"It's funny. I started the season in Double A by going something like oh for 17. Same thing. Then I started hitting, and I was all right. I was promoted to Triple A. Struggled there, too. Then I was all right. Every level seemed to need an adjustment. In September I went to Montreal, and I didn't have any of those problems. I already was hitting in Triple A, and I kept hitting in Montreal. I've been here since."
"Along with a lot of guys you met in the minors."
"That's the nice part," Grissom says. "We're growing up together. Delino DeShields. Larry Walker. Bret Barberie. Chris Nabholz. We're all going through this. Everybody picked us to finish last? Good. We're just going from there, rolling along and seeing what we can do. People have said they don't like to play in Montreal, that the money is different, the language is different, that there are all kinds of hassles going through customs. Well, if going through customs is part of playing in the majors, then that's fine. Thank the man, take your bag and play baseball."
(In May the Expos were, as predicted, challenging for last place. That was when Duquette made a major move, firing drill sergeant manager Tom Runnells and replacing him with 57-year-old Felipe Alou. Under Alou's much softer hand the young Expos were 65-47. Alou looks amazingly like the man who played Bill Cosby's father in The Cosby Show, and acts accordingly. The young players obviously have responded. Walker made the National League All-Star team this season. DeShields and Grissom have been baserunning dervishes, using the teachings of coach Tommy Harper. The young pitchers have surprised everyone. The team actually reached first place late in July and still hangs close in the chase. With two games scheduled to be played against the Pirates this week, who knows?)
"Felipe came in, and the first thing he told us was that he would take the blame for all losses," Grissom says. "He said if we lost 10 in a row, he might be fired, but none of us would lose our jobs. He stopped all of that military stuff. It never bothered me, the military stuff, but it bothered some guys. It's much nicer now. You make a mistake, you know it's a mistake. No one has to tell you. That's what Felipe knows. That's how he treats us."
"And Harper helps?"
"Tommy Harper is like a second father to me. We talk about everything, not just baseball. He knows so much. I learn things every day from him about stealing bases. About situations, when it's best to steal. About pitchers, about moves. There's just so much I didn't know. We talk about every pitcher we're going to see. Tommy, for instance, spotted something that Bud Black of San Francisco was doing. I don't want to say what it was. But I stole three bases in one game against Bud Black. That's the challenge. Figuring things out. Tommy always says that the best base stealers are the ones who can steal the base when it's really needed, late in the game, when everyone is looking for it. I go along with that. No cheapies. I used to get really mad when I was thrown out. He's convinced me that there are times when you get thrown out and you can't do anything about it. The other team just makes a perfect play. You just have to tip your hat to them and try again."
"Can you stay in this race?"
"We have to learn how to win games that we shouldn't win, to manufacture wins," he says. "That is what the Pirates do very well. They take games they shouldn't. You look at the end and say, How did they do that? They just did. We're getting better at it, but we still have a ways to go."
"What about yourself? What goals do you have?"