ST. LOUIS -- The TV ratings for this World Series might be disappointing, but there's one reason for the nation to feel melancholy when this is over.
Leyland, the chain-smoking, gravel-voiced baseball lifer, steals the spotlight every time he sits in front of a microphone and spouts his truisms about life and sport.
Here are some of his best comments from pre-game yesterday - when Leyland was on a roll - with a few of his Series' greatest hits sprinkled in.
Leyland on how to get Placido Polanco to start hitting after the second baseman went hitless in the first three games: "I have no clue. If I knew that, I would have done it three games ago."
Here's Leyland on how the World Series stage has made center fielder Curtis Granderson's slip in the outfield Thursday a monumental gaffe. In the explanation, Leyland references the late Curt Flood, a seven-time Gold Glove St. Louis Cardinals center fielder who fell down during the 1968 World Series. He also references a historic religious figure, whose name is often used as an exclamation.
"If that happened during the regular season you might see it on the highlights for a second, then you wouldn't see it anymore," Leyland said. "But now you'll probably be watching it for a long time. They're still talking about Curt Flood. [Cripes], that was 1968."
Leyland on Cardinals' 5-foot-7 shortstop David Eckstein: "Everybody thinks that there's this cute little kid, doesn't have a lot of talent, but nice kid, plays hard, hustles. Believe me, there's a lot more to this guy than that."
Perhaps Leyland's most memorable comment of the Series came Monday, after the now infamous smudge was found on Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers' hand. Leyland refused to keep talking about it, saying: "I'm not going to chew yesterday's breakfast."
When asked about having played just four games in a dozen days he said, "We're bored, to be honest with you."
And here's Leyland on having lumbering first baseman Sean Casey steal a base: "His steal sign is if I jump in the air and I never come down."
When Leyland left the podium after his pre-game conference yesterday, a potential elimination day for his club, he had a perfect parting message for reporters.
"I hope to see you guys again."
Slippery when not wet
Cardinals' Gold Glove center fielder Jim Edmonds had an interesting take on Granderson's slip in Thursday's seventh inning. He said the first-year field at new Busch Stadium is difficult to play on, and outfielders and infielders have lost footing even when it's not wet.
"The new surface has been really tough to adapt to, the grass is having a tough time taking to the sand underneath," Edmonds said. "The wet conditions have added to it, but it's a tough spot to be in. ... I'm glad it didn't happen to me."
Almost an Oriole?
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he was intrigued with the possibility of managing the Orioles after the 1995 season, but when he met with club officials, he didn't realize Phil Regan was still under contract - and he said he had pledged never to discuss a job that wasn't open.
"When I found out Phil Regan was still under contract, I got home and said, 'I better not be considering it,'" La Russa said.
The Orioles hired Davey Johnson and La Russa left Oakland for St. Louis.