Yesterday, thanks to the Yankees, the Mets, and Dunkin' Donuts, I had the opportunity to boldly go where no bloggers have gone before (at least to my knowledge): the Audi Yankees Club in left field. In this lovely, air-conditioned area, Dunkin' Donuts gave us all free snacks, coffee, and iced coffee! That was nice of them! Oh, and they also afforded us the chance to interview a couple of random guys from the Yankees and Mets. "Ah, of course," you're thinking. "It's probably just Cody Eppley and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, I saw them schmoozing around the Stadium today. No disrespect to them but big deal."
Actually, you're probably not thinking that because the headline promised dreams of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Mets manager Terry Collins, and perhaps some playful banter. The headline is correct! I did indeed get to join forces with other bloggers and news writers and talk for awhile with the managers. They were starting a partnership with Dunkin' Donuts on their "Fuels Any Series" campaign this summer, so America's favorite coffee company (sorry, Starbucks) decided to make a hootenanny of it by bringing Joe and Terry in for some small talk. If I recall correctly, Dunkin' Donuts will donate $2,500 to the winning manager's charity of choice. They both were very personable and seemed to enjoy the more relaxed group interview in the Audi Club compared to their normal pre-game and post-game sessions in the Media Room.
After the jump, you will find the full transcript of the 25-minute interview, complete with each question asked and the responses. It starts off with Girardi and Collins talking about Dunkin' Donuts for a few minutes, and the interviewers' questions follow their remarks. I've put my questions in bold so that they're easier to notice if you're just looking for them. I didn't quite get who everyone was, so some people will just be listed as "Writer." Such is life. Deep down, we're all writers in the story of Earth.
Anyway, I'm beginning to wax poetic about life, the universe, and everything, so follow the jump to escape my philosophical ramblings. I do want to sincerely thank Dunkin' Donuts, the Yankees, the Mets, and SB Nation for making this happen. At the beginning of 2012, I never considered meeting the manager of one New York sports team (let alone both) a remote possibility. Here's to hoping there are more blogger-inclusive events in the future! Away we go.
Introduction and Dunkin' Donuts Promo
Joe Girardi: I know I'm extremely happy to be here with our "Fuels Any Series" campaign and the Yankees to kick off the Subway Series. We've had a lot of interesting ones over the years. I was talking with Larry Rothschild the other day, saying that I think we've had three split doubleheaders where we had one game at our park and one game at their park. I was saying, "Hopefully we have no rain." The coffee fuels my players. Iced Caramel is my preference. My father taught me about caramel when i was a little boy, and it started on ice cream. Back then, we didn't do that with coffee. So I love that drink. The Yankees have a longtime existing relationship with Dunkin' Donuts. Just as important, I have one with my kids. Every Saturday morning, we get up and get started with my son, who's 10, and my daughter, who's 12 right now. When she was two years old, we'd want her to continue to sleep, so I'd get my son up and we'd go to Dunkin' Donuts. He would get a donut and go watch the train. I would get my bagel and my coffee. We've been doing that for a long time. Now, it's my little Lena Bean. Every Saturday morning, we get up and we drive to Dunkin' Donuts. She gets two powdered, two chocolate, and two glazed Munchkins. Now, I prefer chocolate, so I try to sneak one out of her bag, but she's pretty tough in that she doesn't let me [laughter]. The other day, she saw a life-size stand of me in the Dunkin' Donuts she went, so it was kind of shocking for her. So that was kind of fun, but as I said, the coffee fuels my players, and I'm hoping that Terry's club gets decaf. We're going to get the real stuff, and I think it's going to be a great Subway Series. We're proud to be a part of it, and we're proud that Dunkin' is a part of the New York Yankees. It's great. Thank you.
Terry Collins: Well also, I'm very happy to be here. I would've worn my jersey, but if you wear a Mets jersey in this neighborhood, you can get hurt. I'm business casual, so I live a little and I love a little [laughter]. During the filming of the commercial, I'm the only one who drank the coffee! You saw I love my mocha immensely. I still have it. The other night I got a text in the middle of the night at 11:30, and of course the phone beeped, so I went to check it--I've had so many injuries, I figured someone else was going down. It's a picture of David Wright, and he's in a Dunkin' Donuts with his arm around Joe and my's cutout. He just wanted to let me know that we didn't go for naught doing the commercials. It's an honor to be here. I have a Dunkin' Donuts--there's a lot where I live in Long Island City that I go every morning to pick my newspapers up because I do want to know what's being said and written about us. I have my Iced Mocha and sit there, reading the newspapers. It's an honor to be here; it is a great series, and it's always fun when you play on the greatest stage in all of baseball. We're proud of the way we're playing right now, and we're glad everybody's here. It's going to be fun. Joe?
Girardi: It's gonna be a blast. [They shake hands]
Collins: Yeah, I'll bet!
Girardi: Thank you, Terry. Good luck!
Collins: Only not every night [laughter].
Girardi: So, now, I don't expect it to happen, but if it's split do we have to give Dunkin' Donuts $2,500? [laughter]
Writer 1: (to Girardi) What would you do differently, if you had a chance to, in your transition from player to coach?
Girardi: You know, I've gotta say that I've had a really blessed path, a fortunate path. The one thing that I did, and I'm really glad that I did it, was I didn't take a year completely off, or two years completely off. I kind of kept my game out there through broadcasting. I went to Spring Training, I did the kids' show for the Yankees, and I did a little work with catcher in the minor leagues. So I don't know how much I would change. I was fortunate--I never had to manage in the minor leagues, I didn't have to coach in the minor leagues, so I would probably do it pretty much the same.
Writer 2: What would you say is your favorite part about this rivalry, for both managers?
Collins: Well, interleague baseball--this is what it's for. It's for the two teams in the city, especially here, where there's this tremendous fanbase for both clubs, where there's bragging rights. That's what interleague play is about. That's the exciting part. Any time you can play the New York Yankees, it's exciting. They're the ultimate team in baseball. So for us, we're coming in, we've decided we've got maybe one of the youngest teams in baseball, so it's going to be fun for our guys to play in Yankee Stadium where the greatest of the greatest have played. That's, to me, what makes the rivarly special.
Girardi: I would say it's the passion that comes out in fans. You can't walk down the street where either someone says "We're going to get you," or "You better not let them get you." It's hard to go out for dinner if you lose a game to the Mets, in the sense of where we are, because all the Mets fans are going to come up to you in the restaurant, and all the Yankees fans are going to let you know "What are you doing?". I think it's the passion that it brings out in the fans. I think it's tremendous for the city.
Collins: Yesterday, we were getting ready to play the Nationals, and we go out to the umpires to exchange the lineup cards at home plate. I'm coming back, and there's obviously some Mets fans everywhere; there's some Mets fans above the dugout, and the first thing they say is "Beat the Yankees." We've got to win against the Nationals first! [laughter]
Andrew GM: Both of you engaged in crosstown rivalries--I know Joe in Chicago with the Cubs when you were a player with them in 2000 or so against the White Sox, and Terry, when you were manager of the Angels against the Dodgers. How does the city of New York compare to LA and Chicago in terms of the crosstown rivalries?
Girardi: I think they're pretty similar. I think the passion in those series, I can't speak for the Angels, but for the Cubs and the White Sox, it was pretty heated. When I was a player, we used to have one exhibition game against them every year, so it kind of got started, but I know when the Cubs play the White Sox, they prefer to play some day games over there because it can get a little bit heated. So it is a heated rivalry.
Collins: It was the same in some ways, but not like this. The passion here, in this city, is much greater than it is in southern California, for most of the fans. There were places in southern California where our PR department wouldn't even let me go give a talk to a school because it was "Dodger territory." So it was a little different out there, but I don't think this rivals anything else. This city and this passion for baseball in this town makes this extra special.
Writer 3: How long are you going to let Johan go tonight, if he pitches well?
Collins: If he's got a no-no going, he's going to pitch 134! [laughter]
Girardi: I felt bad for you that day. It's what you go through as a manager; they asked me a question about it, and you're thinking "I don't want to ruin this guy's individual chance for a no-hitter, but I also don't want to ruin the team's chance of making the playoffs and Johan is so important."
Collins: We'll worry about it later.
Writer 4: Terry, was this your first no-hitter?
Collins: In the big leagues, yes.
Writer 4: Okay, so, I know Joe, you've been through two perfect games as a Yankee, right?
Girardi: And a no-hitter, too.
Writer 4: How'd it feel as a coach? I know as a player, it's great, but how did it feel as a coach going through that?
Collins: It really started about the seventh inning, when we could see the fans really getting into it. The players on the bench--I've never seen all 25 guys up against the fence. I made a joke later about calling the bullpen and nobody would answer the phone because they were up watching the game. It was extremely fun, extremely exciting, and again, if you know Johan and what he's gone through, you couldn't be happier for anybody to do that. That's why, I don't know if you saw the game, but as the game went on, people moved farther and farther away from him on the bench. I told one guy who was saying "I'm afraid to go down there," and I said, "Let me tell you, if there's one guy in this ballpark who knows what's going on, it's him. So don't think for one second he's not aware of what's going on.
Writer 5: Bay in the lineup tonight? And do you have an update on Tejada and Quintanilla, how their health is?
Collins: Jason Bay will be in the lineup tonight. Tejada's-
Girardi: Got any more secrets? [laughter]
Collns: Yeah, I got some!
Writer 5: Quintanilla--is he in left field tonight?
Writer 5: How about Tejada, anything on him?
Collins: No, he's headed back to Florida to start over.
Writer 5: And Quintanilla, how's his finger?
Collins: Really good, really good [laughter]. He's really swinging really good.
Girardi: You know, I started my preparation on you guys last night and today, and we have these complex scouting systems that you got on on the computer, and it gets you the players that they have. We all know that there's a 25-man roster. You had 26 people on your roster, so I'm trying to figure out how you're able to do that!
Collins: Babies. One of our guys is having a baby, so [the 26th man] gets to be added until he comes off tonight.
Collins: When we play you guys, we need 26! [laughter]
Girardi: We've got 26, too! We have one away, too.
Andrew GM: Joe, how is the rehab for David Robertson and Brett Gardner going?
Girardi: Actually, I just spoke to Brett Gardner this morning, he's on his way to Charleston. He was in Atlanta--there are no direct flights from Tampa to Charleston, I guess. So he was in Atlanta, and we hope that he's going to play tonight, and hopefully that goes well. Robertson threw live batting practice yesterday, and we will wait to see how he feels today. We're hoping that he feels good and that we can send him on a rehab game.
Writer 6: Joe, in a series such as this one, where there will likely be more road fans than usual, what's that like for you and your team?
Girardi: It's probably what other teams feel like when we go on the road. You know a lot of places we go, we got a lot of fans. I think it creates a great atmosphere because it gives you the chance to go back and forth, and I love that part of the game. It shows you the passion of the fans.
Writer 7: Terry, I got a couple for you. I think the perception was in the Mets organization that the depth in the farm system wasn't as deep as it's proven to be. Is there continuous depth there? I mean, you've suffered a lot of injuries, but how do you see that coming the rest of the year?
Collins: Well, we're running out of shortstops, I can tell you that [laughter]. We're not so deep right there.
Girardi: You got a guy in A-ball, don't you? [laughter] Playing somewhere, extended Spring?
Collins: Yeah, I think it's a tribute to the scouts and the player development people that these young guys have come up and performed the way that they have. We've got some pitching coming. Some of our position players are a few years away, but we're going to start building.from within, try to produce our own players, which is what I'm sure every organization wants to do because that's how you know what you got! You go out on the free agent market and take a guy, you really don't know what you're getting, except for numbers.
Todd Giannatassio: Joe, can you talk about Andy and how much he's meant in the clubhouse since coming back? I mean, he's been tremendous on the field, more than anyone really expected right away, but in the clubhouse and getting the team together?
Girardi: His presence is really powerful because there's an expectation that he has for himself that he has for everyone else. I think he's made a difference in our starting rotation; you see how our starting rotation has continuously gotten better since he started here, and I don't know if people are worried about him taking their job, but I really believe there's a presence--his calmness, his preparation there. You watch how a 39-year-old man goes to work every day, and I think you learn a lot from him. So he means a lot more than just the day he pitches.
Giannatassio: Terry, what did Dickey find at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Collins: He found out it was very low-oxygen and it was very cold [laughter]. He's a really unique guy to climb that thing, and the amazing thing is, listening to the stories of the people on his crew who were with him, they were carrying 200 lbs. of equipment and passing him. R.A. said he had to stop every 200 yards, and they were just passing him.
Giannatassio: Was there a secret he found up there? [laughter]
Collins: A better knuckler and command of that sucker!
Giannatassio: How is it different going into a big game as a player compared to as a manager?
Girardi: It’s much easier as a player, you’re only responsible for yourself and once you get on the field and start playing all that stuff goes away and you’re focused on that one play or pitch. As a manager you’re responsible for a lot more people out there and you need to focus on setting up the bullpen and everything else.
Writer 8: Joe, tonight you have Kuroda on the mound, someone from the National League and a pitcher that may or may not have seen some of these Mets hitters more frequently than some of the guys on the staff. What does that mean for you, having him go up against an ace like Santana?
Girardi: He's pitched pretty well on the year. If you look over his last couple of outings, he's thrown the ball for strikes extremely well. He does know some of the hitters; he does have a history because he was with the Dodgers. You know, sometimes, for a pitcher, it can be an advantage when a club hasn't seen you much just because they don't know what to expect. Coming from the American League, some of the guys have seen him. Terry has some young players who haven't seen him a lot, and hopefully he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Andrew GM: Contrary to that is that I don't think he's had a very good record against the Mets in his career. It's 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA in seven starts. Do the Mets have some sort of secret against him, Terry?
Collins: No, not really. We've got a young club and we started going over the numbers--we don't have a lot of guys with a lot of at bats against him. It does vary, it varies night to night. We just came from a series where Johan pitched the no-hitter; there were some guys in that lineup that hit him pretty well that didn't that night. So if you're on, you're on. If you're not, it doesn't matter who it is, you're going to get knocked around.
Writer 9: Austin Romine tweeted last week that he's cleared for baseball activity, have you heard anything about him?
Girardi: It's amazing how many things I find out through tweets before I actually hear them [laughter]. I knew he was close when we were out in LA. He was still out there rehabbing, and we knew that he was getting closer, so that's a good sign. He's had some back issues; hopefully they're behind him. I was a back patient for many years, and I told him "It just becomes a part of your life." As a catcher, it can be a little bit rough, but you can manage it, so that's a good sign that he's coming back.
Writer 9: Would you consider calling him up at the end of the year?
Girardi: If he's playing well, sure. I mean we called him up last year. We had to find him in Tennessee, but we found him [laughter].
Writer 10: Terry, can you talk about David Wright? He has the longest tenure on the team now and he has the great work ethic--comes in early, leaves late--how does that affect the younger players? How do they look up to him? How does that make an impact on the team?
Collins: Well, I've always thought if you are a young player and you have the ability, you want to know how to get better? You follow the guys around who are good, and see what they do to prepare. Joe's already addressed Andy Pettitte and what he does in the clubhouse. David Wright's not a big "stand up and talk" guy. What he does do--he works harder than anybody else. He plays the game as hard as anybody I've been around. When you're a young player and you get here and you can't do what he does? It's obvious. It makes the job much easier for me to go up and say, "Look, if you want to be good, just follow him around and do what he does." You don't have to lift the same weights or run the same speed, but those kind of guys lead by example, and he means a lot to us in that matter.
Andrew GM: Speaking of guys who lead by example, Joe, what's it been like not having Mariano Rivera in the clubhouse as much? Has he come by much? I know he's going to have surgery on Tuesday.
Girardi: We've seen Mario on the homestand. He's been here the last couple days, he's walking around He actually feels pretty good; he probably feels he could go out there and pitch, but he's missing something that's kind of important in his leg. So his surgery I believe is Tuesday, but it's nice to have him around. The guys love him; he's a leader and he talks about situations, so it's really good to see him.
Writer 11: Joe, how about the-I'm going to mispronounce his name- 29-year-old Cuban kid in AAA right now? Mustelier?
Girardi: Yes, Ronnie.
Writer 11: Any thoughts on him?
Girardi: When we signed him, we weren't sure exactly what he was going to be, but he's been productive in AA, he was been productive in the Fall League last year, he's been extremely productive in AAA. They've moved him around between second, third, and left field. So at some point, it's possible that we're going to see him. I know one thing--we had a chance to see him in Spring Training a little bit, and the young man's got some bat speed. He caught up to a 96, 97 mph fastball like it was not a big deal, so that kind of excites us.
Writer 11: Is he someone you've talked about with the bosses?
Girardi: I've brought his name up, yes [laughter].
Giannatassio: With interleague becoming a year-long part of next season, do you prefer it during specific parts of the season or do you look forward to year-long?
Girardi: Well I have no idea how they're going to make the schedule work, but for us, I think it's going to be a lot different in the sense that our pitchers are going to have to be ready to hit at any time. They might hit in the month of April, they might hit in the month of June, they might hit in the month of September. Usually, it's just one small segment and you give them a month to get ready, so from that standpoint, it's going to change. The other standpoint that I do like that it's going to change is that you're probably not going to go to a National League city six days in a row. So you don't lose your DH six days in a row. We had one [stretch] in 2009 where we lost our DH nine days in a row, and I wasn't happy with some days off in there. So that part is going to be better for us.
Writer 12: You've both managed teams that are 11 miles apart but they're very different. I'd like to hear what you both think--who has the tougher job and what you think about the job the other guy's doing right now?
Girardi: [Gestures for Collins to answer first] Seniority [laughter].
Collins: I'll start out by saying he's done a tremendous job. He always has and always will. I think when it comes to the tougher job, if you manage in this town, it's a tough job. You're under the microscope, you both give your stories and it's a nightly thing. One night, your player's good and he's on the front page; the next night, he has a bad night, and he's still on the front page. One night everybody thinks he's the best in the world; the next night, "Get rid of him." So it's a tough place here, not only for the player, but to manage, compared to other places. But this is where you want to compete. If you like competition, it motivates you, this is where you want to be. So, in that case, it's fun for me. I don't know how it is for Joe, but it's fun for me. I don't know how it is for Joe, but it's fun for me.
Girardi: Yeah, I would have to agree. I think either side of town is extremely difficult to manage at times, just because of what you have to deal with players and the scrutiny that they're under. This is a tough job, and if you're successful as a hitter three out of ten times, you're doing great, but they're going to let you know the other seven, I can tell you that. I saw Terry the last day of Spring Training. We saw each other the last two days of Spring Training. I think he's doing a tremendous job. He was being a little coy with me back then. I said to him, "I think you're better than people are giving you credit." And you look, and they're a game and a half outside of first place. Now he didn't say much, but if you look how they're playing, they're doing all right.
Giannatassio: Speaking about how tough it is to manage in this town and with a talented roster, Eric Spoelstra's faced a lot of criticism in the media for not being able to coach the Miami Heat with their big names and their big-money players that they've put together. Joe, what's your philosophy on having a really talented, big-name, and big-money roster?
Girardi: It's nice [laughter]. Money doesn't always produce wins. Money just says that you've done it for a long time, and they expect you to continue to do that, but what I've found is that they want to be managed just like other people. They're human beings, and they have their great days, and they have their tough days, and they have their issues, on the field and off the field. They just want to be treated like men, and that's the way that I've found it. They understand the pressure of putting on the Yankee uniform and the expectation, and that's what I try to manage the most--not how much they make or that they're superstars, but the expectations.
Mike Axisa: Question for both of you--two months into the season, what do you like that you've seen out of your team and what do you want to see them improve upon going forward?
Collins: Well to improve, we've got to start getting healthy. We've got to get Jason back in the lineup, we've got to get Tejada back in the lineup, but I'll tell you what--what I've seen that I like is our passion to play. Our guys come to the ballpark every day. I've told a lot of people on our young players--I'm not sure they know they're not supposed to be any good. When they take the field, they think they're going to win, and that's the way they've gone about it. I credit the veterans on the club; the leadership that they've shown in the clubhouse... that's been the fun part--to watch them play every night. They make some mistakes, they don't get down about it, especially what goes on here in New York City. They don't get down about it, and when they have a big game, they don't get too high, either because they know they've got to come out the next day. With the young guys, they're trying to survive here, they're trying to stay here. So each and every day when they take they field, they want to show that they belong here, so for our club, it's been a good mix.
Girardi: For our club, with the struggles that we've had at times and some of the injuries, we're half a game outside of first place. I give those guys a lot of credit because no matter who goes down, it seems like someone has stepped up. Our bullpen has done a tremendous job. We've had some struggles in the rotation, we've had struggles with runners in scoring position, and here we look up and we're half a game out. I believe that all those things are going to change, and that bodes well for us.
Andrew GM: Joe, one of the guys you have in the 'pen, David Phelps--it seems like the past week and a half or so, it's been hard to find spots to get him into games. Has it been tough for you to really find a specific role for him with multiple long relievers and middle relievers in the bullpen?
Girardi: Yeah, not necessarily a difficult role. He's usually a two- or three-inning guy for us. It's a catch-22. If your starters are giving you distance, there's a couple pitchers every night that aren't going to pitch, and they could go a long time without pitching. You want your starters to give you distance, so that means if they're pitching well, you're probably winning games, but some guys don't get used as much as you would like to use them. Then there could be other times where they're not giving you distance and we're using them too much, and that's a problem. You try to keep them sharp, you try to get them into a game to try to keep them sharp, but you also have to prepare yourself for the next day because you never know when that day is that you're going to need him. That's the tricky part about managing a bullpen.
Writer 13: Terry, I'm a big Met fan and I just wanted to say I love the job that you're doing, especially the first homegrown team at all nine positions at one time; that was one of the proudest moments I've had as a Met fan, at least recently.
Girardi: Your seats are in the upper deck, right? [laughter]
Writer 14: Tell me a little bit about what's happening with Ike Davis. I used to go see him at the Brooklyn Cyclones games when he was playing for the single-A over there. It's very frustrating to watch. Any thoughts abuot what's happening with him?
Collins: We try to preach patience in this organization a little bit. This guy has tremendous ability. I believe you're still seeing the effects of missing an entire season--trying to get himself back, trying to find his stroke. The talent's really something here, so I want to make sure Ike understands we support him and are behind him. He continues to work. We're playing well enough that he's a factor there. One of the things, if you talk to the players--he's a tremendous teammate, and they don't want to lose that. I told him after one of the games I've never seen a guy come to bat one day when he had more of his teammates rooting for him. It wasn't in a big situation, but just rooting for him to get a hit. To me, I don't want to lose those kind of guys in this club.
Writer 15: Terry, all that being said, how much longer can you continue to put him out in the lineup physically?
Collins: It's hard for me to answer that, I get asked that nightly. "How much more are we going to watch him?" The minute the decision is going to be made is if we can back it up and say we gave him every opportunity and it's time to make a decision here. Right now, we haven't reached that yet.
Writer 16: I just wanted to say thank you for inviting me to Dunkin' Donuts and the Yankees, but it's good to see some bloggers here. Any chance you guys start to bring us into the loop a little bit more, maybe even a weekly conference call or something like that? Have you guys considered credentialing one or two bloggers or something like that?
Girardi: That's not my department, but I can tell you his name is (Director of Communications and Media Relations) Jason Zillo [laughter].
Writer 17: I will say the Mets have invited the bloggers. I'm a Mets blogger myself, and they've invited us many times to the stadium. Terry's been gracious with his time, Sandy Alderson's been gracious with his time with the Met bloggers and we really appreciate it.
Moderator: A most sincere thank you to Terry and Joe. [applause]
Apologies on the blurriness, I wish the guy taking the picture would have noticed it. Alas.