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October 20, 2000

Paul O'Neill


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Paul O'Neill.

Q. Does it get routine at all, or is the thrill of being here the same as it always was?

PAUL O'NEILL: No. You never get used to this. Every year is so much different. We've had years where we've just rolled through the year. Obviously, we've had years like this year where we've had a lot of ups and downs. People didn't expect us to be here. Every year is its own little story. You still get nervous; you still get anxious. So it's like day one again of the World Series.

Q. Does the hype of this series affect a veteran ball player like yourself? What's the feeling of the ballclub? Can you focus on winning the championship?

PAUL O'NEILL: Ideally, the players would like to take one day off after the next series and play the next night. The days in between, we're definitely, it's hype for the series. In New York, it's easy to get caught up into it. How much can you hype a World Series? I mean, this is what we all strive for; this is what we work for all year. I don't think you need any more excitement or drive to go out and try to win a World Series. Because you put so much effort into just getting here.

Q. Is this year more frustrating in that with yourself, your injury, your mechanics getting out of whack, the trials and tribulations? Or more satisfying because you made it?

PAUL O'NEILL: It can be. I look back at certain times of the year where it was great. And then you look back at times of the year where you struggled, and sure, it's frustrating. But right now is exactly where you want to be. We don't look at what this guy did when and where, I mean it's an cumulative thing over the season of what this team does. Everybody at certain times helps us win. That's basically why we've had success, is because over the years, we have a certain amount of people at that time to help us win ball games.

Q. As a midwestern guy, how do you think this series is going to play beyond the Hudson?

PAUL O'NEILL: You know, it's hard for me to answer that because, being in New York, you can't get away from it. I mean you turn on the television, you turn on the radio, you walk into the restaurant, you walk into the grocery, that's all people are talking about. The rest of the country, outside of this big fishbowl here, I don't know what they're doing. But obviously there's so many people, when we travel around, even to the West Coast, that are transplanted from New York, that I'm sure there's a lot of people around the country who have a lot of interest in it because so many people have been in New York. You can probably answer it better than me, I don't know. What are they saying in Cincinnati? I don't know.

Q. Conventional wisdom seems to be the way to start the Yankees is start a left-handed pitcher. Is that wrong?

PAUL O'NEILL: I think our line-up has a lot of balance now. We have switch hitters. We don't have a left-handed hitter back to back in our whole line-up. In the past, when I got here, I remember with Donnie and Wade Boggs here, our first five hitters were all left-handed. Obviously, if you had a tough left-hander, it could be tough. With the balance in our line-up and the way we go about moving guys over and getting guys in from third, I think that our line-up is stronger now than a line-up that is all left-handed.

Q. My friend in Dallas tells me that Texas is delighted that there's a Subway Series because a New York team has to lose. (Laughter.) Do you think America feels that way about New York? The games that you play on the road.

PAUL O'NEILL: The Yankees are definitely either you love them or there's people out there that hate them. There's people out there that don't like success; that's just the way it is. The Mets are kind of the Cinderella story the last couple years. They've had phenomenal years. They have great players, so they deserve to be here also. I guess it's easy for the rest of the country to look on New York and say something like that. But if you just look at the basics of the team and what these teams have accomplished the last few years, I think that you have to respect what's going on here.

Q. What do you think it is about this team, they have 87 wins. Still you're sitting here at this moment. What allowed you to overcome adversity and reach this point? Also, have you considered your future?

PAUL O'NEILL: No, I think that the big thing is that we've been here before; we've won before. I think that if this was our first time coming into the playoffs after going through the September that we had, we''d probably be home right now. But going into the playoffs and realizing what we've accomplished before -- and we don't turn the switch off and on, believe me, because it doesn't work that way. But there's certain times of the year we seem to play better. I don't know if it has anything to do with experience or being here before or whatever, coincidence, I don't know. But this is a time of the year that you want to play well as a team. And in the past three or four years, this is the time of year we've played our best baseball. Hopefully, it happens again.

Q. Are your kids able to watch these games? They get over very late. Second part, did you watch World Series games when you were a kid? The fact that they are getting over so late, do you players agree that a lot of kids can't see this, and that's maybe not necessarily good?

PAUL O'NEILL: As far as the length of the game or the time they start?

Q. Night games, et cetera. Ending after midnight.

PAUL O'NEILL: Yeah, playing 11:30, 12:00, there's no doubt it's weird. But, I mean, I grew up being a sports fan. And believe me, I tuned in to every single World Series game I can remember. I can go through games like they were yesterday. And to answer your question about my children, my 11-year-old was at the final game against Seattle. Those are the nights that he won't forget. Obviously, he was up late, and he'll tell his teacher he missed school the next day because of it. But those are the things that he's going to remember. And as a parent, it's fun to just see something that's that good for the children.

Q. Can you talk about how Joe Torre inspires such loyalty in the players that even when he makes decisions that are painful like pinch hitting, you still all remain solidly behind him?

PAUL O'NEILL: Joe has been through -- he knows the people in the clubhouse, for one thing. It's not like we have a brand-new batch of people in here every year. What we've accomplished, if you look at it, five, six, seven guys in there have been through every year. Joe, as a manager, is going to make decisions, and over the past four or five years with us winning, obviously the decisions have been good. So as a player, you know that. For the most part, we ride along with his decisions. But sometimes, he has to make a decision that doesn't go over well. But if it helps us win a ball game, that's what this team is about. It's so much easier to worry about winning World Series and winning championships than worrying about, "Do I hit this guy, does this guy hit that guy?" The stats can be thrown out the window sometimes. You play the games to win the game and not worry about what's on the back of the baseball card at the end of the year.

End of FastScripts�

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