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10/18/08 7:30 PM ET

Joe Maddon pregame interview

Manager talks about team coming back from a difficult loss

Looking at the age and even contractual situations of both of these teams, is it fair to say that this is a rivalry, that, A, has been born, and B, should continue for quite a while?

JOE MADDON: I like that. I agree with you. The way this season has played out, the closeness of the games, the intensity of the games, the fact that we've finally been able to arrive at the level of the Red Sox in regard to playing on the field, and as an organization I think we're on our way there, also.

There's so many positives to be derived from the season. I think it's great for us, it's great for the game, it's great for this division to add another wonderful rivalry, so I agree with you. I think it's something that we look forward to.

After the loss, is it better just to get a day off for the team, and talk about you've lost one but you've still got the lead. Is it better to just let Floyd and those guys handle coming out tonight and closing it out or do you feel that you have to say something?

JOE MADDON: No, I want to handle it like we've handled all other difficult situations this year. I thought we reacted to it properly. Our guys were upset, but they got over it rather quickly, which was good.

Coming on the plane, I liked them. Today in the clubhouse, I liked them. I do like the idea that we have enough veterans within the group now that they can take the message out there from us as a coaching staff. Of course we're going to talk to the guys in passing, in the food room, as they're just walking through the clubhouse, et cetera. That's how it should work.

We've lost some difficult games this year. Of course, that one was most difficult. But I think we've trained ourselves to be able to move forward, and I really believe our guys have, and I know we're ready to play tonight.

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Much has been made about how Tropicana Field perhaps is not as esthetic as some other ballparks, but this is your home. What are the parts of the stadium that you like? And not just the facilities perhaps that you only see in the clubhouse, but the things that everyone can see out on the field.

JOE MADDON: Well, if you had seen it a couple years ago to where it is right now, we have done a great job, the people within the organization, to really move this along and make it appear to be more of a baseball stadium.

When we first came here, obviously it was a little bit more disappointing. I think now with all the scoreboards and the activity and I think just the presentation has really gotten a lot better.

I remember Tim Salmon told me he felt like he was on a cruise ship a couple years ago. That was hysterical. So I think we've added a lot of excitement to the building. For me personally, I think it's fair. I think it's a fair building. You can pitch here; you can hit here. It plays pretty big in center field, which I like from the pitching perspective.

Even though we have the turf, after the first year Tim Foley and I and a couple other guys went up to Birmingham, Alabama, to see their field turf at Legion Field, which was kind of cool because that's where Namath had played and Bear Bryant had coached, et cetera.

So we went out and checked out the turf. This field turf here at that -- I don't even know if it's still the same -- has the same proclamation, but at that time was the only Major League field with that kind of turf, whereas 50 percent of the strands stand up and the other 50 lie flat, which I thought would permit it to be a little bit more of a slow turf field. And then furthermore, it dirts very good.

So I think it plays pretty good. It plays pretty good in spite of being turf. But overall I think it's a fair ballpark.

Yeah, we don't dig the catwalks. I don't want a ball hitting the roof and having it impact play, nobody wants that. But overall I think our people upstairs have done a great job to make it a great environment, and right now I know our fans are digging it, and it's really turned into a home field kind of thing based on the cowbells, et cetera.

You and your team have not gone conservative with the running game in the postseason. You've kept the pressure on. How much of that is just staying true to what worked in the regular season and how much of that is what the 2002 Angels did in the postseason with their running game, if you remember what they did?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I mean, this has been one of our concepts that you're seeing right now. This is no different than the regular season. It's part of the "Ray Way" of doing things.

We really research it a lot. We have the kind of guys that can take advantage, too. Furthermore, all of our coaches do a wonderful job in a lot of different aspects, but Davey Martinez, in particular, with the base running and the base stealing has really had a huge impact on our guys this year.

What you're seeing is just a continuation of regular season play. And when I say that, I wanted to keep everything the same, I don't want us to take less chances or more chances, take the same chances based on pitchers' times at the plate, et cetera, what kind of a lead you're getting, what the score is in the game. All those things matter.

So we're not doing anything different. I mean, people are seeing us now maybe for the first time because we haven't been on TV that often to this point. But this is pretty much the game we've always played, and I want to continue to nurture it.

I don't want us to be pigeon holed into being one kind of a team. I believe in power; I believe in speed, and of course the pitching, the defense, I want us to be able to take advantage of playing this game properly on every level, and I think we have the personnel to do that.

I want to go back to the cowbells and the loudness of this crowd, because this is one of the loudest buildings, of course, in the Majors, even when it's not 30 plus. You guys have an incredible record here, and I'm just wondering between the cowbells, the record large crowds, is this more of a perceived advantage, or is it a real advantage, do you think, and can it be a distraction?

JOE MADDON: Well, we've kind of turned it into that. Just getting the 30 plus thousand people in here was a chore, but when they've been here, we've played pretty well.

I've often thought even from day one, for anyone that might have been here from day one, in the opening press conference, I talked about we needed to turn this place into the pit. Having come here with the Angels for so many years, even though the Devil Rays at that time weren't a very good ballclub, you never liked playing here. It was just the environment was it lacked. It lacked. It was kind of a dead place to play, and it was different because of the roof, et cetera.

So I always thought when we went to Minnesota, when you went to the Old Kingdome, went to those old domes and those teams were good, you didn't want to go there. That team played well there and you didn't. So I thought that we should be able to turn this into advantage for us eventually, and the term that just came to my head was a pit, just being inside as it is, and the advantages that the nooks and the crannies, the ceiling, even though it's kind of symmetrical around the outfield, nevertheless the lights are low. It bothers me because of my glasses that the light reflects off my glasses all the time. I used to hate each just coaching here.

So why not take a place like this where you play the majority of your games and turn it into an advantage. And furthermore with the noise level, I love the noise level. I think it's fantastic, and I know our guys respond to it.

Given that you've been in such game clinching situations before in your career when you were with the Angels, in what ways did you feel challenged as a manager when you found yourself in that situation: Game 5, when all about -- seemed to be collapsing and you have to keep your head in that situation?

JOE MADDON: That's just what you've got to do, man. Talking about Bill Walsh, the football coach, something I had read about him that I feel really applies, when he coached a game on a sideline, in his mind's eye he was standing behind a piece of glass, and that glass would separate the emotion.

Now, there's times I'm going to tell you, man, it gets a little bit more difficult than that. But theoretically I like standing behind that piece of glass as often as I can and just try to do what the appropriate thing is at that moment void of emotion.

So when I read that, I thought that really made a lot of sense. When you're playing in Fenway Park and some of these venues, my goodness, it gets nasty. The biggest thing is to attempt to think, as you would, like you and I are talking right now.

But I had read that advice, and there's times it gets a little more testy than that, but what it really comes down to is that you're able to continue to think in a manner that you would like to.

So the other night actually I felt okay. It's just it got away. They came back and won a game, and their big boys came through for them, and that's going to happen sometimes. Overall I just think it's wise to try to keep your emotions out of it.

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Was there a particular time that you can think of during the season that teams started to look at you a little bit different, look at your team as more of a rival and really think of you as a contender?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I was telling other folks, when other managers and coaches aren't coming up and always giving, hang in there; it's going to get better kind of a comments. It's started to turn to "hey, listen, you guys are doing good, we like what you're doing, keep it going." We started hearing those kind of things as opposed to the consolation kind of stuff.

That started happening early on. I think even in spring training, just talking to scouts, I think they could recognize the difference within our group. And again I point back to last year, just even going to the off season, the uniforms, a couple good acquisitions free agent wise, and then of course, young players becoming a little bit more veteran, and then getting into the season, starting off relatively well. I think, honestly, it was just the comments from the other teams, that little quick visit behind the batting cage and their commentary just started to change.

When the playoffs started, you weren't quite sure of Crawford's health in regards to the hand.


How much better has he been than you had a right to expect, and as you observe him, how much do you think he's enjoying this experience after all the losses in all the years he's been here?

JOE MADDON: That's a good question. I mean, I really didn't know what to think. I really didn't. Again, he's not just coming off an injury, he's coming off of surgery, which really is different. I think that goes overlooked sometimes. So he's coming off of surgery, and a key component in your hand, swinging the bat, and all of a sudden toward the end there he was really starting to push the doctors a bit.

Fortunately we had a couple instruction league games to pop him into to just see exactly what it looked like, so I was able to come out and watch him in the instruction league games, and he's swinging the bat pretty good. Again, what I look at a lot of times when a guy is coming off of a long layoff, it's not that he's getting hits. It's his approach at the plate. He's not jumping all over the place, the game wasn't too fast, the ball wasn't too quick.

Those are things I was trying to glom onto, and I thought, okay, he's okay. And then when we get into the first part of the White Sox series and you could see his at bats were pretty good, and he wasn't over matched, and then of course it culminates in a five hit game.

So honestly, he's much further along than I had anticipated.

Is he enjoying it? Absolutely. I could hear his little giggle going on now and then, and I like that, and you just see it in his face. Carl is very intense when he plays, facially. You can see that, and I obviously love that. But there's a part of him, also, when you can step back and just giggle a little bit. I like that, also. He's an exceptional athlete, and he is enjoying the moment.

At this time of year can a team have too much time off, because whoever wins this series will be playing the Phillies team that will have a whole week off. Can that be a detriment?

JOE MADDON: I don't know. You'll find out when it happens, I guess. Sometimes groups get a chance to heal up. The worst part is just the anticipation, just having to wait for it. That's the most difficult thing to gauge and work with.

But I don't know, when you get down to the World Series and you get this opportunity to play, I'm sure they're going to they will find a way to stay sharp, and once that bell rings opening game, I don't see -- I don't know that it's an advantage or a disadvantage. I just think it comes down to the individual, how you handle the moment, what you do in order to prepare yourself mentally.

It's all about what you think anyway. I don't necessarily see it as being a huge disadvantage.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.