HIS INTANGIBLES ARE JUST FLAT-OUT TANGIBLE
“To me, what separates David is his stature. He’s not especially big and especially strong, and he gets beat up. And if you’re bigger and stronger, maybe it still hurts, but you have a chance to deal with the blows a little more. And he is just a man of iron. I look at ways guys slide into him and the way they beat him up and everything else he does and the way he responds, (and) I think he’s the toughest guy I’ve ever seen.”
–Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, on World Series MVP David Eckstein
“He does everything a little better than you expect him to. You know when you are driving down the highway and the fly gets in the car and you’re swatting at it. Then after a couple of miles when you think he’s gone, he’s back in your face being a pest. That’s Eck.”
–Cardinals outfielder Preston Wilson
“You don’t play shortstop for two World Series teams if you aren’t really good. I idolize him.”
–Cardinals infielder Aaron Miles, on Eckstein. (Denver Post)
HE’S REFRAINING FROM BLURTING OUT, “WE GOT BEAT BY THAT MIDGET?!”
“I think the number one thing about Eckstein is that people don’t really give him the credit for the amount of talent he has. This guy is a much more talented player than I think is the perception. I mean, this guy is very tough to strike out. He can pop a ball. He never misses a ground ball. They say he doesn’t have a strong arm, but everybody is always out. This guy is really a talented player.”
—Tigers manager Jim Leyland
“I remember talking to Don Zimmer a couple of years ago, and he told me about him. He said, you look at him, you can’t figure it out. And then during the course of the game he’s in the middle of every single thing. He’s gone after ground balls in a series, he’s in the right spot every time. This guy is a heck of a player. And I think that it’s unfair that he really doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for having as much talent as he does. This guy is a very talented guy. And he’s also obviously a very tough kid.”
–Leyland, clearly incensed.
I JUST WISH IT COULD HAVE BEEN FOR THE SAME TEAM
“I love you.”
—Jered Weaver, after his brother won Game Five of the World Series. (ESPN.com)
“I love you.”
—Jeff Weaver, in response.
“We’ve been through a lot. I’m glad we got to this point. I’m glad we could both celebrate. I just wish it could be with the same team.”
“Everybody was asking what it was going to be like at the dinner table at Thanksgiving. And now he’s got all the bragging rights.”
“He pitched marvelously. God, I love him to death. It’s awesome.”
“Next to his birth, that’s probably the greatest thrill I’ve ever seen. The way his year started, and what happened (since), it’s just fantastic.”
–Dad Dave Weaver
DAVE TOLD JEFF, ‘YOU KNOW, IF YOU SCUFF THE BALL, THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU COULD COMMAND ON THE FREE AGENT MARKET’
“Dave watched a lot of video of Weaver from games in different seasons. He’s great at being able to detect the little flaws that, once corrected, can turn a pitcher into a winner.”
–Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, on Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan‘s work with Angels castoff Jeff Weaver. (Metro West Daily News)
“When we beat San Diego in the first game of the Division Series, it seemed to turn things around. We turned back into the club we were during most of the season. We weren’t supposed to beat the Padres or the Mets, but nobody told our players that.”
ON THE OTHER HAND, AUTUMN IN NEW YORK SEEMED SO INVITING
“It’s a great day for a great franchise. The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of our great franchises for years. This is a remarkable story, and frankly, a great day for the game of baseball.”
–MLB commissioner Bud Selig
“These people don’t care [about the weather]. It’s a great story.”
–Selig, on the Busch stadium crowd.
“It shows what parity can do. It shows their determination. They got healthy at the right time; they got hot at the right time. I’ll tell you, they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. You take a look at David Eckstein, that’s the way this game is supposed to be played.”
–Selig, on the Cardinal way.
“The Cardinals are one of baseball’s most storied franchises. To have them win the World Series for the tenth time with the great players they have, and keep the championship in the Midwest–in the heartland–is a great thing for baseball.”
—Bob DuPuy, MLB President and COO
“The sport has never been more popular.”
–Selig. The 2006 World Series was the lowest rated World Series of all-time.
WOKE UP THIS MORNING/THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN/THINGS AIN’T BEEN THE SAME/SINCE THE BLUES WALKED INTO TOWN
“I went by his house in the morning and he wasn’t there. I wanted to go back in the afternoon, but maybe I will call him. George and I talk like I talk to my father. He told me when I signed that if there was ever an issue to come to him. I want to talk to him and tell him whatever happens, I appreciate him.”
—Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield
“That’s going to be an issue. They will deal with me on a personal level. Everybody knows how powerful the Yankees are, but I don’t care.”
–Sheffield, on the prospect of the Yanks not extending his deal if it picks up his option.
“That’s the worst thing to do for the other team because I would be forced to come to [them]. If they trade me, the other team better come talk to me first. That’s going to make a major problem worse. Even Atlanta.”
–Sheffield, on being traded without a new contract.
LET ME SEE NOW…SEATTLE, OAKLAND, MINNESOTA, MILWAUKEE, DETROIT, TAMPA BAY, BALTIMORE, BOSTON, DALLAS, AND CLEVELAND, FOR STARTERS
“It would depend where they sent me. There are several places I wouldn’t play.”
–Sheffield, on whether he would contemplate retirement.
“If I just go to a team for one year, there’s going to be a problem. A big problem. I will not do this.”
LET’S SEE NOW…VLADIMIR GUERRERO, ICHIRO SUZUKI, BOBBY ABREU…HE MAY HAVE A POINT
“If somebody comes along who is a better right fielder than me, that’s fine. But there is only one right fielder better than me, and that’s Vladimir Guerrero.”
“Here’s some friendly advice. If you want to trade for me, you have to deal with me directly. Trust me, you won’t want me there if I’m not happy. I don’t care if I love the owner, if I love the GM, if I love the city. I’m going on my terms.”
TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL GARY
“The only reason why I’m not saying what I truly feel about the Yankees is because I don’t want to damage my relationship with the fans. I believe people love me in New York.”
“I don’t want to be a Yankee to play first base and DH for one year. If I do, that’s what I become. I’ve been playing too long to be put in these situations. I shouldn’t have these negotiation problems. All I’ve done is produce for 18 years.”
–Sheffield, he of the 455 career home runs and 2390 career hits.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I’LL BE HERE FOR THREE MORE YEARS. DON’T FORGET TO TIP YOUR WAITER
“This is the end result of an amazing change. No one would have thought this was possible. Nobody ever could have believed it.”
–Selig, on the new collective bargaining agreement (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
“I always said the thing I’m proudest of is getting the owners together.”
“I’ve been representing the players on an everyday basis for some 29 years and three months. Throughout most of that period of time, what marked our relationship with the clubs was one of certainly respect for each other’s skills in the legal sense, but a lot of acrimony, a lot of disputes.”
—Donald Fehr, President of the Players Association
“What was really different this time was the approach to bargaining. While it had its difficult moments, as any negotiation does, it was very workmanlike, very pragmatic, very day-by-day. There was a shared desire to see if we could resolve this well ahead of time and get it done by about the time of the World Series.”
“YOU MIGHT HAVE NEEDED THE HOLOCAUST TO CREATE THE STATE OF ISRAEL,” THE PROFESSOR ADDED. “AND PASS ME MY INSANITY CREAM.”
“I think a lot of it could have been and should have been avoided. But I had a history professor somewhere say to me, ‘You needed to have ’94 to get to where you are today.’ He may have been right.”
“One of the reasons the game has grown as much as it has is because of the labor aspect. The interruptions were the main things holding the game back.”
–A’s general manager Billy Beane (Contra Costal Times)
“He’s done a lot of great things for this sport, and not a lot of them were met with a great response. But there’s no question this was his greatest challenge. And it’s really remarkable when you consider the animosity that once existed between the two sides.”
–Beane, on Selig.
“They were without the usual rancor. They were without the usual dueling press conferences. They were without the usual leaks. In other words, these negotiations were conducted professionally, with dignity and with results. These negotiations were emblematic of the new spirit of cooperation and trust that now exists between the clubs and the players.”
–Selig, on the tone of the meetings.
SOME OF WHAT WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO
“The new CBA will level the playing field for a team losing a free agent. The prior system was put in as a response to the owners’ collusion of the mid-to-late 1980s. The current belief that the parties have a very good working relationship has relieved many of those concerns. Hence, the January 8 and May 1 dates have been abolished. This means that a team losing a free agent can negotiate continuously with that free agent under the same rules as the other 29 clubs. That did not exist over the past 16 or so years.”
–agent Randy Hendricks (Boston Globe)
“I think the benefit for the team would be that we have more time to evaluate the medical situation of a player. We’ve had that situation twice in Chicago, with Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas. We’ve had to make a decision by a certain date. Where now we would be able to extend that indefinitely and have more information to deal with. It’s not that we would have necessarily made a different decision with Ordonez or Thomas, but certainly we would have had more updated information to make our decision with.”
—White Sox Assistant GM Rick Hahn, on that same change
“On the draft side, high school players, particularly those who cannot attend college, are left with very little leverage.”
“Our staff goes into the houses and gets a good idea of what it’ll take to sign a player. But sometimes after you draft a player, that changes. This gives us the leverage in the negotiation. Before, it was a binary situation–you got the player, or you got nothing. Now, you get a player the following year if a deal can’t be had.”
—Devil Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman
“This is big for us. If we had seen this coming about a month ago, we’d still have Justin Hampson, but you just keep plugging away. We’ll have a lot of decisions to make a year from now.”
—Rockies director of player development Marc Gustafson, on losing the minor league lefty on waivers before the rules changed when a player needs to be added to a team’s 40-man roster.
HE’S GOING TO WORK THIS TO HIS ADVANTAGE, SHOULD RECENT HISTORY BE ANY GUIDE
“I think there were gains for both sides. There’s more liberalness in the free agent area, more options for clubs to obtain their own free agents in the bargaining process.”
–superagent Scott Boras (USA Today)
“You have a near-doubling of industry revenues. Superstar retention for the key players in the game is now available to every major league franchise.”
“The escalation of salaries is because of the demand of premium players by clubs which have revenues the fan base is aware of.”
“There’s also the theory there are going to be more free agents in the marketplace, which will bring overall dollars down.”
—Phillies AGM Ruben Amaro Jr.
THE IMAGE OF JOHNNY BENCH CUDDLING UP FOR ‘LOST’ WILL NOT LEAVE ME
“Like it’s some big mystery, an episode of ‘Lost’ or ‘CSI.’ I have to laugh. Everyone says, ‘What was it?’ There’s no mystery at all. There isn’t an umpire who didn’t immediately know that was pine tar on Kenny’s hand.”
–Former Reds catcher Johnny Bench, on the pine tar on Kenny Rogers‘ hand during Game Two of the World Series.
“Guys do things like that, trying to get an edge. When I played, there was a rag with pine tar that hitters used in the on-deck circle. Between innings, the batboy would bring it into the dugout and the pitcher would go over and rub it. Just trying to grip the ball better. They have to do something now, especially when it’s cold. The seams are lower than they used to be.”
“There’s a real good chance some of his guys probably do it. Anytime you see real good curveball pitchers like the Cardinals have, chances are they probably have a little bit of pine tar.”
“He claimed it was dirt, which isn’t a foreign substance. But come on. He was just so blatant about it. Why didn’t he just set off a flare calling attention to it? It was that obvious. I mean, I know he is getting old, but it’s like he put it on and just forgot to wipe it off. I’m going to kid Kenny about that.”
WE ALREADY HAVE THAT LEAGUE, IT’S CALLED THE NFL.
“I have an idea. Let’s have two leagues. We can have the normal major leagues, and then there’ll also be what we’ll call the Futures League, for all the guys who test positive or just want to use steroids. We can build new stadiums that are 480 feet down the left-field line. They can use 12 players on the field, six outfielders. A league of steroids users. They can just battle it out on their own terms. Everyone else can play honest baseball in the majors. I think it would work great.”
“It’s not cheating. Very few guys really cheat. Cheating is putting Vaseline on the ball. That makes it go absolutely crazy. That’s unhittable. That’s not a level playing field. Cheating is putting cork in your bat. Cheating is stealing signs from second base. That’s not acceptable. And of course, using steroids is cheating.”
–Bench, on pine tar.
KEVIN TOWERS GOES FROM CALLING BOCH ‘MCDREAMY’ TO CALLING HIM ‘MCQUESTIONABLE PITCHER USAGE’
“From the middle of the season to the end of the season, you could tell they were not happy with one another. It didn’t seem like they were on the same page. I’m not at all surprised. You could feel things change.”
–Padres pitcher Woody Williams, on the relationship between the Padres front office and new Giants manager Bruce Bochy. (San Diego Union Tribune)
“Boch is doing what he had to do… I think he believed he wasn’t going to be the manager here past next year. He believed he wasn’t their guy. And for the Padres side, I think they felt they needed to go in a different direction and they couldn’t fire him. Good for Boch.”
–All-time Padre great Tony Gwynn
“I think this organization itself is trying to figure out what direction it’s going. I think this was a move that was best for Bochy and his family. It’s a great opportunity. Obviously he enjoyed his stay in San Diego and had a great impact on the city and the organization.”
–Padres outfielder (and new member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame) Dave Roberts
“My longevity, I can attribute to him.”
—Trevor Hoffman, on Bochy’s usage of him.
“That would be unfortunate. Anytime he’s been given some bullets, he has not missed the target. I have a lot of respect for Boch, but I can’t say everybody had the same respect for Boch. I respected the job he has done.”
–Hoffman, on Bochy’s departure.
YOU DIDN’T THINK A WEEK WOULD PASS WITHOUT AN A-ROD QUOTE, DID YOU?
“What would you like me to do? You are there and you support him. Everyone supports all your teammates. I don’t know if there is anything else I can do.”
–Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, on Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (ESPN.com)
“You never sit around and try to figure out what is going to happen in our organization, but Alex has a few more years on his deal, so I expect him to be back.”
–Jeter’s ringing endorsement of A-Rod’s future in pinstripes; A-Rod’s contract expires after the 2010 season.
“If a urine test is developed and scientifically validated, and all the ‘i’s’ are dotted and ‘t’s’ are crossed, here is an understanding that we will adopt that test. Blood tests, we will talk about when one is validated. But as far as I know, and we check fairly frequently on this, there is not that testing available yet.”
–Donald Fehr, on the inability to test for Human Growth Hormone.
“On the positive side, it may be a little easier to recruit players to Detroit. When we came here, truly, I had no concept how tough it was going to be. There were a lot of things, but losing was the biggest issue.”
—John Westhoff, Tigers VP and legal counsel, on his team’s loss in the World Series (Detroit News)
“We don’t differentiate between money. We don’t segregate expenses, and we don’t segregate the revenue. We use all sources of revenue, whether it comes from revenue sharing, sponsorships, or ticket sales, to improve the product on the field. And that can be done through major-league payroll as well as investing in player development.”
–D-Rays team president Matt Silverman
“We expect to run losses for a couple of years as we try to nurse the business back to health. We’re in growth mode. So, you’re willing to see cash losses. Hopefully, they diminish over time, and as you grow, it will help our top line grow.”
“A lot of players are somewhat nervous or apprehensive about becoming free agents because of all the uncertainty. Barry has nerves of steel. That’s also evident in the way he plays baseball.”
—Barry Bonds‘ agent, Jeff Borris
“Amendment Two claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you don’t read, it makes cloning a constitutional right. Don’t be deceived.”
–Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, on the Missouri amendment to allow stem-cell research. (USA Today)
“It hurts to see the numbers, but some days you see those balls get in, and some days you don’t. Seeing that lack of production helps to motivate and push me.”
–Mets third baseman David Wright, on his anemic playoff performance. (The New York Times)
“I kept hoping somebody would pop in a tape of ‘Old School,’ but they didn’t. Believe me, there’s only so many sliders, curves, whatever you can sit still for.”
—Sean Casey, on surviving the World Series rainout. (San Jose Mercury News)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Alex by clicking here.