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October 6, 2006

Kenny Rogers


Q. Everything tonight, first post-season win, first win in 13 years over the Yankees, the ovation you got when you came off, the way you pitched, of all that, what means the most?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, I think all of it. I'm sure that with all the past or whatever, how I pitched against these guys in the past, that this was a huge task for myself and my team.
But I think a lot of people may have had us like David versus Goliath or whatever, but I think we all felt like we had a chance. Just tried to show what I could do and show that I'm a different guy, because they have shown that they can wear out the other guy.
I knew from the get-go how hard their lineup is to pitch to. I know you can't fall behind in the count with them. That just invites trouble every inning and I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible and match their intensity. Probably was a little more intense than I ever have been in a long time.
I just think, as much as anything else, I wanted this win for us as a team, but I wanted it for myself, my family, everything. I wanted to do well and leave nothing out there. And this is probably one of the wins that I'm never going to forget for sure.

Q. I was just wondering, considering your past history in New York, whether or not you had special incentive. I know yesterday you had said that facing this team was going to be the biggest challenge of your career. Do you feel any kind of a sense of vindication for, you know --
KENNY ROGERS: I think I know that was something I hadn't done. I had not beaten them; for sure, if I was going to look for a worse match up for me, this was it, because they have done very well in the past for sure.
I try not to get into trying to vindicate what I do or my career, because I know, without a doubt, even when I was in New York, whether people understood it or not, I went out there every time they would give me the ball; didn't need to be 100%, and I gave them everything I had. I was always hopeful that would pan out and people would appreciate that.
For my time being there, I don't understand New York as much as some other people, but I would think that they would appreciate the effort that people give. Not always the results that you want, but playing there for those years really made me a better pitcher, better player by far, and I think that's what New York would probably be proud of, if you can say to a point; they made me better.
I was worth -- I was willing to challenge myself to go there, but whether I was prepared to be there or not, I gave everything I had every time out there.
One of my wishes would probably be that they would appreciate that.

Q. Jim Leyland said earlier that he thought you pitched as determined as anybody who ever pitched a ballgame. Where did that -- and whether that's true or not -- where did all of the resolve come from?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, maybe from failing so much. And, you know, I'm not afraid to fail. I think I've proven that by going out there and failing enough. But I'm still here for a reason. That's because I like the challenge. I know I'm 40-something and don't have a whole lot of talent anyways, but I do believe in myself when I get out there, and I believe I can make pitches.
And whether anyone else believed I could go out there and beat these guys, to tell you the truth, if I knew that I wasn't determined and matching any kind of intensity that was put back to me, then I would have been in the same boat that I always have been in with these guys. They have beat me, but I think it was because maybe I was passive and maybe a little too cautious.
Today I tried not to be that. If I was going to get beat, I was leaving it all out there. Effort-wise, I couldn't put more effort into the game than I did tonight. I didn't care what happened if I gave up a double. Jorge hit a ball like 400-something feet and told Grandy, he should be playing 420. It didn't matter if they got a double or whatever the situation was, I was going to try to get the next hitter out with every ounce of my being every time.
I was emotional out there, animated, and I would say this to anybody. If they took this the wrong way, I never want to show anybody up and I apologize for that, but I wanted this game as much as I ever wanted any in my life.

Q. You've been around, what, 18 years; given the circumstances of this game, was this one of the best games you've ever pitched?
KENNY ROGERS: With all of the distraction that was out there and all of the history, if you want to say, I think overcoming all of those obstacles and those distractions, I would say probably so. For the main part, facing that lineup, I mean, it is without a doubt a difficult -- as difficult a lineup to face.
Because it doesn't matter what inning you're pitching in or what hitter you're facing, they all are premium hitters and can hit the ball out of the park. They can hit any pitch you throw. That, to me, is a rewarding thing at this stage of my career to know that I can go out there and compete with that type of team.
And I know people probably never thought that I could do that, and maybe I doubted myself too, at times. I'm sure I did. I get nervous before every game, and if you want to say scared, yeah, I do. But as soon as I stop being nervous or not excited about being here, I'm gone. But I still get them. I still get the butterflies, I still get the nerves, and I know that's something that drives me: To go out there and prove that people are wrong to a point, but to meet challenges that are put in front of me.

Q. You said you wanted to be a different guy. Can you compare the guy that you were in the past with the guy that you were tonight?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, in the past I tried to pitch my way through lineups like this. But New York's -- they have always had a really good lineup. I tried to pitch through guys, change speeds, hit spots to a certain extent. Today, I let myself know that I wasn't going to be as much of a pitcher.
If it was going to throw it, I was going to let everything out there effort-wise go and not leave anything left, because what I was doing in the past wasn't working. They are so good. They can hit any pitch that you throw at them.
But I just wanted to throw the ball as hard as I could. And when I was making a different pitch, make it with quality. I was making some mistakes, but they also made some good pieces of hitting. Derek hit a ball that was up in and for the double in the first inning, and then he almost hit me, knocked my face off (Laughter.)
But he's a great player. I love watching him, but every one of those guys -- I respect every one of them, and that may be why I was so intense and so emotional out there. I know just how much damage they can do in a short period of time. I'm very fortunate to still be here, but to beat a lineup like that, I'm proud of it, but it's satisfying.

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