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October 16, 2009

Mike Scioscia


THE MODERATOR: Who has the first question for Mike Scioscia?

Q. Mike, just in terms of the way the conditions will affect the game, cold or wet, how hard it is to hold the ball, do you think that there is a greater impact on the team that is playing the field or perhaps the team that is trying to take extra bases or steal bases or hit-and-run?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, I think conditions on a game anytime during the season can affect one team more than another. If you've ever been to Wrigley Field and that wind is blowing straight in, and you're a team that's really just driven by hitting the ball hard and out of the ballpark, it's going to affect you. If you're a team that is really pitching strong and that wind is blowing straight out, obviously it's going to affect some of the things that you can do.
So elements are there. And you're going to have to just get around them and play as well as you can and hopefully win. There's going to be elements out there today that are going to affect both teams. And probably maybe slow down some of the things both teams are going to be able to do or affect some of the things that both teams try to do. It's definitely going to affect both pitchers. After the game we'll be talking about it and see how much it does.
But I think the trick is to go out there and get it done under any conditions. Anybody can play this game with 70 degrees and it's beautiful. When it's going to be like it is tonight, you have to keep your focus, keep your focus defensively, and certainly on the mound with whatever happens with the pitcher and the catcher. Bring your game plan out there and execute it as well as you can.

Q. Mike, what was the coldest game you ever remember? Was it during the regular season or postseason?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Postseason. I still have it in my head. We played the Expos in 1981. And the NLCS was only five games. It was Game 5. Fernando Valenzuela really pitched a gem. It was a pop-up, I looked up and I was getting under it and catching it through the snowflakes. It was cold.

Q. No roof?

Q. Did you catch it?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, I caught it. I think that surprises as many people as the weather.

Q. What did you have to do for your pitcher that night?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: You know, I think it was a lot of things we were talking about tonight is I think spinning the ball will be probably the biggest question tonight, if Sabathia and John Lackey are going to be able to spin the ball like they normally do. Fernando Valenzuela pitching that game, his game really relied on his ability not only to locate his fastball but to spin it with a screwball and his curveball. He had no problem with it.
So we'll see how it goes. I don't anticipate it being any huge distraction what those two guys have to do on the mound, especially with what John Lackey has to do. You have to go out there -- he'll find a way to make his pitches.

Q. It doesn't seem like rain tonight, but if there's rain tomorrow and that alters the schedule beyond that, does that change anything with you rotation-wise or can you not even look at that?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Not in our rotation. It won't change anything. We're going to line up our four guys right here and then see where we are in this series. The only thing it might do is tonight we'll have Scott Kazmir in the pen if things get weird. Tomorrow we'd probably ask him also if he would start a game and have to continue it. So there are some things that could alter what happens down the road. Especially with games -- going to be suspended and carried over now from a certain point.
If you play three innings tomorrow and something happens, then obviously if we're playing here on Sunday again, we're going to have some decisions to make.

Q. Mike, looking ahead a bit, what has worked well for Saunders against the Yankees this year? And what was your thought process having him pitch Game 2 here at The Stadium?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think there's lot of things that went into that decision of Joe pitching Game 2. When he gets that ball down and can sink it, I think that's a good recipe for what you have to do in this ballpark. And when Joe's been on - for this year it was really just health related. This season he was having a little shoulder trouble coming out of Spring Training. He tried to pitch through out, managed to go out there and pitch, but wasn't throwing the ball like he could. Then went down in August for about 19 days. He's come back with a vengeance and has thrown the ball very well since that time and I think it's something that will play well in this ballpark.

Q. Joe Girardi was talking about the World Series before. You've won as a player and a manager. Do you have to win a World Series to validate your success?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think that's an interesting question. All I know winning it as a player is the ultimate. When you win the World Series as a player, that's the ultimate feeling. There are some incredibly talented baseball players in the Hall of Fame that haven't won a World Series. I don't think that makes them any less of a player. I think there's some great managers out there that didn't get as far as they wanted to in the playoffs and didn't win. I don't think it affected how they're rated as manager. I don't think it should. So I think that it's something you want every player whoever plays this game to experience because it's such an incredible feeling when you have an opportunity to get there.
Does it validate a career? Sure, if you get to the World Series and you win it, I'm sure it's a great feeling that probably people look at you in a little different light.
I don't think it's the end all to say this guy won a world championship, now we can put him in a class. He's a great player. There's a lot of players who haven't experienced that that are some of the best people that ever walked on a baseball field. I don't really know. I guess that's a short answer. Should have probably left it at that.

Q. Mike, you know, John has pitched in so many big games for you. He seems unfazed by the enormity of it. Given the weather and adding that to the mix. Is he the perfect guy for a game like this?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: John has a great ability to focus out distractions. I think that's what weather is, really, it's a distraction that needs to be filtered out. You need to go out there and bring your game on to the field under any circumstances, whether you're in a visiting ballpark or you're playing in a little drizzle or you're playing when it's cold or you're playing when the guys behind you maybe have missed a couple of plays. Maybe the umpire didn't give you a pitch. Maybe there was a bloop hit. There's a lot of things that become distractions as you move forward in a baseball game. And John is as good as it is at filtering them out and getting on to next pitch.
I would be surprised if we're talking after this game to say weather affected anything John did. I think he's going to go out there and pitch his game.

Q. Mike, obviously you have a very aggressive team and you're going to play this series aggressively. Is it possible to play this game too aggressively?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think any team that's aggressive, you have to be willing to run into some ugly outs to create more situations what you hope is going to be a net gain for your offense. So you always try for balance. You never try to run into an ugly out. But if it's there, you have to accept it if you're going to play this game aggressively. And we certainly do. We're going to keep pushing it as much as we can. It is part of our game.
I think what hasn't been talked about a lot is how much the Yankees push you on the bases. They get after it. And they're going to present challenges for us. We have to be ready for that part of it, also.

Q. Speaking of factoring out, do you have any kind of mind-over-matter approach to the game of what players can wear or do or how to look so that they just block out the cold psychologically?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know psychologically. But guys like myself who are a little heavy, we get a natural advantage. We're fine with it.
I don't think there's anything about what guys wear. No. If you want to go out in short sleeves and show your tattoo off and do whatever, God bless you. If you want to go out there with 18 layers of clothes and you can still do what you can do to make a play, hey, we're fine with that. We're fine with that. I don't know if there's any -- I don't think there's any psychological. You have to go out there and play ball and make plays.

Q. In the first round of the playoffs, you went with Weaver as your second pitcher. This time it seems like you wanted a left-handed pitcher to get a game in Yankee Stadium. What is it about a left-handed pitcher in this park that you like?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Not just left-handed pitcher. I think you look past that. Joe Saunders was the guy that we felt was ready, and I thought his stuff would match up better in this park than anywhere else. It's important, I think, to do as much as you can to keep these guys in the ballpark in this stadium. And I think Joe has the ability when he's throwing the ball well with his sinker, he should be able to do that, when he's right. When he was hurt a little bit earlier in the year, he had the ball up and got hit a little bit. But when he's right, we feel his stuff is going to play really well in this ballpark. And hopefully we'll see that.

Q. Mike, it seems like Mickey Hatcher hasn't gotten a great deal of attention or credit for what your offense has done this year. Can you address that? And also, just what his personality brings to your team?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Mickey, we talk about a player, you want him to play free and not worry about mistakes. That's the way Mickey coaches. He supports these guys at an incredible level. I think that Mickey feels it when guys don't achieve more than anybody. He has stayed with these guys for a number of years through some development and through some guys who maybe haven't been offensively on track the way they have been this year. And he's been the one constant. He just keeps going with these guys and keeps moving forward. He just does a great job with them and I think that it's very tangible what his work has produced for a lot of guys in that room. And that's why he's a guy that's important through, probably more important through tough times, when you're going well. And Mickey is always there for them.

Q. When you were playing how difficult was it to deal with teams such as yours? And also I don't know, when do you think this sort of philosophy of forcing defenses into mistakes? When did that sort of get ingrained with you?
MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, it's nothing that we invented. It's something that you can go back and look at the Dodgers through the '60s we had a lot of the guys who played on that team were instructors that really influenced myself, and Ron Roenicke and Mickey, Alfredo, guys that were in touch with that organization. I know it started before then. I'm sure it has. I'm not a baseball historian but I just know with the product of the organization I came through, that was always stressed.
We butted heads with the Cardinals in the '80s. I don't know if there's ever been a team that tried to exploit the running game more than the Cardinals. Especially in '85 when they were just running the bases crazy. Coleman, McGee, Terry Pendleton, Tommy Herr, they had speed all the way through. Ozzie Smith. They had speed all the way through that lineup. I think that's what you have to understand, the balance of containing them as much as you can, with still having your pitchers have the ability to make pitches and find that balance.
It wasn't easy. But the pressure they created was very real during the game. And those guys made it all the way to the World Series doing it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike.

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