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October 27, 1999

Bret Boone


Q. Bret, I know you've only been there one year, but are you aware of how much pressure there is on the Atlanta Braves to maybe come out of this decade with a second world title? Is it something players talk about, how they're going to be remembered for this decade?

BRET BOONE: Not at all. In the press, you hear about it all the time. But this is my first year there. It's been a great year. It's been a great year at this point. Obviously we're not in the position we want to be in. But, no, all you can do is go out and play. And our goal going in was to get to the World Series. Once you get there, to win. Obviously to this point, it doesn't look very good right now, but I don't -- to answer your question, no, I don't think that the players themselves worry about living up to the expectations that we've got to win "X" amount of World Series. It's been a great year and obviously you want to finish it off with a World Championship. Our backs are against the wall but we're still alive.

Q. You did a particularly great job. Your teammates, hitting that outside pitch to the opposite field. Was this due to a team meeting or how did it all come back in one night at the same time?

BRET BOONE: You play so many games. You look back to where we started. We started in the middle of February in spring training. You don't change -- you have to change individually, as a hitter, night to night. No matter who's pitching. Last two games, the first two games of the series, we didn't swing the bats well. But at the same time you have to give some credit to the two pitching performances they threw against us. I know it's always said, but when you got a great pitcher out there on top of his game, pretty much they're going to shut you down and that's what they did the first game, first two games to us. Last night we were able to get out to a quick lead, and jumped on them. And felt pretty good about it, you know. And I don't know, last night was a tough one. They came back on us. And everybody was -- the way Tommy's been throwing the ball and -- I was still feeling pretty good about it in the eighth inning with a two-run lead. But last night wasn't meant to be.

Q. In answer to the first question when you first spoke about your goal getting to the World Series, do you think the public and everybody here in the press room appreciates and understands how difficult it is to get there? And how much of an accomplishment it is once you get there?

BRET BOONE: Yeah, it's amazing. You look at our team going into spring training on paper and everybody says, "they'll get to the World Series." It was a tough road for us this year, to win 103 games and beat two tough teams, Houston and New York, to get to this point, it wasn't easy. I mean that was -- especially with the bumps in the road we had along the way, right out of spring training, our big RBI guy, you know, we find out he's not going to be with us this year and Javy Lopez and Ligtenberg, Odalis Perez, the list goes on. Not to sit here and say that doesn't happen to other teams, because it happens to a lot of teams. But for us to win as many games as we did and get by with a lot of our main guys out of there, I know everybody in that room is pretty darn proud of what we've done this year, and, you know, like I said, we're at the ultimate. And we're in the World Series. Two best teams in baseball going at it. To this point, we haven't done too well. It's a one-game series for us now. The guys will be ready. There's too much character in that room to come out tonight and lay down. They're going to come out tonight and expect to win a game tonight. Just like we have all year.

Q. From the outside looking in, you would think that last night's loss would be devastating with the five-run lead and then ultimately losing. What's the mood of the team right now heading into tonight's game?

BRET BOONE: Well, all year it hasn't been -- this isn't a team that the day after a tough loss that dwells on it. I mean I walked in that locker room today. It was no different than it's been, you know, in a game in July after a tough loss. It's upbeat. Guys are ready to go. I don't hear any panic or worry. I mean we're going to go out there tonight and give it all we've got and see what happens. You know, we're going to face another tough pitcher, but we know it's not going to get any easier, and for their side, they're not facing -- they got their work cut out for them in John Smoltz tonight. So we got to go out there and worry about winning a game. The mood of the team's fine. You know, I'm sure we've been in better moods. We've been in better moods. It's no fun being down three, one game away from elimination. But I expect us to come out there and give it a shot tonight. And I know the guys -- every time they walk out on the field they expect to win. I think that's why this franchise had so much success.

Q. You've come from a family that has a real sense of history of the game. I apologize if this question is premature. If the Yankees do manage to win the series, where would this era of the Yankees in three and four years rank in the all-time annals of baseball do you think?

BRET BOONE: Any time you win three championships in a decade, I think that's pretty special. The year they had last year, it was pretty awesome. I mean how many games they won. So I don't know, I mean I wasn't around back in the -- what they call the "glory days" of the Yankees, so I can't really compare team to team. But I think, you know, without getting too deep into it, I think you can chalk it up as a pretty darn good team.

Q. Could you talk about Smoltz's pitching this year? I know he's made some adjustments. Your feeling about how he'll throw tonight in this ballpark against the Yankees.

BRET BOONE: I'll take any one of our pitchers against any other pitcher, any time, any night. It doesn't matter. These guys are -- look at their career. Look at their track record. It's pretty awesome. And to watch them and play behind them all year and -- I expect John to come out and throw the ball like he always does. It's going to be tough. I've been on the other side having to face him. I know how tough he is even when he's not on top of his game. So I expect him to come out and throw the ball great. And I know he does, too.

Q. Did you watch replays of the play in the eighth inning last night, and if so, what did it look like to you happened to you on the slide or the dive? It looked like the throw beat you but from there it seemed kind of unclear.

BRET BOONE: You know, it felt like when I dove, like I stuck. When I hit the dirt, I didn't kind of glide into the bag, I kind of stuck. I think the throw did beat me. I don't know if he tagged me or not; I couldn't tell you honestly, I don't know if he did or not. It's bang-bang. I know the ball got there slightly before me. And a lot of times when that happens, things are going on so fast it's tough to see. I've been involved in plays like that at second base where I get the tag in and get it out. I don't know if 100 percent of the time I touch him, but as long as you show you get the tag down and the ball beats you, that's why I didn't argue about it. Whether he tagged me or not, I don't know. I haven't seen the replay.

Q. On that play, did you have to switch hands at the last minute because you felt like you were stuck or was it conscious?

BRET BOONE: I felt like I was stuck. I was like a turtle on my back. I don't know. I know that I pulled my left arm back and tried to reach around with my right arm. I don't know, I think it was just a -- something that you don't think about. And I realized after the play that I did do that. Why, I don't know. Trying to avoid his tag, maybe. But, yeah, it just felt like I don't know, I was stuck and I felt like he was going to tag my left hand so I pulled it in and reached with my right. I don't know, it's just something you do.

Q. Again, regarding that play, what was it about its motion or whatever that you guys were going to take third no matter what? Even in a situation where you could have scored on a single from second? Did you have to read Pettitte's move, or is it just that he doesn't hold runners on second?

BRET BOONE: I was watching him. I don't consider myself a big-time base stealer. I'll steal a base here and there. But when I'm out there, they're not going to be watching me as they are going to watch a, you know, legitimate stealer. I'm not Ricky Henderson at second base. They're going to pay a little less attention to me. I just thought we were at a point in the game where we were up comfortably, and at that time, we were just trying to put some pressure on them, be as aggressive as we could. Turned out it didn't work out in that situation. But, you know, if it does, it's a chance to put another run on the board without having to get a hit. So it didn't work out, but, you know, things like that happen every day. Sometimes you steal, sometimes you're out.

Q. Can you talk about Clemens, how many times you faced him or your experience facing him?

BRET BOONE: I faced him when I first came up in the American League. That was five or six years ago, and, you know, here and there in spring training and just in a game that counts, I think I've only faced him one time in the last seven years, and that was earlier this year, right around the All-Star break when we came in and played the Yankees. So, you know, obviously Roger can be tough. I mean there's a guy that's won five Cy Young's and has been there before. So you have to take the same approach. It's tough. Our approach is going to be the way it's been all year, take what they give us and manufacture runs. If that's the way we got to score runs, we'll do that. Hopefully tonight is one of those nights where we come out. It would be nice if we swung the bats like we did last night.

Q. Can you compare your World Series experience as a player as opposed to when you were a little kid watching your dad play in a World Series?

BRET BOONE: No. I mean it's completely different. You know, my dad played in the '80 World Series and won, I was there that night and I was there when they were celebrating. It's a great experience. I had a pretty lucky childhood and got to do a lot of things that a lot of little kids didn't get to do. But as opposed to being a player versus being a little kid running around probably driving people nuts, there's a lot of difference. This is, you know, it's everything I could imagine it to be. I think it's something you dream about, being in the World Series. Just the crowds and, you know, even the pregame ceremonies, that will give you goose bumps. And it's a great feeling.

Q. Pregame media stuff is really great, too?

BRET BOONE: You guys, this is the best part. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts…

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