or less than average job?
TERRY FRANCONA: The things that bother me at the end of the game I don't think I've ever been asked about. Sometimes there's a runner on first and there's a pretty good base runner and we might put a slide step on and the pitcher throws a pitch that the hitter gets hit, nobody asks me this. Those are the things that concern me a little bit, that upset me a lot when I think we did something incorrectly. It probably goes a little farther than just the box score.
Q. Right along that line, but the Mulligan quote that we all love, when you say that Philadelphia was your Mulligan, what's different on your second swing?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, to clear that up a little bit, I don't think you listened to the whole quote. I don't think that was very fair. That was -- I think I actually misspoke a little bit. But I also think if you listen to the whole quote I was very respectful to the Phillies and the people there. Since you're from there I just took it for granted. My point was that four years of experience, just like a player doing something, when you do something and you have experience, you gain confidence. You can say you feel good about something but until you've actually done it, you haven't done it. Dealing with people, dealing with players, dealing with situation, the four -- losing four years in Philadelphia is not an easy thing to do. That's a tough place to do it. So I gained a lot of valuable experience.
Q. How do you feel about Pedro not showing up in Anaheim and now again today?
TERRY FRANCONA: He's going to show up on the mound; that's what I care about. Whether he talks to you guys or not, I know it probably frustrates you, you can talk to me. I don't personally care. I want him to pitch really, really well.
Q. What does Jason Varitek give you that an average catcher, average Major League catcher beyond what an average Major League catcher would give a team, what has he done in the year that you've seen him operate with the pitching staff?
TERRY FRANCONA: It's not just with the pitching staff. It's with our entire team. Nothing he does is average. The very first, it was the second day of spring training with all of the players. The first day we didn't run a fundamental, but the second day we ran a bunt defense and I went back on his field and we were there about five minutes, because I had heard so much about him, I thought this guy, this is what you're looking for. Every time he was in a drill, it was run perfect. Even rundowns, things like that, this guy is the heart and soul of our team. He never quits. He cares so much about keeping those pitchers in line, he might be the first hitter of the inning but he's over there baby-sitting a pitcher. This guy is everything you can ask for in a catcher.
Q. What has it been like for you to manage a personality like Pedro's and in the aftermath of those, what we perceived as strange comments about the Yankees in that loss, what did you make of those, what had been your conclusions about the "they are my daddy" quote?
TERRY FRANCONA: First of all, what's it like managing Pedro, I think we have a pretty easy team I think to be the manager of. They enjoy playing baseball a lot. You know they are a little unique and a little quirky but I think they genuinely respect the game and they show up and want to play. Pedro is very respectful to the staff everything and. That's not a problem. His comments, you know what I really didn't put a lot of credence in. I thought he was a little frustrate that had night. You see so many times players say something after a game or they think some something else, or they are half-dressed going somewhere in hurry, they say something that they probably wish ten minutes later they would not have said. I guess I put more credence in his pitching the last ten years than I do one sentence when he was a little frustrated.
Q. What did Pedro do better in his playoff start that was not going right for him in that four-game losing streak?
TERRY FRANCONA: Location. When he locates, he's very, very tough to beat. Because he can throw four different pitches and he can elevate the ball, he can sink the ball, he can throw out, he can throw in with no problems but he was throwing the ball over the middle of the plate in September too much. When he locates, like I said when he's throwing that cutter on the outside to run that fastball in and staying out of the middle of the plate, he's tough to beat like he was against Anaheim.
Q. Was that mechanical?
TERRY FRANCONA: If it was, I'm not good enough to see that. I just think he was in the middle of the plate too much.
Q. What has Orlando Cabrera meant to your team during the second half of the season?
TERRY FRANCONA: A lot. He's been so good defensively. He's made every play, every play you're supposed to make he's made. He's made a lot of plays that you don't expect to be made. He's got a lot of enthusiasm. I kind of wish we could take the credit for teaching him how to play the game but somebody a long time ago taught him how to play the game right, run, he can bunt, he's an intelligent player; offensively, he's given us a big boost with a lot of hits.
Q. What's the year been like for you personally, and what's the mood of your team going into this series?
TERRY FRANCONA: The mood of our team is about the same every day. It's kind of crazy in there. I don't think that will ever change. And I'm glad, I like that. When we were kind of spinning our wheels early on, May, June, July, I wanted our team to kind of develop a personality, like last year they had the cowboy up, this year is seems like it's the hair thing. Unfortunately I can't involve myself in that, but the team, they seem to enjoy it and they have taken off with it and they are playing good. Again, I don't think it's gotten lost on them they are baseball players in this era of a lot of money and television they are still baseball players. I think they like that.
Q. Can you describe some of your thinking when you were considering different options for how to change your roster for this playoff series?
TERRY FRANCONA: There wasn't a whole lot of options. We determined that we wanted the extra pitcher so Youkills was the one we needed to take off because we needed an extra infielder, and Mendoza was the pitcher we were going to go to. So it wasn't that big of a deal. It was tough to take Mendoza off the first set of playoffs but we felt like we needed the extra infielder.
Q. Are your players aware of what kind of a player you were back in the day before health intervened, when you're talking to them about knowing where they are coming from; and what was your crazy level as a player and what hair would you have had?
TERRY FRANCONA: Actually I had a lot of hair. You look back, I know, it's hard to believe. I think they know what kind of hitter I was. I've had too many people run by them and tell them about the ball just flaring over third and hitting the bags and things like that. Players don't want to hear about your career, especially when you weren't very good. This is their time to shine. I had my chance and I screwed it up pretty good. (Laughter.) So I'm happy doing what I'm doing and I want them to be happy doing what they do.
Q. And hair-wise, what would have been your selection back then?
TERRY FRANCONA: I wish I had a selection. I'm kind of stuck with my selection. I don't know. You know what, it's so funny because our team I know it has a little bit of a different look. It's not very unique. They seem to be going doing it together. One guy gets a goatee, five or six do. One guy shaves his head, here go five or six. They seem to have a lot of unity in what they do, and it's been good for our ballclub.
Q. What has gone right in the second half where you had that 45-18 stretch and can that carry over confidence-wise in this series?
TERRY FRANCONA: I'm sure it will. The momentum part goes as far as your starting pitcher on that night. If Schilling gets knocked around tonight, and Pedro comes out tomorrow and deals, it's not going to matter. But we are better equipped to play good baseball. We catch the ball a lot better than we did and we haven't sacrificed any offense. We have gotten more athletic on the bases and the field. We have a deeper bench. Basically, 25-man-roster-wise, we are a better team.
Q. What is more important as a manager, what you do in the game and roster-wise, or the tone that you set?
TERRY FRANCONA: I think both. But what we do during the game, we spend so much time getting the order ready and preparing for the game that it kind of comes second nature. There are times later in the game when you have some decisions to make, but we pretty much know who we wanted to face and why. But having an atmosphere that your guys want to play, especially in this day and age I think is so important. If you have guys that don't want to play, the atmosphere is not good and that can be a problem. That's something we really care about.
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