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October 21, 2000

Roger Clemens


THE MODERATOR: First question for Roger.

Q. Can you share with us memories of '86, pitching against the Mets. Is that still a low point? Can you think about your baseball past?

ROGER CLEMENS: It would be a low point for the fact we didn't win. Other than that, it was enjoyable. My first time around, I wish I would have -- I think I made the statement earlier in the week, I wish I would have maybe looked around a little more and tried to enjoy it a little more. It went by so fast for me. In particular, last year, I really tried to -- and I did -- I was able to enjoy that one quite a bit. Obviously, the playoffs went to Texas. So a lot of people that don't get a chance, as far as my family in particular, they don't get the opportunity to see me pitch in person and up-close, they were able to enjoy that one. And just having the opportunity to be in the playoffs. The only thing, again, that I remember in '86 was the -- I think somebody sent it to me, too, either a Boston fan or a Met fan, the chances -- I guess some computer wiz figured it up. There were so many thousands and thousands to one. I think we had two or -- three or four different guys had two strikes on them. We weren't able to close the door. So somebody figured it out, what the chances were. It was ridiculous.

Q. Two questions. Do you think it's an advantage to you that their line-up is so right-handed heavy? Also, do you think that -- you kind of apologized twice in the last two days with Piazza. Do you think you apologized enough already, that they should move on?

ROGER CLEMENS: I think they have. The first part of your question, right-handed, really I don't concern myself with righties or lefties. The left-handers that they have or they will feature, if the young guy leads off, the new guy there, if he leads off early, I haven't faced him. So I'll draw some information a little bit tonight, not much, but look at some of the right-handers that pitched to him in the past. And what we have talked about, about the last couple of days, Ventura will be -- I faced Robin quite a bit, his stint in the American League. I'm familiar with him somewhat. So not really, I don't -- I'll try and go with my strengths, what I have. And the second part of it, yeah, like I said, I revisited it the last couple days a little bit. And just from talking to different people, everybody just wants to kind of push it behind.

Q. Would you describe yourself as intimidating? And given the fact that other hitters have described you in that way, how much do you think it helps you on the mound?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, if intimidating goes with it, I love what I do. I take it very seriously. I know I might not be in it -- I might not be doing this much longer, so they're all pressures. Again, I told you the thing I can't stand the most is doing the work that I do to prepare behind the scenes, and go out there and pitch awful and not perform well for everyone. That's the most difficult thing, I think, that is hard for me. Because I have to kind of suck on it for two or three days, and that's difficult to do. So when you're beating that path and you're just thinking if you could have made a better pitch here or there, that wears on you. But I'm focused. I guess if there's maybe ten guys that we consider intimidating -- I mean I throw hard, I'm a power pitcher. I take pride in that. As you know, and I've said it to many guys, when you guys refer to me as a power pitcher, I consider myself a pretty good pitcher. When I don't have my great stuff, my power stuff, I still can pitch and win those games. Again, the times I've been getting burnt is when I give up a big, crooked number, whether it be a home run or something like that. Right now, especially at playoff time, you don't want to do that. You definitely don't want to make it easy on someone.

Q. Your buddy Jose was just in here. Could you talk about --?

ROGER CLEMENS: Buddy's debatable.

Q. Could you talk about the point he is in, in his career, and what he has left?

ROGER CLEMENS: Jose's a good friend. Again, the time we've been on different teams, we've had some good battles, too. He's worked real hard. He's dropped, I don't know, 20, 25 pounds since he's been here. They timed him 10, 12 days ago, and his speed, still with his bad foot, he's as quick as anybody in that locker room. I think I can stroke him pretty good. To the point where, I think he's -- when you talk about special players, he's definitely that. He's intimidating. He's a force in the line-up. He gives you quality at-bats when he's in there. He may strike out or hit a homer. He'll give you a good at-bat. He'll take some walks for you, too, to get on base. I just keep telling him he needs to be in that . 500 home run club. I think he's that type of player. Hopefully, his health will allow him to do that. I watched him come back from back surgery when most guys would have just packed it in, in a playoff year for us a few years back. He came back, and I don't know what it was, three, four weeks. I know it was shorter than he was supposed to; where, again, most guys would have just packed it in. We wouldn't have seen him. But he hustled back to get some at-bats for us. He just -- he's fun to watch. He's a guy I enjoy watching go to the plate, and he's one that when I face him, that I think the fans win because they want to see that, when I face a McGwire or Jose, these big power hitters. The fans want to see me go after him.

Q. How does an educated pitcher make this intimidation factor work for you? How do you exploit that factor?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't worry about exploiting it.

Q. Or use it?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't really look at myself that way. When I'm on the mound, I'm serious about it. But physically, I'm going to try and beat you. Mentally, I'm going to try and beat you. Emotionally, I'm going to try to beat you. Everything that I've done to prepare, if that fails, then mentally, I know I've got to get sharper. I'm seeing more than dugout to dugout. I'm hearing the crowd too much. I'm seeing the hitter and the umpire, the catcher. I'm visualizing too much there. And then if I'm still really lethargic out there and I'm not getting it done, I think I've stated this before, I said something -- or I've asked Jorge to get on me. I said something to either one of my teammates or out loud in the game there, and just to try and get some type of adrenaline rush. Especially when you're warming up the bullpen, you always hope it changes. And there have been starts where it has. Obviously, over the many years I've pitched, it has changed when I went out to the mound just for the fact of the little adrenaline kick you get when you go out there. So, I mean, that's just my approach. I know that if I'm not there, I need to find something real quick. Again, it's been stated by a lot of you all, it's really a pleasure to me, because when I hear about the Gibsons or the guys that comment, they say they always get to the good ones early. So I try to take note of that in my notes, in my journals that I do keep, that if I don't feel right, maybe I need to throw an extra 20, 25 pitches in the bullpen to get right so I don't have a poor first or second inning, so I'm not looking for that rhythm early. And the next thing you know, I'm down 2-0 to 3 -0.

Q. Being a player involved in all of this, is it possible in any way to shut out what's going on in the city? Or is it better to enjoy it, as you said before: Read the papers, collect the articles, find out what's going on?

ROGER CLEMENS: My mother's been here for the month. I got her up here. My mother-in-law is here. They do all that. I might see a photo or two of my mechanics, the way I'm throwing the ball. To be fair with everyone, I don't really look at it or read it. I think if it gets below the belt, my teammates will say something, and I'll try to address it with that individual. That's the way I've done it in the past. Again, that's only if I think it goes beyond critiquing what goes on in the field. Other than that, my family's here, and we're in Central Park playing football today. And I'll be running around tomorrow. Just the fans are having a great time. So I don't get locked in tomorrow afternoon. And the same situation this year as last. I just got done talking to Andy about it. I told him he needs to get it going today, and I'll get it going tomorrow. The pressure is getting home, too. Halloween's just around the corner. That's real important to some people. (Laughter.)

Q. It has been said that this journal that you have, that your success over the years has been the fact that you keep a very close detail of all umpires' strike zones. Is that true?

ROGER CLEMENS: That's correct. This year, it's been a little more difficult because there's been some -- some of the new guys that I haven't had a chance to see and some of the National League guys. But those guys are real important for me, and I would think for the other starters, too. I mean, they're a big part of your livelihood, not only the catcher, but if I have a little bit of an advantage to where I know if a guy sees the ball -- without the big puffy chest protector, I think one guy, Neudecker, I believe, it might have been the name.

THE MODERATOR: Jerry Neudecker.

ROGER CLEMENS: Thank you. He likes to wear the air vest. Those guys are real important. Some of them set up in the inside; some of them set on the outside. Some set behind and a little bit further behind. So they all have their different styles and their different interpretations of the strike zone. If I know if a guy is going to maybe call a ball away most of the night, I'll try to establish that real early. So I'm fortunate tonight because I'll get to see the crew and I'll get to see who's at first base, and hopefully, it's somebody I know. Hopefully, we can work together real nice, right out of the gate. (Laughter.)

Q. Are you counting on or hoping for a carryover from your last game? Is that something that can happen?

ROGER CLEMENS: Obviously, the only carryover I would hope is I have all three pitches working and being very sharp. I would love that. I would love that splitter to do what I ask it to do. But if not, again, I'll try and make the adjustments accordingly. I was throwing extremely hard. I mean, the ball was racing out of my hand. You just hope you can channel that and I can get the ball down quick and elevate when I need to. And just to move the eye level of some of these guys. So... It's all about pitching. I need to go in and out. And when I need to, I'll go up and down. I'm just going to go out there and battle. I know I'm going up against Hampton, and he's a competitor himself. We play basketball during the winter together. Sometimes he's on my team; sometimes he's not. He stays out there for all eleven games. The guy never stops, runs up and down the floor. Makes me dizzy. He's a great competitor.

Q. He says you foul a lot.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, he calls them. He's not supposed to do that in pick-up games. (Laughter.)

Q. You said you may not want to -- you don't know how much longer you're going to be doing this. Now that you have one championship, what are your personal goals? And not to get too far ahead, but if you guys should win this, would you consider shutting it down this year?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I would go back -- right now, at this point, I think I would go back and rest a couple weeks, and we'll all talk about it again. I am signed for two more years. I have an opportunity to hit maybe closer to 300. I'd like to maybe do a few more special things in this city, so I'd have a chance to maybe wear this hat into the Hall, like everybody says might happen. My mother's doing okay. I'd like her to see that, that I've been real fortunate. You all talk about me going in; and that's, for a player on this level, that's the final stop. So I do feel special when you all mention that. But I want her to be there to see that. I do feel like I am pushing the clock a little bit. But if my body continues to go and I'm in a fortunate situation with the owner here, and you see the teammates I have behind me, a lot of great people are -- like I would refer to them as special. We have a lot of special players in that clubhouse. So, but yeah, we're trying to win four more games, then we'll evaluate it from there.

End of FastScripts....

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