There?s no holding back now. You play this game, Game 3 of the NLDS, with everything you?ve got. You hold nothing back. You play with abandon, but you?re smart about it, too. Play hard, play smart, leave it all on the field. It?s the only way to approach a challenge like this.
I?ve always believed we?re at our best when we?re playing aggressive baseball, running the bases hard, playing with heart and passion. That?s what I?m looking for when we face Jeff Suppan, on Saturday at Busch Stadium. We?ve had some success against him, and while that means nothing on the scoreboard when the game starts, it can always help a player to have a positive history to draw on.
I?ve been asked a lot about the 2004 Red Sox, how that team was able to come back after being down three games to none against the Yankees and go on to win that ALCS and then the World Series against these Cardinals. Again, there are things you can draw on from your life experience, and I think what we can learn from those Red Sox is that it really never is over until it?s over. That team never stopped believing.
Being affiliated with that team, having people remember my stolen base and talk about it all the time ?- its historical significance in New England -? that?s one of the great moments of my life. I was part of something special with those ?Idiots? in Boston, something I?ll never forget.
There?s so much truth in that old expression ?- You gotta believe. Without that, you have no chance in a situation like this. I like the chemistry on this team, how guys really and truly care about each other. There are no ego issues here; it?s all about playing together and winning together.
We want to keep this season going. I know I don?t want it to end, and I?m sure all the fellas feel the same way. Nobody ever wants a good thing to end, and this has been a real good thing all season long.
I?ve said this all season, and I believe it now more than ever -? this is a special bunch of athletes with the ability to accomplish great things. You look around this clubhouse, and you see proven great players all over the place ?- players with great character, too. That?s why I have such a good feeling about this. I?m confident we?ll rise to the occasion and get back in this series.
I feel confident with all of our starting pitchers ?- it?s been one of our strengths all year — and Chris Young has been as dominant as anybody in the league down the stretch. Chris is a fascinating guy. Obviously, he?s extremely bright, having gone to Princeton. He?s also the nicest guy in the world. But on days he pitches he?s a different character. I mean, he really gets his game face on. The guy loves to compete.
Being a great basketball player at Princeton, good enough to play in the NBA before deciding to pitch for a living, that gives you some insight into C.Y. He?s an athlete; he brings an athlete?s mentality to the mound. I love that. It?s kind of like some of us, Brian Giles and myself, Ben Johnson, with our high school football backgrounds.
An athlete lives for moments like these. It?s the challenge, putting it all on the line. Saturday is one of those days. Cheer for us, if you love the Padres, and don?t give up. Because you know we?re going to play it with everything we?ve got, heart and soul.
This team has come back all year, and I?m confident we?ve got at least one more big comeback in us.