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October 13, 2003

Jack McKeon


Q. Jack, I guess the perception around the country is that you guys have a Herculean task ahead of you tomorrow, two games to get to the World Series. What's your perception of what lies ahead?

JACK McKEON: There's no question about it that these two guys we're facing, Prior tonight and hopefully Wood tomorrow night, are very impressive pitchers. But on the other hand, I think our guys are up for the task, and we're going to show up and do the best we can and try to overcome the insurmountable hole that everybody has put us in.

Q. Do you believe there's a jinx on the Cubs after all these years? You were a big part of that mystery going on in 1984. Do you believe there's such a thing as a hex on the Chicago Cubs?

JACK McKEON: I don't believe in that stuff. It's two different eras, two different teams, different set of circumstances. I hope the hex stays on them (laughter.)

Q. Just to follow that up. In '84 your Padres beat Sutcliffe in that last game. In that point Sutcliffe was probably a better pitcher at that point than Wood or Prior.

JACK McKEON: Sutcliffe was tough that year, no doubt about it. It was a situation where we were down 2-0, and had a dramatic home run by Garvey off Lee Smith to make it 2-2. And the final game Sutcliffe was sailing along good for six or seven innings, and all of a sudden we started to get to him a little bit and got a break, with the ball going through Durham's legs, and that opened up the door. And we cashed in. But Sutcliffe was a pretty tough pitcher that year, when he had the experience that year. I think he was 18-1 or something like that.

Q. 16-1. Is he as good as either of these guys?

JACK McKEON: It's tough to say who's better than who. You have to say Sutcliffe had much more experience, and was really on a roll that year. And he was tough. We hated to see him. But that's the same situation you're facing tomorrow night. You hate to see a guy, but you know he's beatable.

Q. You've had Pavano in the bullpen for the last two weeks. Why the switch and what does he give you tomorrow?

JACK McKEON: He's pitched extremely well out of the bullpen, and he matches up good with the Cubs, better than Penny does, and that's why we decided to make the switch.

Q. You say that you don't really think the hex is still on. But why haven't the Cubs won a World Series for 95 years?

JACK McKEON: I don't know. I'm not that old (laughter). I haven't been following them that long to see what goes on. There's a lot of luck involved, and I don't know whether the hex or the curse up in Boston. I guess if you want to believe that, that's what will happen. So I hope you all keep believing the hex is still on.

Q. There may not be a hex or curse, does that stuff affect the team? There's so much talk of failure, and then you're up 3-1, and then you lose a game, does that affect a


JACK McKEON: I think you keep preaching the guy can't make a -- he's a bad fielder, he's going to end up worrying about it. And I think sometimes psychologically it has an effect on some situations.

Q. Was there any thought of moving Redman up and starting him, or are you saving him for Game 7?

JACK McKEON: I don't bring a guy back with -- he pitched Friday, Saturday, Sunday, three days' rest. If he has to go in the 7th game, he's going to have to go on the same rest. We thought Pavano was the best matchup right now. And we'll worry about Game 7 when it comes.

Q. I know Josh Beckett is the future of your franchise, but if he came to you and there was a Game 7, and said, I can go four or five innings, what would your reply be?

JACK McKEON: I'd be happy for him to come up and tell me he'd go four or five innings, as long as he guaranteed me he'll pitch like he pitched last night. But he's a good kid and we talked about him the last time we were in Chicago, about comparing him with Wood and Prior. And I think you guys saw yesterday how special he is. And there's no question that he's in their class, only they have a little more experience than he has.

Q. Are you using 1984 to motivate your players? Are you referring to it at all with your team?

JACK McKEON: No, this is a different era, a different situation. These guys all know what's at stake out there. Anytime you put the uniform on and you're in the playoff for the National League pennant and it says Marlins across the uniform or Yankees or Cubs, or what have you, that should be enough motivation to go out and do the best job you possibly can. You don't give them a Bear Bryant speech that will help them hit Prior or Wood or make a play in the field.

Q. Your decision to use Carl, and you've had other decisions that worked out for you, do you rely on gut instinct or is it all numbers, baseball decision with you? Or is a lot of it just kind of a feeling?

JACK McKEON: A lot of times you rely on all those options. You rely on gut feelings, you look at the stats and see how guys match up. You look at different players and look in their eyes and they can tell you sometimes whether they're scared or struggling, and putting too much pressure on themselves, and maybe need a day off, you may be better off switching someone else that has less pressure on them. But I think all those options come into play.

Q. Given your track record this past season overcoming adversity, coming back so many times, if your ballclub does reach a Game 7, do you feel that would be to your advantage to be in that position?

JACK McKEON: Oh, I definitely think so. Like I say, our guys realize that we're the underdogs, we're not supposed to be here. And they are full of confidence. I know they'd be very happy to get to Game 7, and they're going to go out and perform to the best of their ability. And if the good Lord is looking after us like he has been, we'll survive.

Q. You talked about looking into players' eyes and being able to sort of read what they're feeling. Was there something you saw with Brad that influenced your decision?

JACK McKEON: No, I wouldn't look in his eyes (laughter). Like the day I rested Cabrera, I could just see something there, and it almost told me that, hey, this guy, if he goes 0-for-4 again, he might continue to go downhill. I figure it's better to sit on the bench for a day and relax, realize it's not that tough. And in this game sometimes the mental rest is a heck of a lot better than the physical rest. And guys get to the point where they're trying to do too much. I have a couple of guys that I can see are trying to do too much. And they feel like when they don't succeed, they're letting the whole team down and they get uptight. I try to explain to them the fact that, hey, you guys have had a hell of a year. You shouldn't be ashamed of anything. You just go out there and have fun. You can't play this game and relax and be a success if you're going to be uptight. Go out and have fun, do the best you can, to hell with it. Hold your head up high and walk off, whether you win or lose and say I know I gave it my best shot.

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