You don’t pay much attention to rumors, even if something pops up on the TV’s on the bottom line, although then it becomes a little more serious. But at the same time, when you’re a veteran guy, you’ve played for 10 years, you’ve seen plenty of rumors that have gotten shot down. You learn not to take things too seriously until you’re packing up your stuff and heading off to another team. You hear so many things that are supposed to come true, guys are supposed to be traded five or six times and are never traded once. You start to doubt all the rumors, I guess, even when you hear them floating around, unless you just talk to the player directly.
Demp’s in a different situation because they’re always going to have to be in contact with him to make sure they’re not wasting their time if he doesn’t want to go to a certain spot. For most guys, you don’t even hear anything until the general manager comes down and tells you you’re out of here. Demp’s in kind of a unique situation because he can control where he wants to go.
If I get a call from Theo or Jed, I’d be like oh, darn, there’s four, five days before the Trade Deadline, this is probably not about what gardener do you use in the Chicago area. If you get a phone call from them, you want to pick it up, especially at this time of year.
Some of us went over to Walter Reed Medical Center today and talked to some of the vets there. It was all similar injuries — it was mostly from IEDs and stuff like that. The stories were so similar. We were telling them how most of the time you go into a hospital and you just want to get out, but those guys were in totally different spirits. They’re so thankful at what the doctors are doing and amazed at the work the staff has done on them and all their brothers in there. It was an eye opening experience, and it was good to see how well those guys are doing. They were in such great spirits and they’re happy to be alive. The ones we saw were doing real well.
You know they’re watching you on TV, and you want to make sure you’re giving everything you can because they don’t have the opportunity to do the same thing, especially in the situation they’re in right now. All of them were so thankful we came in. You feel guilty in a way. They’re sacrificing their lives and bodies out there for all of us. It’s sad that so many people have forgotten about them. I think more people need to open their eyes, especially people in our shoes who have some fame and notoriety, and they need to get down there and donate some of their time and see those guys and talk to them.
They were so happy to see us. One of the guys who was leading us around was tearing up towards the end. He was like, “You brought Chicago to me — I miss home. We thank you so much.” We felt guilty. We didn’t do anything — we’re just playing a game. You have to realize as a player how much your play and winning ballgames means to these guys, especially the troops overseas.
Who went? It was Dempster, “Bussy,” Heilman, Theriot, Koyie and Hoffpauir. We were there a couple hours at least. We just took our time in every room and hung out with the guys. They told us some stories about experiences over there and how they got hurt and stuff like that. They were really open. It was hard. They keep reminding you how happy they are to see you there — it gives them a break. They see their families all the time and they see a lot of the same faces. They really seemed to appreciate us stopping by.
I wear a bracelet in support of the troops. My buddy was over in Iraq three years ago, and he had a year stint there. He was able to get out of there scot-free. He’s older, and he’s doing recruiting stuff in San Antonio now. Ever since he went over, I’ve worn this. Sometimes it’ll break, so I have to order a couple more off the Internet. It’s something — I want them to know they’re always in my heart. Now I have a couple more faces to put the bracelet to.
A lot of them were Cubs fans. We met a Houston fan. They didn’t care. They were happy to see us. Otis put together some shirts and hats. It was kind of an unexpected thing. I just felt like going over there. It was a good thing — we were able to get them some signed balls. There were a couple guys who were huge Cubs fans and they had pennants on the doors and their parents had Cubs hats on and we took a lot of pictures. We had a great time.
Demp and I had planned a trip after that game in Milwaukee. I was going to ride home with him and I figured he’d find me some Culver’s. We usually stop and get a butter burger. This time, he didn’t give me anything. I think he’s holding out and maybe he’ll take me to Joe’s Stone Crab — but probably not.
After the catch in Washington, he didn’t buy dinner. But he’s helped fund my appetite in the past. I’m sure I’ve already gotten my fair share of dinners. It’s almost like when I make catches like that, I’m doing him a favor. He’s done me a bunch of favors in the past. He was just excited and I was just as excited as he was to be able to make a play, which at that point in the game, was a significant play. I had looked up at the scoreboard and said, “Man, we’ve got a home run hitter up with the chance to tie the game right here,” and all of a sudden, the ball’s up in the air a couple pitches later. I was fortunate for everything to work out just perfect. The ball, the way it came down, gave me a bunch of time to get under it. It’s still not an easy play but I felt it go in my glove and I was thinking, no way that just happened. You automatically turn from excitement to “What do I have to do now?”
I wish I could’ve seen a dugout camera or the reaction of the guys in the bullpen. I’m looking for that everywhere on video. I want to see if ESPN or anybody else had that. Those are always the most fun to see how excited guys get about it. They make you feel good as a player.
I saw Prince tip his helmet on video. I went up to him the next time I got on base and said, “Hey, it’s the first time I’ve ever robbed a homer, man. I know you don’t want to hear that.” That whole rest of the day, I was in a zone and didn’t hear anything he said. He’s going to have plenty more opportunities, I’m sure. He’s a good player and good guy and plays the game the right way. He’s going to have a successful year.
Me and Demp were talking and said the only one-upper would be to do it here at Wrigley. You’d have to stick your foot in the ivy and grab onto the chain link and be able to pull yourself up. That’s next to impossible. Things would have to be just a perfect situation. Woody used to practice that out in left center field, and I would watch him and said, “Oh, that’s how you can get up there,” and you’d have to pull on that little basket and pull yourself up over the fence.
If Font had been working on his outfield play, we’d have to get him an eight-foot ladder out there to get himself up onto the fence. I know he’s going to be upset with me saying that. He always gets upset with me. But it seems like every time I give him a hard time, he steps his game up and starts playing well. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m doing this for him, just remember. I’m doing it for Mike because I want to see him do well. He’s been playing great, the team’s been playing great. Every game, we’ve been in. We’ve got losses, but every single game we’ve been in, and we’ve had an opportunity to win. Hopefully, we’re on the good side of things more times than not. We’ve got clutch players from a pitching standpoint and from a hitting standpoint who are really going to help put us over the edge in close games like that. We’ve got a long way to go.