Oct. 9: Ripken, Anderson, Bordick ALCS interview

Oct. 9: Ripken, Anderson, Bordick ALCS interview

Q. Mike and Brady, I knew you guys were here, Cal, you saw it on TV. What was the crowd like for you guys seeing and hearing the crowd for those two games and what do you think it's going to be like for these games?

MIKE BORDICK: Well, obviously there was great intensity. I think Baltimore has been hungry to make it back to the postseason. Got a taste of it back in 2012. So I think there were expectations building.

And then to finally get there, Baltimore is truly a baseball city. They have great passion. They missed it for 14 years getting back to the postseason. So I think they're kind of reflecting on what they've been waiting for.

High energy. Great intensity. And I think it really shows the true passion that Baltimore has for baseball.

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: The only thing I'll say is I got a chance to witness it two years ago. And we've all played in some pretty electric environments, but two years ago when they returned to the playoffs it was like I hadn't seen it. It was loud. It was crazy. It was electric.

And so I expect it to be the same. I wish I would have had a chance to absorb that and take that in. It's a wonderful environment here.

BRADY ANDERSON: They have it covered.

Q. I've heard it said that in your championship run in 1997 Mike Bordick was the glue, the most important player. Can you confirm that?

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: He was.

Q. Can you elaborate on that?

BRADY ANDERSON: It was like glue, always bothering you, he'd stick around.

He had a great series against Seattle. He was 4-for-10. He hit .400. He was on base all the time. He actually had four walks. And he said he had no protection hitting behind him.

So he was really good. He was solid defensively. Made all the plays and he was definitely a reason why we did as well as we did.

Q. Since I'm not sure I'll get a second chance I want to get these questions in now. How does it feel to be part of the turnaround on the other side? You were on the field the last time they were in the playoffs and now you're part of the front office. Cal, in light of what happened with Derek Jeter, do you still hold a grudge for Brady stranding you there in the on-deck circle in your final at-bat at the ballpark?

BRADY ANDERSON: Do you hold a grudge?

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: I hold a grudge against Mike Hargrove. He batted me behind him.

No, I was happy, however my career was going to end. You go up there and you play and play it all the way to the end. I was emotionally spent at that time. But it was a fun, competitive game. And unfortunately, my last at-bat was a fly ball to centerfield, I think.

But I was hoping I'd get a chance, but I don't hold a grudge.

Q. And the turnaround?

BRADY ANDERSON: Feels great to be a part of it sort of from the beginning of the turnaround. You really can't overestimate Buck's presence on and off the field, how he's contributed, how he's brought the organization together along with Dan Duquette, not just at the Major League level, but throughout the minors. The way the whole system works is night and day from how it was. And it's nice to see the team rewarded that way.

Thanks for that question about Cal. But I do remember that. And I thought to myself, when I came up at that last at-bat, I had a good game that day, I kept looking in the dugout thinking they might walk me. I was hoping they'd walk me intentionally just to get to Cal and make it sort of a fitting ending. But I do see that high strike that I swung at in my dreams sometimes.

Q. Cal, in the early years of your career, what did the Royals and specifically George Brett mean to you? And is this more special because these two teams with such great histories are trying to get back?

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: It is interesting. The first part of my career the Royals were a very good organization, playoff-bound every year, just fresh off of being in the World Series. So it was really meaningful when you played the Royals.

And I remember, I know there's a different style that has developed as far as how the Orioles score runs and how the Royals score runs. It almost seemed more severe years ago when they played on turf. Being on that turf, if felt like they had a total advantage, seemed like it was a track meet all the time. And we had to deal with that, which is really fun.

But it's a bit ironic to look at the two organizations, they were great organizations, and they were thought of a certain way around baseball. And then for a while they went away. And now they're both back. And it's really exciting to think about that.

I enjoyed competing against them from the very beginning. George Brett, a great Hall of Fame player, he would always complained that he was struggling and be 3-for-6 or 3-for-7 in the series. He was a fantastic player, and he was the heart and soul of that team, which was built around speed. I can't say that team was more of a track team than this team that's on the field now. But I'm very curious and interested to see how the styles of the two teams develop during the series.

Q. Cal, you got to call the Royals and the Angels series. A lot of people have compared the two teams' pitching staffs and said there are a lot of similarities between them. Do you see a lot of similarities between the pitching staffs?

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: Yeah, they're both really good pitching staffs. And the thing that is interesting to me is that both teams kind of play a six-inning ballgame. They want to actually get to their pen and match up and do different things.

So there's a sense of urgency that develops against the starter, trying to figure out how you can maybe play for one run. Kansas City will bunt in the first inning, and play for the one run early to get a lead.

But I know from a player's perspective, we played against the Yankees during that time we were just talking about, and it felt like if you didn't have a lead going into the sixth inning there was a lot more pressure that built on you. The game can be won or lost in any of the nine innings, but in this particular series, the first six are really important.

Q. When you were a kid you caught the last out in the 1983 World Series. And when you squeezed that baseball, I would imagine you felt, I'm 21 years old, so we'll do it the next year or year after or year after that. It never happened. Now it's 30 years, do you impart that feeling to a lot of these young kids to make the most of what they have, their opportunities?

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: I don't know if that sort of wisdom is something that you would say. I was a young man and we won the World Series and you expected with our organization that we'd have many other opportunities to play in the World Series. I am grateful looking back that I found out what it felt like to win one.

But, you know, each team develops and they have different players on the team. You want to tell them to enjoy it, to relax, to have fun. But many times you just have to experience it yourself before you know what it's all about.

When you're older, and we had a chance in '96 and '97 and we were this close to getting back to the World Series, I was in a position as an older person that had gone through it, to realize how difficult and hard it is to win a World Series. And it's probably more difficult now to win a World Series because you have extra rounds of playoffs, and that's a little bit more taxing for your team.

I remember we won the first three out of five against the White Sox and then we went right to the World Series. So it's only two series. Any team can win when they make the playoffs. It's the team that plays the best, executes the best and is hot.

Looking back on it, I'm thankful I had one. And my advice, if anybody would care, to the players that are playing in the World Series is embrace it. Have fun with it. Go out and enjoy it. Because that's why we all play.

Q. Hoping to maybe hear some of your favorite playoff memories. Cal and Mike, you both saw playoffs early in your careers and again later on. How much does experience matter from what you saw the first couple times? And then years later when you got to play in '96 and '97, since both of these teams don't have a lot of experience?

MIKE BORDICK: Playoff experience isn't going to hurt, that's for sure. I think the more times you're in it the more comfortable you're going to be, you know what to expect and you make your adjustments from there.

I think as a young player in the postseason you just kind of lean on the veterans. You see how they're responding, see how they're handling the attention, do things change in the clubhouse. And I think most good teams, quality teams, have veterans that can instill that confidence and let younger players know that everything is going to be okay. We've been through this, go ahead, jump on my coattails and I'll pull you through this.

It's all about trying to get guys to relax and everybody on the same page and get that focus as soon as possible in the postseason.

Q. Last week Buck talked about the importance of having Brooks Robinson come in and talk to the team last week. There seems to be more of an effort to embrace the team's past and bring former players into the fold. What does that mean to you as former players to see that in an organization?

BRADY ANDERSON: I thought there was a concerted effort last year with the unveiling of the statues. The thing about Baltimore, it's a great baseball city. I remember coming over here in 1988 and there was a team which I think lost 106-something games that year, they lost 21 to start off the season. And my first game I remember getting a standing ovation for a sacrifice bunt, and there was 30,000 people in the stands. I remember thinking how great the fans were even during a losing season.

And there's a period of time where we played really well at the beginning of the stadium, when the stadium opened, we were a playoff contending team in '96 and '97, and the fans started expecting us to perform every single year. We dropped off and they got disenchanted, and now they're back. And I think everything has come full circle.

The fans for Memorial Stadium are back into it, the fans from Camden Yards are going crazy.

Something I thought odd, I always like looking at numbers and statistics, I have my whole life, and there's a lot of talk about playoff experience. Mike talked about it, I'm not saying his opinion is wrong, it's a common one, but I never found that playoff experience means much. When you look through the numbers, there's some veterans that struggle year in and year out in the playoffs and you'd think the team would be able to rely on them.

And I think the playoffs are the time you get unexpected heroes. And you have to stop as a team -- for instance, I think 2012 Ibanez was really hot, but teams were not quick to catch on. He was the Miguel Cabrera of that series.

But I remember hearing about a lot of playoff experience when I was about to go into my first playoffs, I didn't know, so I couldn't comment, but it was not really that big a transition for me. I was swinging well when the season ended, I went into the playoffs swinging well. So I think that experience is really overrated, in my opinion.

Q. This is for all of you guys or any of you guys, but this team really seems to enjoy its celebrating. You've got the pies and you've got the sunflower seed showers after home runs, and the outfield trio jump out there. What do you think that says about this team and was there anything similar when you guys were playing? If there wasn't, do you wish there were?

BRADY ANDERSON: We were two of the more stoic humans, I think. We didn't do anything. I remember we clinched in '96, we clinched the Wild Card and I remember the coaches came sort of skipping out to the field and waiting for a big celebration. And the regulars just walked off the field like a normal win and shook hands and went in.

And Cal thinks, or talked about, there should be mini celebrations after Division titles, Series titles, AL championships.

Personally, I never liked to celebrate knowing that I had to continue to play. I never wanted any celebration. I was weird and didn't want to be in the champagne mix. Really, when I had to go play the next day, I wanted to focus. So that was my personal way of trying to stay involved in the game, I guess.

I didn't like it. I like watching it. To each his own. I have no problem when outfielders jump in, and sunflower seeds and pies, whatever. But it just wasn't for me.

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: I think I can comment on that a little bit. Old school stuff, and maybe this came from my dad, is that the expectation is that you're supposed to score runs, you were supposed to win, it was how you acted when you succeeded. You always seemed to curb your behavior.

I like some of the celebrations, I don't necessarily like the pie in the face thing. I don't think I'd like to get that. But I like the kid enthusiasm that comes out. And now it's much more public than it used to be. You used to do things more private in the clubhouse.

Some of our celebrations, which Brady said he didn't like, which he participated in some of them in the clubhouse, was more fun. Grabbing the coaches and bringing them in and dousing them in the training room in Toronto was a really good memory. We sent Arthur Rhodes out because he could snatch up anybody and carry them back by himself. He brought the coaches one by one back.

We're in this clubhouse and doing things all year long and we're traveling altogether. And it is cool to be able to celebrate those sort of successes. And so I enjoy the youthful enthusiasm, because baseball allows you not to grow up. You can stay in sort of this place in time when you're playing a game for a living and you can feel good about it.

So generally speaking I kind of like those celebrations. But I can speak on the record that I don't like the pie.

MIKE BORDICK: No pie to Cal.

Well, I think the Orioles' celebrations here this season have been great. It shows what this team is all about. They came together. I think everybody's at risk of getting a pie in the face.

There have been a lot of heroes this season. Not me, because I'm not on the field. But so many players have stepped up and done good things to help this team win and get to this position. And I think it kind of just shows the character of this team, really what they're all about. They try to stay loose and relaxed. They've had a lot of adversity this year. And they've been able to really just turn the page and go on and win a ballgame the next night. And I think they're letting their emotions show. And I think everybody is a part of it. And I think that's why this is a unique team. They're a hungry team and they love winning. They love putting the pies in the face. That means a good thing happened.

Q. Buck has a bit of a reputation of a chess master. What are some of the things that have stood out to you this season that helped put his team in a position to win? This time of year there's the temptation to overmanage. How does he handle those two ends of the spectrum there?

MIKE BORDICK: Well, I think Buck has a great sense of what his players can do. I think he's intelligent to the point where he really tries to understand what makes a player tick. He'll look, has he had success at a certain field, has he had success against a certain pitcher. He tries to match up to give the player an opportunity to succeed and his team the best opportunity to succeed.

It seems all season he's pushed the right buttons. I think Jonathan Schoop was a big question mark, he loved his defense, and puts him out there, ends up with 16 home runs, and played the best second base in the game. Caleb Joseph, the trust of the scouting department. He uses all of his resources and trusts the opinions that he's built, he and Dan Duquette have built over the last three seasons, and he knows how to manage in the game, within the game.

He's done an amazing job with his bullpen, keeping his arms fresh. There were some troubled times early on in the season and somehow he was able to keep the arms fresh enough to where when everything started rolling and the rotation started getting on track, everybody was firing on all cylinders, and they really didn't miss a beat for four months. They played great baseball. He's not going to be caught off guard. He's as well prepared as any manager I've seen and he knows his players.

Q. First of all, I was hoping you guys could all talk a little bit about how to negate speed. It seemed like the Angels in their series were almost ill-prepared to come up against what Kansas City brought. And it looked like there was something, maybe their scouting reports hadn't shown that propensity. I wanted to hear all three of you talk about that.

BRADY ANDERSON: As far as base stealing speed, the easiest way is quick times at the plate, no question. As a base stealer you steal bases off the pitcher. It doesn't matter to me if Ivan Rodriguez was behind the plate; if the pitcher was slow I'm going. And outs are even more precious now in this day and age where statistically the out is so valued, but even now in the playoffs. So No. 1, no question, quick times at the plate.

CAL RIPKEN, JR.: Since I didn't steal any bases, my opinion might not matter.

But we put on a number of pickoff plays. To defend it, it all starts with the pitcher, the quickness at the plate, his pickoff moves. But as an infielder, being able to have a legitimate threat of the pickoff, not just pushing over to second base and saying, back, back, or trying to fake it.

The way that you get respected is if you worked on your pickoff plays, the timing is good, and you can show during the course of the year that you can do that. Because now that the playoffs become important, sometimes you can't let a guy steal third with less than two out, where they can manufacture that run. And you want to be able to call on your timing. You want to be able to call on that practice.

Being really fundamentally sound in your pickoffs, being able to do that is one way. I would agree with you, in the California series, some ideologies of teams are saying, these guys are going to run rampant, let's still play our game and deliver good pitches to the plate. There's a philosophy that's in place that sometimes you witnessed in California.

The Oakland series, when Kansas City ran them rampant, they really got inside their head and really did wreak havoc on the bases. That's what you can't do it if you're playing against that speed. You've got to still play your game.

In some cases the rest of the League hasn't been able to stop them from running. That's part of their game. Minimize the guys getting on base. They can't steal first; if you don't let them get on first base, that's part of that thing.

But the fast time to home plate. And the Orioles' starters, they've been emphasized all year long, they pitch very comfortably, with good times to home plate. That's the first step in defending that.

MIKE BORDICK: Those facts are true. I think what happens with speed is obviously it's supposed to put pressure on the defense, put pressure on a pitcher. The key is for the players not to speed up the game on the field. Not do things they're not capable of doing, try to be too quick. Trust the things that you've done all season long.

And what you're going to see when Jonathan Schoop and J. J. Hardy take second base, they're going to receive the ball well, they're going to straddle the base, let the ball travel and give themselves the best opportunity. They're going to stay as fundamentally as sound as possible.

They may have to shorten up on the infield. But those are the adjustments you have to make with a team with great speed like the Royals. These guys can slow the game down. In stressful situations they still have to harness that and not get outside their own abilities and be too quick and let the game speed up on them.