FanGraphs Q&A and Sunday Notes: The Best Quotes of 2014

In 2014, I had the pleasure of interviewing hundreds of people within baseball. Many of their words were shared via the FanGraphs Q&A series. Others came courtesy of the Sunday Notes column, which debuted in February. Here is a selection of the best quotes from this year’s conversations.

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“Later on, when they went to the QuesTec system, the strike zone became more of a north-and-south than an east-and-west. I had to learn how to pitch inside more, which wasn’t an easy thing to do.” – Tom Glavine, Hall of Fame pitcher, January 2014

“In my first at bat, I hit a home run and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to hit 30 home runs in this league.’ I ended up hitting five.” – Clint Frazier, Cleveland Indians prospect, January 2014

“As a pitcher, you’re supposed to feel at home on the mound. You’re supposed to feel comfortable and strong. I didn’t feel that way.” – Jesse Biddle, Philadelphia Phillies prospect, January 2014

“My mind was free, because I was only concentrating on one thing, which was getting hitters out. I was in the big leagues, so I was able to relax and do my job.” – Matt Harvey, New York Mets, February 2014

“Twenty-four hours to vent and rage, break things. I punched my door and put a crack in it. I broke a few boat oars out back of the house. I was mad, because I felt I was being stolen from.” – Luke Scott, former big-league outfielder, February 2014

“When I brawled, I blacked out. I don’t really remember much outside of watching the videos. I do remember telling Dean Palmer, ‘They’re about to start hitting our guys and we’ll need to go out there.’ ” – Doug Brocail, former Detroit Tigers pitcher, February 2014

“When I stood on the mound while on Adderall, everything faded away except for the catcher’s mitt. No crowd noise, no distractions. It was almost like being in the Matrix. Although you were sped up, everything slowed down.” – Player X, March 2014

“Our hitting coordinator talks about it being like an airplane landing on a runway. You want to land it smoothly. That’s kind of how you ride out your bat plane.” – Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers, March 2014

Manny Ramirez was taken one pick ahead of us when I was with Montreal. We took Cliff Floyd. Had Manny still been there, we still would have taken Floyd.” – Gary Hughes, longtime scout, March 2014

“My mom instilled in me, from a young age, that there are arm injuries…. I’m really protective of my arm. If I had a broken ankle, I’d still be more worried about my arm.” – Justin Nicolino, Miami Marlins prospect, March 2014

“That’s the only thing I really regretted — changing those minor things my first year in pro ball. I should have stuck to what I did best. I should have just picked up a ball and thrown it.” – Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles, March 2014

Brandon Webb’s fastball sank almost to the rate of gravity. If you held a ball in the air and dropped it, he was one to two inches above that as it’s falling toward home plate.” – Brian Bannister, former big-league pitcher, March 2014

“The leg kick came when I was about nine years old. It came out of trying to emulate Dwight Gooden. He was an absolute stud at the time, and my brain processed his big leg kick.” – Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks, March 2014

“It was lonely. I sat in the dugout, just hoping. I was excited when he went deep, but part of me still felt like crap. It was a huge win, yet I was the a**hole who gave up the home runs that made him have to hit a home run.” – Chris Perez (on a 2013 game he pitched for the Cleveland Indians), March 2014

“If anyone on this field tells you he’s never experienced fear, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being hurt, he’s lying. And fear drives anxiety. You need to find ways to cope with that.” – Mike Nickeas, Toronto Blue Jays, April 2014

“There are obviously guys who are gay. That’s something we’re going to have to deal with [when players start coming out]. We should love people and accept them for who they are.” – Robbie Ross, Texas Rangers, April 2014

“You think I’m abnormal? Wow. That’s pretty [bleeped] up. But that’s alright. You’re entitled to your opinion. I think I’m pretty [bleeping] normal.” – Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles, April 2014

“The money went to pay for the Chief Wahoo that went up in right field at the old ballpark. My dad wasn’t so much traded for himself as he was traded for a sign.” – Dom Chiti, Baltimore Orioles coach, April, 2014

“I have to visualize the whole path of the pitch. I’m not throwing at a left-handed hitter’s hip. That’s too simplified for me. I need to see the whole thing in my head.” – Andrew Miller, then with the Boston Red Sox, April 2014

“If a pitcher takes a long time to release the baseball my legs are going to get tired. When I feel like the wind is moving me back and forth… like if it’s windy and I feel off-balance, I don’t like that.” – Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees, April 2014

“I was always able to hit. If you threw a 99 mph fastball and I was ready for it; I was going to hit it. Last year that wasn’t the case. It was more that if I hit it, I got lucky. I’m trying to fix that.” – Dan Uggla, then with the Atlanta Braves, May 2014

“[Jose] Canseco points out to center field like Babe Ruth. Eck just kind of stood there like, ‘Oh, really?’… Eckersley rears back and drills Canseco right in the back. Canseco can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. No one can believe it.” – Mike Gallego, Oakland A’s coach and former player, May 2014

“It’s kind of a butterfly effect. You confidence isn’t there and your numbers aren’t there. Then you start pressing. It’s a dark rabbit hole to go down, and I wasn’t strong enough to climb out it.” – Lars Anderson, former top prospect, May 2014

“It takes one kind of man to play a sport like that. There’s some yelling going on in rugby. I’m getting myself fired up on the mound. Sometimes I need to take a step back from that, but other times I need to yell.” – Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays, May 2014

“Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever. It’s like caressing your wife. It’s touching and getting that feel to know her, alone. It’s the same thing with a baseball.” – Pedro Martinez, imminent Hall of Famer, May 2014

“Sal [Bando] came out for the second inning looking like a McDonald’s French fry pack. He was greasy all over the place. He had Vaseline everywhere. He got all doctored up to pitch the next two innings.” – Buck Martinez, Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster and former player, May 2014

“Could I get conditioned for 200 pitches? Yes, I think I could. But my per-pitch intensity would have to be less than where I’m at right now.” – Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers, May 2014

“I’d have like to have played in the 1910s and 1920s, in the days of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Back then it was for the love of the game. You ate hot dogs, drank beer and played baseball.” – Dan Otero, Oakland A’s, June 2014

“We’re all talented in different ways. Some are musically talented, some are really good with numbers, some are natural-born teachers and leaders. And some people can throw a baseball really hard and put it where they want it.” – Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, June 2014

“I have to admit I cried when I was signed up for tee ball. But after that it was just what we did. At the side of the house there were these two little worn out places where my dad and I would play catch.” – Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves, June 2014

“My dad understands the Magnus force and how spin affects the way the ball moves. If I’m ever struggling with a pitch, I’ll play catch with him. He’ll recognize if the spin axis is wrong.” – Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians, June 2014

“It’s once your foot is down — click, click, click – to the point of contact. If I’m starting my swing and it’s one, two, three, bam!, that’s three clicks. That’s not good.” – Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, June 2014

“I’ve never had a conversation with a player about advanced stats. I’ve never gone into WAR or even OPS.” – Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves manager, June 2014

“From multiple looks at Jed Lowrie over a couple of years – when I was in Boston — we could see he had the pulse of an assassin. He just never looked bothered or worried.” – Jason McLeod, Chicago Cubs senior vice president, June 2014

“You don’t need to throw your glove or take your fist and ram it through the concrete to show you care. The cameras and social media might view it that way, but it doesn’t mean anything to me.” – Ray Burris, Philadelphia Phillies minor-league coach, June 2014

“A pitcher and a catcher is a two-person relationship, not unlike a novelist and reader going back and forth. In this case, the pitcher would be the reader, albeit with more input. Actually, maybe I’m the editor and the pitcher is the writer.” – John Baker, Chicago Cubs, July 2014

“Some umpires are really strict and really tight. They’re real by-the-book as far as, ‘This pitch has to touch that artificial surface called home plate,’ but majority of them will give a little bit.” – Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox, July 2014

“When the sun went down, that’s when the fireworks started. Balls would be flying all over the place. In one game, the Tacoma Twins hit something like nine home runs in the ninth inning to beat us.” – Art Kusnyer, Chicago White Sox coach, July 2014

“I came down to the breakfast table and my 8-year-old was sitting there looking at the headline of us trading Jake Peavy. He said to me, ‘What are you doing? You’re making the team worse. Isn’t your job supposed to be to win games?’ ” – Rick Hahn, Chicago White Sox general manager, July 2014

“We shifted Xander Bogaerts last night, and no team had done that before, at least not that I could find on video. The charts told us it was the right thing to when he faced right-handed pitching, except with two strikes or with runners in scoring position.” – Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins manager, July 2014

Curt Flood and Marvin Miller forever changed the landscape of the game, I think Miller should be in the Hall of Fame, and while I don’t know he should be in as a player, Flood probably should be as well.” – Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers, August 2014

“I don’t think as much as most guys. I just stick with what’s worked. Regardless of who is on the mound, I’m going to be exactly the same with my approach.” – Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, August 2014

“I wish I had Pedro 1999 stuff, but I don’t and never have…. You have to understand where you are on the continuum. I feel I have to be the criminal mastermind on the mound if I want to win.” – C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels, August 2014

“Oakland is good because they have a brilliant general manager who understands pitchers try to pitch down in the zone. What do Oakland’s hitters do? They go out and get everybody who has a lift swing.” – Brent Strom, Houston Astros coach, August 2014

“I figure I put my left arm through enough abuse during the season that I don’t need to have needles stuck in it.” – Joe Beimel, Seattle Mariners, August 2014

“I don’t think you can say what a guy does over 50 innings can be simply be doubled and he’ll do it over 100. Craig Kimbrell can be a 3.0 WAR pitcher over 50 innings, but I don’t think he’s a 6.0 WAR over 100.” – Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins, September 2014

“I hit one they said went about 500 feet. It was over the fence, then a back yard, then a house, then over a cul-de-sac, and then into the next house across the street.” – Rowdy Tellez, Toronto Blue Jays prospect, September 2014

“Sometimes after a ball has been hit — especially if it’s been hit hard – you get the ball back and it’s lopsided. It’s not even a round ball anymore. It’s disfigured. That can happen, I promise you.” – Scott Feldman, Houston Astros, October 2014

“I get the shelf life of managers. I understand it. When my voice gets tired and old, and they don’t want to hear it anymore, I’m gone. Get another slapdick in here behind me.” – Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles manager, September 2014

“I amaze myself at times. I have no idea how I do a lot of things on the baseball field. I just leave it in the hands of my athleticism, and sometimes that athleticism helps out. Other times it hinders me.” ” – Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, October 2014

“It would be tough to argue Cobb wouldn’t be our No. 1 pitcher right now. That said, Chris Archer is certainly coming. Odorizzi has a year under his belt. Matt Moore is coming back. That makes me happy. It makes me smile.” – Jim Hickey, Tampa Bay Rays coach, October 2014

“We need to recreate a winning culture. You know, it goes quickly. We see teams winning their division and then all of a sudden they fall on a couple of hard years. It’s just the cycle of baseball.” – Chip Hale, Arizona Diamondbacks manager, October 2014

“We view the draft as a mechanism to save money. That may seem counter intuitive – it’s a spending environment – but its arguably the best bang for your buck in any area of procurement.” – Dan Kantrovitz (then the St. Louis Cardinals’ scouting director), October 2014

“Right now, unless some things change, I think run production will continue to be down. I don’t think it will go down much more, but the trend will stay down from an offensive perspective.” – Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers general manager, November 2014

“If you look at the offensive environment, we are kind of back to where we were before artificial enhancements seemed to be so prevalent. There’s no question amphetamines had a significant impact.” – Neal Huntington, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager, November 2014

“Sometimes you hit a stretch where you just can’t get any tread on the tires. You’re feeling good but not getting any knocks…. That’s just baseball. My confidence will never waver. My head will never be down.” – Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston Red Sox, November 2014

“I’d heard I was going to Helena and expected it to be pretty populated, as it’s the capital of Montana. But we cruised in there on the smallest plane ever, and the airport was almost like a cabin. I was pretty overwhelmed by that.” – Tyrone Taylor, Milwaukee Brewers prospect, November 2014

“What you want at the plate is a direct plan that can be modified in an instant without too many alternatives. You have A and you have B. You have to be able to play fast – you have to be able to think on the run – and too much information can freeze your mind.” – Rico Brogna, Los Angeles Angels coach, December 2014

“I said, ‘JD, they’re not all strikes. Back off the plate a little bit and think out-over-the-plate. Try to get more extension instead of being so rotational.’ He just kept going, ‘Dude, they’re pitching me in.’ ” – Chili Davis (talking about working with Josh Donaldson in Oakland) December 2014

“I tell my hitters there is no law against hitting the ball the other way out of the ballpark. You can do that. You won’t get arrested for it.” – Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Mariners manager, December 2014

“Some guys put up zeroes at the beginning of the game, some guys put up zeroes in the middle of the game, and some guys put up zeroes at the end of the game. All outs are valuable.” – Burke Badenhop, Boston Red Sox, December 2014

“You’re looking to get the best return you possibly can, and many times the guy on the other side of the phone is going to say, ‘You’re nuts. We’re not going to do something like that.’ ” – Terry Ryan, Minnesota Twins general manager, December 2014





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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tz
9 years ago

David, I’ve been spoiled by FanGraphs as a whole, but I have to say that your Sunday columns are what I love the most. I look forward to them just as much as I used to look forward to Peter Gammon’s weekend column when I was cutting my teeth on baseball.

Thanks for all of this, and Happy New Year!