20 random things from our baseball life…
1) I almost signed out of high school as a 3rd basemen. I ‘luckily’ had my arm broken by a ‘friend’ after being HBP. I ended up at Yavapai JC for 1 year instead.
2) Shonda and I have moved over 40 times, I have moved over 50, since my career started.
3) The 1 year I spent at Yavapai JC was one of my top 5 teams of all time. Definitely one of the funnest years of my life.
4) My top teammates (not all inclusive) list would start with a few names: Doug Mirabelli, Craig Counsell, Gabe Kapler, David West, Kevin Jordan, Pete Harnish, Bob Milacki, Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson, Todd Pratt, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Dustin Pedroia, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti, Greg Swindell, Dan Plesac, Brandon Webb, Todd Stottlemyre, Greg Colbrunn, Tony Womack, Mickey Morandini, Lenny Dykstra, Dave Hollins. Many more but that’s where it would start
5) Most incredible win I’ve ever been a part of? Elimination game to go to the JC World Series. Brian Deak hit a 2 run HR with 2 outs, bottom of the ninth, down 1 vs. Pima CC.
Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS-Knowing that game was over from about the 3rd inning on and that I was part of a team that had done something that no other team in baseball history had accomplished
Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. From World Series Goat to World Champion in about 3 minutes…
6) Most heart wrenching loss? PV East LL Championship game to go to LL World Series. 2 outs, bottom of the 7th, up 1, bases loaded. Ground ball to me, throw home for first out, throw to first is overthrown when runner slides into Mike Niles, our catcher, ball sails into Right Field and Dan Hale, the opposing pitcher, scores all the way from first to eliminate us…
Losing 5-4 to the Mets, in 1998 I think, after entering the 9th with a 4 hit shutout. I gave up ALL 5 RUNS in the bottom of the night to lose the game. Jon Olerud came up with 2 outs, bases loaded, Lieberthal comes out, asks me what I want to throw, I reply “I have nothing to make him swing and miss, so I don’t care, I’ll throw what you put down”, a fast ball away later, game over. First pitcher in like 50 years to blow that sort of lead on my own… So proud!
Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. Just couldn’t believe BK could have that happen 2 nights in a row.
7) Most dominating offensive player I ever played with? Manny Ramirez, not even a close second
8) Most dominating offensive Season I ever watched in person? Either Luis Gonzales in 2001 or David in 2004. Luis’ April was the most dominating month I have ever seen. David had a year that will be hard to match as far as clutch goes.
9) Most dominating pitcher and season? Same guy. RJ in 2001 and 2002 outlined HOF to me. Every 5th day I was on the edge of my seat not able to comprehend what I might see. His 20k night was incredible, made more incredible by him getting a No-Decision. Made worse by the fact I had to go out and try and top whatever he did the next day.
9a) Most dominating post season by a pitcher? Keith Foulke in 2004. I still think it’s the most underrated performance in history. He was the MVP of every single series in our minds, hands down. Took the ball every night and did it as well as humanly possible.
10) Best “Team” I ever played on? 1993 Phillies or the 2004 Sox. Both teams came to the park and knew we were going to win. The 93 team had more swagger than any team I was ever part of. The 04 team took on an “Us against the world” mentality and honestly used it for the entire season.
11) Hitters I hated to face: Mark Lemke, Delino Deshields, Lance Berkman, Todd Helton
12) Hitters I didn’t mind seeing at the plate: Andres Galaragga, Todd Hollandsworth, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Gonzo, Sosa, McGwire, Bonds
13) Players I want my sons to emulate: Scott Rolen, Jason Varitek, Bill Mueller, Craig Counsell, David Eckstein
14) Favorite Coaches: Brian Butterfield (all time favorite) Johnny Podres, Robin Yount, Jim Presley, Dale Sveum, Terry Francona, Dave Wallace, Mark Connor, Bob Welch, John Vuckovich (my 2nd dad), Art Howe, Bob Cluck, Demarlo Hale, Dave Magadan, Bob Melvin, Chuck Cottier, Dave Dangler, Mike McQuaid, Walt Mcconnell, Dick Bosman, Bill Lemoncelli, Dick Beradino. There’s more but all I can name right now (And HOLY CRAP! I left off one that would no doubt be in my all time top 5, hands down! John Farrell!! Sorry Shre…. Err John!)….
15) I started carrying a laptop in the early 90s, before it was ‘in’, and got no shortage of stares from Macho Row.
16) I left for the ballpark exactly 6 hours before the first pitch of any game I pitched. I started pre-game warm ups/stretching exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes before the first pitch. Dugout 55 minutes before. Bullpen 38 minutes before. Sprints 25 minutes before and first toss at 20 minutes before every game I started the past 15 years.
17) I have never been more focused or locked in than the 2001 post season.
18) The Cards/Dbacks NLDS is, imo, one of the most overlooked and underrated post season series ever.
19) After 216 wins, 11 more in October, the game I for some reason am most proud of is the 2007 start in Oakland. After all the hub-bub over losing the no-no with 2 outs in the ninth I didn’t care. I’d started a game on the heels of a 4 game losing streak, and thrown a shut out. That was far more important to me than anything. I think it had to do with how hard that entire year was, how hard each start was to just get to the mound.
20) My most memorable inning? Two really. 1) The ninth inning of game 1 of the NLDS, having to get three outs in game 1 to win 1-0. Watching Edmonds ground out to Gracie and squeezing the life out of him. 2) Bottom of the 5th inning, I think it was 1997. Facing Kevin Brown in Philadelphia. My first ‘tie my shoes’ moment. I walked the bases loaded on about 11 strikes thanks to Gary Darling going temporarily blind. I stepped off the mound and bent over to tie my shoes. I said to myself “Self, you have two options, throw in the towel and piss this one away (because Brown was just filthy that year) or nut up, focus and empty the tank right here, right now.” I went 3-0 on the next three hitters, K’d Hundley, K’d Hollandsworth and Beltre grounded out to end the inning. We scored 6 in the top of the next inning to rout them. I started using ‘tie my shoe’ moments from that day on to compose myself.