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October 27, 2006

Tony La Russa


Q. How good was Jeff Weaver, and how good was your pitching through this entire series?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, since the first game against San Diego, the way our pitching rose to the occasion, front end, back end. It's tough to score. You're facing good pitching. Our pitching was just -- like Jeff was tonight, for him to tune up the game like that with what was at stake.
Really if we missed this one, it would have been tough in Detroit. This was a huge game, and he was our biggest hero.

Q. I know you like to focus on the team, but how satisfying is this to you on a personal level? You had a tough year and here you or at the pinnacle?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, just ask any coach, it's just not personal. What you feel is the organization, coaches, we all just work to put guys in position. It's players determine how successful you are. I feel great because I mentioned out there, from the day one in San Diego our club had so much life, clubhouse, dugout, no matter the score or circumstances. It was really fun to be around this group. They were so determined. And as we got into it, I actually started getting concerned because they were wanting it so much I didn't want them to be disappointed and they're not.

Q. Just joining the rare air with Sparky being the only managers with World Series in both leagues, what does it mean for the city, 24 years since the last time?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, I said it once and I'll say it again, I have such a respect and affection for Sparky that I believe he's one of the greatest, not just managers, but baseball men, ambassadors for the game, it's such a great honor, he should really have this alone.
But I just saw Bob Gibson. When you're around here, especially if you're around here for a while, I just don't feel you can join the club unless you can say you won a World Series. Now we can say this group can join the club.

Q. With all the adversity your club went through this year, was there ever a time doubt crept in that this wasn't going to be possible, this kind of success?
TONY LA RUSSA: How about daily? And a couple of times a day during the game. You operate with -- you kind of prepare for the worst and you hope for the best.
So there were many times that things just didn't seem like they were falling into place for us. But from the first game in San Diego and there was our center fielder and our shortstop and our club got a lift, no doubt about it. This guy, right here (indicating.) The big guy with the trophy.

Q. During the off-season, somebody was asking about trades, you're going to do this, you're going to do that, I remember you saying something to the effect that, I don't know, I don't really care, all I know is my shortstop next year is David Eckstein. I remember bringing that up to you, David, during Spring Training. Just talk to about what you meant when you said that, and maybe David has something to say about that, too.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, part of why we thought -- I'll get to David in a second, part of why we thought we could compete and why we knew what would happen in October. You look around at our club, you look at the catcher, the first baseman, the two guys who played second, the shortstop, the third baseman, the center fielder, left and right, you know, we have a really good club, and they're really into trying to win this thing, but whenever David is playing there is absolutely no doubt that our club responds to how hard he plays and how committed he is to doing whatever the team needs. I mean, he is a wonderful leader on and off the field and not just quietly, but he can also be very vocal.
So to me he's our shortstop. And believe me, he's more than just guts, he's a very good player.

Q. Continuing along on Eck, you were hurt, most of the September, and there was some doubt that you would be ready for the playoffs. Tony, when did you know that he was really going to be there for the start of the Padres series?
TONY LA RUSSA: He really disappointed me only one time in two years, and that is -- he's always very honest, very straight forward, in fact when his dad Whitey hears this, he's probably going to lecture him on this, so he gives you the information. And there was one time there in October where his shoulder was biting and he was less than his best, and I think he used the words, "fine, no restrictions." And wasn't totally honest. So he should apologize for that.
But overall, he's such a gamer, he plays and he got better and better and look what he did in the World Series.

Q. Tony, before the game you talked about 1983 and how you knew you had a good baseball team that year. This many years later, the appreciation, and the evolution personally of if you think back quickly as to the guy you were then. I know consistency is a word the Jim Edmonds used for you, but you do evolve. Is this one of the moments you feel like it's more appreciated somewhat?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I think it's so consistent because every place I've been we've had players that contend. It happens every place. I've never been in a bad situation. But you dream about, little corny, but this is true, especially since the fans are in, you dream about if you win the World Series, is it possible to win at home. Because I've seen the home team, the celebration going back to the '90s. I thought, wow, winning is great, but to win at home, to just experience what we just experienced on the field and what we just experienced and a daggone parade. And that's something a lot of us have never had, including myself.

Q. We couldn't see from the press box, who was it that picked you up and gave you that bear hug? Have you ever gotten one like that before? And do you mind sharing what you and the player said?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it was, I think it was a combination of Izzy and Carp. And that ninth inning they were distracted, because they kept looking over at me, I could see them out of the corner of my eye, they kept looking to see if I was going to, whatever, break down or whatever. And I kept trying -- normally, because we had a very serious situation getting three outs. And I kept looking at him, I knew they were looking, I could see them looking, you know, you getting a little edgy there. So we finally got the last out and it was Izzy and Carp.

Q. Was there someone on the field?
TONY LA RUSSA: Albert was one. I lifted David. But there was several. This group of guys, I'll never forget. This is an accomplishment, they'll be friends forever. They share something very, very special, very rare.
End of FastScripts
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