Last game of the season at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- To say Miguel Batista is unusual is akin to saying Randy Johnson is tall.
Batista is part pitcher, part poet, part novelist and part philosopher. No one else is constantly asked about the picture of Albert Einstein in his locker and responds with answers like this one:
"Einstein, that's just a quote I bought in a store in San Diego that I really related to when he talks about imagination and how important it is for a man to know that math and addition is better than talent and knowledge," Batista said. "You know what you know, you do what you can, but you can imagine a whole different world, and that's what it means to me."
And remember, English is his second language. He's published a book and is currently penning a work of fiction. It's the usual fluffy stuff you'd expect a ballplayer, if one was going to write, to work on: a novel about an underage serial killer.
"I have never been around anybody like Miguel Batista. He is a refreshing breath of fresh air," Bob Brenly said. "Not that this is a criticism, but if you are not talking about fantasy football or baseball or girls, most ballplayers don't have much to say.
"And Miguel has got opinions on everything. He's extremely well-read, extremely well-spoken and a very thoughtful, caring human being."
Oh yeah, and he can pitch a little. Shuffling between the rotation and the bullpen all season, Batista won 11 games and posted a 3.36 ERA. He's pitched capably this postseason as well. And if anyone is ready to adjust to ever-changing conditions, it's Batista.
All season long, he was moved back and forth more than a pawn by an indecisive chess player. Slated to pitch Game 4, moved to Game 5? No problem.
"I've been through this for the last seven months, and [Tuesday] night, a lot of people were asking me about my feelings about how he changes his mind about the way he's pitching me.
" I told him, 'I'm not here to judge the man's command.' I'm here to follow orders. We have made a lot of changes through the season and I've been in 95 percent of them, so I'm used to it."
Batista went from taking the mound with a 3-1 lead to pitching in a tied series in a blink of an eye. But Batista doesn't bat his because of this seemingly sudden change of fortune. He was about as collected as a guy can be, considering it was a day before the biggest start of his life.
"I don't feel any pressure," Batista said. "I pitch every game like it is the World Series.
"If it was 3-1, 2-1 or we were behind three games, I'll have the same approach. I'll go out there and give them a chance to win. I'll still pitch as if my life depended on it."
He's certainly not awed by his surroundings. He knows what to expect from the Yankees. He said he learned firsthand in Game 4 that you can never be too careful with them. But he won't be intimidated by their success and their history.
"They believe they are the Roman Empire of baseball, but they still have to play us [on Thursday]," Batista said. "And they have to beat us because we won't beat ourselves.
"I've got a job to do and that's what they pay me for. Like I told before, I don't care if it's the angels of Jesus, I have to try to pitch against them and beat them."
Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com.