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October 8, 2012

The Week in Quotes

October 1-7

by Hudson Belinsky, Jonah Birenbaum, Andrew Koo and Matthew Rocco

MIGGY TAKES HOME TRIPLE CROWN
“All I could think of then was ‘Wow, I really did it.’ It’s just unbelievable. That’s the only thing that I could say. It was great that I could share it with my teammates.”
—Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who won the first triple crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 after hitting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. (Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press)

“He’s been supporting me through this all season. I’m just so happy to be a part of this team. (The triple crown) belongs to them as much as me. I don’t do it without them.”
—Cabrera, who was given a gold watch inscribed with “Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera, 2012 Triple Crown” from teammate Justin Verlander.

“His teammates want this for him probably more than he does.”
—Tigers manager Jim Leyland on Cabrera’s historic season.

“I’m just blessed that I had the best seat in the house to watch all this. Is there any doubt now that he’s the best player in the game? But he’s too humble to really understand how awesome a player he really is.”
—Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder, who comprises the second half of arguably the most formidable 3-4 tandem in baseball, along with Cabrera, of course.

BOBBY V GETS INEVITABLE BOOT FROM BEANTOWN
“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons. No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. We’ve been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club. With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”
—Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, on the dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine. This marks the first time since 1934 that the Sox have fired a manager after just one season. (Peter Abraham, Boston Globe)

“I’m disappointed, yeah. This is not the press conference that I was expecting at the end of the season.”
—Valentine, who led the Red Sox to a record of 69-93, good for last place in the AL East.

“A lot of things didn’t go well, but an experienced manager is supposed to put his finger in the dike and keep the water on the other side.”
—Valentine

“This year’s won-loss record reflects a season of agony. It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade. Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes. Bobby leaves the Red Sox’ manager’s office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well.”
—Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino

CARDINALS SURVIVE WILD-CARD PLAYOFF
“We played to win. They played to lose.”
—Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, on Atlanta's poor defense and lack of clutch hits, after winning the one-game playoff. (Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“It’s not about what you did in the regular season. Now it’s about playing the little game. You forget about the regular season. You forget about yourself. You think about the team.”
—Molina

“Things just went a little better for us. Our guys capitalized on a couple missed plays. We got it done with a bunt and all the little things. Yadi was huge getting the run over and getting him in. We struggled big-time with that. We’ve been working on it hard.”
—Manager Mike Matheny

“It’s tough to say because it’s just one game. You’re dropped into a Game Seven experience with no buildup. Who knows what would happen tomorrow? But we played well tonight.”
—First baseman Allen Craig, on the one-game playoff.

“We play with patience and focus. Whether that’s because of what happened last year, I don’t know. But the guys in here understand you’ve got to breathe. With this one-and-done NCAA feel to it, that’s huge. When you play a game like this, you’ve got to play clean baseball.”
—Third baseman David Freese

“I think there’s value to it. Any time in life you’ve experienced something before you have an advantage over somebody who hasn’t. I don’t know their mentality over there. But I think it definitely helps. We’ve got a core that has been through just about everything you can imagine. It helps.”
—Left fielder Matt Holliday, on the advantage of having been in the playoffs before.

“We’ve been in that position where we don’t know what to do. You can’t play tight. You can’t do that. But we have a group of guys who can take pressure and go about it.”
—Pitcher Chris Carpenter

ATLANTA PROTESTS FINAL GAME WHILE FANS LOSE IT
“The people that were talking were obviously talking about the call on the infield fly. There are a lot of guys in there trying to lay blame and I just kind of kept my mouth shut because ultimately I feel I’m the one who’s to blame.”
—Retiring Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, on the infield fly call in Friday's wild-card playoff game against St. Louis. Atlanta filed a protest, but it was quickly denied by the league. (Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“Ultimately, I think that when we look back on this loss, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror. Ultimately, three errors cost the ballgame, mine probably being the biggest.”
—Jones

“I saw the shortstop go back and get underneath the ball where he would have had ordinary effort and would have caught the ball. That’s why I called the infield fly.”
—Left field umpire Sam Holbrook, who made the infield fly call. Third base umpire Jeff Nelson raised his hand to second the call.

“Absolutely. (Holbrook) is the umpire in the ‘catch’ area. The premise of the call is ordinary effort by the infielder, which clearly was correct on that call. The purpose of the infield fly (call) is to remove the force, thus giving the runners the choice to run or not.”
—Umpiring supervisor Charlie Reliford

“It looked, to me, like it was an infield fly.”
—Torre

“When you’re out in the middle of the field, it’s the safest place to be.”
—Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on the crowd's reaction in Atlanta. Fans began throwing garbage on the field shortly after the call was made, delaying the game for 21 minutes while stadium staff took the field to clean up the mess. Players huddled in the middle of the field to avoid getting hit. With the scene out of control, current MLB executive Joe Torre had the public address announcer inform the crowd that a forfeit could be ordered. After closing out the win, the Cardinals ran off the field to celebrate.

“I understand the disappointment. But we can’t do that. As Atlanta Braves and people from Georgia, it doesn’t look good, and I’m a little disappointed in our fans from that point.”
—Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on the fans’ unruly behavior. (Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

NATIONALS WIN FIRST POSTSEASON GAME
“I think there's going to be some new history in Washington from here on out.”
—Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (The Washington Times on Twitter, @WashTimesSports)

“The ark was built by an amateur. The Titanic was built by a professional.”
—Desmond on how much experience matters in the postseason. (Amanda Comak, The Washington Times)

“We just wanted to come here and get the first of the series. These fans, it’s tough to play here. They won a World Series last year. It’s just huge for us and gives us a lot of confidence.”
—Rookie Tyler Moore, on playing against St. Louis. Moore hit a two-run single to put the Nationals ahead, 3-2, in Game One against the Cardinals.

“Gio will usually come by me and say ‘Relax, Skip. I got it. I got it.’ And he probably would have had a heart attack if I’d taken him out.”
—Manager Davey Johnson, speaking prior to first pitch, on Game One starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

“It’s not my first rodeo, and, you know, I’m kind of a dinosaur.”
—Johnson (Nathan Fenno, The Washington Times)

REDS WIN NLDS OPENER DESPITE CUETO’S INJURY
“It's been that long? It feels good, shows the fans that we will be playing more games in Cincinnati. All you can do is win for the city and for your teammates. And we all have the same mission: to get the ring. And I want to keep on doing that until I get the ring.”
—Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, after being told that the last time the Reds won a post-season game was 17 years ago. Cincinnati beat the Giants, 5-2, in Game One. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)

“When Johnny went down, I was like, ‘Gosh, oh, no, we're done. Why? Why?' And we were out there talking, and we were like, 'Let's win this for Johnny.’ ”
—Phillips, on starting pitcher Johnny Cueto's injury. Cueto was suffering from back spasms and exited after facing only two batters.

“You don't like to see a guy hurting, and you say, ‘Oh no, what can happen again, kind of.’ But then you think about what happened with Joey Votto, and this is a resilient team, and they can pick each other up and go on.”
—Reds manager Dusty Baker

RANGERS DONE. JUST. LIKE. THAT.
“I don't know the right way to describe it. At some point, we just ran out of gas. We stopped playing like the Rangers. I don't know why that is. It just happened, and it's disappointing when you don't perform.”
—Rangers outfielder David Murphy, after his team lost the AL West to the Athletics, then lost the season in wild-card play-in. (Anthony Andro, FoxSports Southwest)

“I'm not stunned. I was right there watching it. I mean, as I said, a little execution here and a little execution there in some certain situations, it's a different situation. But it isn't, so I've got to live with it.”
—Manager Ron Washington

“They pay for their tickets, and they've got a right to do what they want to do. You hate to have it happen in possibly your last game ever here, but sometimes it's one of those things. I gave it my all every time I went out there. Hopefully they appreciated it more than they didn't. I think they do.”
—Outfielder Josh Hamilton, on the fans booing him. Heading into free agency, Hamilton hit 43 home runs this season, but he misfielded a crucial fly in the play-in game. (Andro, FoxSports Southwest)

“[Nobody] thought it'd end this way. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do tomorrow.”
—Starter Yu Darvish, through his translator. (Drew Davison, Star-Telegram)

SAFECO SHRINKING
“We still think it's going to be on the pitching side of the spectrum. Our approach all along was to make it more fair and be closer to the middle. We still want it to be a pitchers' park and build around pitching and defense, but we wanted to give hitters a chance to where if they really square it up and hit it 390 or 400-plus feet that they'll be rewarded.”
—Mariners assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, on moving in the fences at Safeco Field. (Greg Johns, MLB.com)

“Ultimately, that's what gets to hitters. If they square a ball up and don't get rewarded, they start to change their swing and it wears on them mentally. Having come from San Diego, which is probably the most extreme pitching park, I saw it first-hand for years, especially with young hitters. It really wears on them mentally.”
—Kingston

“Our goal is to create an atmosphere here that won't punish pitching, but will create a fair ballpark. We think this park will play fair. There are considerations playing here in the Puget Sound, where the air can be very heavy and very cool in the spring and sometimes all the way into June. We thought by making some alterations it would create an atmosphere that might be an awful lot of fun going forward.”
—General manager Jack Zduriencik.

TWITTER

—Headline: Anger Mismanagement! (Dan Kolko, @masnKolko, MASN)

—Somebody isn’t too happy that we’re in the final season of “The Office.” (Scott Lauber, @ScottLauber, Boston Herald)

—The Mets’ ace reflected on another disappointing season in Queens. There’s room for optimism in 2013, and this could be a big offseason for the direction of the Amazins. (Adam Rubin, AdamRubinESPN, ESPN New York)

—Here’s to hoping that Pablo Sandoval didn’t pen that comment. (Andrew Baggarly, @CSNBaggs, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)

—Ozzie weighs in on the AL MVP debate. (Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins Manager/Social Media Expert)

—An uber pitchers’ park might be disappearing, and Jesus Montero might become a compelling option for you fantasy team. His lack of performance at Safeco (.227/.268/.337 in 2012) could be a thing of the past. (Geoff Baker, @gbakermariners, Seattle Times)

—Does that make Icy Hot a performance-enhancing substance? #Loophole (Jane Lee, @JaneMLB, MLB.com)

—The A’s were not happy with Al Albuquerque after Sunday’s loss. Albuquerque kissed the baseball after Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to him to end Oakland’s threat in the top of the ninth inning. Albuquerque and the ball are expected to attend dinner and a movie tomorrow night. (Bob Nightengale, @BNightengale, USA Today)

—Giants’ starter Tim Lincecum isn’t going to throw a tantrum, despite learning that he will not start in the NLDS against Cincinnati. But I really wanted him to throw a tantrum!!!!! (Andrew Baggarly, @CSNBaggs, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)

THE REST
“I'm not prepared to blow up the team and start all over. … My message would be ‘Look, I think we're very definitely headed in the right direction.’ But at the same time, we will not in the near future have unlimited funds. So recognize what our immediate situation is, what we expect to be our mid- and long-term situations, and evaluate us on that basis.”
—Mets general manager Sandy Alderson (Marc Carig, Newsday)

“When you make decisions when you are disappointed and very upset with stuff, you might make mistakes. I think they are doing the right thing right now to think about it and see what happens in the future. … I think they have to think about it. With time, we will see what we need—what we need done with the coaching staff, myself, whatever it is. And [they can] think with their mind, not with their heart. Right now, it's too hard to make decisions because everybody right now is bitter, very upset and very disappointed about the season.”
—Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, on his status with the team. Several reports indicated that the Miami front office was still working on a managerial decision. (Joe Frisaro, MLB.com)

“I would love to stay with the major-league staff, and that's up to [general manager] Jeff [Luhnow], Bo and [owner] Jim [Crane], whatever direction they want to go. I talked to Jeff about being a team player, and I'm hoping I just get an opportunity in the organization somewhere. … It's something I'm always going to remember. I'm proud to be a part of it, and I'm excited that today's the last day to finish the chapter now. I think it's going to be a good chapter down the road, and I think there's a good future for me with the Astros. I'm excited to be a part of it.”
—Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco, on his time at the helm and whether he sees a future with Houston under new manager Bo Porter. (Brian McTaggart, MLB.com)

“In our ballpark, especially, it’s a very quick environment. I’d like to be athletic. We really focused on defense this year. We were pretty good. I’d like to be athletic. I’d like to be able to take pressure. I’d like to be able to sustain pressure on our opponent in a relentless fashion. We did that last year. We were unable to do that this year.”
—Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, on the improvements he’d like to focus on next year. (Nick Piecoro, azcentral.com)

“I know you hear it a lot, but really the main thing is going up there and grinding it out no matter what the situation is. I think I feel like I’ve gotten better at making adjustments from game to game and even at-bat to at-bat.”
—Giants catcher and NL batting [average] champion Buster Posey, reflecting on his approach this season. (Alex Pavlovic, MercuryNews.com)

“When he's at the plate, he can do anything. I mean, he's the best hitter in the game, I think. His approach, the way he battles with two strikes. You leave one pitch over the plate, he's going to hit it. He had an unbelievable year.”
WARP leader Mike Trout, on batting average, home run, and RBI leader Miguel Cabrera. (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)

“It was tough. We were locked up in the house and you can sit there all day. It was kind of what I imagine hell is like. But seeing a lot of support from the guys and other players around baseball and guys I’ve played with and fans of baseball was really helping us. If nothing else, we kind of wanted to do it in my son’s honor, to come here and do this.”
Pat Neshek. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)

Jonah Birenbaum is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jonah's other articles. You can contact Jonah by clicking here
Andrew Koo is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Andrew's other articles. You can contact Andrew by clicking here

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