The talk had been that Trevor was
approaching, approaching this big record.
What were you thinking as it was happening
leading up to this, seeing him hit these
milestones before the big day?
LEE SMITH: Well, one thing I wanted him
to do was hold off for another year. Let me like
bask in that glory for a little longer.
But you know what? I knew it was going to
happen. Because these guys now, in situations
where they have to go out, you look at the things
you see they've done, you look at this team, wins
80, 85 games, and he's always -- it has to do with
over half of the game it's letting someone else
know how tough a job it is. And I can attest that
the situation is not easy. But it was like him getting
closer and things like that. I was thinking about,
sort of watching more the San Diego Padres.
Lee, is this going to hurt or help your own
Hall of Fame bid? Actually both of you can answer
LEE SMITH: For myself, I hope it's going
to help, because you see of any team in the last
ten years, if they don't have a good closer, they
don't go anywhere. But you look at San Diego.
You look at the Yankees and Cardinals, and all the
teams like that Anaheim and Detroit, at certain
times if they don't have a good closer, they don't
go anywhere. It let's people in baseball know how
tough a job it is and how important I think the
closer role is, because if I had a team -- if I was
going to start a ball club, I think I would start with a
closer and go back if you don't have someone that
holds that lead in the eighth or ninth inning, early in
the game, as you know.
But most teams, they'll try to look for a
closer because, like I said, if you don't have
someone to hold that lead, it's not going to be a
good season for you.
TREVOR HOFFMAN: I think it's a great
question. Fortunately I got a good opportunity to
talk here. He's done a good job here. Dual press
conference here. I talk about the number that took
so long to reach. Lee did an unbelievable job
grinding it out as long as he did. I don't think
there's enough credit given to the closer, let alone
the number he threw out there for us to chase.
Truly remarkable. And I'm sure that with all this
stuff going on, it's going to bring a lot more
attention to the closer role which is a vital part of
any ball club.
Depending on how long you play,
Mariano Rivera is going to take a run at your
record some day. How would you feel about
TREVOR HOFFMAN: Records are made
to be broken, that's for sure. But it's a situation
where if you've got a few years younger than I am,
which he is, he might get more opportunities than I.
Anybody's goal that has an opportunity to finish
ball clubs for their club is more worried about the
wins for the club than they are for the save. He's
done a great job for his club over the years, and
I'm sure he'll look forward to continuing to do that.
Trevor, you had a couple of looks
for the guy, the closer for the other team in this
series now. What are your impressions of him
as a -- Wainwright as a young guy doing his
job? What are your recollections of when you
finished -- started doing the job and how tough
that adjustment and that job is when you
TREVOR HOFFMAN: I'm not too quick
about forgetting about Izzy. I know he's the guy
that helped that ball club get to the post-season.
Wainwright has done a great job and had the
opportunity the other day. It's all about what you're
doing when you're given the ball. Great stuff, back
off. Gotta be the aggressor out there. It's the start
of many forms.
Curious what you see from Trevor
and what got you to be such a great closer.
LEE SMITH: We talked about that earlier
in the hallway. He found at an early age that he
wasn't a good hitter.
LEE SMITH: That helped him make the decision
to go to the mound. But the thing is you find so
many pitchers I think really good setup men, and
they don't make good closers. It's just something
about that 27th hour that scares a lot of guys, and
you -- if I go out there in a situation and I see a guy
that's a good setup man but he can't do the job, it's
because I think mentally they say I got this guy
If I get in a jam in the eighth inning, I know
Trevor is going to come and get me out of this. It's
not the last man standing, not -- before I felt like
being that confidence, all that cornerstone for the
team. Knowing that, hey, I can't wait until Smitty
come in the game or Trev come in the game
because it's going to be we have a win. So that's
the one thing I felt really good about. I see that in
him. You can see that team get comfortable when
he come in the game.
That's the one thing, I always loved to
have that, not when closer come in the game.
Hey, man, what's going to happen now? They
have the confidence. Hey, man, we have this
game in hand because we got this guy on the
How about in terms of work ethic
and preparation because you don't, Trevor
doesn't accomplish what he does without
having done what he's done for these -- every
day for all these years?
LEE SMITH: A lot of things go unnoticed.
For myself, I would go as far as watching the
umpires and situational hitting, and I went to
hitters' meetings, listen to things like that.
But the preparation, no matter how well
you are prepared, the game of baseball is
unpredictable. You see a situation or game today
that may not happen again. But the thing is when
you go between the lines -- I was a fast-ball
pitcher. If a guy is a good fast-ball pitcher, I'm not
going to change my aspect when -- what I do,
when I go out there.
That's what I see in Trev. You don't go out
there day in, day out, try to pitch to the situation.
You gotta go out there. My game is what it is. I
can't change that because that's what got you
Trevor you alluded to this. I would
like to ask you both this question. The last
year considered the Hall of Fame. You have
the career record and there's talk of Cy Young
possibility here for Trevor. I'm wondering
about the appreciation of the closer. How it's
grown, maybe even in the last 12 months, and
what's next for that position? What else has to
be, you know, what else would you like to see
as far as the popularity or the appreciation
towards that position?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: Well, I think that
just the fact that your name is mentioned with all
the other greats is a fantastic thing. But where it
can grow is yet to be seen. It's wherever you guys
decide to take it, to be honest with you. We're
appreciated by the guys that make up those lineup
cards. We're appreciated, as Lee said, by
teammates that feel comfortable when you come
into a ball game, and there's nothing that you can
take away from that is bad.
I mean, you're breeding confidence into a
ball club to prepare to shorten the ball game, and I
think if you have that opportunity to do that, that's
great. But the people that are in the clubhouse
understand the importance of our role. That's
where it's at.
LEE SMITH: For later on, I think it's only
going to be better for the same guys like sooner,
and you can't forget Dennis Eckersley and guys
like that. But you look what they do to the ball
clubs, I'm thinking later on the guy's going to get a
little more credit. Because we talked about it. He
called me a couple weeks ago. I had to pull over
on the side of the road and talk to this man,
something I have to get off my chest. Like an easy
save. You never saw one, easy save. I don't see
guys donating out there.
I talked to one of the greatest hitters in
baseball, Billy Williams, and he said the most
embarrassing moment with him was when he
made that last out, to be out there on the field with
that other team high-fiving, he said that was the
worst feeling that a hitter could have. And those
guys, that 27th out is hard to get. Not many guys
you can throw in that situation and that want to be
in that situation.
You actually sort of touched on this
talking about no easy saves, but during the
course of the time that you did the job, it sort of
transitioned in terms of the number of outs that
guys were asked to get and the ways that guys
were used. How much different do you think
the job is now from when you started doing it,
or is it not that much different because the 27th
out is such a tough one?
LEE SMITH: I think the guys have really
took the game a little farther than when back when
I played. But that was my left-handed specialist
and my setup man. But also I played for the Cubs.
So that is probably the answer to that question.
But also, you know, when you go out, you look at
that situation, those guys coming in, I think it
makes the closer a little more fresh later on, other
than a guy coming into the playoff throwing 120
innings as opposed to a guy throwing 60 innings. I
think it helps out in situations for that guy to be
fresher in the playoffs because now they've got the
central and all the other, especially the playoffs, so
it could go a lot longer.
So I think it helps the organization and that
team itself to keep that guy fresh.
So both of you, in all of this Hall of
Fame talk, how much -- do you think too much
emphasis is being put on post-season success
for closers rather than regular season success,
and is that a factor in your mind?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: I think they're two
animals that are inter second in many ways but are
completely different. You could be a guy that
helps your ball club get to the post-season and do
the things that you know are responsible for that
long haul, and then you understand the
microscope is on you when playoffs hit. Every
pitch is huge. Every at-bat is huge. And situations
are just that. And I think the experience having
been in the post-season, you understand that
these factors are involved and, therefore, you have
to turn the page. It's great. You did what you're
able to do someplace else, but now you need to
make yourself shine.
So I definitely think there's an importance
on what you do in the post-season, especially
under this role.
LEE SMITH: Yeah, man. I tell you that's
exactly how I feel about that situation, because
what he's done in the regular season, book a close
on that. That doesn't matter. What you've done
now from what you've done right now, it's not what
you've done from the past, you gotta go out there
and show that team, because you're going to play
guys that you know that everything is elevated
now. I mean, everything has like got that
microscope on it and stuff like that.
Then when you get to the American
League, we didn't have the inner league play when
I played so we didn't get a chance to see these
other guys, so you have on-the-job learning.
What's going on in that situation for myself, you
can't go out there and change the way he's going
to pitch because we're playing somebody from the
American League. You just go out there. What
you feel comfortable doing and what has got you
here is going to keep taking you if you have the
confidence in yourself.
Is this last pitch that Lee throws to
you today, does that count as a save?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: All closer throws
strikes. Get a strike to get an out.
LEE SMITH: It wasn't a hook.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.