October 26, 2001
PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Workout Day
Q. What went through your mind -- Joe just told us that he spoke with you before he announced the lineup, and knowing that this might be your last World Series, what went through your mind?
PAUL O'NEILL: I mean, everybody is disappointed. You look forward to going in and playing in the World Series. As I look back at all of the World Series, I look back at playing in every game. You know, I don't try to guess along with his decisions or whatever. He made a decision; it's not like it has not happened before. There have been games where I haven't played. But to say that I'm not disappointed, I'd be lying, sure. But if we win this World Series, that's what's the important thing. We're looking to do what the Yankees are trying to accomplish, not trying to make somebody happy. Either way, David or myself was going to be disappointed. That's a decision Joe had to come up with. He believes that David in the past has done real well off Schilling, and obviously, should I have taken those at-bats off Schilling a little more seriously. (Laughter.)
Q. As great as your post-season numbers have been, I know you know the World Series numbers have not been probably what you would have liked, any explanation for that and anything you can do differently?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: Not really. I think I'm just going to take the same approach that I have. I think I had a pretty good thing going last, maybe, three or four games in the series. So I don't think I should try to change anything that I'm doing right now.
Q. Was there an explanation on the previous World Series numbers?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: I don't know. I have no idea. It's just, you know, it's a different opportunities, different chances. Some changes just come down to just getting the breaks fall for me at some points. I think the thing that I've got to focus on is just having quality at-bats every time I go in and just let everything else fall into place.
Q. Is this as good as you've felt after the last three games against Seattle going into the World Series?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: I feel very good right now. Probably as good as I felt probably in that month that I hit .450 in the summer. I think I've got a good thing going right now, but these two guys have, a tendency to put people in slumps. I have to not take them lightly and just prepare myself like I do for every game.
Q. Paul, with what happened towards the end of the year with your foot, and also the first couple of round where Joe made some changes to the lineup, does that make it easier to take this time around, making you think more about the bigger picture?
PAUL O'NEILL: I mean, this is the World Series. This is what you play all of those rounds to get to. Obviously, ideally, you don't want to end up the season like I did, playing just a couple of games going into the playoffs and things. Ever since I've gotten back into right field playing again, I've felt a lot better. As a player, when you play athletics, it's funny how much what you're doing on the field kind of affect the way you feel about yourself. When you are playing the whole game and the team is winning and you are contributing, it just makes you feel better. I think the big thing here is, you know, it's against a right-hander. It just so happens that with this DH -- I didn't even think about it. David came up to me a couple days ago and said something about the DH and it didn't even occur to me that this could happen, but it did. If you look back when it has happened before, it's been Mulder, Zito, guys that were tough matchups. David and I don't expect to play Game 2 against right-hander Randy Johnson and that's just the way it is. I think the only thing that came as a surprise is that it's against a right-hander and that's never really happened before.
Q. From what you've heard from scouts and seen on TV and know about Schilling, how great of a pitcher is he now compared to what you faced a few years ago?
PAUL O'NEILL: You can definitely appreciate what he's done. That's all you hear about is Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and how they carry this team. When you watch him pitch and you watch him complete games by himself, that kind of goes back to the old days when guys would take the mound and throw nine innings. It's neat to see because of the computer things, and obviously I don't like the computer things any more because they have got me benched -- (Laughter.) -- but it's the left-hander, right-hander thing, that's what the game is going to. But it's kind of like give him the ball, if it's 140 pitches, 150 pitches, he's out there and it's fun to see.
Q. How much of a luxury is it to have a closer like Rivera, a closer who is so dominating?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: Well, I think I have probably the best seat in the house because I get to watch him pitch from centerfield, and to me, it's just great to see him out there every time he comes out. Which is puzzling to me, as well, because he only has one really good quality pitch, which is that cut fastball, and he's not trying to trick anybody. Everybody knows what's coming and he still is able to get people out the way he does. To me, it's just great.
Q. This is the sixth World Series you've gotten a chance to play in. Seeing guys playing it for the first time, Mussina in particular, is it fun for you to see guys experience it for the first time?
PAUL O'NEILL: It's not like you feel any different, your second, your third, your fourth, whatever. It's always exciting. It's so much different every year because of the stories that go along with the year in order to get here. But I think everybody remembers their first World Series or whatever. Mussina is such a guy that if he's -- he's not a rookie, it's not like this is all new to him. He's pitched games, he's pitched playoff games, he obviously changed that Oakland series where everybody was ready to send us home and he goes out and throws a shutout. He's going to do the same things that he did throughout the year, and that's pitch well and give us a chance to win; if we score him some runs, things will go well.
Q. Everyone talks here, when the roof is open about the high sky out here, since you've never played here before, do you have any concerns defensively about tracking balls?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: I don't know until I get there and see what the situation is. I have no idea how it will be, I'm just going to take a lot of fly balls now and hopefully, things will be fine.
Q. Some years it's been really tough for you guys to get to the World Series but it seems like every year you dominate once you get there, 16 wins in your last 17 World Series appearances?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: You know, I think it's just a matter of every time we come up into the situation, we have the experience of it from the prior year. If it makes us not panic if things go bad at first. We have confidence in the personnel that we have, the fact that they can do the job. We've had a couple breaks fall for us in different situations.
Q. With what Mussina has done in the playoffs for you so far, could your faith be any greater in him than it is?
BERNIE WILLIAMS: I have plenty of confidence in the fact that he is going to pitch well. I think from our point of view, we have to focus and take quality at-bats and give him some runs to work with, because it doesn't matter how great he pitches. If we don't score for him, that's not going to happen.
End of FastScripts....