First year manager of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters (35-19, 1st place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division) Pat Borders took time recently to answer questions about his club, his history of crushing Phillies fans’ hopes in 1993 and much more. Read ahead for my full interview with him.
-The team got off to a hot start this year and has maintained a lead in the division standings all season. What can you tell me about this 2015 Crosscutters team?
They’re a pretty energetic bunch of guys. They play hard. Seems like they’re always banged up because they’re really go-getters. They go the extra step. They’re really energetic. They’re the kind of team that anybody likes to coach.
Mitch Gueller…changes speeds really well. He throws like a veteran pitcher. He knows how to pitch, how to call pitches and how to throw softer instead of harder sometimes.
-Is there a guy in the starting lineup that’s really been a catalyst for the team this year?
It’s kind of shifted. Our lead-off hitter (Zach) Coppola has done a super job at lead-off, seems to kind of set the tone all the time. He’s fast, he puts pressure on the infield. And we’ve got (Mark) Laird, we’ve got a lot of guys that hit from the left side that can put pressure on the infielders, coming to get it and it usually makes them crack.
-Out of the bullpen, Kenny Koplove’s a guy with local ties to Philadelphia. How has he be in his first season as a pro?
I like his sink when he attacks the zone with his fastball. I think he needs to have as much confidence in his fastball, because I like his fastball. I like how it sinks, I like how it moves, it’s tough to hit, for people to square him up easily. He’s got a nice change of pace with his breaking ball and change up. He’s a complete pitcher and I have the utmost confidence to put him in there when the game’s on the line.
-Are there other relievers that have really helped the club stay in control of the division standings?
Different ones at different times. They have different roles and they usually come out and do a fairly good job and if someone has a rough night, the next person that comes along usually picks him up and does a super job. Our closer Robert Tasin has been spot on all year.
-I know some former players coaching the really young guys may run into players that aren’t aware of their accolades during their own careers. You’re a World Series MVP, an Olympic gold medalist, you caught a no-hitter…do you run into that, where the players aren’t aware of what you’ve accomplished?
I could care less if they do know. It doesn’t matter to me whatsoever. I come out there and I am who I am. Usually, personality wise, I get along with the player really well and they respond to any kind of criticism I give to them. Maybe it’s the way I give it to them- it’s not a harsh tone. But they seem to respond, so to heck with what I did!
-We’re out here at this beautiful park in Staten Island. Did you ever see facilities like these when you were coming up through the minors?
Heavens no! You saw them when you passed the spring training field, where the big leaguers were playing, but my minor league fields- there’s a few of the really old ones that are left. One of them is our home field in Williamsport, but most of them are really nice. They get a lot of fans, got a nice sound system, ground crews, nice grass. They have everything. It’s a miniature version of a big league field.
-I mentioned your history in the World Series, which includes a victory over the organization you now work for in 1993. What is that transition like, coming to the team whose fans you helped crush the dreams of back then?
Well, I have no regrets from that side! I enjoy my ring and I like to wear it once in a while. But, now I’m over here and it’s a super organization. I heard people speaking of it very positively that I knew that were coaching and managing with the Phillies and everything I’ve seen my first year has been exactly what they said and it’s a classy organization.
-Do you still love the game of baseball?
Oh, yeah. I still enjoy the game. It’s fun. I can’t play anymore, but the enthusiasm for winning and getting into making decisions on the field that impact the game is fun and competitive.