Oct. 20: Joe Maddon Pregame Interview
Q. There's been a lot of talk about the Mets hurlers, they throw the ball real fast. You can manipulate the numbers to say that you guys hit fastballs well or you guys don't hit fastballs well, but isn't there a lot more context here that they command the ball well and it's all about sequencing?
JOE MADDON: Well, I think the first two games was about their command more than anything. I was really impressed with their ability to command the baseball different pitches in that kind of weather. They were really good. I give them credit, man. They were good.
We hit some balls well in the first game against Harvey, I thought, that could have turned out differently, but -- and then Syndergaard was obviously outstanding too. They're good, they're really good, but we are too. I will give them credit.
I think more than anything, everybody's going to talk about their velocity. The thing that impressed me the most was their command of their other pitches under the circumstances. That was the impressive thing for me.
But it's time to move it forward. It's a different day. We've gotten a couple more degrees that we were looking for. Hopefully our hitters can react a little better because of that. But they have been impressive all year, their young pitchers. They're going to be for many years to come. There is no question. I have a lot of respect for that. But I have a lot of respect for our guys too, and I think it's going to be an interesting evening.
Q. When it comes to setting up your defense positioning this time of year, when you have so much data and everything at your disposal, how do you weigh the pitcher on the mound versus the team you're facing?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, the pitcher on the mound does play into it. There's that big barrel of generic information, and then there is more specific stuff based on your pitcher, maybe it's velocity, maybe it's movement on his pitch. I've always worked from the premise also that if my pitcher does not want something to occur shift-wise, then we call it off. Some of the more prominent pitchers like that. They don't like the shift, so we've called off the shift in the past. I always want the starting pitcher to be involved in the placement of the defense.
The thing I hate, abhor, is actually when something goes awry, inning's over, and somebody reacts negatively to the positioning of the defense, well, you had every right to say something before the ball was hit. So I want guys to be proactive. Say something before the ball is put in play. Don't wait until after the ball is put in play and think all of a sudden that we should have done something differently. That's a big part about setting up defense also.
So I love -- I mean, there is definitely that big barrel of generic information, absolutely. But beyond that, I do like specifics according to each pitcher.
Q. Two questions, one, your reasoning behind keeping Soler in the lineup. And when you said your club's not going to change, nobody's going to change this late in the season, but do you want your hitters to be more aggressive tonight?
JOE MADDON: Soler is in the lineup because in this ballpark, under these conditions, there is a decent opportunity he could put the ball over the wall. He was swinging the bat really well up until recently.
I put Coghlan in that game the other night primarily -- some of it, I don't deny, was based on the cold, but the other part was the fact that CC had done so well against Syndergaard in the past. In the one game, he almost hit another home run against him, so that was it.
Regarding changing our game planning, I don't really want our guys to do anything necessarily different. We're always open to the first pitch if it's a good one. First pitch, ball in play, hit hard is a pretty good number, normally. But I don't want us to change anything based on two games.
Like I said, that first game, we did hit the ball really well often that was -- didn't go rewarded. What are you going to do? That's called baseball.
The second game maybe not as good. But I don't want our guys expanding the strike zone according to an umpire. I prefer that we just keep within our abilities and just believe that it's going to come back to us. So to try to get our guys to do something differently right now, I really believe that would not be a good thought.
Q. I know you were asked yesterday about playing the Rocky song after you left the ballpark. I'm just wondering, you've become known for these external sources of motivation. Wondering when you first started doing that, and if you emulated anyone or anyone inspired you?
JOE MADDON: Oh, wow. That goes back to -- I played football. If you ask my dad, I was a better football player, probably should have stayed with it. When you play football, I mean, okay, the first thing that pops into my head, Coach Steve Schnall at Lafayette. Coach Schnall was about ZD, zero defects. That was the big thing back in the day, ZD, and he might be watching right now, coach. It's all about zero defects.
The thing about the football world, you get more into that catchy kind of stuff or bulletin board kind of stuff, there is a different mentality of play to it. So I think it began with that, and probably Coach Schnall was the guy that got me thinking in that direction.
As we move forward, getting into baseball, and I talked about this briefly, probably the most important period that I've had as an instructor was when I was a roving instructor, and that was like in the mid '80s to early '90s, and you getting to see how everybody else works. I saw a bunch of different managers, our managers in the minor league system, the other guys on the other side and how they would react to moments. And I kind of learned from that, what I did like and what I did not like was really important. So I often thought that things got too uptight oftentimes when things weren't going well.
One time I overreacted as manager in Midland, Texas, in 1986, when I actually went to a local news stand and bought newspapers from throughout the country and took the classified ads and pasted them all over my locker room, because I told my players those were your alternatives to not playing baseball well and hard, and that was a mistake. So I learned from my own mistake there. I did it. Had them on the back of the stalls in the bathroom. So the guy would sit down there, and all of a sudden he'd close the door and there would be classified ads in San Antonio, you know. So I did all that. I was wrong.
But as you go forward, I'd never seen an uptight moment be beneficial to any group, never. Never. So I thought if I ever got an opportunity to do this, I'd really work against that concept.
Baseball, you play every day. Football, you have a once-a-week gig. You can go through the whole week and there are different ways to get through the week and a different mindset entirely. In baseball, man, you've got to be in the present tense and be tension-free. I learned that, I think, and in a roundabout way, that's where I'm at.
So when you see these things, for those that get in the clubhouse today, you'll see a picture of Bauldie Moschetti by the food room. Bauldie was the owner of the Boulder Collegians in the '60s and '70s. Bauldie was the guy that gave me a chance to get signed in 1975. I found a slide on eBay recently of Bauldie sitting in the dugout. I noticed his shoes, Bauldie never wore spikes, they were green tips. Bauldie is up there today to support us. Baldy's my guy back when I actually worked in the baseline liquor store, that was his place too. So Baldy's up. That's my own personal motivation going into these next couple games is Bauldie.
Q. Another history-related question. Some managers get down in a situation like this 0-2, and be stressed, they opt to change things. You've been in somewhat similar situations with other teams. What is your methodology in not wanting to change anything, not showing any stress?
JOE MADDON: Well, part of it is the moment you do, the players feel it. They think something's wrong. There is really nothing wrong. Truly there is not right now. I would probably do something differently or change something if I really thought it was necessary. But our group has been so consistent in their methods all year, and even more recently. If you've been with us -- like our record, I guess, from August to this point is like the best at baseball. So why would I ever all of a sudden change because we've lost three games in New York in the end of October? I don't get that. They're well, they're rested, they're in a good place mentally. For me to do something differently, I would send out all kinds of indicators to them that I don't want them to read into.
They need stability and consistency from me daily, and I think if I supply that, then they're going to kind of react the same way in return. I know you've been around me for a bit, so you know that's always been my part of the overarching philosophy. So I think our guys are in a good place right now. I'm really here to watch us play, but there is no reason really to change anything right now.
Q. With Kyle, I know when you see the ball on the ground you know he's going to have a good day. But towards the end of the season as he's really kind of come into his own, is there anything from an a approach or just the standpoint of what he's doing out there that you think has allowed the success that he's had toward the tail end of the season?
JOE MADDON: I really -- and I know he was really into his mechanics for a bit. I just kept hearing from him that he was not feeling good about his mechanics.
The one thing that I think I've seen, I believe it to be true, is a little bit more better angle coming up. I just think he's technically on top of the ball or behind the ball a little bit better, and thus the reaction to home plate has been better. I think that's what I've been seeing. I know he's been struggling with that for a bit. He's a little bit flat with everything. The hitters are seeing the ball well. All of a sudden the fastball is doing what it's supposed to, and the changeup is playing off of that.
So I really avoid the mechanical conversation most of the time because I think a lot of times mechanics are rooted in what you're thinking. I think it's a mental mechanic before it becomes a physical mechanic problem. But with him, I believe that he's made a nice adjustment, and thus the ball is reacting like it does when he's normally successful. That's what I see has been different.
Q. You talked about obviously there being a couple more degrees out here now, a little warmer. Understanding that the pitcher controls everything, if your guys get their pitches, how will these conditions improve the hitting compared to what we saw in New York?
JOE MADDON: It's just a feel, it's just a feel thing. It's kind of tough to go up there, and I think both sides would concede to that. It's never comfortable playing a very important baseball game in 30Â° weather, but it's the same for both sides. I understand that.
From a hitting perspective, your hands are a little warmer, just a little bit. You get a better feel about it. It's a feel situation. It's a feel part of the game. But I'm certain they're going to feel better also, not just us. But I just like the idea that our guys are going to go into the game with a better feel in their hands, a little bit more warmth and we'll see how it plays out. I didn't even look where was the wind blowing. I think the wind was crossways, was it across the field? Out towards left? Okay. That's normally flyball weather (laughing).
Q. Better today, huh?
JOE MADDON: Little bit better. Sound better. I think I sound better.
Q. When did you start training your pitchers to not be sensitive about other pitchers being up, warming up early in games and is that a philosophy that you felt you had to get to at some point in your career, because it seems like your pitchers don't really worry about that now?
JOE MADDON: Honestly, especially at this time of the year, I think it really became more prevalent with us in August of this year. When you're trying to win something, man, guys really can't worry about that. A guy's got to warm up somewhere. They're not going to go underneath the bleachers and be out of sight. It's a part of the game. Sometimes it serves as motivation as they got on the mound too. Listen, I better get my stuff together, otherwise it's not going to play. I can't tell you that the guys like it necessarily. I think the real pros come to accept and understand it's part of the game, so it works both ways. You've got to get your guy ready. You're looking at the moment and you're watching what's going on out on the field. You have to be realistic about what's going on, and you want to win this game.
And part of it is, too, a lot of times it will happen when you have the lead. You don't want to give up a lead. Sometimes when you're behind, you'll be even more tolerant leaving this guy out there. But when you have the lead, you don't want to give up the lead. And I think I become even less tolerant with those moments.
So with our guys, whether it's the bullpen guys, I mean, I don't believe in the 6th, 7th, 8th inning kind of a guy. It's about situations and moments and leverage and all that kind of stuff. So our guys have learned that. The starters, I know some of them I've had bullpen guys up sooner, but for the most part I've had conversations with some of the guys. I can't tell you that they really like it. I'd be lying about that, but they've been very professional about it, and they've come to expect it.
The one thing I'd like for them to get out of it, if you see somebody warming up, pitch better.