THE FIRST PITCH IS THE DEEPEST
“The first day is always the hardest.”
—Mets catcher Ramon Castro, on the first day of spring training (MLB.com)
“It really isn’t, but we just say that. I don’t know why.”
–Castro, when asked why.
“Yesterday some guy told me he came all the way out here from Pittsburgh so his kids could meet me. They were twins. A boy and a girl, named Jason and Kendall. Can you believe that? I mean, what do you say to that? Thanks?”
–A’s catcher Jason Kendall, on a strange incident at spring training (MLB.com)
“I’m a guy who can get on base, and if I can steal bases and get into scoring position, that would really help the team.”
“There is excitement in the streets of Toronto. There’s panic in the streets of Boston.”
—Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey, on the team’s chances in 2006 (Toronto Sun)
“NEVER MAKE PREDICTIONS, ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE FUTURE.”
“Get your World Series tickets now.”
–Tigers’ closer Todd Jones in May, joking about the early success of the team. (New York Times)
“Realistically, it’ll be a stretch to think we’ll be there in ’07.”
—Phillies GM Pat Gillick at midseason with his team in a Wild Card race. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“I think probably right now it’s going to take longer than that. Realistically, I think it’s going to take a little longer than that. We’ve got some younger people, specifically on the pitching staff, and with young people you have inconsistency. They need time to get their feet on the ground.”
–Gillick at midseason, on whether the Phillies will contend in ’07.
“[Everett’s] ‘The Truth,’ so whatever he said, go to Vegas. We’re not winning the division, so don’t put any money on us. That’s why he’s got the nickname ‘The Truth.'”
–White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle, on former White Sox DH Carl Everett predicting the White Sox would finish third.
“If there’s anyone out there who I would have questions about longevity, it would be Barry Zito. A lot of guys who have thrown so many innings at such a young age, they tend to have problems as they get older. Hudson and Mulder, who pitched with Zito in Oakland, are prime examples. They’ve both had arm problems.”
–agent Jim Lindell (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
“Zito is no Oswalt.”
–Mets official, on what kind of offer Zito could expect this offseason. Zito signed the highest total value contract for a pitcher in history. (New York Post)
WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN FROM THE WAY HE PLAYED THAT KJ OFFSUIT–DUDE CAN PITCH
“If we’re playing poker, and a flush is supposed to come like one out of 100 hands, and I get a flush in five hands, does that mean it’s now one in five? No.”
–Maddux, on the beauty of small sample sizes.
“Last year, my first game starting at first base, I asked [Francona], ‘Am I supposed to go out there and yell and scream a lot?’ He said, ‘No, just go out and field the ball and throw the ball.'”
—Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, on the stereotype of the chatty first baseman. (Boston Globe)
“The machine was outstanding.”
–Marlins’ minor league pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal, on a pitching machine that recorded five strikeouts in an intrasquad game (Palm Beach Post)
“With our guys, it shouldn’t a problem. They’re probably too young to shave anyway.”
–new Marlins manager Joe Girardi, on instituting a clean-shaven policy in Miami (Palm Beach Post)
“IT IS A STRANGE FATE THAT WE SHOULD SUFFER SO MUCH FEAR AND DOUBT OVER SO SMALL A THING. SUCH A LITTLE THING.”
“Jerry has done everything over the course of 16 years to protect that man, to make accommodations for him, concessions for him. He loaned him money at times when he needed money. And for him to forget that, for him to turn his back on all that, it’s a crying shame.”
–White Sox GM Kenny Williams, on Frank Thomas‘ remarks about Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Believe me, it’s not easy to deal with an idiot. And this man over the course of the years has tried my patience and tried and tried it. If he was any kind of a man, he would quit talking about things in the paper and return a phone call or come knock on someone’s door. If I had the kind of problems evidently he had with me, I would go knock on his [bleeping] door.”
–Williams, on Thomas
“And we don’t miss him, by the way. If you go out there and ask any one of my players or staff members, we don’t miss him. We don’t miss the attitude. We don’t miss the bitching and the whining. We don’t miss it. Good riddance. See you later.”
“I gave him the trophy [at the parade] out of respect so he could address his fans and address the crowd. We gave him the first pitch during the playoffs, and again, that was another acknowledgment. How many times do you have to kiss somebody’s [butt]? He better stay out of our business. He better stay out of White Sox business.”
“IF ANYONE WAS TO ASK FOR MY OPINION, WHICH I NOTE THEY’RE NOT, I’D SAY WE’RE TAKING THE LONG WAY AROUND.”
“This is just something where Bud is bored. He has no clue. He’s clueless. If you say something derogatory toward Bud, he wants an apology. My question is, why is he even wasting his time on something like that? What’s the purpose? Does he have to let people know that he’s there? Tell him to come talk to me. I’ve had issues with him the last few years. He said, `Oh, we need to talk.’ He said, `I’ll take you to dinner when I come to Boston.’ Has he done it? Hell no. He’s a piece of shit. And you can quote me on that.”
–then Red Sox pitcher David Wells, on MLB commissioner Bud Selig. (Hartford Courant)
“Bud has a hard time leaving Milwaukee, let alone going out and trying to do [anything]. It’s almost a burden for him to have to go to New York or a city like that. If he has that much passion for the game of baseball, then why isn’t he doing something good for it? Name one good thing he’s done for the game of baseball.”
“He worries about what people say about him and he Googles himself. I’m sure he’s going to Google [his name] tomorrow and say, ‘Oh, there’s Dave talking about me.’ You know what? Be a man of your words. He’s ducked me for two years.”
–Wells, on Selig
THE ONE THING TO RULE THEM ALL
“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 New York Times)
“It was numbers. I lost on the numbers, just because I really don’t have any.”
–Devil Rays catcher Josh Paul, on losing his arbitration case. (St. Petersburg Times)
“Those stats show you a whole lot. But it’s like that woman on the beach in a bikini. It shows you a lot, but it doesn’t show you everything. I’ll never be accused of taking the human element out of it.”
–current Dodgers manager Grady Little, on why he won’t ever just use stats to make decisions (Boston Globe)
“Whoever came up with this must be a person who uses nothing but the metric system, measures degrees in Celsius, can tell you exactly how many bricks it took to build Tropicana Field, and knows nothing about baseball.”
—A baseball official on the five-page D-Ray salary structure memorandum (New York Daily News)
“I don’t like computers. Period. I don’t even know how to turn one on. They intimidate me.”
–Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on computers (Detroit News)
“I have no idea what Google or Goggle is–and couldn’t care less.”
“People just keep throwing stats in your face–like, this guy has a better on-base percentage. Who cares about on-base percentage? It’s a matter of where you go at the end of the year. I haven’t been home after the end of the year in five out of the last seven years, and I don’t plan on going this year.”
–former Reds second baseman Tony Womack (Cincinnati Post)
“I don’t play for those people. I play for me, and I play to help my team win and go to the postseason and become champions.”
“The swing has been there. If there wasn’t nine guys out in the field, I’d have a hit every time except when I strike out.”
–Devil Rays outfielder Delmon Young, on his struggles this spring (St. Petersburg Times)
LAW OF PROBABILITY DISPERSAL: WHATEVER IT IS THAT HITS THE FAN WILL NOT BE EVENLY DISTRIBUTED
“It’s sad. I’m not a player-hater. I like to see players get paid as much as they can. But without friggin’ cheating.”
–now deceased RHP Cory Lidle, on Barry Bonds.
“The worst part of it all, the young guys–the guys in the minor leagues, and worse than that, high school, and college–they already know they don’t have a chance. If someone can’t hit 15 home runs in college, how do they expect to take somebody’s job in the big leagues who’s hitting 50 home runs? They start feeling this pressure of doing that stuff, and it really is a problem.”
“It’s selfish for those guys who did it… to know what the chain reaction was to keep doing it.”
–Lidle (Philadelphia Daily News)
“We certainly meant no disrespect to Barry Bonds. He has been a great player for the Giants and a huge part of the success of our franchise. I think everyone knows I’ve been the one who’s been about the most in his corner, through all the ups and downs. But I think we have to look at the facts now. We’ve had two straight seasons under .500 and our team got too old. We’re going to go in a new direction. That doesn’t mean we don’t have interest in signing Barry Bonds, nor does it mean we’ll have all this sorted out quickly.”
—Peter Magowan, Giants owner, before the Giants signed Bonds in the offseason. (SI.com)
“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, long before Bonds’ appearance at the winter meetings.
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS TO THE NEW YORK GIANTS’ GENERAL HOSPITAL
“The biggest thing that enticed me about the Yankees is knowing that Derek Jeter is going to be here five more years, A-Rod is going to be here five more years, Jorge Posada‘s going to be here. Bernie Williams is going to be here as long as he wants. I believe they’re going to make a big effort to sign Gary Sheffield. Jason Giambi is here three more years. That core is something that enticed me a lot. The core in Boston, unfortunately, is coming to an end.”
–Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, on the Yankees’ core
“My years have always been so easy. This year hasn’t been easy.”
–Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (Sports Illustrated)
“I don’t expect people to feel sorry for me. My teammates get more upset about the criticism and booing than I do. A hundred players have come to third base and said, ‘This is bullshit. You’re having a great year.’ You wonder why it bothers players so much. Tim Salmon, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Garret Anderson…I could throw you a hundred names. They’re looking at the scoreboard and saying, ‘This guy’s got 90 RBI and I’ve got 47, and I’m getting cheered?'”
“My agent, Scott Boras, was talking about Eric Chavez, who’s a great player. He’s hitting .235. He’s got 16 home runs, 43 ribbies? This guy is getting cheered every time he comes up to the plate. If I can look back on 2006 and see I made 25 errors, hit .285 and drove in 125, I mean, has God really been that bad to me?”
–Rodriguez. He hit .290 and drove in 121.
“When they give you lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade, and when they give you oranges, you’ve got to make orange juice. Tonight, we tried to make tomato juice out of lemon juice or something. It just didn’t work out. I don’t know if that’s a good quote.”
–Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, on trying to do too much with the pitches they saw against the Angels. (New York Times)
IT’S GONNA TAKE MONEY / A WHOLE LOTTA PRECIOUS MONEY
“Once again, Forbes is not accurate in the information they are reporting on the Royals. We continue to operate as David Glass has directed, and that is to operate the club overall on a break-even basis (for the long term).”
—Mark Gorris, senior vice president for business operations, on a Forbes report that the Royals made $20 million last year.
“[Forbes makes] these numbers up. We just think it’s important that people understand and realize these are not real in any sense of the word.”
–MLB Executive of labor relations Rob Manfred, apparently hoping that MLB’s word is just as good as an independent audit of their books (Toronto Star).
“They set a value on me, and I respect that. They didn’t want to go over that threshold. But it’s $3 million a year, and with that $3 million, I could help out so many unfortunate people.”
–Johnny Damon, on how the Red Sox didn’t match the Yankees’ offer of 4 years and $52 million.
“This is a matter of some dispute. But the truth is that my first job as an intern was to go rent a baby crib for Bill Bavasi’s daughter. He disputes it, he denies it, but it’s absolutely the truth–and I’m going to find the receipt one of these days to prove it to him. That’s as bad as it got. I don’t think people realize–it’s not hazing, it’s do-what-you-have-to-do, and I was happy to do it. I was happy to pick up the meal money, I was happy to go get the sandwiches for Mike Port and Bill Bavasi.”
–Houston GM Tim Purpura, on the worst job he was given when starting out in baseball. (Baseball America)
OH ANAHEIM WE HARDLY KNEW YE
“No one ever thought of two geographic identifiers. That’s nonsense. It screams out nonsense.”
–Anaheim City Manager Dave Morgan, on the double city moniker in the Angels’ name (Los Angeles Times)
“Thankfully, Major League Baseball doesn’t allow something like the IBM Yankees of New York.”
“It may be unusual, but it seems, according to the contract, they have the exclusive right to be unusual.”
–Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos, on how the language of their lease may give the Angels the right to remove the city name from their merchandise.
DUI GUY, CY YOUNG GUY, IT’S ALL BECOMING A BIT TOO CONFUSING AT THIS POINT
“They swore they wanted character guys, but then they signed a DUI guy and a guy sleeping with a reporter and that’s fine, but I got character issues?”
–former Dodger Milton Bradley, on the team’s treatment of his character problems while in L.A. (Los Angeles Times)
ALL WE KNOW IS YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE WORLD SERIES SINCE CARL LEFT THE TEAM
“If [Everett’s] such a team leader, then why is he on so many teams? He’s on a different team every year.”
–White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, on Everett’s comments
“Occasionally he’ll get naked out on the field when nobody’s looking, but that actually grosses me out. He does all these things with the pictures that you can’t even write in the paper what’s on there. Kevin has brought character to the clubhouse, that’s for sure. That’s what we needed coming from the season we had last year. It’s just leadership. He’s helped us out tremendously.”
–Orioles 1B/DH Jay Gibbons, on Kevin Millar (Miami Herald)
IN THE DOG DAYS OF AUGUST, JOE DREAMS OF TENNIS…
“He can go to Wimbledon. I think of all the things I’ve never done, the things I’ve never been able to do …”
–Yankees manager Joe Torre, on what Hideki Matsui will do with his time off while recovering from a wrist injury (New York Newsday)
“My cigarettes have filters on them. I’m not sure that guy’s did.”
–Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on a sign held up by a fan that read “When Do Playoff Tickets Go On Sale?” (MLive.com)
“Well, I heard that before I got here, and they’ve been saying that for 100 years, right? So, yeah, there’s probably something to it.”
–Cubs manager Dusty Baker, on the theory that the Cubs don’t win because of all the day games they play (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“I think a lot of the steady players who have been in the game are making their way out. The door is open for younger players to come in. It’s just a case where younger players are getting an opportunity to play right away and step right into a role instead of progressing into the big leagues and making a transition over a couple of years.”
–Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
“It’s part of life, it’s natural, it’s from the earth.”
–Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, on marijuana (New York Daily News)
“He’d tell me, ‘If you ever want to experiment with anything, let me know.’ He smoked a little bit, so he said just let him know. Like, ‘Don’t have me get a call when you’re in jail. If you want to skip school, that’s cool, as long as you get good grades.'”
–Damon, on his father.
“‘If you f— up, I’m out of here.’ … And I said, ‘That’s cool, that’s the way it should be.'”
–Damon, on what his wife Michelle told him.
“WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG NOT MUCH MATTERS, WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE THAT’S ALL YOU GOT.”
“I don’t apologize one bit for this product. The run you’ve had as a season-ticket holder is unparalleled. There are fans all over the country that would trade places [with you].”
–Marlins President David Samson, at FanFest, on his team (Miami Herald)
“The last town-hall meeting, the three people who were combative did it to get attention and they did get attention in this . . . Jerry Springer world. When I’m walking down the street or in meetings, I don’t run into people like that. Those are really cartoon characters.”
–Samson, on fan antagonists
“What are you going to say? Are you going to inform them that if they don’t get a stadium built, the team is going to leave? Are you going to inform them that if they don’t come to games the team is going to leave? Are you going to inform them that the contribution from the team is the fourth-largest in the history of baseball in a market that has never proven to be completely baseball friendly?’ I said I probably wouldn’t mention those things.”
–Marlins President David Samson, on what Jeffrey Loria asked him before a speech Samson gave. (Miami Herald)
“Here you get one big bed in a nice hotel vs. sharing a room with somebody at La Quinta with two double beds.”
–Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, on the differences between the majors and minors
“You’ve got to tip an awful lot. It seems like we’re tipping everybody.”
–Marlins center fielder Eric Reed, naming a drawback to big-league life.
“Those aren’t aliases. Those are their actual names.”
–Marlins traveling secretary Bill Beck, when asked by a hotel clerk why there were so many aliases for the Marlins.
JUST 45 DAYS FROM PITCHERS AND OZZIE
“Good, I hope [they keep accusing us]. What happened in the playoffs and World Series? We won 1-0, 2-1. We won so many one-run games, more than anyone in baseball last year. You look at our No. 3, 4 and 5 [hitters], they are the best in baseball. If we’re cheating, how come we [don’t] help Brian Anderson or [Juan] Uribe?”
–White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (Chicago Sun-Times)
“We’re cheating on the mound? Our pitching staff gets beat up once in awhile. They’re mad. They can’t admit that a Latino kicked their ass.”
–Guillen, on the Texas Rangers‘ suggestion that the White Sox were stealing signs.
“Then they have a Mexican win the World Series in two years. And they’re saying he doesn’t have experience, he never managed in baseball before. Well, too [expletive] bad.”
“What’s the difference? No one knows the difference anyway.”
–Guillen, after being reminded that he’s Venezuelan.
“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.”
—Bud Selig, on the Cardinal way after Tony La Russa‘s squad beat the Detroit Tigers to win the 2006 World Series.
“Looking ahead to the World Series, our ratings people say a New York-Detroit series, game for game, would potentially outrate a St. Louis-Detroit series. But having said that, it’s more about the volume than about the matchup.”
–Fox Sports president Ed Goren (San Diego Union Tribune)
“I’m a human being. Just treat me like one, OK? My son gets on the Internet, he’s 25 years old, he’s reading all this stuff, he’s looking at what happened and he calls up my wife and says, ‘Do you think Daddy’s going to be able to learn from this?’ How’s that for shock factor?”
–former Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha, fired after signing a three-year contract with the A’s last winter.
“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.
“That’s great. He’ll be another year older and fatter.”
—an anonymous GM, on Ben Molina’s threat to sit out 2006 if he didn’t get a $6 million salary (FoxSports.com)
“I was reading Sports Illustrated for Kids, and they asked Ortiz what he did. And he said he opened up a little, and that allows you to clear your hips a little bit easier. I tried it and it worked out well for me.”
—Josh Barfield, new Indians second baseman (San Diego Union-Tribune).
“Baseball. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers could be playing for the championship, and I’d rather be here watching the Angels and Yankees.”
—John Wooden, on his favorite sport (Los Angeles Times)
“It was one of the worst innings I’ve seen since I put on a uniform, and my first uniform was made out of an onion bag in the Dominican.”
–Giants manager Felipe Alou, on an eight-run inning against the Braves (MLB.com)
“I don’t think you deliberately try to get a guy to hit a ball 450 feet and have the wind knock it down.”
–Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, on not pitching differently when the wind blows in
“Celebrating holidays a day late isn’t a big deal. For years, we celebrated Valentine’s Day on Feb. 15, so Grady could get the candy 50% off.”
–Dodgers manager Grady Little’s wife, Debi Little (Los Angeles Times)
“One day I was holding my bat in front of my Dad and he said, ‘What are you doing?’ I was like, ‘I’m hitting.’ He said, ‘Hit the other way.’ I said, ‘All right.’ From then on I hit left-handed. He said the game was kind of made more for lefties because the fields are usually shorter and more right-handed pitchers. So I just did it from then on. I mean, I was 5 so I didn’t know any better. It just felt good.”
“Not one person from the front office has even come up to congratulate me. It’s all the little people like you guys. But nobody from higher up. That’s a disgrace.”
–new Angels corner infielder Shea Hillenbrand, on no one from the Blue Jays’ front office congratulating him on his adoption of a child. (Toronto Star)
“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)
“He was one of the pioneers of Negro League baseball, and he was one of the guys who never let it die. He was one of the guys that made sure that people knew of all the talent that was in that league. I was quite disappointed when he wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he made it possible for the ones who were inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
–Oakland third base coach Ron Washington, on Buck O’Neil. (SFGate.com)