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October 15, 2003

Josh Beckett

Jack McKeon

Ivan Rodriguez


Q. Jack, can you talk about Josh Beckett and what he meant to this series? Dusty said the turning point he thought was Josh's performance on Sunday.

JACK McKEON: There's no question that he turned this series around when he stopped the Cubs. They had a great deal of momentum going for them. He shut them out Sunday, and then he was so determined he wanted to pitch again. We were going to go three innings with him, he said he could go four. And the way he was throwing the ball, we had to win this one. So it's a tremendous effort on his part. We talked about what a young man, what kind of pitcher he would be in the future. And I guess his future is now.

Q. Jack, when we're in Miami and you're down three games to one and you tell me you're going to see me in Chicago. Today you tell me you're going to see me in the East next week at the World Series. Please, tell me what was that all about?

JACK McKEON: I don't know, I just had a strong belief that we were going to go all the way. I don't know, I got a lot of faith in prayer, and the good Lord has been looking after us this whole month, and I thank God for the great bunch of players that I have. I've been very fortunate to have an outstanding group of young men. They don't quit. We love each other and I'm just so happy for their sake that they have an opportunity to go to the World Series.

Q. For you personally, what does it mean getting back to the World Series?

JACK McKEON: Well, this is my first time. It's probably the biggest moment of my professional career. I can't even explain it. It probably hasn't even sunk in yet. But I do know that it's a wonderful feeling. People asked me was I going to come back for next year, and I told them if I get in the World Series and manage the All-Star Team, I'll definitely be back. But I really take this as a gift for my family, my wife of almost 50 years who sacrificed so many things, my kids, my grandkids through the years, never having a dad, a grandfather around. And I'm happy for them. For the first time they may be able to enjoy something special.

Q. Obviously you're excited about the win tonight. But can you understand what the Cubs are going through right now, as far as the loss that they've suffered tonight?

JACK McKEON: Well, that's a tough situation, but it's another ballgame, another series that they didn't win. But I'm not going to get into that hex, jinx, goat, I don't know, I'm not in that one.

Q. A lot of teams say that they never quit, never give up, never feel like they're out of the ballgame. But your guys have proven it virtually every game of this postseason. Is that something that you teach to them? Is it something you instill? Or is it something they find in themselves?

JACK McKEON: You'll have to ask those guys. It's the character they have, and I think we were so close as a team and a unit, everything fell into place. And everybody loves each other, and

go out there and they're unselfish players. And they care for each other. They're caring individuals. And maybe it just follows along, I don't know. But I know it's an exciting ballclub and we hope it continues for another ten days.

Q. Tell me how it feels to take over a team that probably wasn't expected to do a whole lot, and now you're rolling, you're hitting your peak.

JACK McKEON: Well, like I said, it's a tremendous group of young men. When I took over on May 11th, I just told them that, guys, if you want to work hard, pay the price and dedicate yourself doing all the little things necessary to winning, we'll be able to play in November.

Q. After all the drama, the curse and all that jazz, did you just think your team was better, that you were just going to win this game tonight?

JACK McKEON: We were the better club in the series, because we won it. But the Cubs are a good club. Anything could happen. We went out there tonight, both clubs, and they were hoping, we were hoping that we would get a break or two, get good pitching or get a key hit to win the series, and get to the World Series. And I know they were going through the same thing. Two great clubs played there. I thought they played an outstanding series. I thought it was exciting, I think the television ratings will show you that. I think the Cubs were always America's favorite, and now I think we're the darlings of the baseball world now, and I think we'll have all those people rooting for us, because they're seeing an exciting team play. We're going to have some fun, wherever we go.

Q. Who was your most valuable player in this series?

JACK McKEON: Well, I think that the award went to Pudge, and you could put your finger on two or three. You can't say enough about the kid, Cabrera. You can't say enough about what Beckett did. Pudge has been outstanding in the series. So I'd say I'd have to go along with the selection of Pudge being the most valuable player.

Q. You said a few times that the Lord was looking out for you. If the Lord was looking out for you, does that mean that the Lord was not looking out for the Cubs?

JACK McKEON: Evidently. He's probably trying to find that goat. No, he's looking out for everybody. But like I say, I have a strong belief in the power of prayer. And believe me, it hasn't let me down yet.

Q. You had a moment back there with Dusty Baker as you were coming in and Dusty Baker was leaving. Can you share with us what the two of you shared with each other?

JACK McKEON: I told Dusty, I said, I'm sorry that one of us had to lose. He said, hey, this is your first chance to go to the World Series and I'm happy for you. And he said if we couldn't go, I was more than happy to see you go. But it was a friendly conversation. He's a good man. He did a good job. And those things happen in the postseason. Anything can happen. And like I said, I just had a bunch of fighting warriors, that just outplayed him. We weren't supposed to come in here and win any games, Wood and Prior were supposed to -- we were not even supposed to show up. But these guys believe in themselves, and believe me, we're going to give the American League a tough shot, too.

Q. Jack, how do you feel about Dusty Baker who tried to take two different teams, back-to-back seasons, to the World Series?

JACK McKEON: Well, Dusty is a fine manager, there's no question about it. And like I said, sometimes the players on the field are the actors. They do the job, you look good. I look good because my players did the job. And it's one of those situations where you've got to get a break here and there. But Dusty is a fine manager and the Cubs are a fine ballclub. And just on this particular week we were the better club.

Q. I guess I'll ask all of you, Jack, first for you, you have done so much in baseball. At the start of the year very few would have predicted this would be where you are right now. Does that make this feeling more special for you right now?

JACK McKEON: Well, there's no question about it what a great feeling it is. When I came over May 11th, and these guys will tell you, I said, if you want to work hard, pay the price, if you want to dedicate yourself to winning, pay the price, prove your work habits, stay focused, we can play in October. And I just kept preaching that all along to these guys. And I'm so proud of them because they all bought into it. They worked hard. They dedicated themselves and they played unselfish baseball. It's a thrill to be their manager. I have never had a group of young men in all my 13, 14 years, whatever I managed in the Big Leagues, I never had a group like this group here, not a complainer, not a griper on this club. Everybody pulling for one another. The extra men dedicated to pulling and rooting for their own players. And it's like a family. I'm so proud of them, really.

Q. Josh and Pudge, your thoughts on this great comeback, this great moment being in the series?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: It's nice. This is where every player wants to be, in the World Series. And we worked so hard since Spring Training, and prepared for this kind of baseball. And we did it. Nobody was expecting us to be in the playoff anyway, and we end up winning 91 games in the regular season, and beating two great teams in the playoff, the Giants and the Cubs. You have to play the game hard. I always told Jack that I like to play this game hard, same to my teammates. You have to play the game hard to the last out and don't give up. Yesterday, for example, we were 3-0 in the 8th and we come back and score and tie the game and then we score 8 runs. And same thing happens tonight, facing two great pitchers in Prior and Kerry Wood. And this is baseball. You have to play the game hard. And I'm very happy for my team. I'm very happy for myself. And this gentleman (Jack) right here, this gentleman does a lot of good things for us. They give us a lot of good examples and a lot of good things. And I respect him in the same way my teammates respect him. I'm very happy and we're ready for the World Series.

Q. Josh, what are your thoughts on what this team accomplished in being into the World Series?

JOSH BECKETT: Man, tell you what, it starts in the clubhouse, everybody believes in one another. And I've said this when we won the DS, too, that's what it is. We believe in one another. Jack believes in us. There's not anybody on our team that -- you go down the roster and have two guys, and that guy, say, I don't believe in him, because we all believe in each other. And that's why we are here. That's why we are here. And you can say a lot about camaraderie and everything like that in the clubhouse. I think everybody on our team, we're friends. And that helps. I was actually told by a coach of mine before I signed on to play pro baseball, don't go to make friends. But I did and I've made a team full of friends. And I just hope we can stick together and pull this thing off. And I said before we played the Giants, we're young, and don't have any experience or whatever. And we might just be stupid enough to win this thing. And now we've won two series.

Q. Josh, most starting pitchers have trouble coming back on three days' rest and pitching effectively. You pitched a complete game on Sunday and then today dominated on two days' rest. How did you do it?

JOSH BECKETT: Well, like I said, it's not that miraculous. It was my bullpen day, anyway. It was my throw day. I probably threw a couple of extra pitches that I would have in my bullpen. But that's what we needed to do to win, and it worked out.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: He's got a baby arm, man.

JACK McKEON: We don't baby him.

Q. Pudge, you've had a great season all year long. Can you talk about what this year has meant to you coming over here and you've continued in the postseason?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Well, I prepared myself to play a great season, and thank God I did it. I know that I was injured for a year and a half and finally I was healthy this year, I played over 150 games and played all the games in the playoff and performed the way that I played in this playoff and in the regular season. I'm very happy. That's what you work for, and then Spring Training, you get ready to go to the World Series. I'm very happy. I have a great series against the Cubs, and against the Giants. And I'm very happy. I can say I just thank the Lord Jesus Christ to give me good help and keep me in good shape to play a full season so far and until today.

Q. Well, the National League Championship is resolved, the American League is still to go, any preference, Boston or the Yankees?

JACK McKEON: We're just happy to be there. We'll sit around tomorrow night and wait and find out where we're going.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: I say anyone. When you're in the World Series, those two teams are the best teams that year, so you've got to be ready for Boston and New York.

Q. Jack, you talked about how your faith has impacted this series, and Ivan made reference to his relationship with Christ. How has your faith impacted this series?

JACK McKEON: I have a strong belief in prayer. I go every day to church to pray for these guys, that the good Lord will give them all the necessary tools to play up to the top of their game, nobody gets hurt. And I'll tell you one thing, he hasn't let me down, because these guys have played up to the top of their game for the last month or so. And I'm so happy and so thankful. And I'm thankful that he's been looking after these guys, and I hope he looks after them for ten more days.

Q. Pudge, some of us covered the other Pudge (Carlton Fisk) in the other part of Chicago. Can you talk about your namesake and following in his footsteps in being an important postseason player?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Well, he's one of my heroes as a child and I respect him a lot. I think my name -- my nickname, Pudge, belongs to him, really. I'm very happy for myself that I just came ready every day, day-in and day-out, ready to play the game of baseball and do my job, really. I think my efforts and my team's effort, we make the World Series, and that's the best thing.

Q. Jack, before the game you were very emotional in talking about your 50 years in this game of baseball and what it would mean to you for you to get to the World Series, and how you would use it as a stage, as a forum to be able to share your strong faith and your belief in the Lord. What is that message that you'd like to share with the world here when you had that stage?

JACK McKEON: Well, just to tell all the world that when you're in a tough situation like we were playing in these series, don't be afraid to say a few prayers to the Lord and ask for his help and guidance. And believe me, I prayed many times, especially when Beckett was pitching (laughter), not really. But for guidance to make the right moves all the time. And as I said, I can't say it enough, he's guided me in the right direction. We were lucky to make some good moves and it all worked out. I have to thank the Lord for giving me such wonderful players, really. That's the biggest thing. I have some talented guys in this club, and they're warriors, and I love every one of them, and I'm proud of every one of them.

Q. Do you guys believe in the Billy goat curse at all for the Cubs, after what happened yesterday, the weird stuff that was happening? I know you guys battled really hard to come back, but do you think there's something to that whole thing or not or that's just bogus?

JOSH BECKETT: I don't get into that too much. I think things happen for a reason. I don't worry about a Billy goat or Babe Ruth or anything like that. Like I say, we go out and play the game. And that's what you've got to do. Nobody believed that we could beat the Giants. And that's why you play the games, because anything can happen once you get here.

Q. Pudge, at the beginning of the year, the saying was that you were almost finished, you're hurt. Now that you've got that MVP trophy in front of you, there has to be some satisfaction.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Yes, the question that you say, I hear that a million times for the last year and a half or two. But, no, when you believe in yourself and you work hard and you prepare yourself in your season and in Spring Training for playing a full, healthy season, everything is possible. And this year I was ready to come and play healthy and put some good numbers and help my team to be in the playoff. But I never pay attention to those kind of comments. This is what you work for, the MVP, being in the World Series and play the game hard. And that's my mind. I'm very positive. I'm not a negative person. I always like to go in the field and perform the best that I can, even if I do good or not, I'm doing my hundred percent of effort in the field. And it came out this year. I wanted to show the world that Ivan Rodriguez is still healthy and have a lot of years in baseball. And right now I'm going to go to the World Series and keep doing what I'm doing, just doing my job for the team.

Q. During the regular season, when did you first initially start seeing this battling, winning character in your ball team?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: After the All-Star break. I know that we started the season very struggling. But we never gave up. I never gave up. I remember that I had a meeting in Cincinnati after the All-Star break, and I tell my teammates, believe in ourselves, play the game, take one day at a time and do the best that you can in the field. And since that day that I tell them, we start playing the game very good and do the little things that we need to do. Because I think our team is a team that we can do everything. We have some power hitters, we have guys that can steal bases. We have good pitching. I think our team all in all have a little bit of everything. And if we've got that kind of talent in our team, we use that talent and put it away. I knew from the All-Star break we started winning games and we win a lot of games coming back late in the game and win and left the other team in the field. And that's a great feeling. Nobody expected us to be where we are, okay? And winning 91 games this year and beat the Giants and beat the Cubs, this is a great team. And that's why I always say that you have to play the game hard until the last out. We have to play 27 hard outs. And when you do that, you can do a lot of good things. And we've been doing it all year, and we're going to do the same thing in the World Series.

Q. You played a tough division with the Braves. But do you realize in your team's history you won two pennants and have a chance to win a World Championship, and you've never won your division?

IVAN RODRIGUEZ: Atlanta Braves are a great team, they won over a hundred games. We never think about Atlanta in the regular season, believe me. We think about ourselves and win whoever we face in that series. Everybody expected Atlanta was going to win everything, and unfortunately they didn't win. They got eliminated by the Cubs in the first round. And even the Giants, the Giants have a great season and the same thing happens to them that happens to Atlanta. But like I say, you have to play the game hard. When you win the wild card, you come to the playoff and very positive and with a lot of positive minds and things like that. The Braves and the Giants clinched two or three weeks before the regular season is over. And a lot of regular players don't play. And we play until the last game, really, to be in the playoff. And I think that was the big difference, that we beat the Giants and beat the Cubs.

End of FastScripts...

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