The Washington Times - October 2, 2012, 02:19AM

Amid the celebration of champagne and beer, music and dancing, players, GM Mike Rizzo and principal owner Mark Lerner talked about the division title. Audio and select quotes below:

GENERAL MANAGER MIKE RIZZO (audio)

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We’re so excited to take this first step and see where this thing leads us.

“This is a step in the right direction. Davey Johnson [is] going to lead this team to do great things this year and I can’t say enough about the fellas. They’ve been terrific and we’re excited for tonight and then we’re going to take care of business later on.”

THIRD BASEMAN RYAN ZIMMERMAN (audio)

We put ourselves in a great position at the end of the year. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but at least we can celebrate and enjoy it now.”

On clinching night

“I could envision it. I think when they built this stadium, you could see what was going to happen. I didn’t know how long it was going to take or what was going to happen, but I knew at some point it would.”

On imagining what this would be like

“I did not try and envision it at all. I had no idea what to expect. I just kind of went in there and did what everyone else did. The way it happened tonight, it doesn’t really matter. We put ourselves in that position to have the luxury of having the other team have to play perfect baseball. We played a great 159, 160 games to get to that point. We should be commended for that.

PRINCIPAL OWNER MARK LERNER (audio)

I think you’ve got to go back to the beginning and remember how we got this team from MLB. There was no farm system, there was nothing there. There was nothing in the major leagues. Not only did we have to rebuild the major league team but we had to rebuild the farm system. That doesn’t happen overnight. It was the vision of my father, who wanted to do it the right way and build it the right way and stayed tough about it. And Mike Rizzo and his staff, we’ve come the full circle. We couldn’t be happier. And the most important thing is we’re built for the long term, not for one-year wonder.”

On future

Honestly I didn’t think we’d get this far this year. So I think one at a time, always have. They could go all the way; if they don’t, I think we’ve grown so much this year as a ballclub. Most of these guys are young guys who haven’t reached their prime yet or anywhere close to their prime. I think this team will be locked together for many years and they will win a World Series title. If not this year, it will be one of these years.”

OUTFIELDER JAYSON WERTH (audio)

When I got here this place was upside-down. It wasn’t till Davey took over and really September came around, this team became a type of team that could really play, could really show up every day and had a lot of heart. It wasn’t till September last year … the belief wasn’t there. It wasn’t there till then. We came into spring training this year with the same mindset: the same guys, we added a few key pieces. We knew we were going to lose Stras and we had a lot of injuries along the way, and it didn’t matter. The guys just kept plugging along and kept playing hard every day. The character and the makeup of this team as put together by Mike Rizzo and the Lerner family is unbelievable. It starts with the belief and here we are, Oct. 1 of Year 2 really for me. I couldn’t be happier.”

STARTING PITCHER GIO GONZALEZ (audio)

I feel like I’m sleeping right now and I’m in the biggest dream and the happiest dream of my life right now and I don’t want to wake up.”

On 20 wins

“No, I take pride in the team wins. These guys have been doing unbelievable for me. I’m just happy and proud to be a part of this. Rizz took a chance on me, and this is the best way I can do to show him some love. To do this for the team for the first time since, what, 1933? That’s crazy. This is unbelievable, guys. This is for you, D.C., enjoy it.”

On how long he’ll enjoy this

“Till 7 o’clock tomorrow. I’ll be ready. Till then, I’m not going to sleep. I’m staying up.”

On hugging once Braves lost

“Wouldn’t you hug somebody too? At this point it’s almost like at church: Just turn to a partner and hug him. This is unbelievable. This is just one of those breathtaking moments.”

CLOSER DREW STOREN (audio)

I can’t describe it to be honest with you. All the stress, all the stuff from this year, just one moment it’s in. we did it. It’s what it is, now you clear it up, we show up, let’s get it done now.”

On if losing Monday mattered

“No, we’re the champs, that’s all that matters. We’re division champs; that’s what we wanted to do from Day One of spring training. You know what, we’re going to win when it matters.”

On dreaming of this moment

“You can’t even imagine it to be honest with you. As much as you want to dream and see it on TV, there’s nothing like being soaked and freezing and just smelling like beer and champagne. There’s no better feeling in the world.”