THE UPS AND DOWNS OF FIRST PLACE
“I don’t think anybody would’ve been too disappointed, especially with a team that lost a lot of ballgames last year.”
—Lou Piniella, on how Cubs fans would feel if they told they were in the hunt on this day last year. The Cubs lost the lead in the NL Central after losing to the Pirates on Sunday.
“Yes it would, with the group we have here. There’s no excuse for us not to make the playoffs. It would be a huge disappointment. But let’s not think about it now. The urgency is there. We’re not saying, ‘Oh, if we don’t make it this year, there’s next year.’ We want to get there this year.”
–Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee
“Sometimes I think we need to be more aggressive and go for the throat. Sometimes you can settle for getting a guy over, which is good fundamental baseball. But sometimes it’s all right to be aggressive, try to score all the runs, really put some pressure on the other team.”
“I don’t know what we can do. Run the same people out there and see if we can get it done. Sooner or later, they have to start hitting.”
“If we were six games out and never got a taste of first, I think we could live with it. We went through a lot this year, but getting this far…”
–Cubs outfielder Cliff Floyd (Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune)
A LITTLE MORE CLASS FROM YOU REPORTERS PLEASE
“This is the first I’ve heard of this. If it’s true, obviously it would be very tragic, along with everything else we’ve had happen to us this year.”
–Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, on allegations of impropriety on the part of Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel.
“I’m not going into the list of what my doctors have prescribed for me. I’ve been through a lot emotionally and physically. [There are] doctor and patient privileges, and I hope you guys can respect those privileges.’ That’s just the way it happened.”
–Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel
“I really don’t have any further statements about this. I respect the integrity of the game. I’m on the same playing level everyone else is on.”
–Rick Ankiel (Jay Mariotti, Chicago Sun-Times)
YOU THROW 100 MPH AT ONE GUY’S HEAD AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU’RE A LOOSE CANNON
“I didn’t lose my temper. I didn’t lose nothing. Everybody knows my game is to throw inside and the ball can slip out of my hand, and that happened today.”
—Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera, on headhunting Dustin Pedroia this week.
“I think he lost his cool, I don’t think there’s any other way to put it without saying something that shouldn’t be said. I can tell you very honestly [that] it’s going to be addressed. … He knew the boundaries when he pitched for me in the minor leagues. I’m just glad Pedroia didn’t get hurt, to be honest with you.”
–Baltimore manager Dave Trembley
“I don’t think we escalated anything. I have my hands full trying to de-escalate things. I mean, we’re in the middle of a pennant race. We have more important things to worry about. Our focal point was to win.”
—Red Sox manager Terry Francona
“Even if you do lose your cool right there, you still can’t try to hit somebody in the head. Even if you decide for some reason that you are going to hit somebody, you can’t hit him in the head, because you could kill somebody, man–and a lot of people would be hurt. It goes beyond being embarrassed or whatever happens in a game.”
–Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp, on the incident.
“The good thing about that is nobody got hit. Whatever happened, I think it’s over. This is a young guy, and he’s going to learn. He’s a great kid, and I hope that people from Boston don’t think he’s a bad guy. I bet you tomorrow when he wakes up, he’s going to be thinking about that and he’ll learn from that.”
–O’s shortstop Miguel Tejada (Spencer Fordin, MLB.com)
BORN TO PLAY THE GAME
“Do I watch A-Rod? Who doesn’t? How could you not? I hope someday I can make it look as easy as he does.”
–Royals DH Billy Butler (Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star)
“The game is not that easy, he is making it look ridiculous. He is not normal.”
–Yankees first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz
THE PIRATES ARE LOOKING AT THIS MOSQUITO FOR THEIR GM POSITION
“I had a mosquito bite in a certain spot and I was itching it, and Nick thought I was putting the steal on.”
—Brewers manager Ned Yost said, referring to third-base coach Nick Leyva, on Gabe Gross‘ unorthodox steal of third in Friday’s 11-4 victory over the Reds.
“Gabe takes off and I’m looking around thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’ That was an omen to begin with.”
“I thought it was kind of a weird time, but he put it on and I took off.”
–Gabe Gross (Rick Braun, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
GETTING WHERE YOU NEED TO GO
“It’s more astonishing than anything. It’s beyond my wildest imagination. And as a father, I just want to reach out to my son and touch him. I just want to hold him for a few minutes. I’m more anxious to see my son right now than anything else. If he pitches, that’s frosting on the cake.”
—Harlan Chamberlain, father of Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain.
“Most of all, Joba’s a good person. He treats people right. I can’t say that enough. I’m always telling parents to spend time with their kids and telling kids to work hard and be good to people. It will pay off in the end.”
–Harlan Chamberlain, who was able to watch his son pitch in the major leagues live for the first time since his debut with the Yankees.
“We’d go to wrestling shows and sit right up front. He always had a way of getting us to where we needed to be.”
–Joba, on his father, who was stricken with polio as a child. (Kevin Kernan, New York Post)
THE FALL OF MAN, THE RISE OF QUESTEC
“The first pitch to me with the bases loaded was in my batter’s box, inside. Now you tell me how I’m supposed to hit that. We have to get QuesTec here in this ballpark. We’ve got to. Umpires have got to be held accountable.”
—Braves third baseman Chipper Jones
“That’s Little League World Series stuff right there.”
“It’s a joke. I’m tired of it. And baseball can fine me whatever they want. I do not care. Somebody’s got to say something. I’ve got more walks than strikeouts in my career. I know what a strike looks like.”
–Jones (Dayn Perry, FoxSports.com)
JOSH TOLD US THAT HE HAD A DOG IN THIRD GRADE NAMED TAILS
“It was great news for us, and I know there was a lot of debate of whether we were going to go heads or tails, and at the end we stuck with Josh’s instincts.”
–D’backs club president Derrick Hall, on the coin flips that determined home field advantage in playoff tiebreakers this week. The D’backs were the big winner.
“It was tails throughout… and we got home field throughout, so I couldn’t be happier.”
“They play ‘Yankeeography’ on Paul O’Neill every day. So, what’s the problem? I’ve been compared to Paul O’Neill. I know Paul O’Neill. We have the same agent [Joe Bick].”
—Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox third baseman, on Yankee enmity towards him. (Gordon Edes, The Boston Globe)
“I can’t say what I feel because all of a sudden I might get in trouble. Everybody wants that guy. I wish I was Torii Hunter‘s agent. That’s my wish, just to be Torii Hunter’s agent this year because he’s in a great situation right now.”
—White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)
“I have to see it done because they put those little markings [on the map], and I [only] went to sixth grade, and I don’t understand where it is at all in the drawing.”
–Ozzie Guillen, on the team’s new spring training complex.
“Adam Dunn looks like a monkey with a football in left field. He has to have consequences for what he does. That is again a loafing ball player who … would have blew a .15 if someone gave (him) the intoxilizer last night. I say .15. The son of a gun is drunk. And he’s playing baseball in left field for the Redlegs.”
–Cincinnati radio commentator Bill Cunningham, on Adam Dunn.
“Isn’t there a line? I think that goes over the line. We might want to do something about that.”
–Reds left fielder Adam Dunn (John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer)
“It was chipped when I got it, so it’s being repaired. I haven’t got it back. I don’t know what happened.”
–former Marlins skipper Joe Girardi, on his Manager of the Year Award. (Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post)
“I don’t accept the fans booing at me. I thought these fans were the greatest in baseball, but they showed they just care about themselves. That’s not right. When you’re struggling, you want to feel support. I’ll remember that. I know there will be great moments in my career.”
–Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano (Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.