Just to get off the bat and answer a question, no come-out songs here. People were asking what kind of come-out songs do we as starters have, and none of the starters have songs. I’d like to say that we’re a little less maintenance, but what we do and why the bullpen guys do have come-out songs is because what the bullpen guys do is so much more of a high intensity that I think they need their moment to get locked in and music obviously helps some of these guys. We just go out there to whatever the stadium plays to get the game going.
Moving on to this past week, week and a half, I think the biggest thing, obviously in the paper and on record, our head’s right above .500 and we really haven’t caught stride yet. We’ve got a great team here. We just haven’t all put it together. I think the guys in here, nobody’s lost any faith in anybody. Again, we do know how good we are. We’re just waiting for us to all put it together. Baseball’s really kind of a funny game. You look at our team and last year, this team with less talent went to the World Series, and now we’re really an upgraded team and just haven’t caught stride.
But also, keep in mind, so that nobody’s discouraged, that this division is the toughest division in baseball. Now, certain people won’t get into that. I think every team in the Major Leagues is a quality team. You’ve got to have talent to be here, but I think that man for man and player for player, this is the toughest division. I don’t want to say it’s the most talented, but it is the toughest division. You’ve got really good ballclubs. And what makes a good ballclub is how guys fit together, how guys mesh and the chemistry. It’s not necessarily the talent on the team that wins. But this team right here, the reason we went as far as we did, we have talent, but we work well together and we have a manager who has a system that he put in play and we followed suit. And that’s what makes good clubs.
You look at the managers in this division: Eric Wedge, I know Eric Wedge, and Eric Wedge is a no-nonsense kind of guy. Ron Gardenhire, his track record speaks for itself. Ozzie’s had success over in Chicago. And Buddy Bell, I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He’s earned the respect of his players, and I think that’s the biggest thing, how players play for their manager and how they play together. They all have to believe in something, so that’s why I want to reiterate the fact that everybody in here believes in each other and they believe in the system. That’s why we know we’re going to be fine. We just need to put some things together. We’ve had some dramatic wins and we’ve had some dramatic losses, and that’s just really kind of where we’re at right now.
The funny thing is I think even with losing a couple games here and winning a couple games there and just kind of floating around .500, we’re only a couple games out of first place. And everybody’s beating each other up. That’s not only just in this division. Really, it’s across the league. Eight days ago I looked in there, and every team in the league except for one team was within two games of .500 on one side or the other. So there’s nothing to be concerned about. I think there is concern.
I’ve read a couple blogs where there’s concern about players and why guys are starting slow, and that’s the toughest thing about the game. You go out and you’re successful and there’s the expectations in the following season and going out and repeating. I said this before, in Spring Training, that so many things have to happen in order for us to get back to where we were. Guys have to perform at the same level. You have to stay healthy, and you have to have those guys who come in and produce when the other guys are down that you weren’t expecting to produce. You’ve got a couple of classic examples, and we were talking about this the other day on the starting pitching staff. When Mike got hurt last year, Zach Miner came in here and won six straight games. It was huge. At the end of the year, he was 7-6. But at that point in the season, when he came in and did the things that he did, that was a heck of a rookie year for him. What he did was huge, and that’s the kind of stuff that has to happen.
You have to have guys perform at the same level. Kenny’s gone right now. We’re going to have to have guys step up. That’s the kind of team that we need to be. The Minnesota Twins have been doing that for years. The Minnesota Twins have guys go down and they have some player come up and fill a hole. You never heard of him and he’s great, he’s scrappy and he gets the job done. And that’s what it’s going to take for this team to be successful. When we do lose some of our key players, we’ve got to be ready to go. Our key players need to go out and do what they’re capable of doing. And we’re going to be fine.
I think for the most part, this team’s got everything in the world to be proud of, because where some guys aren’t necessarily performing to their level, other guys are picking them up. I mean, we’ve picked each other up pretty good so far. So that’s just shedding some light on where we’re at right now for anybody that’s reading in. We’re going to give the fans and everybody around the city plenty of dramatic comeback wins. We’ve done it already. And I know that this city is still every much alive. I had some kids Saturday yelling at me. We were down 11-3 in the ninth, and I’ve got some kids screaming at me because they’re telling me it’s gum time. Eight runs. I’m a big believer that anything can happen, but we’ll just keep gum time down for right now. But, you know, what’s awesome about that is people believe that we can do it, even at 11-3. They believe that we can put it together, and they’re all up there in the front row behind the dugout at yelling at me to get it going.