Talking Baseball With Cliff Floyd

By Tony McClean
Updated: June 10, 2006

NEW YORK — In compiling a 12-year career in the majors, Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd has seen his share of things on and off the field. A member of the Florida Marlins 1997 World Series title team, Floyd had one of his best seasons (.273 BA, 34 HR, 96 RBI) for New York in 2005.

Following last Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, BASN got a chance to talk with Floyd about a wide range of subjects concerning baseball, the Mets, and his relationship with rookie outfielder Lastings Milledge.

BASN: Last week, USA Today did a story on how there are fewer African-Americans playing in the majors now. They quoted players like Torii Hunter and others on the situation as well. You’ve been a veteran in the league for over a decade now. What is your take on the story and its findings?

CLIFF FLOYD: The numbers are definitely depressing. I was talking with Torii (Hunter) earlier in the week. He sent some of us his proposals about what we all as players need to do. We’ve got to stop talking about it and do some actions about it. I think that will alleviate some of the problems.

BASN: I read that you are in the process of developing a Little League in your hometown of Chicago. Tell me a little bit more about that and some of the other things you’re doing in that same vein.

CF: I’m in the process of establishing the Cliff Floyd Foundation in Chicago. We’re hoping to generate and renew interest in baseball in the old neighborhoods that I use to live in. We’re also putting together a traveling team of players that will play in these communities as well. I’m hoping that it will open the eyes of these kids to the sport.

BASN: When will this start to come into fruition?

CF: We’re looking to make a formal announcement sometime during the All-Star break. Because I’m still playing, a lot of stuff will be done during the off-season. It will give me a chance to be more hands on the project. It’s something that I’m really looking forward to doing now and when my playing days are over.

BASN: Speaking of your career, you got off to a slow start this season (.195 BA in April) but you’ve been able to bounce back (.262 since May 1). How you were able to get through that rough stretch?

CF: I was just trying to stay focused. The hardest part of this game is stay focused when you’re struggling. But in regards to the team, it’s not about me. If you get caught up in you all the time, you’ll drive yourself crazy. I learned a long time ago that it’s not gonna go your way all the time.

BASN: You and several other players have somewhat taken on the role of mentor for Lastings Milledge since his call up. What has that been like for you?

CF: The main thing is not clutter his mind with a lot of stuff. A lot of things in the game have changed. But I will allow him to make a few mistakes and I’ll be there to pick him up. It’s going to happen up here.

BASN: He (Milledge) was taken to task by the media and Willie (Randolph) following the “celebration” after his first homer today (Sunday). Did you say anything to him about it as well?

CF: All I really told him was that he rightfully he should be happy that he hit a big homer for us. But just keep in mind that these guys on the opposing side don’t like celebrations. Especially when they’re the victims of it.

BASN: What kind of a student has he been? Is he a good listener?

CF: For the most part, I would say yes. The main thing for me is to show him the ropes in certain areas. You want to make sure he prepares for the game properly. When you do those type of things, you don’t feel like your a dad. You’re just one of your boys helping you out. I want to be more of a big brother to him and help guide him though so he can enjoy the time he’s here.

BASN: This year’s team has shown an incredible knack for coming from behind all season. What do you attribute that to?

CF: This team has been playing with a lot of heart this year. We play hard right up until the final out of every game. Willie doesn’t let us get down even when we’re behind in games. All these comeback wins early on have given us the confidence to know that later in the year when the race heats up, we’ll be prepared for it.