JACKIE ROBINSON AND ROBERTO CLEMENTE ARE HEROES, WHILE HE GETS A PINK SLIP
“Well, it’s time to go. Just got a bad call from the umpires. They didn’t want to reverse it.”
—Frank Robinson, ex-manager of the Nationals, after his meeting with general manager Jim Bowden (Washington Post)
“We agreed to make an announcement later on. Some time in the very near future.”
“Did they tell me? Something will be announced at a later date.”
“That’s a question I can’t answer at this time. Who knows? My contract is up October 31.”
“But even with that, it was an honor for him to be here, to represent Washington. It was nothing but a privilege. He has enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been a great ride.”
—Barbara Robinson, Frank’s wife.
“I’m not going to lie: It’s not going to be easy. All the players he’s been with and the teams he’s had, it’s like your baby, your child.”
“It’s up to the organization. If they feel like that they want me to be a part of the organization beyond, say, managing the ballclub or whatever, it’s up to them.”
“It was a very unique and special situation here.”
“I’ve never done anything harder than I have to do right now. And that’s to say, ‘Goodbye.’ “
SADLY, I’LL NO LONGER BE MANAGER OF THE CUBS. ON THE PLUS SIDE, I NO LONGER HAVE TO BE MANAGER OF THE CUBS
“I’m not in denial at all. There never has been any denying. I’m not getting fired-my contract is just expiring. It doesn’t make it better, but it’s sure I wouldn’t be the first manager or the last to be fired. Some of the best managers of all time have been fired.”
—Dusty Baker, Cubs manager, on his future with the team (Chicago Tribune).
“You ask me if I would go back, but you also have to ask them if I’m welcome there. I don’t know if my relationship with Peter is the same. We haven’t spoken. I really don’t know. I don’t think about that stuff.”
–Baker, on whether the door would be open to him to return to the San Francisco Giants.
A RARE MISSTEP FROM THE BIG GUY
“God told me to come here. And I just can’t believe-my dying mother-in-law told me this, and I pray on it-that I was supposed to come here to leave under these circumstances. That wasn’t my purpose coming here.”
“I never saw anything like this. For a man who has done all the things in his managerial life to be scrutinized like this. … A pitcher is getting hammered and he goes to take him out, and they applaud the pitcher and boo Dusty. It’s just not right.”
–Cubs bench coach Dick Pole
IT’S EITHER PLAY BETTER, OR “WRITE” ANOTHER BOOK
“The reality is that, you either do or you don’t in this league. Especially when we’re in a position to win, and we’re stumbling and fumbling. You’re gonna catch some heat. And the way to solve that is to play better.”
–Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa, on his team’s near-collapse (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Do I think there’s been a little bit of unnecessary roughness, and some piling on when a guy’s already down? Yeah, I think there’s some of it. But that’s just the way the times are. People are down, you get kicked. There are two answers. One, don’t get down so you don’t get kicked. And two, if it bothers you, do something else for a living.”
I READ THAT ON A BUMPER STICKER
“Do or die now. It’s the urgency that we’re supposed to have been feeling. We just need to play and pitch the best that we can and see what the result is. Winning happens because you do things right.”
“They’re looking up at us, and they still have to do more than us at this point.”
–Cardinals OF Preston Wilson, on his former team, the Houston Astros, who lost to John Smoltz and the Braves to give the Cardinals the NL Central on Sunday.
I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN-HE WAS PRETTY SICK AT BALLOON VOLLEYBALL
“It was a thrill to watch players like that. After a while they were in the big leagues, playing ball, which you thought would never come. But eventually it did come. And that was the greatest thing of my life when I saw these fellows come up and play big-league baseball.”
—Si Simmons, 110, on his Negro League teammates who went on to play in the major leagues (The New York Times)
“When we played volleyball – with balloons – he said, ‘You know, I used to play baseball.’ But he didn’t make it sound so spectacular. And I didn’t know enough to ask him about it.”
—Dorothy Russell, 90, a friend of Simmons
THE LAST OF THE IDIOTS
“I can honestly say, yeah, I’ve thought about it. But in the same sense, I care more about going out there and helping the team win and trying to have some success in the field, than thinking about whether it’s my last weekend or not.”
–Red Sox LF Trot Nixon, on his last games in a Red Sox uniform (Boston Globe)
“I can’t guarantee that I’m going to be here next year or not. There’s some pretty good outfielders that are going to be free agents out there, too. You don’t want to leave this type of atmosphere. That’s why they do the best they can to put a winner out here, because our fans deserve it. I hope I can fill one of those positions, and if I don’t, there’s not going to be any ill will toward them. That’s the way it goes.”
“You look back on that, you never know what you’re going to witness out there in baseball. You never know.”
AFTER I MAKE LOVE TO MY WIFE, SURE I’LL BE EMOTIONAL
“I can’t really tell if I’m going to be emotional or not. I don’t know. Maybe at night in bed. Maybe a little bit. Maybe if my son asks me about it.”
“I think it’s important for all of us to take in as much as we can every day and appreciate what we have because we could very easily have it taken away from us. Not because it’s a punishment, but just because that was the plan. I think we take that for granted every day. I know I’ve been guilty of it. I think it’s important for us to always take in everything, whether it’s the green of the grass out there, the smell of the ballpark, even when you drive in.”
“Don’t take it for granted, appreciate it. One day it’s not going to be there.”
ON THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM, MR. BONDS
“Oh boy. This is going to be beyond interesting.”
–an agent, on Barry Bonds‘ offseason negotations for a new contract (San Jose Mercury News)
“A player like Barry should have a lot of leverage, but this isn’t going to be a conventional negotiation. There’s the whole ‘pariah factor.'”
“They need a winning team more than anything else. If they win 70 games in ’07, even if Barry gets the record, that will be over and done with and they’ll be sitting on three consecutive losing seasons. They’ll have massive attendance problems in ’08 and beyond.”
“Barry has not demonstrated any type of loss in skill.”
–Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
“He has one error in 200 games in left field. The National League is as much a possibility as the American League.”
“Barry aside, that type of chunk of money probably won’t be dedicated to any one individual player because of our relative needs. We’re going to have to spread the wealth or the moneys available throughout the roster.”
–Giants general manager Brian Sabean (Contra Costa Times)
“Knowing them, they’ll try to involve Baltimore, the Yankees — as many large-market teams as possible. The key is, how transparent will that be?”
“I really liken it to what Houston went through with Roger Clemens. At first, it was a nice homecoming. Then they got themselves in a trap PR-wise and they had to pay him practically whatever he asked for. I think we all know Roger Clemens isn’t worth $12 million for half a season.”
“Roger’s making more money, isn’t he? He’s making more money this year than he ever has.”
–Giants OF Barry Bonds, whose composite line on the year was a ridiculous .270/.454/.545.
YOU HAD ME AT ‘JETER’
“For me, it’s a defensive award, offense should not factor. Absolutely . . . if you’re just a glove guy, I love that. Sometimes when it matches up, great. Like this year with Jeter.”
–Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon, on the voting for the Gold Glove.
“I’ve been consistent all year long, I think this my year to win that award. That’s what I’m looking for. I work hard every year, I try to get this award. If I get it, it’s going to be one of the best things in my life. Some day, some year, before I retire, I’m going to get that.”
–Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez (Boston Herald)
“There’s nobody better – if he doesn’t win it, it’d be a joke. We’ve been in the national spotlight and everybody knows what he’s done. Jeter could be the guy, he’s hitting .340 and has a ton of RBI, but defensively, it’s not even close, for real. Somebody mentioned Betancourt – he has 19 errors. No way.”
–Red Sox SS Alex Cora
“I think J’s better than Jete. Every time the team needed something done, Jete did it. I see the same thing from J-Roll. Like with Jeter, the game just comes to him naturally.”
—Tom Gordon, on his team’s shortstop, Jimmy Rollins.
“I don’t see him; he’s in the other league. He’s having a great year, [but] I don’t really try to gauge one player against another. You have respect for everybody, but I don’t say ‘This guy is better than that guy.'”
“He’s definitely a player that steps up to the plate in the big situation. Jimmy hasn’t had the opportunity to do that, but I can see him stepping up as well. I think you can separate them just from what Jeter’s done in the playoffs.”
–Yankees starter Cory Lidle
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
“I’d rather play the Yankees because I know we can beat them.”
–Twins owner Carl Pohlad (The New York Times)
–Pohlad, on if he would get the most pleasure out of beating the Boss.
“They’re always the team to beat. I guess you’ve got to go through them. You got to go through them anyway, so you might as well go through them in the first round.”
–Twins out machine Rondell White (.246/.276/.366, -.3 WARP)
“If you go to Vegas, you’ll probably find that out, too. It’s not probably far off of their line. But that doesn’t mean you can’t beat them. You’ve got to go out and figure out a way to do it.”
–Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, on the Yankees being the overwhelming postseason favorite.
COME TO THINK OF IT, WE ALSO WON A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH SCOTT PODSEDNIK, SO LET’S IGNORE THAT ARGUMENT
“He makes plays that other guys can’t make. We won a championship with Juan Uribe at shortstop. He’s driven in 70 some-odd runs at the bottom of our order. Do we want more consistency in terms of getting on base and batting average and all that? Absolutely. Who doesn’t?”
–White Sox general manager Kenny Williams (Chicago Sun-Times)
“I’ll tell you this, Juan Uribe catches the ball as good as any shortstop in the league. The people who are our fans may not understand that, because they watch only us. Well, I watch everyone.”
“Can I go out there and reasonably get somebody better than Juan Uribe? Well, it’s my job to explore every angle, and I’ll do that. It’s going to take one hell of a player to remove Juan Uribe. If we didn’t have him last year, we wouldn’t be wearing these rings. I think he’s undervalued.”
–Williams. Juan Uribe was six fielding runs above average (FRAA) while hitting a nauseating .235/.257/.441 on the season.
“You have to be very careful to look for problems that aren’t there or make changes that you’re making on a reactionary level. It’s easy for people to say, ‘Go get that guy, go get that guy.’ Well, those are unrealistic orders you’re placing.”
“This whole concept about us returning to a softball-type club, I think, is a little bit off base. I think it’s off base behind the phenomenon of ‘Ozzie Ball’ last year, which I think was a little overplayed, in terms of what we really were.”
“Home runs aren’t a bad thing. It’s the best thing you can do, because you drive yourself in. You don’t want to start games relying on the home run, and there are some games where we were guilty of that. I don’t know. I haven’t taken time to crunch it all out. I do know our offense has been pretty damn good this year.”
–White Sox 1B Paul Konerko
“As we sit here today, I think we’ll end up with 90 wins if we win this series, and that’s still playing below our ability level. I think this is a 100-win team if we played at our ability level — not above it, at it. I can’t think of a better group of guys. If I’ve got to go down, I’ll go down with these guys because they gave it everything they had. I’m talking from one to 25, it wasn’t a question of desire or heart, or whatever word you want to throw in there to try and describe that.”
THE GOLDEN AGE OF PLAYERS WITHOUT SKILLS
“There was a time when we could go after players who all they did was get on base. They didn’t bring any other skills to the table. They couldn’t field, couldn’t run. A player like Matt Stairs wasn’t given the opportunity because he was perceived as not being able to do the other things. Now players without skills are being pursued.”
—A’s general manager Billy Beane (The New York Times)
“I subscribe to some of that. We’re an organization that pays attention to statistics. I believe in some of the things I read; some I’m not sure I’m on board with. There are a lot of things in it that are valuable, whether you’re into statistical analysis as much as another organization. Most organizations take that into account when they evaluate people.”
—Terry Ryan, Twins general manager, on performance analysis.
“The sort of team we put together is probably going to be dissimilar to others. When everyone else is zigging, we’re going to zag. We changed dramatically over the last few years. People accused us of being a slow-pitch softball team: Get men on base and have someone hit a three-run homer. But we’ve become more defensive-oriented.”
“People who have the highest on-base percentage are the highest-paid players in the league. We can’t find it where it’s undervalued anymore. There are no bargains any more in that area.”
“I’ve always admired him. They’re always in the mix, always finishing strong. They always have minor league players come through. When they don’t, they go out and get players. They make things happen.”
–Ryan, on Billy Beane.
“I don’t relish that. I’m embarrassed that you’d even ask.”
–Terry Ryan, on the idea someone would write a book about him and the Twins.
“YOU CAN’T PARK YOUR CAR HERE!” “IS THIS NOT A REASONABLE PLACE TO PARK?”
“It’s just stupid to have a car here. Parking is expensive and I have to pay for my hotels.”
–Yankees 3B Nick Green, on taking the subway to Yankee Stadium (The New York Times)
“I took it every year till 1989. Then I got a car sponsorship and they gave me a car. It was the biggest nightmare, especially $400 a month for parking.”
–Sportsnet New York color commentator Ron Darling
TELL THAT MICROCHIP TO STEP OFF LEST YOU BEAT HIS PUNK ASS
“I just don’t believe that fans want to see the human element removed from umpiring. Fans have certain expectations when they go to a sporting event. They want to see the big hit in football, an impossible dunk in basketball, a fight in hockey and a manager argue with the ump at a baseball game. How do you argue with a microchip?”
–MLB umpire supervisor Jim McKean (Baltimore Examiner)
“We’re getting the ball-and-strike calls correct more than 95 percent of the time. We’re always working with our umpires to improve, and there’s some newer technology coming that might get us a few points higher.”
“With games already close to three hours long, stopping the action to go upstairs and check a videotape will only bog things down. It’s the human element again.”
BLAME WHERE BLAME IS DUE
“It wasn’t because of their passion, and it wasn’t because of their work ethic. It just boils down to production on the field. There are certain areas that, as hard as they worked and as hard as they tried, we did not improve in.”
–Brewers manager Ned Yost, after parting ways with Brewers hitting coach Butch Wynegar and first base coach Dave Nelson (MLB.com)
“I would be lying if I said I was totally shocked. You expect the worst and hope for the best, but even when you expect the worst, and get the worst, it’s a little bit of a disappointment. It’s a disappointment. There’s no doubt.”
“The next guy that comes in here is going to have just as hard a job as Butch did to get them to understand what it takes to be a winner offensively. I still see approaches at the plate where I’m wondering, ‘What in the world is he thinking about?'”
“It’s just thankless. When the hitters hit, that guy looks great. When they don’t, he looks bad.”
— Brewers IF Jeff Cirillo, on the plight of the hitting coach.
FIRED FOR MEDIOCRITY? COME ON, THIS IS AMERICA!
“I know our baserunning wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst, either. They felt they needed to make a change, and Butch and I were the ones to go. … I thought we improved over last year in our baserunning, but there was certainly a lot more room for improvement in that area. We didn’t do a good job.”
“Like our approach at the plate, we still make far too many mistakes on the bases. Our stolen base percentage is way down. Stealing bases is not all about speed.”
IT MADE ME WANT TO BE A SCOUT, UNTIL I FIGURED OUT HOW MUCH THEY MAKE
“It’s a big bonus to be out here just to learn the basics and the fundamentals of scouting. Learning it all in one [class], it’s starting to make sense to me. Now it’s a formula that they use and with the formula, I’m starting to understand what it’s all about. “
—Ken Griffey Sr., Reds special consultant to the GM, on attending a two week long scout school, conducted by the MLB Scouting Bureau (MLB.com).
“In order for anyone to be taught how to scout, to me this is the best way to go. First of all, I’m calling Wayne Krisky, and I’m going to tell him the best thing is to send some people here to learn — that will be important for our organization, because over the years we haven’t had the abundance of scouts to scout people.”
“I haven’t really learned the basics in evaluating talent with my own eyes, and I think that’s a really important fundamental aspect. I hope to be able to watch a game and report on what I see, have some credibility with the scouts in draft room, maybe go out and scout some of the guys we’re looking at in the draft — try to get a firsthand look and assess what I see correctly.”
—Bryn Alderson, coordinator of scouting for the Oakland Athletics.
WE NEGOTIATED WITH THE SEA MONSTERS, BUT ULTIMATELY, WE WEREN’T HAPPY WITH THEIR GNASHING TEETH AND POLLUTED SMELL
“We are excited to extend our working relationship with the Vermont Lake Monsters for two more years. Our franchise has enjoyed its affiliation with not only the Lake Monsters, but the City of Burlington and the New York-Penn League. With our stated commitment to player development, the future for Vermont and for our entire Minor League system, is bright.”
–Nationals president Stan Kasten, on extending his team’s relationship with their Single A affiliate.
“Ah, clean livers. That’s what the commissioner was shooting for, right? And it didn’t take very long.”
–San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou, on the effect of the ban against amphetamines (The Canadian Press).
“We didn’t do the right thing. He didn’t [succeed] for a whole calendar year, basically. He was without his stuff, his velocity was down, his sink was way off, his secondary pitches didn’t develop at all for essentially a full calendar year. This guy had gone backwards and was very fringy. Our failure was a lack of patience in not giving him longer than a calendar year to right himself.”
–Red Sox general manager and Mirabelli apologist Theo Epstein, on parting ways with RP Cla Meredith (Boston Globe)
“I’m going to say L.A., but Kansas City is up there. Good, wholesome women. After that, probably New York.”
–A’s OF Nick Swisher, on where the best “talent” in the majors is (ESPN The Magazine)
“He really is a good center fielder, and it’s easier to find a corner man with a bat than it is a center fielder with a bat. He said he wants to play there, so that’s good.”
–Seattle manager Mike Hargrove, on the organization asking Ichiro to move to centerfield next season (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
“I don’t change things for the playoffs. That’s like taking your sweetheart to the prom-knowing you’re going to get lucky-then taking a run at the hot chick. Chances are, it won’t work.”
–A’s pitcher Barry Zito (ESPN The Magazine)
“How much does it take to finally wake up? How long before you realize the way you’re acting is the opposite of how you should be acting? Fine. Stay asleep, then.”
–unnamed New York Met, on Mets teammate Lastings Milledge (Newsday)
“It is a growth area. It’s a good way to augment your revenue, without affecting ticket prices or threatening the ambience.”
–Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg, on having the 2007 Red Sox season sponsored by a company (Boston Herald)
“I used to hate going to the husky department.”
–Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay, on where he shopped for clothes as a child, during Thursday’s Yankees-Orioles game.