Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sensing when the culture has changed

Rays 1B Carlos Peña (here with Joe Maddon) said he could sense last year that Tampa had turned the corner and was headed for good things:

"It just felt right. You could see that Joe (manager Joe Maddon) had changed the culture here. This was a place you could play happy, and I wanted to stay here and see this through."

Pena also described the difference between baseball and other sports:

"[Baseball] is graceful. You know how you're raised in that no-pain-no-gain mentality, where nothing is achieved except through suffering? It's imbedded in you. Baseball isn't like that. It took me 10 years to understand that.

The trick is not to work too hard. It's getting your work in and preparing properly, but it's also about not working so hard that you lose the essence of the game. It's about having a clear mind. In most walks of life, you try to absorb as much knowledge as you can, but in baseball, the simpler you keep it, the better you perform."

As for why he decided to address his teammates before Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox, Pena said:

"I woke up in the middle of the night the night before, and I decided I had to say something to the team. I called Cliff Floyd (the team's designated hitter) and asked him what he thought, and he said, 'Go for it,' so I did. It was as easy as telling my wife and daughters that we should go to Disney World."