The dude was trying to break up a double play. Holliday plays hard. You have to appreciate the way he plays. He’s not labeled as a dirty player. He didn’t go spikes up. The only thing that made it look bad was that he slid late. That’s it. Whether he could reach the bag or not, I don’t know. If I’m in that situation, and I’m playing to win, trying to get to a pennant race, I’d do the same exact thing. Even though we’re second to last and in fifth place in this division, I still try to flip infielders. It’s as simple as that. I try to play winning baseball, and that’s all that is.
You call a play dirty when a guy is going out there trying to hurt somebody and that’s not what he did. If Holliday wants to go in and hurt somebody he will. He’s 6-4, 235, 240 pounds. That’s him playing hard. The way we take it when we see it is we want to defend our players at the time. When you go back and really look at it and how the game is played and how it should be played, there’s nothing wrong with that. If the umpires want to make their call and say he was too far off, so be it. Being dirty or being malicious, it’s not even close.
There are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball. There are a lot of things that happen on the field that stay on the field. When I came up, umpires treated the veterans a little differently than they treated rookies. It was not in a bad way, it was just a respect thing, a seniority thing. Veterans have a little bigger strike zone when they’re pitching against a rookie. When I came up, Maddux, Glavine were getting calls on balls off the plate. You don’t say anything. You earn your time and you earn the right to say things.
But then it comes to a point where an umpire sometimes will say something out of the box. He doesn’t mean any harm, but he’ll say it to a young guy who doesn’t know how to take it and it gets back to the team and gets back to the manager or the front office, and after looking at the Marlins series and how the season has gone like ours, it’s not well received at all, even if it’s said in a joking manner. Maybe it can rattle a guy and when the outcome of that at-bat when he’s spoken to is a negative with a strikeout, it really doesn’t look right. The big thing in baseball is it’s a fraternity. Umpires are included in this fraternity and we all need to be on the same page and work together. Communication has to be out there.
Mike Quade had our backs in his post-game interview the other day. He said exactly what needed to be said — he didn’t say too much and didn’t say too little. He got it out there and it was heard and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. The umpire knows who he is and the player knows who he is and the umpire knows what he said. Hopefully, there’s an apology that comes the next time that crew comes to town and if not, just make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You have a guy like Ryan Dempster, who’s your bulldog when he comes in. It’s his day to pitch and you’re excited to see him on the mound. When he has to come out of the game, there’s that fire in him that he wants to stay out there and he wants to keep going strong. You have two strong-minded guys, Q and Demp. Q believed in one thing, going with his bullpen. Demp believed he could keep going strong. At the same time, people have to understand you need that. You don’t want a passive manager, you don’t want a passive starting pitcher. Sometimes you bump heads. We have 7 1/2 months together. It’s not all love. Sometimes it’s war, even in the locker room. We treat it like a family. What happened yesterday happened, and today you move on and go from there. Maybe Ramon throws six, seven innings and doesn’t want to come out and the bullpen is ready and it happens again. At the same time, that’s something that will always happen in the game of baseball just because of the competitiveness and the fire between players and staff.
If it had been Zambrano, it would’ve been blown up and blown out of proportion. The camera stays on Carlos. They’re waiting for him to have his next blow up. Dempster’s had blow ups, but you just haven’t seen them or hear about them. I’ve had my blow ups and you never hear about them. It happens to everybody. I guess it’s a Catch-22. If it’s Dempster, he gets a pass. If it’s Carlos Zambrano, it gets talked about more because he’s Big Z.
The kid who really impressed me on the Iowa team was Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitting shortstop. He hit a couple doubles, nice bat. He’ll be a pretty good player. I have to speak about Bryan LaHair and what he’s doing. His numbers are phenomenal. At some point, hopefully he gets a chance to help the team, whether it’s here or somewhere. Welington Castillo is looking good back there and still learning. He looks good at the plate. Jonathon Mota, he played second and third, had some good at-bats, really nice hands. I think that infield, regardless of who they put out there, is one of the best in Triple-A. Bill Dancy is running things and righting that ship. Look at his winning percentage as a manager. He was my field coordinator in ’99 with the Phillies. Some of the young guys were throwing the ball well — “Bergie” has a sub 2.00 ERA. He’s got big league stuff. Scott Maine was doing well. He made one bad pitch when I was down there.
All the young guys who are first-years in Triple-A, like Marwin and DJ and Welington, need to keep stepping up and keep getting better and keep learning and take that from now until they get to the big leagues.
No fear. None whatsoever. First at-bat at Iowa, I took the first pitch and my thought process the whole time was, “See the ball.” It wasn’t, “What’s going to happen?” That didn’t cross my mind. In the second game, there was no thought process whatsoever, it was just baseball. I knew I was ready then. I’m glad, because I wasn’t really sure how I was going to react and I reacted very well.