Mientkiewicz is Back
Enjoying some calm before the spring training storm, Mientkiewicz is in Tallahassee for the weekend. The former FSU and current New York Mets first baseman spoke with the media during Friday's Seminole win over Auburn. On Saturday, he will have the chore of throwing out the first pitch. Sunday, he will help several members of the Seminole nation dedicate the radio booth at Dick Howser stadium in honor of late broadcaster Lee Bowen.
"This is the best place to be and the best place to play," Mientkiewicz said. "You get a sense of pride that you helped build this thing. You don't realize that when you play here but you realize it when you leave."
Mientkiewicz was one of 19 rookies to take the field for the Minnesota Twins in his first full season in the majors and quickly became one of the elder statesman in the young organization. When he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in July to backup Kevin Millar, Mientkiewicz became a younger face on a veteran team. This season, he'll anchor a youthful infield that features 20-something rookie Kaz Matsui.
"I went from a rookie to a veteran in nine months with the Twins. I was a young guy in Boston. Now I am an old guy again with a bunch of puppies in the infield."
Bottom line, Mientkiewicz is happy with his situation.
"I'm on a team now thats desperate to win and that has pulled in a lot of big pieces to the puzzle this year. I love working with younger plays. I love every minute of helping someone else."
Mientkiewicz 's short – and historic – ride with the Sox ended with a World Series title, a feat almost forgotton in New England. Here is some of what Mientkiewicz had to say about the experience.
"It took awhile to realize what just happened. The whole thing was just a blur. I played with 25 of the most professional, best people I have played with in my life.
"It really settled in with the whole ball fiasco. You think, 'man if this is what winning a World Series is like I feel sorry for Derek Jeter'. You think back at all the time your parents spent and all the coaches to played for. You do a lot of reflecting. It wasn't the best year personally, maybe the worst ,but winning a Series was huge."
"To win a World Series was huge but to do it in that city was awesome."
(on role as a defensive replacement)
"They tell you one thing and then do another. You think your role would be a little but bigger. Dave Roberts is another guy who had to downgrade his role, as well. Without him I would have lost my mind. Everybody had a job and everybody was important, though. They made you feel just as important as the Mannys, Ortizes and Variteks.
(on the victory parade)
"It was like riding down a jet runway for six hours.Your ears are burning, your ears are ringing. There are people everywhere hanging out of buildings and out of windows. Those people went through so much personally and then of a sudden, WHAM, your a champion."
"I saw grown men crying when we were down 3-0 to the Yankees - over something that they have no control of. Then to turn around and see that joy was priceless. It was big for me but it was huge for guys like Tim Wakefield, Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar. To see those guys celebrate on that field after the win was great. It couldn't have happened to a better group of guys"
(on playing in the National League)
"The pitching is different but I get to see every ball park now if I don't get traded again."
(on Mike Martin)
"The biggest disappointment of my career is not getting Mike Martin a ring. We had two teams while I was here that I thought could have done it."
"He deserves it. He is well overdue. There are not enough people like him in sports and in life. He never says it bothers him but it bothers the guys who put on the uniforms. He deserves more than one."
"Through the whole ball fiasco, he was the only guy that I played with or for or knew who I was the stood up for me. That meant so much to me."
(on college ball)
"They don't realize that this is the best time of their life. When you get to my level it's fun but not as fun. For lack of a better word, a lot of crap goes on. There's nothing better than high school and college ball. It doesn't get any simpler and more passionate."
"You look for personality types. That is the most overlooked thing in sports. I'll take 25 guys who have no talent and will bust their butts over 25 guys with five tools. They call them gamers. Guys who would run into a wall to win."
(on FSU's facilities)
"This is better than 90 percent of MLB clubhouses. My clubhouse at Fenway was about the size of this room (press box). I don't mind undressing in front of a bunch of guys but I don't like bumping into them."
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