10/17/11 1:23 AM ET
A postgame interview with Tony La Russa
By / MLB.com
Q. Your players always talk about maintaining a belief that they can win, regardless of circumstances. Your clubs are typical like that. How does that get done, 10 and a half games out?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that strains the credibility of the a lot of it has to do with character. We had a very strong character team. And when it started to get away from us, I just reminded them, look I tell you exactly, the first four months we had a ton of respect from our peers. And for two weeks in August we started mugging games left and right. And we had to say, hey, look, unless we go about this better, we're going to ruin everything we accomplished as far as respect. And we started winning a little bit. And literally played every game like it was the last game of our life. And they did today. I was listening to the guys, this is the like last game we'll ever play. It's good character, good talent.
Q. With all the experience you've had in the comeback of this year's team, where does this rate in your career as far as thrills go?
TONY LA RUSSA: This is in the improbable, incredible, overwhelming. They're all special. This one here has its own mark, because coming from that far back is historic I think. That's what they tell me. And having to win on the road, Philadelphia, these guys. I think the thing that is freaky about it is the way the postseason has gone with relief pitchers being so dominant in the games. It wasn't just us. And that's a little bit disappointing, because every team got here with their starters, as well. And I feel like make sure we get our starting pitchers, Texas had some of that same stuff and Milwaukee. The starters get you here, the relievers finish. It's the weirdest postseason even if I was a fan watching, I've never seen anything like that, never been a part of anything like this, just where starters couldn't keep the ball in the middle. It was just ridiculous.
Q. You've taken three St. Louis Cardinals teams to the World Series. What makes this one different?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, in '04 we had three MVP candidates. It was just a very solid team. We lost Carp in September. I think we would have made a better showing against the Red Sox if we'd have had him. I'm not sure we'd have beat them, but we'd have looked better. Something like this, we were really good and then we got hurt. And so we only won 83 games, but we were really beat up. All of a sudden playoffs started and we were healthy and we're dangerous. But there were additions to that '06 club; Jeff Weaver, young relievers. This one, a lot of adversity, a lot of character, not quitting. There was a trade, and we got better. Took us a couple of weeks to prove it. We had a nice club there, in doing this run we weren't doing it with mirrors, we had a good team, a very good team.
Q. Tony, it went 4 0 after a half inning. Were you thinking maybe I won't have to go to the bullpen as often, it could be a more normal game?
TONY LA RUSSA: I was hoping with every bit of my being, because we've seen Edwin just mow clubs down. But the first inning they started and I think probably the most nervous game I've ever been a part of in the postseason. The only thing that comes close in '89 we had a 4th game against Toronto where Bob Welch struggled. And that was important. This one, here, you never felt -- we were up 12 6 in that 9th inning, and I was worried they were going to put something together. That's how good they are.
Q. This club in many ways epitomizesthe old approach manager, the day to day, the grind, that kind of effort.
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, it's not my approach; it's the Cardinal approach. That's what this franchise is famous for, play hard every day, minimize mistakes. We have a good coaching staff that preaches that, teaches that. All we need is the game for the players. I said in Spring Training, our group, anyone associated with a Major League club likes this club. They're talented, good people, fun to be around and they've got good guts. That's why that lull in August was so disappointing, because we're mugging it. And turned out we didn't.
Q. Talk about the challenges that Texas Rangers represent. It's a hungry club there, as well, isn't it?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'll be talking about that tomorrow, because I haven't I've been paying a little bit of attention, obviously. But we were so focused on just playing the day. Everybody kept talking about, don't think about tomorrow as a safety net. This is all about taking our shot. Now we've got it and just enjoying the moment. We've got a couple of days to think about Texas.
Q. This could be it for Prince in Milwaukee. Would you be glad to be rid of him if he left the League?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I in the 9th, I had Dave McKay get his attention and tell him I wanted to congratulate him on a great year. He looked in, and I tipped my hat and clapped for him. I've watched him grow up, and he's grown up to where he's not only just a dangerous producer, but I've watched how he is part of the leadership of that club. Who knows? I mean, I don't know what his future is. He may come back. He may be much more well off than he is right now, but he's a special guy. He's got a lot of that ahead of him.
A postgame interview with David Freese
Q. You've grown up outside St. Louis. Is this extra special? Can you talk about what it feels like to do this with the Cardinals?
DAVID FREESE: Yeah, I think not too many people get a chance to do this in their hometown. And it's an unbelievable feeling. To be a part of this team, this group of guys, this organization, means a lot. Mo went to San Diego, Edmonds kind of wanted to go back out West, and we flip flopped. It's a dream come true to be a part of this organization.
Q. What is it about this club that has allowed it to move mountains?
DAVID FREESE: I think we believe. I think that's what you've got to do in this game. We got a group of guys with some talent, desire, and just a ton of heart. Coming back from 10 and a half or whatever it was, obviously it's a tough battle. But we kept plugging; we kept pushing. The fans deserve that; the organization definitely deserves that, it's kind of surreal that we're here, but this team deserves what we've been rewarded.
Q. Has too much been made out of that meeting after the Dodgers swept you guys?
DAVID FREESE: I don't know if too much has been made out of it, but sometimes you've got to do something like that to kind of rally the troops. And Carpenter, one of our leaders, kind of got everybody together, had a little players only deal. And we kind of just said -- kind of we've got to step it up, no matter how this ends, we've got to play to our talent, to our ability. I think when we played Atlanta, we were down 3 1 Friday night, first game. And Kimbrel was pitching, Albert came in and got a screamer down the line and put two runs scored and Kimbrel that changed our season. If we don't win that night, I think maybe things are different.
Q. How much attention have you paid to the ALCS and in particular the Rangers?
DAVID FREESE: The Rangers are scary. They're a scary team. They've been doing it all along the last few years. You look at that lineup; you look at that staff, that's going to be a battle. And I think we're a team that can match up with them a little bit. They're confident. We're confident. It's been a tough road. I definitely have been watching the ALCS, for sure. And that's been some good ball over there. That's a dynamite team and we definitely have to be ready for them.
A postgame interview with Marc Rzepczynski
Q. You guys have had to overcome so much this year. What is the feeling now?
MARC RZEPCZYNSKI: It's awesome right now. Coming from where I was at the beginning of the year to here now, I mean we played every game just like it's our last. We keep going through the entire series, and now we get to go to the World Series. So I couldn't ask for anything more.
Q. How much of that is a reflection of Tony LaRussa's influence?
MARC RZEPCZYNSKI: You know, he's been great. He takes every day, day by day. We've done that. When the next day game comes on, we get ready for that game and at the end we get ready for the next one.
Q. When was the turning point? You were so far in back of Atlanta for the wild card spot, and then all of a sudden you got hot.
MARC RZEPCZYNSKI: Like I said earlier, we took every game day by day. We didn't really care what Atlanta was doing. We just had to go out there and win that day, and luckily we got hot at the right time. We were able to clinch the wild card and now we're here.
Q. Your thoughts about Texas? They're pretty good hitters.
MARC RZEPCZYNSKI: Definitely. Coming from the American League, I've faced these guys before, 1 through 9 could put it out of the ballpark. We're going to go in there and just do our job, what we've been doing lately, and hopefully we come out.
Q. Do you anticipate having the longest outing by a Cardinals pitcher in a clinching game like this?
MARC RZEPCZYNSKI: Definitely not. Especially with the saves coming on, and I came in for one out to face Prince. When the 4th inning came on and the phone rang, I was, like, all right, I'm going to give it as long as I need to, and I was able to get out there and give us two and a third.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.