Paul O'Neill 21: Q&A with Paul

FEBRUARY 6, 2015

Ian Spelling- Paul, was there something to be said for playing for both the Reds and the Yanks, different styles of play? Would you have preferred playing for just one team? Thanks.
Paul- Of course, I would have preferred to play for the Yankees my entire career, but in my era, few players, no matter how good, managed to play for just one organization. To be able to win a World Series in both leagues happens to very few players. But both those teams I won with relied on clutch hitting, great pitching and defense. They were not one-dimensional teams.

Kevin Glynn- What two teammates would you forever want to have on either side of your locker, day in and day out? Hitting in front of and behind you in the lineup?
Paul- Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter. They were true professionals and gigantic students of the game. They both saw a lot of pitches. Either one could pick me up in the clubhouse during a slump. It’s those guys that help you out of a slump, maybe giving you an edge on the pitcher with a little advice from experience, that you want to keep around you, guys that actually help you perform in games.

Camille-Do you think the Yankees will have a hard time transitioning without Jeter as their captain?
Paul- Yes. He was extraordinary on and off the field. Players like him don’t come around every year or every other year. But to be a lifer with the Yankees! How many guys get to do that? Somewhere there is a great star who wants to be a Yankee. We just have to find him.

Ray Bimdo- Why are the Yankees dissing A-Rod? Is that good for the team?
Paul- The best thing for each party concerned is to keep it out of the press and worry about winning a World Series. Alex should distance himself from reporters and give the Yankees the best season he can. They need hitting and power hitting. He can provide that. I always was a little wary of the press, how they eventually can distract you or make you second guess. Life in New York is complicated enough. Just play ball and leave all the intrigue to the movie stars.

Ted Safrin- What are the Yankees’ chances in the American League East this season?
Paul- As good or bad as anybody else’s. I was surprised Baltimore, who won it last year, let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis go. I guess that came down to money. Toronto appears to be loading up with free agents and Boston got Kung Fu Panda and Hanley Ramirez. The American League east has been one of the toughest divisions for twenty years now. The Yankees have a veteran outfield of guys that have played together. Their infield is veteran too, but has not played together. Their pitching is the biggest question mark, especially starting pitching. Their bullpen was bolstered by getting the lefthanded Miller, but they lost David Robertson to free agency. It’s really important not to fall behind early. The National League has won four of the last five World Series. The Yankees need to turn that around. It will take a team effort. No one player can carry a team in baseball. Players have to do their jobs and then function together as a team. There is no substitute for that.

Elne Barnard- What are you doing this off season? Didn’t you used to play tennis to stay in shape?
Paul- Trying to get better at golf. I play a lot of charity events and there are some really good players, Michael Jordan, John Elway, Rick Rhoden. I think sometimes it’s against a baseball player’s nature. Didn’t Roger Hornsby say, “When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go get it.” I have my good days and bad. One day last week, I was playing so uneven, missing greens, three putting greens. I did not throw the clubs, but just got so frustrated. On my way home, I drove by some tennis courts and there were people playing and I thought, maybe I should take up tennis again. At least you don’t have to hunt balls down in the weeds or miss three foot putts.

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