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October 22, 1999

Tom Glavine


Q. Tom, at this stage of your career, is there anything such as first opening game jitters?

TOM GLAVINE: Yeah. I mean I get jitters before every game I pitch, post-season or regular season. I think, you know, the main reason for that is I have a lot of pride in what I do when I go out there. You're always fearful of going out there and having that game that's not so great, you embarrass yourself. But generally, it's just the anticipation of getting out there and anticipating what's going to happen. Once you get out there and throw a couple pitches, you know, it's much like a football game or hockey game. You go out there, take that first hit, the jitters are gone. As a pitcher, you go out there, throw those first couple pitches, those jitters are gone and you settle into what you're going to do.

Q. When you signed with the Braves, when you came to the Braves, if someone had told you that the team would accomplish what it has this decade, would you have believed them? Now, after accomplishing it, what do you think about it?

TOM GLAVINE: No, I wouldn't have believed it. If somebody told us this in the late '80s, we probably would have had you committed or have you have a urine test or something. I don't think -- I don't care what your organization is. I don't think you can foresee the kind of success that we've had. You know, I mean we've won eight straight division titles. That's something that's never been done in the history of the game. I don't care how good your Minor League system is or how good your Major League team is at a particular time. You don't envision something like that happening. I think in the late '80s and in 1990, we envisioned a club that was on the verge of being competitive and hopefully, at some point in time, being where we are now. But, you know, it happened a lot quicker than I think any of us anticipated in 1991, and, again, there's no precedence for this kind of success for this length of time. So, you know, certainly we have to be surprised by that as well.

Q. Tom, you guys have just been through a grueling NLCS, you have less time off than the Yankees heading into the World Series. I wonder if you look at that as an advantage, disadvantage, or doesn't it make any difference?

TOM GLAVINE: I don't think it's going to make a whole lot of difference. When you look at it, we've only had one less day off than the Yankees had. You know, I think that this time of the year I would venture to say that most of the guys are ready and wish we were playing today rather than having another off-day today. I think we're all jumping at the pitch, ready to go. Most of the time, this time of the year, the reason you're really looking for time off is to set up your pitching rotation. That's never been a concern for us. We've been fortunate in that regard. We can do exactly what we're doing in this series. It was my turn to pitch, I'm going to go out there, pitch Game 1 and roll the rotation over from there. Unless you have somebody, a major player in your line-up that has some kind of injury that really needs the time off, I think most guys would rather just get ready and get going again.

Q. Certainly both these teams' biggest priority right now is winning four games. The whole team of the decade issue is something that can be written about. The postscripts of these teams is going to be labeled the team of the decade. What's the significance of that in your mind?

TOM GLAVINE: People remember you more in history, I guess. But aside from that, I don't know how much it really means. I couldn't tell you who the team of the '80s was or who the team of the '70s was, I guess maybe it was the Yankees. But I couldn't tell you. You know. And I don't know how other players feel. My feeling on all that is this team of the decade stuff, it's nice to talk about. It adds a nice, you know, flavor, I guess, to this series, not that you need it when you get to this point in the year. But as players, I think it's about this year. You put on your uniform every year, go into spring training and hope that when the season comes to a conclusion, you're in a position to win a World Series and hopefully take advantage of that. And that's my frame of mind. My frame of mind, I'm just -- I'm in a position right now with a ballclub that I have a chance to be on the World Championship team for 1999. That's it. That's really all I've been trying to do this year. If we do it or the Yankees do it and it settles the "Who's The Team Of The '90s Argument," that's great. Sure, it's a great story, the team of the '90s debate will be decided in this game series. We're trying to be World Champions this year; that's what we set out to do in February.

Q. With all the changes you've made this year and all that you guys have been through, how different is the personality of this team, perhaps, than the last time you guys went to the World Series in '96?

TOM GLAVINE: I think our -- I think our team has probably changed a lot. I think the personality of this team is a lot different in that we have to play the game a different way. The '96 team, you know, we probably had a little bit more power; we probably played for the long ball a little bit more. This team is more, you know, we scrape and claw for what we can get, stolen bases or hit-and-run. I mean all those kinds of things are more of a weapon for us than I think they were in '96. You know, and this is the kind of team that, you know, we have to try and take it to people and try to get the lead, maybe we don't possess the home-run power we did in the past to come from behind. We still have power in our line-up, don't get me wrong. When you take guys like Javy and Cat and some of the other guys that were on the team in '96 out of your line-up, there's some formidable home-run hitters there. Chipper obviously had a tremendous year with the home run. The rest of our line-up is a lot like the Yankees. Guys that are trying to put the ball in play and guys that will hit some home runs but not three or four guys in your line-up that are going to hit for you.

Q. For all the playoffs and World Series you've been in, is it special when you play the Yankees with all the tradition?

TOM GLAVINE: There again, it is to me. I don't know about other guys, but, you know, part of it for me is probably having grown up in Boston and being a Red Sox fan and as a youth a Yankee-hater, this series has a lot of feeling for me because of my roots as a kid. But also as a, I guess, a fan of the game of baseball and the history of the game of baseball, who would you rather play for a chance to win the World Championship than the most storied franchise in baseball history and organized sports. It doesn't get any better than the Yankees when it comes to championships and stuff like that. And the history of their team -- you can go on and on about what they've done. Some of the greatest players who have ever played sports have put on the Yankee pinstripes. To be on a team that has a chance to play against that team and win a championship, it was a lot of fun for me in '96 and I anticipate it being much the same this time around.

Q. Obviously your regular season record is unparalleled, eight consecutive post-seasons, all that. Yet people would say only one World Series. Is there a sense this team is not fulfilled in that way?

TOM GLAVINE: There probably is to people outside our clubhouse, probably not as much in the clubhouse. I mean we're disappointed that we've had opportunities to win more series and we've only won one. No matter what you do, if you set a goal to be the best at what you do and come up short a few times, of course you're going to be disappointed. I don't think that it makes us unappreciative of the success that we've had and the things we've accomplished as an organization, how far we've come as an organization in the last nine years. We're still all very proud of those things. But I think as a player, again, my feeling is it's not so much that we have to win to validate anything for anybody; I'm sitting here as a player and I'm realistic about the fact that we had an awful lot of chances. You have to wonder how many more chances you're going to get. The law of averages are starting to go against you. There are a lot of great player who have played this game who didn't have this opportunity and here we are doing it again. Like I said, from my standpoint, I know that my career is not going to last forever. I know this team's not going to stay together forever. You have to start wondering how many more chances you're going to get at this and you want to start taking advantage of some of the ones you have left.

Q. What kind of problems does a guy like Bernie Williams pose for a pitcher?

TOM GLAVINE: Well, you know, I think Bernie is typical of a lot of guys in the Yankee line-up. He can hit for average, he can hurt you that way, and he can hurt you with home runs. He can hurt you with a stolen base, a good play defensively. I mean he's as well-rounded a player as there is in the game. You know, he probably doesn't get the credit he deserves sometimes because he's not a 40 or 50 home run guy. But it's still a pretty solid guy to have in the middle of your line-up. The guy contending for the balancing title every year seemingly, driving in runs, hitting some home runs, plays such a great centerfield; he can do a lot of things to hurt you. I guess from a pitcher-hitter standpoint in terms of that matchup, like I say, he's the kind of guy that if there's a runner on second and they need a base hit, he can hurt you that way. If there's nobody on and two outs, you have to be mindful of the fact he can take you deep as well. He's a multitype of threat up there at the plate.

Q. Without revealing scouting, what is it the Yankees do that maximizes their at-bats so much? How smart are they than other teams?

TOM GLAVINE: I don't know that they're smarter than other teams, I think they have a better ability to stick to their approach than other teams do. I mean, you know, the scouting report on me or Greg or any of our guys isn't a secret to anybody. I'm sure they're going to go out there, and try to make me work, throw my pitches and be patient just like every other team in baseball does that I face. But like anything else, some teams are better at it than others. The Yankees have always been a team that has been good at that. They're good at going up there and having a game plan and sticking to their game plan and really not getting outside of that game plan and making you work for what you get as a pitcher. And, you know, why do they do it so well? I don't know. I don't know if it's coaching or their guys are just more disciplined than other hitters are. But, you know, I think that's what they tried to do against us in '96. I think that's what they tried to do against us when we faced them in interleague play, make us go out there, throw strikes and not do anything to chase pitches out of the strike zone to help us out.

Q. There's been a lot written this year -- and there were Bobby Valentine's comments last year -- that Bobby Cox had to manage this year. The implication meaning you guys had to work extra hard to get to where you got to in the post-season. Do you think you worked harder this year than in past years?

TOM GLAVINE: You know, I don't know. I think that contrary to popular belief, this club has always worked hard, yeah. We've had some talented people in here, and it's almost like we're criticized because our talent level is what it is and we just throw our gloves in the field and go out and play. That's not the case. We play hard every day. We go out there every day to play the game hard and play the game the right way and to try to win. Yeah, this team, maybe it has had to work a little bit harder. Let's face it, we don't have the talent that we're supposed to have. We've got some pretty heavy hitters out of our line-up and some pretty big arms out of our rotation, so, you know, when that happens you have to pick up the slack somewhere, and in order to do that, everybody's got to dig a little bit deeper and try and pick up the slack and contribute a little bit more. So, you know, maybe from that standpoint. But, again, not to the standpoint that, you know, the teams in the past haven't worked hard or haven't been prepared. I mean our club works as hard as anybody; we just, you know, fell short the last couple years.

Q. Their pitching staff, at least on paper, is equal to yours in terms of reputation. Is this the best pitching staff you all have ever faced in a series, and do you get more motivated going against guys like Roger and El Duque?

TOM GLAVINE: You know, if it's not the best rotation that we face in the playoffs, it's certainly one of the top three. I can't think off the top of my head of one that's any better. In terms of reputation, reputation means a lot; it really does. You can throw what guys have done during the regular season out the window. You know, I know there was a time that, you know, Andy Pettitte was talking about being traded. I know there's been times during the season that Roger's struggled. Believe me, we all know that any time those guys take the mound, they're capable of going out there and throwing a shutout. That means a lot. And that is always the intangible I think when you get into a series like that, which guys are going to step up and do the things that they've done in the past and be a factor in the series. So we've got our work cut out for us. We know starting right off the bat with El Duque, he's been throwing the ball well. Then right on down the line with Coney, Andy and Roger; every one of those guys are capable of going out there and pitching a masterpiece. I think we're all mindful of that. With the individual matchups, I know El Duque's been throwing the ball well. I've seen him throw a couple times in the post-season, he's throwing the ball well. I know, much like I had to do against Al Leiter and the Mets, our chances to score runs are probably going to be limited. I need to do everything I can to limit their chances on the other side.

Q. How good is Kevin Millwood? And how much has Brian Jordan brought to the team from power to personality and everything else?

TOM GLAVINE: Kevin's the real deal. He's a solid pitcher. He's one of the better pitchers in the National League. You know, it's probably maybe going to take him a little while to get that recognition because of the pitching staff that he's on, and we tend to take some of that away from him. But he went out there this year and made people, you know, stand up and recognize who he is and what he's accomplished. You know, he's just an overall well-rounded, great, young pitcher. He's got a great head on his shoulders, a very good approach to going out there and pitching. Obviously, he has a good arsenal of pitches and knows how to use them. For a second-year guy, that's pretty rare to see the kind of maturity that he has. So I mean he's -- you know, he probably was our most consistent pitcher all year long and was a big boost for us throughout the season. And in terms of Brian, Brian was a great acquisition for us. You know, he's got that football mentality, and he brings that to our team. I think that he's probably a guy that, having played against him, probably a lot of us didn't realize he was as good a player as he is until we've had the chance to play with him every day. The first half of the year, he was it for us. He seemingly got every RBI he could possibly get, was as good a two-strike hitter as I've ever seen, and, you know, he's just been, you know, a real stabilizing force for us in the middle of that line-up, and thankfully so because of losing Javy and Andres.

Q. When you look back at the decade, does each of the five pennant winners have a specific identity as opposed to maybe generalizing about the team?

TOM GLAVINE: Yeah, they probably do. What they are, I don't know. I think each team had a little bit something different than the teams, you know, before it or after it, you know, starting with 1991. 1991, we were just a, you know, cast of characters that nobody really expected to do anything. All of a sudden, here we were in the World Series. So, you know, then years after that, you know, it wasn't quite the sneak-up-and-surprise-people anymore that we had in 1991. But each of those teams had their own identity and had their own way of, I think, going out there and winning ball games. This team is no different. I think this team is probably going to go down as the team that, you know, people have the hardest time figuring out exactly what it was we did to win. In years past, it was either tremendous pitching or tremendous, you know, power or whatever, you know, scoring a lot of runs. But with this team, it's just been a little bit of everything. You can't put your finger on one defining thing that has made this team go.

Q. Typically, I think in your career you've been a fast starter. This year you got off to a slow start. Was this a season of unusual adjustments for you, and, if so, what were they?

TOM GLAVINE: Yeah, I would say it was a season of unusual adjustments because I tried to make so many of them. That really hasn't been the case the last few years. Even when you're having a good year, you go through stretches where you struggle a little bit, you're off your game, you try to make adjustments to get back to where you want to be. For me, it seemed like the whole first half of the year, every time I went out to pitch, I was making some kind of adjustment. Then the second half of the year, it seemed like I pitched a couple good games, then something would go wrong, I'd make an adjustment, go out there, pitch a couple good games. Kind of that whole cycle. And, you know, it's hard to go through when you're constantly going out there, not quite sure what you're going to bring out there, what's going to be working or what's not going to be working. There were very few times this year that I walked out to the mound and felt like, "Okay, I'm going to pitch a good game." I didn't know. The second half of the year it got a little bit better. The month of September and through the playoffs, that hasn't been the case. I walked out there every time and felt like I was going to pitch a good game. You know, it's just -- I think I kind of went through a situation where, like I said, I tried so many adjustments, tried to figure so many things out, that finally, you know, I pitched a game against Montreal in late August, I think, and it was just, you know, another game where I made a couple adjustments the game before. I thought, "Okay, this is where I want to be." I went out and probably pitched my worst game of the year and reached my lowest point frustration-wise. From that point on, the only thing I tried to do was get the ball and be as natural as I could. My next start was against the Mets. I threw my two bullpen sessions with that frame of mind, picked up the ball, be as natural as you can, go out and see what happens. I pitched a good game against the Mets. That's pretty much been it for me since then. A lot of it is mental. Like I said, I made the decision I was going to be natural, went out there and was natural, I got good results from it. From a mental standpoint, it was like, "All right, this is what I needed to do." That's been my only approach since that point in time.

Q. Look at Hernandez and his 4-0 post-season record. Do you approach post-season starts differently than the regular season? Do you think some pitchers have the ability to step it up in the post-season?

TOM GLAVINE: I don't know. I hesitate to think that, you know, there is such a thing as being able to step it up. I'm not a believer that you can play a certain way then all of a sudden when the games become more important you can flip a switch and all of a sudden you're a better player. I don't know that I buy into that theory. I think that some guys, you know, maybe their concentration level is a little bit better because the games are more important, but, you know, I don't know that that means you've stepped it up. I think maybe it just means that, you know, you're mentally -- your approach is a little bit better than it may be at other points in time. That can dictate whether or not you have success. But, you know, I think so many times people talk about somebody who steps it up and it's like, okay, I'm going to step it up now, I'm going to throw harder, my slider's going to be better, my curve ball's going to bite more and I'm going to throw everything in the black. I don't think you can do that. In terms of El Duque's record, I didn't know what it was. It wasn't something that I was aware of. I think, personally, guys who are successful in the post-season are guys who approach the post-season the same way they approach the regular season. I've always felt that guys get into trouble in the post-season because of what I just talked about; they feel like they have to do things better, you know. Now they have to throw harder or instead of throwing balls on the outside or inside half of the plate, they're trying to throw pitches on the black. You know, I've likened it to, you know, when a guy comes up from Triple A. When you make that jump from Triple A to the Big Leagues, you think, I have to get better. No, you don't. What you did in the Minor Leagues was good enough to get you here and it's good enough here. So many times you have that mentality of, Okay, I've made another step, I have to do things better. Guys get into the post-season with that mentality and they try to do things they're not capable of doing. They get away from what has made them successful. That's my approach in the post-season. You have scouting reports, you have this and that. The bottom line is I have a certain way of pitching that makes me successful. I need to go out there and do that and let the things that I do well, hopefully, dictate the outcome of the ball game. If somebody shows me that, Hey, they're on my change up, on my sinker, I think I need to pitch them in a little bit more, I'll make that adjustment based on what they showed me. I'm not going to do something different because it's the post-season and things are a little bit different now.

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