I love playing the Reds. I don’t know how people will take this but I love their swagger. I love the way they play. I love how they go out there and they feel like they’re the best team. They’re the defending Central champs but at the same time, I feel we can match their swagger. My boy, Brandon Phillips, I love the way he plays, I love what he brings. A lot of people think it’s over the top but that’s the way your team is and it helps you win then so be it. That’s the way you should be. That’s one thing I remember talking to a lot of guys in Texas when I was there is having that team swagger and not worrying about what other teams are thinking — it’s about what you’re doing and winning games. I feel if we can get that feeling over here, teams start see us having fun, sort of like what I do after I catch balls. I give my salute to Soriano, I give my salute to Fukudome after outs. I’m having fun out there. I think if we get to the point where we’re just having nothing but fun out there, I don’t think there’s a team out there that can beat us. It doesn’t matter who it is — St. Louis, Cincinnati — they won’t be able to play with us. We have to get to that point. At the same time, with swagger comes winning. It’s hand in hand. With winning comes swagger. Until we start winning, it’s hard to walk that walk and talk that talk. These series are going to be big. It’s going to be a battle.
Jackie is the reason I’m playing today. His importance to the world is more than just baseball. There’s the integration of baseball, of course, but the Civil Rights movement, the whole nine yards — my parents went through it. Without Jackie, there’s no Hank, there’s no Ken Griffey Jr., there’s no Ryan Howard, there’s no me. Every single day I think every player who is a minority in this game — all the way to Fukudome, Ichiro — you have to be thankful for what Jackie did and what he went through. I think what’s missed is nobody knows what he really went through. At the end of his career, he probably aged 20, 30 years, more than everyone else, because of the beating that he took mentally — I just couldn’t imagine. And for him to put up the numbers he did and to be the great player and Hall of Famer that he was, that’s phenomenal. I owe it all to Jackie.