We can still do this

In 2004, I was with the Yankees when the Red Sox came back and won four straight against us in the ALCS. I was two outs from realizing my dream of going to the World Series and I never got there.

Reynolds
It wasn’t really until the last inning of Game 7 that I thought we may not make it and it wasn’t until that point. I mean, there was no way. We were two outs away in Game 5; we were up with one out in the eighth the next night. So there’s crazy circumstances, there’s crazy ways the ball bounces. So having gone through it and realizing the emotion that was tied into it and how close we had come has helped me keep this in perspective.

I was with the Red Sox in 2002, so I knew a lot of guys on that ’04 Red Sox team, so I know what they did. They simply came to the ballpark and played. They didn’t listen to the TV or the radio or anything else with regard to the odds they were up against. They knew that if they came to the ballpark that day and took a chance and just played, you never know what might happen.

I mean, we beat the Red Sox 19-8 in Game 3 of that series. Think about that, 19-8. They had every reason to throw in the towel, but the Red Sox didn’t throw in the towel. And I don’t expect our ballclub to, either. We have been resilient all year long. We’ve bucked the trend all year long. We’ve battled all year long. And I don’t expect that to change come tomorrow.

Now if I notice that we get caught up in the TV and the radio and what the percentages are, then, yeah, it’s going to be a tough task. But if we commit ourselves to playing one game, just one game … let it all hang out one game and see what happens. I’ve seen the ball bounce too many funny ways over the course of my career.

So I’m still remarkably hopeful that if we keep our perspective and our focus, we’ve got a chance to get back in this thing. But we’ve got to do it starting tomorrow, one game at a time.

A big challenge ahead of us

In the first round, when we swept the Cubs, we couldn’t have written the script any better. The second round has been just the opposite for us.

Tonyblog_1The great part about this game is that good, bad or indifferent, the game always gives you an opportunity to learn something from it. Looking forward to this series, we were obviously excited about the opportunity and we were looking forward to getting it started on a good foot.

That didn’t happen and now we
‘ve got a big challenge ahead of us. It’s a BIG challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. We are working towards making the physical adjustments and or any mental adjustments coming into Game 3 to try and give ourselves the best possible chance to put one in the win column.

That’s all we’re focused in on right now. Getting caught up in the percentage of teams that have come back or not come back or the way the ball hasn’t found a hole for us, but has for them, gets you caught up in thinking about things you can’t control.

The way you deal with that is to lock back in. You lock back in on your preparation, your game planning, your physical work all the while focused on the task at hand.

Anytime we’re faced with a challenge I’m always excited to see how our group of guys comes through on the other side. We’ve done it all year and I look forward to us doing the same in Game 3.

We’ve got work to do

At this time of year, all the games you come up short in are tough and they hurt. We had opportunities to push runs across, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it tonight.

Clark_hit
There were a couple of instances when we had opportunities and they made pitches on us, and for others, they made great plays in the field. So you keep grinding, you keep pushing, you keep battling and hope that some of these things start going our way.

When I hit that line drive to right-center in the seventh, I was begging for it to get down. I knew I hadn’t caught it as clearly as I would have liked to and I knew the outfield was shaded to the opposite side. So when I hit it, I knew it was an area nobody was at, but it seemed like the more it hung up there, the more ground Willy was covering.

Obviously, he made a great catch. If that ball tips off his glove, Byrnsie scores and it’s a different ballgame, so it was a great play by Willy. Very few players are athletic enough to make that play and Willy is one of them.

They made a lot of great plays tonight. Helton made an outstanding play on a ball that Salazar hit down the line to begin the sixth. They came up big when they needed to come up big, they were patient at the plate and pushed a run across there in the 11th.

We hoped things coming out of here were going to be different, but this is what we’ve got and we know we’ve got some work to do now. But we don’t want to look any further ahead than the next game and just focus on trying to put ourselves in a position to win that game.

We’ve got to win one. We can’t worry about two or three or four right now. We’ve got to focus on Sunday. That’s all we need to be thinking about now.

A new game

Last night was a tough one for us and any time you have a night where things don’t go your way, you really look forward to your next opportunity to try to settle back in and get things going back in the right direction.

Game1
You want to take a look at whatever adjustments you feel you have to make and come back the next day to come back and put yourself in a better position to win a ballgame. It doesn’t guarantee you success, but you have to realize that today is a new day and if you dwell too much on what happened yesterday, you are doomed to repeat it.

The guys seemed loose to me before the game tonight. This group has done an outstanding job of coming to the ballpark and being indifferent to what happened in prior games and not looking too far ahead, but rather focusing on that day’s game. That’s a big reason why we’ve been successful this year and been able to bounce back from tough losses. We would really like to finish up on a good note tonight before we head to Colorado.

On a personal note, I’m going to be able to take my whole family to Colorado, so it will be great to have them with me as the series moves along. There is supposed to be some real cold weather in Denver and I’m hoping that my son, who is battling a cold, continues to get better even though the temperature is going to be quite a bit colder there.

Posted courtesy of MLB.com during the game.

Tip your hat

This was a tough night for us. We had some opportunities, but they did a good job of keeping them at just that — opportunities.

It started off well for us. We felt pretty good when Byrnsie was able to get us on the board in the first, but you tip your hat to Jeff Francis and his ability to keep things status quo. And while he did that, they added on.

It’s one of those things where you didn’t see too many balls hit hard off Webby, but they were able to get some key hits with runners in scoring position to open it up a little bit.

Drew
They scored three runs, though, in the third to take a 4-1 lead, and as the game went along, we didn’t throw in the towel and instead tried to continue to work to try to give ourselves an opportunity to cash in. We did that, but unfortunately we just weren’t able to cash in.

We really had a chance there in the seventh and I don’t know if there was anyone we’d rather have at the plate than Stephen Drew in that situation right now with the way he’s been swinging the bat. Man, he wasn’t much off with that swing from tying up this game.

So, you tip your hat to them tonight and we’re confident having Doug Davis taking the mound tomorrow night.

Finally time to get going

I haven’t slept very well the last couple of nights as I’ve been battling a cold, but I can tell you when the lights come on tonight that I will feel good and ready to go. It certainly won’t affect on me on the field.

LineupsSpeaking of which, it’s going to be nice to get back to playing tonight. In the four days since we eliminated the Cubs, we’ve had simulated games and we’ve tried to face live pitching as much as we can, but it’s very difficult to replicate a game-like situation until you get back on the field.

It’s going to be nice from now on to talk about games rather than how we match up with the Rockies and whether the layoff will help them or cool them off. It’s hard to answer the hypothetical questions that get put to you about how a team will react to something that hasn’t happened. If you get caught up too much in that stuff, it really can distract you from the task at hand. So we’re excited to get back to what we enjoy most and that is simply playing the game.

It seems like the fact that we are one of only four teams left and playing on a bigger stage hasn’t affected the guys. Pregame, everything was the same. Looking around the clubhouse before the game, the guys seemed relaxed and confident. I think we’re ready to go.

We were happy to hear that there would be a sellout crowd tonight and we are excited to get out there in front of them.

Posted courtesy of MLB.com during the game.

Ready to get going

I spent a lot of time today answering questions from the media. With each round of the playoffs, we get more and more people following the team. Sometimes it feels like you’re answering the same questions over and over again, but that comes with the territory and I don?t mind it as long as I’m able to still get my work done.

Withmelvin_1 As with all the other things that come with being in the playoffs, this time of the year you realize that you’re fortunate to be one of only four teams playing. Anyone who is a baseball aficionado is going to want to ask questions and is going to want to be around.

Some of the main questions I’ve been getting are, "Do you feel slighted? Are you concerned about not getting the national attention that a lot of teams have been giving?"

They are questions that if I was a prideful man they might be more disconcerting. But they’re not. Perhaps it’s hard for some of them to understand that our commitment to each other is way more important to us than a commitment to try and please somebody else, especially people who have not been around the ballclub all year and are making determinations based on what a stat sheet says. When you just look at the numbers, you don’t get an appreciation for the character of this group and the way we go about our business.

All that being said, I’m just glad that I still have to answer the questions. I’m glad to do it because it means we’re still working and still performing. I’m hopeful that we have one more round to deal with.

It will be nice to get going tomorrow night. It’s one of those things where the layoff can be a reward or a detriment. It’s given the guys here at home a chance to kind of settle in and work toward the upcoming series that starts tomorrow.

I’m just excited about the possibilities. You always wish you had a crystal ball and knew ahead of time how things were going to turn out, but the one thing that makes this game so great is that regardless of what the experts pick, until you get between the lines and play, nobody knows what is going to happen.

I’m looking forward to it and glad to be opening up the series here at home. Hopefully, I’ll have a victory to write about tomorrow.

Your support has been tremendous

I had a quiet dinner with my wife at Gibson’s in Chicago after the celebration in the clubhouse Saturday night. I know that a lot of the guys got together later that night, and while I obviously enjoyed celebrating with them at the ballpark, I know that my wife didn’t get to take part in that celebration so I wanted to have an opportunity to share it with her as well.

Tonyclarkblog_6 So we had a quiet bite to eat and then went back to the hotel to get some sleep, which we didn’t end up getting. We were up the whole night. Even though we both tried to relax, we were absolutely wired to the point of breakfast coming to our door without a whole lot of snooze time.

Now we go back to work today with a light workout at the ballpark and turn our focus to the Rockies. Before I do that though, I want to take a moment to say thank you for the comments that have been posted by people in response to this blog.

It’s special to me when your hometown fans support you and what you’re about and what you’re doing. So, too, have the comments that I’ve gotten so far. It just makes me feel good. It also reminds you that you’re going about your business the right way and that day in and day out, when the eyes are on you, that they, one, have an expectation and, two, have the confidence in you in those situations.

It just means a lot to me, and I’m thankful for it. It’s exciting — especially this time of year — to have our fans so in tune with what we are doing, and it’s been a whole lot of fun for me to bring a little insight behind the scenes through this blog as we go through the postseason.

Published courtesy of MLB.com during Monday’s Diamondbacks workouts.

Special group continues wild ride

What a night this was for us. Once again, the game felt no different for us while it was going on. This group has been able to focus and commit themselves to the task at hand and not get caught up in anything else. It wasn’t like we were saying, "Hey, we’re up 2-0 we’ve got to win the third." It didn’t matter. We were just focused on any one inning. That’s how we’ve been all year.Clark200

I know that I’ve said this before, but watching these young guys take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that have been presented to them, and how at the end of the day they come out as better men and better ballplayers, is exciting for me to watch and be a part of.

Livo put a lot of runners on base tonight, and when Livo puts those runners on base, on the outside you don’t show any nerves, but on the inside you’re, shall we say, a little excited. But with Livo, you appreciate the fact that you’re only one pitch away in a situation like that from getting out of it. And when that happens, the momentum shifts very quickly, and you saw that in the fifth inning tonight.

After winning this series, it’s probably going to be hard for us to continue to fly under the radar. But I’ve got to believe that we were the underdog for the last 162 and then these last three, so no matter what anybody says, this group is committed to what the job is that night, to what our individual responsibilities are so that we can come together and figure out a way to shake hands at the end of the day.

Clark275 I’m looking forward to getting home with our home fans and whoever else we might see this week. I wish now that I’d be headed back to high five and wrestle around the room the rest of the night with the kids, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I know they’re watching and I’ll make sure that when I get back I point out what I’ve written here, so that they know that I’ve been thinking about them. I just have enjoyed the ride so far and the journey and looking forward to some more good things the rest of the week.

As the last out was made in the game, I couldn’t help thinking about how special this whole group is. And I really mean that. It doesn’t matter how we’re going to end up, how far we go, this group is very special to me. This is exciting. This doesn’t happen every day.

At the end of their careers I think all these guys will look back on the 2007 D-backs as a special group of guys, regardless of how we end up this year. Because it certainly is special.

Welcome to Chicago

It was a long night for us Thursday. We flew out after the game and got into Chicago about 6 yesterday morning. My wife and I slept from about 7 to 1 p.m. before going out and grabbing some lunch and doing a little shopping for the kids.

Speaking of my kids, that’s the hardest part about this trip is that I wasn’t able to get Kiara, Jazzin and Aeneas here to be with me. I can’t describe in words how much they mean to me, and I’m disappointed that they aren’t here to be able to share in this playoff experience. A lot of times I can coordinate it to get them here, but with their school schedules, I couldn’t get flights that worked out timewise.
Clarkblog
I woke up today and thought about the game and couldn’t help but be excited. I know I’ve said it before, but this time of year you constantly battle your excitement and the possibilities with making sure that you don’t get distracted from the task at hand. So, I woke up today wondering what the possibilities were for today and also hoping that we’d come back after the off-day and have adjusted to the time change and put together a solid ballgame.

I don’t have any concerns about the young players on our team in the postseason. They’ve have handled it very well and I’m really not surprised. The telling thing for me was watching them down the stretch in the pennant race. Having never been there before, they took in the excitement that a pennant race can bring, but at the same time, they kept preparing the way they always had and getting the job done. They’ve done an admirable job so far.

One note about the weather. It’s a little warm here, which is a surprise, but I certainly am not upset about it. I’m just happy with the fact that it was 84 degrees instead of 54.

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