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.
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.
First off, I have to comment on the job Jim Hendry did. He didn’t have much money this offseason. He needed pieces to fix this team. We needed a first baseman, we needed left-handed thump in the lineup, we needed a veteran reliever on the back end with experience and we needed another starting pitcher. He didn’t just fill those, he went and got a Gold Glover and the best first baseman in the American League East who knows how to win in Carlos Pena. Then, he went and got Matt Garza, who is a horse. He’s not missing any starts. He’s a monster on the mound with great stuff and he’s going to give you 15-plus wins. Then he went and got Kerry Wood — that’s icing on the cake. Of course, Woody helped us out, he wanted to come back home. Nobody can blame him. This is home for him and this is where he needs to be. Jim did an unbelievable job. He didn’t just bring guys in, he brought guys in who can do the job and help us get to the playoffs and hopefully get to the World Series.
It’s exciting. On the first day, I overheard Woody talk to Cashner about throwing cutters on both sides of the plate and talking to Samardzija about that. That experience, that trust factor. Me and Carlos Pena, going back with Rudy. That trust factor is already there. Garza just fit in there. He brings that intensity, he brings that fire, something that this team needs, something the city of Chicago loves to see, loves to watch. I don’t think it gets any better than that.
One person you can’t leave out who everyone forgets about is Reed Johnson. Bringing back Reed — he’ll help in the clubhouse, help on the field. He’s not just a presence in the clubhouse, he’s a presence on the field. He’s a career .282 hitter, kills a lefty, can hit righties, can play anywhere in the outfield. He’s a veteran presence. We came up in ’99 together and played together in the big leagues. This is our ninth year. He was at St. Catharines with the Blue Jays and I was at Class A Batavia with the Phillies.
The guys we have — there’s not excitement on MLB Network, there’s not excitement on Baseball Tonight. That excitement is Greinke and Marcum with the Brewers and Berkman going to St. Louis and the Reds signing extensions to the young guys who are going to turn into big dogs. We’re going to fly under the radar and keep that excitement bottled up and once April 1 comes, we’re going to explode.
The last six weeks, Padres, Braves, the Cardinals again — they’re all first or second-place teams. They’re all in the thick of things. The Giants come to town and we’ve got Cincinnati again. You still have to get up for the games and that makes it a lot easier instead of playing teams that are having down years like we’re having. The competition is there, you see the fire on the other side. There is something to play for. It’s not fun getting spoiled if you’re the other team. When you’re the team doing it, it’s a lot of fun. It gives us something to play for. You can’t look past this season. You want to try to finish strong and go into the offseason with positive attitudes.
For me, personally, this is going to be fun. Seeing the team looking back at the scoreboard, seeing what the other team is doing to them and us trying to beat up on them. Cubs versus Cardinals, you will always see fire in those games. This whole homestand will be very difficult. Tough pitching. We have to put it together and try to have some fun.