Q. What does this mean to you?

RYAN HOWARD: The award or just --

Q. The award.

RYAN HOWARD: It's definitely something special. To be able to go out there and just contribute, try to do my job to the best of my ability and to get recognized for it right now, it's something special.

Q. Talk about when you first came up through this organization, winning the World Series last year, and then getting back on that stage this year?

RYAN HOWARD: You know, first coming up, this organization was considered to be a losing organization. And when I first got called up and saw kind of the pieces to the puzzle where we kind of fell short in 2005, we fell short in 2006, got over the hump in 2007 and then had a quick exit. Just gained a lot of experience over those three or four years going into 2008 and then into this year.

As a team, I don't think I've ever played on a team that's been so fun. It's one of the funnest teams I've played on. Great group of guys. We all get along. Great chemistry, and we all have a lot of fun. To be able to make it to this point again, it's definitely something very special, because a World Series isn't guaranteed to anybody.

For what we did last year, that was something special. But to get back to this point, to have the opportunity to try to do it two years in a row, that's even more special.

Q. Just to follow up on what you're saying, they say the only thing harder than getting to a World Series is getting there two years in a row. How much did you guys talk about that right from the get-go, first day of Spring Training and say we can't get complacent?

RYAN HOWARD: I don't think we even talked about it that much. I think it was just everybody's mindset. We've got the same group of guys coming back and we know what we're capable of, it's just a matter of us playing our game and going out there and doing it. I think it was that little underlying expectation that we had for ourselves, that hey, we know we can get back there and try and win it again.

Q. Talk about your own motivation, though. I mean, a lot of championship teams wind up taking a step back afterward. You not only came back strong but stronger, you got yourself in great physical shape during the season. Did it start for you the first day after the World Series last year?

RYAN HOWARD: Not so much the first day (laughing), but I had to take a little time to rest and relax and let my body recoup a little bit. My focus was, hey, we just won, and I want to do it again. I just wanted to make sure I got myself in good shape coming into this year and being ready for this year and not being complacent. So I went and took the initiative and started working out with Sammy (Perlozzo) on my defense and started working out, changed my diet, tried to drop some weight and just be in good shape.

Q. Can you describe the feeling you've had at the plate throughout this post-season with all the RBIs and production you've given this team?

RYAN HOWARD: It's been a good feeling. Just been up there and been relaxed and not trying to do too much, just trying to get good pitches and hit them, basically, just trying to keep everything simple.

Q. Can you talk about the difference once the regular season ended right into the playoffs? A lot of the guys in the locker room were saying they could feel a difference in the intensity, the focus, concentration, now that the games really counted.

RYAN HOWARD: Yeah, the playoffs are a whole different animal. I mean, you're one of eight teams that are left, and you're going for the gold. It's a completely different animal from the regular season, and you just know that in order to get to where you want to be, you've got to step your game up and you've got to be on your A game and just go out there and get things done.

Q. You've got a bit of time now before you guys play another baseball game. What are you going to do? Obviously you'll have team workouts, but are you going to try to get some downtime or keep the focus going?

RYAN HOWARD: Right now I'm going to go celebrate, enjoy myself a little bit. That's the one thing about our team is we're going to go enjoy ourselves right now, enjoy the moment and come back and get ready and just get focused and try and wait and see who we play and try and be ready for Game 1.