An Interview With: Billy Butler
Q. At what point this year or last year did you think a day like this was possible for this team?
BILLY BUTLER: Yeah, you think about it. You think about it all the time. I've thought about this day ever since I was drafted 10 years ago. Guys like me, Gordo and Hoch, we've experienced all the ups and the downs. This is definitely a big up for us.
You know, we thought we had a chance last year, and we had a great second half, but this year obviously the way we came together at that meeting that we had in Chicago, Raul and a couple of the other guys that have been a long time called together, we really took off from there. Basically it was just letting us know that we need to realize how good we are and how good, especially from the way they prepared against us because they were on different teams earlier in the year, that nobody was really looking forward to playing us because we had a lot of dangerous weapons on our team and that we just needed to realize how good we were, and we needed to play with that type of confidence, and I think we did from that point on.
Q. There's been so much focus on ending the drought, the playoff drought and things like that, but what would a win tonight mean for guys like you in this organization?
BILLY BUTLER: Well, I was over at the Chiefs' stadium last night and I saw just the eruption that they had. They broke their sound record over there, and that was impressive, just to be a part of that. They were doing some nice Royals cheers in the middle there. I understand the excitement that's in the fan base. It's incredible. Just from our workout that we had yesterday, the turnout there and the excitement there was tremendous. This fan base is amazing. They've put in a lot longer of a ‑‑ more pain than I have. Like I said, I've only been a part of a third of it. I've been here 10 years of the 29 years of the absence in the playoffs. I've only been here for a part of it, and it feels like an eternity, ever since I've been a part of it. I can only imagine the excitement with the fan base, and I'm just looking forward to the reception that we get when we get introduced tonight and going from there because it's going to be a really fun game to be a part of.
Q. By the sound of your voice it sounds like you had something to do with that begin necessary record last night.
BILLY BUTLER: Yeah, I was a little excited.
Q. The challenge of facing Jon Lester tonight, the numbers suggest he can be almost as tough if not tougher against righties than lefties. Why is that and what makes him such a challenge?
BILLY BUTLER: He has a really good angle on his ball. He starts from the first base side of the rubber, so everything he's got, basically he's coming in on a righty. He's got one of the best cutters in the game, and the reason why it's so good, it's because he knows how to locate it and he locates it well. Obviously you can tell from the way he's pitched this year, this isn't his only good year. He's had a ton of them, and there's a reason why he's going to be heading ‑‑ both these guys pitching tonight are going to be heading into the free agency class this winter. They both deserve it, and obviously everyone what type of pitchers they both are. That's why it's going to be a really good game tonight.
Q. You keep talking about ‑‑ not you but everybody keeps talking about that meeting in Chicago. If that doesn't happen are you here today?
BILLY BUTLER: You know, I think players police themselves, and they have meetings ‑‑ I don't know when we would have had a meeting, but that was a perfect time for it. I feel like we would have had one ‑‑ if it wasn't that day we would have had one another day because basically came out of the All‑Star Break and we weren't playing the type of baseball we knew we were capable of. At some point we would have had a meeting and that was a perfect time for it. I don't know when it would have been, but ‑‑
Q. What happens in those meetings to kind of turn everything around?
BILLY BUTLER: You know, just the accountability factor. We had a big accountability meeting that we were going to keep each of our teammates accountable in one way or another, and it was basically a confidence game because I think everybody in that room was looking a little bit of confidence at that time because we had struggled a little bit and we were struggling as a team at that point, and I think that's the reason why you call meetings is because obviously you're not playing the type of baseball that you expect to play, and especially with the type of team that we have, you see what we're capable of, and we weren't meeting expectations, and that's what happens.
Q. There were so many must‑wins down the stretch, does this feel different?
BILLY BUTLER: I think this is the only must‑win that we actually have. I know we've had to win a lot of games throughout this season, the reason why we're here today. This is really the only must‑win. You're going to have to give me certain games. We played 162 or 163, so there's a lot of factors or reasons why we're here today.
Q. As a guy who studies hitting the way you do, offensive numbers in baseball are down across the board. Do you have any kind of theories or reasons for that?
BILLY BUTLER: Well, I think that we among hitters, we actually have talked and we've talked on the team, and I'm sure the other teams have, and I feel like not necessarily like the power ‑‑ the power production is definitely down. The caliber of hitters aren't down. It's just I feel like the pitching in baseball has gotten ridiculously a lot better. I think that you look at it now compared to when I first came up even like eight years ago, I feel like the guys in the pen ‑‑ not only that, there's not a guy in the pen that throws under 95 anymore. There's just electric stuff. Every guy you're facing, they're there for a reason.
I really feel like a four or five, I feel like they just take Detroit and Oakland we're playing tonight, you look at one through five, they're all aces. It's definitely a tough rotation to go up against. Same thing against Detroit. Even our staff guys on the other side. There's not an easy one in there.
Q. Dayton admitted he was nervous, biggest butterflies he's had. Are you?
BILLY BUTLER: I think I have a little bit right now. I think that everybody in this clubhouse has a little bit. We're definitely all giddy and ready to go. As we get close to game time, there will be more excitement and there will be more ‑‑ there will be a lot more adrenaline going, but I think when the game starts, we just have to go out there and do what we've done our whole lives. When the game starts, we know it's not just another game but that's the way you have to go about it. Just go out there and do your job, and if everybody does that, we should be fine.
Q. In the month of September it was a grind. You guys had a lot of big games, not must‑win games but a lot of playoff inexperience. How much do you think September helps tonight?
BILLY BUTLER: If we're going on that, I think the second half last year and what we were a part of down the stretch prepared us for what we've done this year, but yeah, September was basically like playoff games already and playoff atmospheres, and yeah, we basically ‑‑ obviously this is going to be a tremendous experience tonight for everyone. But we've had a lot, a lot of big games up to this point already.