JOE MADDON: I like you back there, man. That's where I used to sit in church, in the back like that.
Q. As far as the decibel level, what has been your experience during postseason and the impact that that may or may not have? Have you seen players impacted in the negative way as well as positive by loudness?
JOE MADDON: Primarily it's about communication. I mean, even in the dugout, man, it's hard to talk to the coach next to you. That's where it really appears to be the most bothersome. On the field itself, just going through the mental Rolodex right now.
Back in the day, playing in the old Metrodome was difficult, with the Twins, it was really hard. Tropicana Field a little bit, but I would say the Metrodome sometimes would be the loudest, but regarding impacting performance, I don't think I've seen that. I honestly don't know visually seeing somebody really to that point where the crowd noise impacted their performance. I think from a home perspective, it probably can be uplifting a little bit, but from the opposition side, it's kinda crazy how you're able to block that stuff out.
Q. Having played as often as you have, there aren't many secrets between these two teams. I wonder what of a factor it will be tomorrow that you all have not faced Jaime Garcia and so many of your hitters have very few, if any, at-bats against him.
JOE MADDON: Right. I haven't even seen him pitch in person either. I've watched him from a distance, I know how good he is. It can somewhat work in his favor, I would think. If I had to project upon it, I would think that it should. We will do our homework on him, but yeah, I think when a pitcher faces a group of hitters for the first time, he should have an advantage with that. So we will see how it plays, but I've watched him on TV. I know how good he is, and I'm be to see what he looks like in person.
Q. What did you see differently out of Kyle his last two starts, and how much of a factor was that in choosing him to start tomorrow?
JOE MADDON: Primarily really, really sharp strike throwing, if that makes any sense. I mean, he was better in better counts, just more strike throwing with that sinker/fastball and that set-up, his change-up and the use of his breaking ball also. That's it. I mean, again, I like to go simple.
I just think his fastball was going better with that exceptional movement that he has. You're going to see -- theoretically you should see ground balls, obviously, and then swing-and-miss on the change-up. He was just sharper -- when the fastball becomes a strike, the other pitches become more effective.
Q. Joe, at the start of the season there was so much concern about Lester and his pick-off move. Have those fears been alleviated by how he's done the end of the season?
JOE MADDON: I think I've heard a number; we've actually thrown out a lot of runners with him pitching, probably maybe because more people try, but I think the last time the pick-off at first base ameliorates some of those concerns, and I also believe David Ross has done a wonderful job of helping to control the running game. And the thing to not be overlooked is that Jon can be really quick to the plate. So there are a lot of way to get things done with regard to so there's other ways to get the job done regarding throwing somebody out. The biggest thing with Jon I really like the fact that he is able to still maintain his concentration at the plate, which is number one. It's always going to be paramount. Honestly, you can't underestimate the value of David in those moments. He's been really good, controlling the running game as well as just controlling the game in general, so I feel good about the whole thing. I think we've gotten better at it. I know the work has been done. We're going to find out today, of course, again, but I like the progress that's been made.
Q. Matt Holliday had kind of a weird year for the Cardinals, but here he is batting third in the playoffs. Can you put in your own words what makes him such an intimidating factor in the middle of a playoff lineup?
JOE MADDON: He's really good. He's a very good hitter. You make a mistake on him, you're going to pay for it dearly. I know that he's not negatively impacted by any of the -- whatever that's going on around him. He's just a good baseball player.
I've seen him for a long time. I don't really know him. I have a very good mutual friend with him who speaks so highly of him, so anyway, yeah, he's just good. I know they're very happy to have him back in the lineup. I don't blame them. You just don't want to make too many mistakes against him.
Q. May I ask who the mutual friend is?
JOE MADDON: Todd Green. I think the Rangers just went ahead, for those that are interested.
Q. Joe, you're a step further, you're playing the Cardinals. There is a lot obviously riding on this, but is there any sense of more normalcy, that this feels like pregame now than it did the other day, which was a different circumstance?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, I mean when you go through Game 7 of the World Series first, it kinda sets you up for the rest of it. Truly, I'm telling you, man, I really anticipate our guys are going to be very comfortable going out today. I really do. With all due respect to everything else that's going on, you have to understand, to go through that particular moment like we did in Pittsburgh and handle it as well as our kids did, coming into this game, I really anticipate that we're going to have our feet on the ground. I do.
It's great for us as an organization and a group of young players to go through that moment successfully like we did. It really is. I'm always looking -- I always talk about the present tense, and I'm all about it, but the scouting perspective indicates to me moving down the road, 2016, '17, '18, et cetera, that particular moment is invaluable, so win or lose -- I'm not even talking -- just about the process anyway. I'm just talking about our guys being able to process today properly and going out there today with their breathing in check, their minds in check and going out and playing a good game of baseball on a Friday.
Q. Joe, no home team has won a postseason game yet. You think of all the four major sports, home-field advantage is maybe less in this one than the others?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, I was talking about that before this all happened, even in Pittsburgh, that I thought -- what I've learned is that home field doesn't have the same impact, I don't think in baseball than maybe it does like you're talking about in other sports.
Exactly why, I don't -- maybe just because we play so many games in these different ballparks. I often thought about that with -- at Tropicana with the Rays, we played so many games at Fenway and Yankee Stadium, I thought it got us ready for the playoff moment, if it ever occurred or when it occurred. I think the same this year was my take that playing a lot here and in Pittsburgh matters a lot. It matters a ton, actually, to be familiar with the surroundings. So maybe in football or basketball you don't play as many games in the opposition ballparks as you do with us and the fact that we play every day.
Even though it's an emotional game on every level in every sport, I think in baseball we're able to check our emotions at the door a little bit easier, because you do play every day. I think that's the mantra, the refrain to be considered there is that you do it often and you do it often in these unfamiliar, volatile situations. So maybe that's the key component that permits it to happen this way. But I know from my perspective, I learned that because I always thought home-field advantage, man, you gotta have it. I learned that's not necessarily true.
Q. Joe, going back 30 years, what was your fondest memory of managing in Peoria and --
JOE MADDON: 30 years.
JOE MADDON: 31; right?
Q. As a Minor League manager, what did you learn during that time that you still apply today?
JOE MADDON: Mr. Vonachen, Pete and I were really good buddies. Pete was the owner of the ball club there in Peoria. I was never treated so well in the Minor Leagues as I was treated by the Vonachen family. Gave me a really nice car to drive, put me in Guy Hoffman's house. Guy Hoffman was a pitcher at that time, I think with the White Sox. I lived in Guy's pad during the summer, but Peoria, I have nothing but warm fuzzies, about his wife, Donna. I mean Pete just passed away recently. I've never been treated so well.
So that really stands out about it, Pete coming into the office often, and I always compared him to Steinbrenner, which he really loved; always trying to influence my lineup. But it was about the friendliness of the people, the ballpark. Dewey was a Bradley University head coach. Phil Theobald the sports writer there, tremendous guy, but it's the whole experience there. Steak 'n Shake was my favorite, and the butterfly pork chop sandwich from Rocky's. So there's all these things, Vonachen's Junction, all that stuff about Peoria, really, really very dear to my heart, but it was all based on the Vonachen family, and primarily Pete.
Q. You've told us a lot about growing up listening to KMOX and the Cardinals games and all that. With all the history you know about this series, Cubs/Cards, the first time it's ever happened in the playoffs, which is surprising, the fan base, does it feel a little different entering this playoff series?
JOE MADDON: It's always -- it happened when I first got a chance to play here with the Rays versus the Cardinals several years ago, and eventually it turns into an All-Star Game. Wow. And I got to meet all the former Cardinals, I met Stan Musial in that instance. But you have to understand, it's true. I mean as a kid growing up in 1964 they were putting a new roof on our house, and these dudes from Weatherly with the Hinkle Brothers were the roofing company, and they were all Yankee fans, and of course, I was a 10-year-old Cardinal fan so I would stand up on that roof every day during the summertime when they were fixing it and give them a hard time about the Yankees versus the Cardinals, so it goes way back to that moment. I have a letter in my house in Long Beach, California, from Harry Carey in 1967. I had written to him, and he wrote back to me. My dad kept it. I didn't even know my dad had kept it. So that's framed on my wall. Got to know Mike Shannon well, Tim McCarver well, all the guys out there, Eddie Spiezio. So listen, I speak with reverence about that particular group in the 60s. The Cardinals in the 60s were my group. They were absolutely in my group. So when I get a chance to meet them, it's reverent for me, I really enjoy that.
Beyond that it's unbelievable that it's the first time that we're facing each other like this, and that to me is pretty special. To be involved in that first meeting from the other side, now that I am a Cub, and I'm really relishing the fact that I am, moving forward, it's just kind of crazy how the paths cross in an eventual moment within your lifetime, but I feel fortunate to be in this moment.
Q. Going back to an earlier question, what do you order at Steak 'n Shake?
JOE MADDON: I like to take home a sack. I mean, first of all, who came up with that? That's pure genius. Just a regular double, double with everything. There is one not far now from my home in Tampa, so late night when you're in trouble, just go take home a sack. The fries are fabulous, too. I can't do the milkshakes. I'm lactose intolerant, although at the time when I was younger, I used to challenge that component and I always lost.
Q. Just part 2, you didn't get to, in the Minor Leagues what did you learn from your managerial experience in the Minor Leagues that you still apply today?
JOE MADDON: To take chances, I think, primarily. The beautiful part about working -- whether it was in Idaho Falls or Salem, Oregon or Peoria or Midland or beyond, you could take chances, meaning that you tried different things during the course -- whether it's a 5-man infield. The time that I started runners with runners on first and second with nobody out in Eugene, OR, and the soft line drive was hit to second base, it turned into a triple play. I have not done it since. So there's different things, like different moments that stood out, like the time I took Phil Venturino out of a game in El Paso, in the first game of a double header and he's just like roaring through their lineup, take him out in the 7th to bring in my closer and we lose. The time with pitcher by the name of Reid that I left in the game too long in Peoria, different thing like that. They stand out. I'm telling you, I will think about those things in game situations here now, so the Minor Leagues, to me, I'm so grateful that I have had that much time to spend there and the people that I spent it with because it really matters. I can't tell you how much it matters for me, when you get in a tight moment here, that you can rely on that experience somehow, and at least you know what you think you would like to do. It may not work all the time, but at least you know what you think you would like to do.