It?s a long flight out here, even when you?re up two games to none. It?d be a lot longer, of course, if we were down or tied. But we?ve done pretty good so far. Now the idea is to get it over with and get a couple of days off. We feel good about how we?ve played, and it would be great to play another good one and get some rest.
You know what I’ve liked the most about how we?ve played? You?re gonna laugh at this, but it?s how we got the bunts down, how we executed.
I?m a big small guy … big on small things. I love how you make a pitcher twitch and fuss and take his hat off and rub his head — all that stuff — because he gets uncomfortable when you bunt. He?s trying to figure out who and when and where and why. You just let him stand out there and throw the high cheese, he?s thinking he?s in charge. You lay a few down like we did Thursday night and he?s sweating, overanalyzing. Then you can pound him.
I know, you?re thinking, "Cliff? Bunt?" And I?m not even sure I have a sacrifice bunt in my career. But when I was batting leadoff for the Marlins, I laid some down. I liked it then. I like it now, too — as long as someone else is doing it.
It?s like in basketball: I love to watch a good playmaker. I appreciate what he does. But no way I wanna do it. Just give me the ball and let me shoot. It?s like the Pistons’ Rip Hamilton — I love to watch him run all over the place, tire out the man covering him. If he was on my team, I?d love to watch, as long as he threw the ball to me on the corner and let me bomb.
Baseball is the same. I really do like to see small ball. There’s nothing wrong with hitting a bomb every so often, but the small ball — the way we played on Thursday — that was cool. I might have to get me one of those sacrifice hits…
It seemed like, until this year, every time I turned on a TV in October, I saw Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux or John Smoltz or one of those guys with an "A" on their caps in a playoff series. It seemed like it?s been that way my whole life.
Braves, Braves, Braves. And now you see why. I mean, it?s not a surprise. But did you notice how Glavine won Game 2 — one ex-Brave pitches great. The other one — Julio Franco — beats out a double-play ball, running on 100-year-old legs. They did what they had to do. Now we?re up 2-0 against the Dodgers.
It?s nice to have those ex-Braves guys around.
I didn?t have to wait to play with Tom and Julio to know that they?re special and that they came from a special place. All you have to know about the Braves is that they won all those years while they were changing their personnel.
You don?t lose Glavine and Maddux, Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez and Rafael Furcal and still win every year, if there isn?t something special with the organization. That?s what we?re trying to do here in New York. You know, get it rolling, so when one of the big guys leaves, you just keep going.
That?s was amazing to watch all those years. Just win, win. Lose a 20-game winner, and win some.
We?re here now, and that?s great. I?m proud that I?m on a team that ended the Braves’ streak of 14 consecutive division titles, because that was an accomplishment. It took a lot of doing. I wasn?t here back in the day when the Braves caused the Mets all those problems, so I don?t have a grudge or anything. I just respect what they did.
So watch out for them next year.
I said the other day, "I wish I could tape everything that goes on." Maybe I could have one of those helmet cameras. You know, I could tape everything from the same perspective that I saw it when it happened, and then go back and watch it in the winter or 10 years from now.
So many things happened in that first game. That play when we threw out two guys at the plate. They said that?s happened before. Whoa! That was great for us. We went from, **********, they?re getting two? to ?Man, we?re getting two.?
I mean, I looked in from left field to Carlos Delgado and David Wright. I?m saying to myself, "What did we just do?" and "How did we do it?? That play was huge.
I?d like to see it again, from my vantage point in left.
Then Carlos just went off in the fourth -? Boom! He took one over the wall in center field. I loved seeing Kenny Lofton run out of room and just turn around. That?s a beautiful sight.
Then Carlos started hitting balls right through the defense. They didn?t overshift against him, because when he came up, there were runners on base. But they shaded him to the right side, and he smoked two hits past Rafael Furcal. He?s taking what they?re giving him. I was happy to see him have a real good first game. I guess you can say he likes this postseason thing.
And D. Wright got it done, didn?t he? He?s a different dude. When he was 21, I said he must be 31. Now he?s 23, and he hits like he?s had 10 years in the big leagues. He takes the ball the other way — and real hard.
And old Cliff got himself one, too. That felt good. Seeing that ball get real small … that?s a thrill. I?d like to have videos of that from all over the place on that one. I?d be showing that off to everyone for the next 20 years.
I said the other day that my Achilles was feeling better. But it still is a little sore. But when that ball got small, I didn?t feel it at all. When that went out, I didn?t have no Achilles.
Your mind is going a mile a minute in the postseason. I remember that from 1997 with the Marlins — and I wasn?t even playing then. You?ve got tickets and family to worry about before you get to the park. And now, for me, there?s treatment on my Achilles. And right on the heels of that, we find out about El Duque and his calf inury.
What is it about this team and our legs? Pedro, me, El Duque, Carlos Beltran. You know, there?s enough anxiety without all this other stuff — more anxiety than you need. You?ve got to put it away. You want to be up. But you don?t want to be over-the-top up.
There is so much to think about. You know when you?re a little kid, really the only teams you want to play when you imagine yourself in the World Series are the Yankees and the Dodgers. Now we?re playing one with a chance to play the other later in the playoffs. That?d be cool. But you don?t go there now. All we think about is Derek Lowe and making him get his pitches up.
He likes to work fast and throw ground balls all day. We?ve got to step out — mess up his rhythm — and be patient so we don?t go swinging at pitches early in the count that are out of the strike zone.
I think about the Dodgers, but I wouldn?t have minded playing the Padres with Mike Piazza and Mike Cameron. Cameron?s my boy. When he was here, with the Mets, we were like Frick and Frack. I was Frack. He and Rondell White. They?re both in the postseason. I?d love to play both of them — Cam next round, Rondell and the Twins in the World Series. But first we have to take care of the Dodgers.
That?s a good team they brought here. And we?re banged up a little. We?ll be all right. I don?t know about El Duque, but I?m getting better. I had that cortisone shot last week, and it?s finally started to work, getting some of that pain out of my leg. I feel pretty good. I was worried about chasing down balls in the outfield, but I feel better, so I?m playing and feeling real good about that. I was worried — not about playing or not playing — but about hurting the team if I wasn?t healthy. All want to be is healthy.
And I feel like I am. You know, I might steal a couple of ? nah, no. I?ll be happy just to get on base and trot home when someone else goes deep. I probably shouldn?t push it.
I?ve played some center field in my career, but mostly, I?ve played the corner outfield positions and first base. So I?ve usually played with one of the foul lines right there, close by. That?s where I?m most comfortable.
Sometime Wednesday, I?ll be right on the line, the first base line. And I?ll be real comfortable. All of us will be out there, standing on the line — all queued up like soldiers — when we get introduced before the first game of the playoffs. That?s what we?ve been waiting for — the beginning of playoffs. I?ve been waiting a long time.
Pre-game introductions . . . you used to think about things like that when you were a kid. And I?ve thought about it this year, too.
There?ve been lots of times since I signed with Mets before the 2003 season that I?d wondered if I?d get to do that with this team. I mean, I?ve been out there already — for the All-Star Game in 2001 and with the Marlins in 1997 when we won the World Series. But I?m sure this will be different, you know, crazy.
I know it hasn?t been that long since the Mets were in the postseason. But none of the guys who played in the Subway Series in 2000 is still with us. Trachs has been here the longest, and he got here the next year. Glav and I got here in 2003. We?ve had some tough times. But they?re over now, and we?re going to be on the foul line Wednesday with all those fans and all those jitters. The good jitters.
Everything will be going through our minds in the five minutes we?re out there. It?ll pass quick. You know what they say about a New York minute. I just hope I don?t get too amped up and not take it all in. This will be special — New York in October, the Mets in the playoffs.
I think New York is anxious to see us all lined up again. I know they?ll be up. When we?re out there Wednesday, I know it?s going to feel like a big hug.