Most major league pitchers would not take the ball in a meaningless game late in a season to risk notching their 20th loss of the year. However, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer isn’t most pitchers. Archer told The Jim Rome Show on Thursday why he chose to pitch in a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox during final week of last season while sitting at 19 losses on the year.
“I’m a warrior, man. I’m a battler, I don’t let those type of things define me,” Archer said of his potential 20 loss season last year. “I’ll admit, I had some guys around the league and the team ask me, ‘Hey are you sure you want to make this last start? You know what’s at risk.’ And I knew what was at risk, and I’m not afraid to fail. That’s the thing, just in life in general, you can’t go into things thinking that you’re going to lose or you’re not going to succeed.
“First of all, I’m not afraid to lose 20 games, and that’s what’s going to help me be a 20 game winner one day is I’m not afraid to fail. And regardless if it’s on the line or not, our team was completely out of it, my record was what it was going to be, but I still want to go out there, compete, get better. I love this game, and if I can take the ball 50 times a year, I would. I’m not physically capable, but I’m going to take the ball every time that fifth day comes around. I’m going to take it whether I’m leading the league in wins or I’m leading the league in losses, and I mean that literally.”
Archer read Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s former trainer Tim Grover’s book, Relentless, in the off-season, and he claims the book helped push his competitive drive even further.
“The biggest takeaway from me was there’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. The one’s who are the best in the world at their craft, as you know Jim, they receive the most hate,” Archer told Rome. “They try to find the worst in you, and they try to say you’re a bad guy or you’re an a-hole or whatever. It may be, but that’s because you’re fearless and relentless when it comes your craft. And I felt like at times I do some media stuff, I am a nice guy, I’m a family man, I love people in general, I was too nice whenever I was in between those lines. So now there’s no more Mr. Nice Guy.”
Archer continued to stress about sharpening his mentality while he plays.
“There’s no more tipping my cap to the guy that’s at the plate, there’s no more joking and smiling whenever I’m up there. I’m coming at you and I’m going to come in hard, and I’m going to attack you. I’m not letting up ever,” Archer said. “Just like the greats, just like Tim did in that book he explained that Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, D-Wade, you know everybody thought they were a-holes. And you look at Russell Westbrook, people don’t like that guy, and that just means that he’s doing something right. He’s having arguably an MVP season, people don’t like him. People don’t like LeBron. People don’t like the way Kobe carries himself on the court. But I don’t care. I want you to not like me, I don’t want to be liked in between those lines, and that was the biggest thing I took from that book.”
Archer was also a pitcher on Team USA during their run to win the World Baseball Classic, and the 28-year-old says it was like nothing he’s ever experienced.
“It was the best baseball experience I’ve had to date,” Archer said. “I’m hoping to top that here soon with a nice playoff run, a pennant run, and a World Series championship, but to date, that was my best baseball experience.
Archer explained why the tournament was so meaningful to him, “I learned so much from those guys in that clubhouse, and I made some long lasting friends, and I performed really well on a big stage, and I haven’t had the opportunity to pitch in too many high level situations like that. Every game means something obviously, I make 34 starts throughout the regular season. They all mean something, but that was different. And to show myself that I could come up big in a big situation was good for me, because I haven’t had too much playoff type experience in my career.”