Longo wants young D-backs to learn from his '08 World Series struggles

October 27th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- has waited 15 years to get another crack at winning a World Series title.

Now, as the veteran third baseman/designated hitter returns to the game's biggest stage when his D-backs face the Rangers in the 2023 World Series, he feels far more prepared to come away with a ring than he did as 23-year-old rookie with the '08 Rays.

The biggest difference this time around?

Longoria isn't going into Friday's Game 1 with a "stupid" approach.

"As a young player, I truly believed that the path to victory was: I needed to get a hit every time I go up there," Longoria said on Thursday at Globe Life Field. "That's the kind of pressure I was putting on myself. Like, 'If I don't play well in this series, we're not going to win.'

"Looking back, obviously that's a stupid thought."

There's little question that the pressure got to him back then.

Longoria turned in a star performance in the 2008 American League Championship Series, driving in eight runs, scoring eight more and hitting a home run in four straight games as Tampa Bay outlasted Boston in seven games.

But under the bright lights of the World Series, Longoria retreated into the shadows.

He went 0-for-16 with nine strikeouts over the first four games of the 2008 Fall Classic against the Phillies. Longoria’s lone hit -- an RBI single in the Rays’ decisive Game 5 loss -- was far too little, too late to save Tampa Bay.

"I just had all of this pressure and weight on me as a young player," Longoria said, "and I truly felt like the stadium was collapsing in on me."

That type of admission is one that a young player would almost certainly never make in the moment. But Longoria's openness and willingness to share his own experience could perhaps now help another 23-year-old rookie: D-backs superstar Corbin Carroll.

"I've talked to him multiple times throughout the course of the postseason about not treating it any differently," Longoria said. "Hopefully, he took some of it to heart."

Safe to say Carroll listened.

"Whatever happens happens," Carroll said on the eve of the World Series. "I'm just going to go out there and try my best. All I can control is my effort and my process and all the work that I put in."

As for Longoria opening up about his personal expectations in his first World Series, Carroll seems to agree with Longoria's harsh "stupid" assessment.

"In terms of Longo, I think he said he didn't get a hit until the [fifth] game and he felt like the world was crumbling," Carroll said. "But we kind of just laughed about it, honestly, because if you go a couple of games in the regular season without a hit, it just is what it is. It's going to turn around. We have to treat it the same way."

Carroll has already put that lesson to good use this postseason. After going just 3-for-23 (.130) without an extra-base hit or a stolen base in the first six games of Arizona's NLCS victory over the Phillies, Carroll stole the show in Game 7. He went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two stolen bases to help the D-backs clinch the pennant.

Longoria has full support from his manager to carry out these chats.

"It was probably a Day 1 conversation in my office that I gave him free rein to do whatever he needed to do," Torey Lovullo said. " ... Conversations he can have when I'm not there are way more powerful than anything any other teammate or any other coach could have because of [his] reputation. And he has not stopped from doing that."

That’s why Longoria hasn’t hesitated to remind all of his teammates -- not just the rookies -- that no one player will be able to carry Arizona to a title. The 2023 World Series won’t be won or lost on any one pitch or one at-bat -- or even one game, for that matter.

Longoria’s initial vision for how to win a World Series -- "You get it in your head that the best path to victory is if you carry the team," he recalled thinking -- didn’t work 15 years ago.

And now?

"That vision is so much clearer in my head as to how we win this series," Longoria said. "Now, we've still got to go out there and actually do it. We've got to go out and execute what we've done all year.

"But I truly believe it's there for the taking and we can do it."