|Q&A with Paul
Q. Why do you hear about so many prospects that have great Spring trainings but then you never hear from them again?
A. Competition, injuries, bad breaks.
Q. Do you think Joba belongs in the bullpen, or should he be a starter?
A. See how he does the first half. See where the team really needs him the most and that is unpredictable, injuries etc. If he thrives as a starter, keep him there. If he doesnít, put him in that crucial set-up role where he proved pretty well he can do the job.
Q. Will you be attending Spring training this year as a coach?
A. No. Maybe broadcast a game or two.
Q. During your career, did it bother you that some of your teammates did not expect perfection from themselves, like you did?
A. Looking back, I now realize that people need to be who they are within reason. If everyone acted like me, that would be a lot of watercoolers to buy. We found the right mix, didnít we? Chemistry is very important in team sports. You motivate each other.
Q. Did you like the Eagles concert?
A. Yes, Iíve seen them many times. Seems like theyíve always been a part of my life.
Q. What are your thoughts about the memorabilia industry as a whole?
A. I get a lot of enjoyment out of my collection. Millions of guys collect it and it seems to hold value. Many players donate that money to charity. Without a market for memorabilia, many charity events could not raise the money they need. So, yes, it seems expensive but it does a lot of good in many ways. Steiner Sports gave the Turn 2 Foundation $250,000 last year and most of that money is generated by the memorabilia business. That can help a bunch of kids just get some opportunities in their lives they couldnít get if someone didnít raise that money.
Q. Is there anyone out there that can provide ownership to win it all again?
A. I look to Jeter and A-Rod. Where else would you look?
Q. Do you think that you will see your number retired by the organization?
A. I donít know. Couldnít imagine anything better. This is a decision that is made by ownership usually.
Q. Growing up, who was your favorite Reds player?
A. Johnny Bench.
Q. Will the Yankees win the 2009 World Series?
A. They better.
Q. Are you ever going to consider managing or coaching?
A. I think about going back in pinstripes from time to time. Itís a huge commitment in time and emotion and totally rearranging a bunch of lives again. The stars would have to be aligned right. A bunch of stuff would have to fall in place, some of it having nothing to do with baseball.
Q. Did you have fun working with the Seinfeld cast?
A. Yes, a great time. I got the actorís union minimum. I think a couple hundred bucks. Still waiting for Brad or Angelina to call with a movie deal but until then, Iíll keep my day job as a broadcaster.
Q. What is your favorite memory from your years playing for the Cincinnati Reds?
A. Winning the 1990 World Series. We got the broom out on those guys in Oakland. We just outplayed them when it mattered time and time again.
Q. Can you talk about your relationship with Ted Williams?
A. He talked to me about hitting to all fields and how a six-foot-four man overcomes a larger strike zone than the average player. Make em pay for throwing on the corners! Some photographs of him look like my dad which is weird. Iíll never forget talking to him.
Q. What about Manny?
A. No. Not a good idea unless one of their big bats went down with an injury. Sometimes too many stars is too many stars for a team to accommodate.
Q. Who was your favorite teammate and why?
A. Mattingly taught me a lot. He was left-handed, hit a lot of doubles to all fields and played stellar defense. Without his guidance, my career in New York would not have been what it was.
Q. Is the lack of emotion or intensity the cause of the current championship drought?
A. Itís part of it. Injuries and lack of chemistry. Bad breaks contribute too. At the end of the day, itís about winning if you are a Yankee. So donít show me the money, show me the rings.
Q. What is your most memorable World Series win?
A. 2000 Subway Series.
Q. What is the most memorable game you have played in throughout your whole career?
A. A few come to mind. Roseís 4193rd hit, three perfect games but the post-season haunts you forever. Game 5 or the 2000 World Series. Games 3, 4, 5, 7 of the 2001 World Series.
Q. Can you give insight into Sabathia and Burnett, whatís it mean to the team?
A. This gives the Yankees a lot of muscle in their starting rotation, a lot of depth and more youth, hopefully less injuries which hurt us in 2008, a lot.
Q. Will you still be broadcasting for the YES Network in the new stadium?
Q. Do you like A-Rod or do you think he is a distraction?
A. Heís a player that only comes along once every 20 or 30 years but he himself has said many times he needs to be a World Series champion and I agree. This is no secret or insider information . Everyone knows and feels this, especially him. As far as distraction, New York is one giant distraction. So focus, single mindedness to win a World Series is necessary.
Q. Did you wear #21 to honor Roberto Clemente or for another reason? What about him did you admire most?
A. How I got 21 starts from my high school days. The OíNeill boys wore number 22 at home for basketball games. Mike, Robert and I played varsity basketball. When I asked for 22 in Cincinnati as a rookie, the veteran Dave Collins had it. Then, if I remember correctly, I did think of Clemente because we used to watch him play coming through Columbus to play the Columbus Jets in pre-season exhibitions. They were a Pirate farm club in the 1960s and we had many of Clementeís cards. The Pirates had big stars in addition to him, Stargell, Sanguillen, Hebner, Mazeroski. I admire Clemente because he was a World Series champion and transcended the game like Jackie or Babe. I know MLB canít retire each number but it it wouldnít diminish a universally retired number if Ruthís #3 and Clementeís #21 were retired in their respective leagues, the American League for Ruth and the National League for Clemente.
Q. What is your favorite baseball card of yourself, if any?
A. Upper Deck put a picture of me in a batting stance in Crosley Field, the old, old home of the Reds. It was a picture from about 1968 when I was six. Riverfront opened in 1970. In the background is a Pittsburgh Pirate, the great Roberto Clemente. The card was probably printed in 2002 or 2003. Clemente was cropped out of the card version but I know he was there in the real family photograph. We could only afford to do that once a summer because we had six kids and families usually had only one income in those days. So dad being able to afford to take eight people to a game in the station wagon was a big treat in the summers in the 1960s.
Q. Would you accept a Paul OíNeill day from the Yankees?
A. Of course, Iíd accept. Iíll always be a Yankee first.