And all I know is that I think any coach or manager that's been involved or anybody with common sense I think would understand that when you get in a situation like that, as long as you don't think that the players are trying to cover their butts for their inadequate pitches or hits or defense or whatever by blaming it on somebody else, like umpires, then if you think that they are trying as hard as they can and they have got some legitimates to their beefs, you know, you make the decision that they are your guys and that's the decision I made. I would never do it any different. I've never done it any different and I would never do it different and I would not do it any differently tonight, because I know our attitude about playing the umpires is not how we compete. We play the other side. So it's just a point where it had gotten too far and players made too much commitment and somebody had to stand up and it was my job.
A couple things, first, is Núñez available at all, and second, were any of the other lineup calls hard questions? I mean, did you look at any other ways to put somebody else in there?
LaRUSSA: Abe is feeling better. What he can do for us tonight will depend on the workout.
He is in one of those hitting grooves, saw him take some swings, but that's not the most important thing because he could have pinch hit yesterday. You see him moving in the field, he was restricted yesterday.
As far as the lineup, you know, we played the first game of the series with this match up and we were trying to put the best team on the field to score against Andy Pettitte, and except for Núñez, replaced him with Luna, I still think this is the best group.
You were quoted yesterday that saying as far as the whole umpiring thing, the higher ups would take care of it. Was there any contact that you know of between your club and Major League Baseball?
LaRUSSA: No. My comment there is that for a while, all of the umpires were under Major League Baseball. I think a lot of what you see, matter of fact, not to make excuses for them, but a lot of the emotion they fire back at players is because of the scrutiny they get, and they are just human, too. There's replays all over the place. But they are held accountable for everything, for trying to read intent when somebody throws the ball inside, everything. I know Major League Baseball is there and figured they would take care of it.
The way your offense has been all year, do you feel like it's just a matter of time before you guys start hitting again?
LaRUSSA: Well, baseball has always been that if somebody pitches really well against you, I don't care how hot your offense is that day, you can get shut down.
I look at most of the great majority of the pitches that have been made to us have been quality pitches and I take my hat off to them. Lidge gets a lot of attention, but Qualls has come in a couple of times. I've seen very effective pitching. So whenever we face that during the year or other years, it's just hard to string hits together.
But I do think that, you know, we're capable of a little more, even with the pitching that we're seeing. I said yesterday, we had some tough outs, and we can find a way to break through. You know, we've taken some hittable things at times and swung at-bad pitches, the kind of stuff you do when you're not swinging the bat.
In '96, you lost a series where you were up 3-1. In some perverse way, having lived through that experience on the other side, does that do anything to increase your confidence that it could be done the other way?
LaRUSSA: Well, I know it's been done and we were part of it, in the wrong direction. I know it was done again in 2003. The reality is, you've got to we have to win a game and I know they have one game to win in three chances. You know, you're only playing one game at a time. We're excited about our chance tonight.
So, I think it's real clear to us that with Chris, many times our club has raised it's game to the level of his pitching, and we're going to need to do that again tonight.
You just referenced that good pitching beats good hitting essentially. What do you make of the series that Albert has had, kind of amidst a lineup that has not been that productive.
LaRUSSA: Well, I mean, I think he distinguishes himself every day in his whole career. In fact, I had a couple of calls today from ex hitters who were friends and Albert's name came up, just complimenting the way he's been able to dig out some production against really good pitching in tough situations.
That's just a real good example of how special this guy is.
Have you paid attention to the fact that Albert is almost always batting with the bases empty? Have you noticed that at all?
LaRUSSA: Yeah, I mean, I'm watching the game, so I notice it. You know, I'm a great believer that if you're taking your best shot, then that's your best shot.
Now you want to fight to the death, you tell me that David Eckstein is not taking his best shot. He had a great Division Series, had a great year, and put the ball in play. His first game, he got on base for us. You think he's backed off because he changes his game? No. Some balls have been hit, fouls to gloves, other times he's been pitched tougher. Jimmy has been in that two hole, except for yesterday. I think it's just part of how the game has been played.
Before Game 3, you came in here and there was a discussion about the plate umpire that day, and I think I know what your purpose was there, but some people elsewhere may have construed it differently perhaps, a different intent than you intended. Do you in any way wish you had not made an issue of it before Game 3 or do you think that's totally irrelevant to what the discussion is today?
LaRUSSA: Well, it's come to my attention that that's been taken in several directions. And it bothers me in the directions it's been taken.
You know, one of the alternatives, same thing that Albert got Chris for, not to answer any question or take anything from the context of that thing was I was asked about Roger Clemens. If you remember, that was about Roger Clemens and how great he is, and is he different, how is he different from all of the years you've gone against him.
So I should have said, well, no comment. So what I said is he still is this, this, and that, and I said the other thing is, his command has become the number one thing, not number one, but it's really an important part of how he pitches. And I compared him to Greg Maddux.
So the line that I drew; when you go against a guy like Greg Maddux or a Roger Clemens, I don't care if it's a regular season game, which you're always concerned about, is a guy with that kind of command, if he starts getting an edge, he pushes it and pushes it so it's up to whoever the umpire is, and that's my comment. So I wasn't calling out Wally Bell. I just said if you want to talk about Roger, it's a compliment to his command, and by the way, the game will be played, if that edge gets there, some guys can try to get the ball to the edge and they miss it, but Roger has a command of it. That's all that I said. As it turned out, we got beat that game, and I made it a point to say that Wally Bell was consistently with his zone for and against Roger, for our pitchers, against. It was just a quality thing.
That's why sometimes you think, well, maybe you're better off not saying anything and you get reprimanded for not saying anything and players get reprimanded because they are not cooperating, but things go in different directions. All I was trying to say that day was exactly what I just said.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.