You're Either Inspir-ing or You're Not
As Mission Statements Go, It's Been Working Across the Street


It seems kinda quaint, doesn't it?  The idea that a hard-grizzled MLB field manager could even hope to "inspire" his jaded millionaires with "positive energy."  A couple of DiPoto quotes from the St. Louis Dispatch:


"Everything we do is as a group," Dipoto said. "This isn't an indictment of Lloyd. This is a representation of what we would like to build going forward. That is what we'll do."

"This was an opportunity to come into an organization and create a vision and I feel like this is the best way to do that," Dipoto said.

"Leadership will be an important element to me and energy will be an important element to me. Players need to be energized, to be inspired to do something," Dipoto said.


Putting it simple terms:  if the boss is happy to be there, you're happy to be there.



This rah-rah stuff might seem like a pipe dream if it weren't being DONE, on a day-in day-out basis, by the football team across the street.  Pete Carroll "inspires" because he comes to work, each morning, grateful for his job.  Jerry DiPoto might not be able to do this, but he begun his Mariners tenure by announcing this as his corporate mission, began by setting it as a goal.

Or, you take NBA teams that turn things around on a dime and give you nine cents change.  The 1978-79 Boston Celtics won 29 games; they drafted Larry Bird and, the very next year, won 61 games.  Now, Larry Bird was a great basketball player.  But he wasn't no +32 games' worth.  Is what happened -- Dr. D was there, man -- is that Bird drew his teammates a picture.   A picture of how fun it was to make a great pass, and take the lead in the game, and have the crowd go nuts.  Obviously, the extra +25 points a game didn't hurt any, either.  But the point is, a man Inspires us when he convinces us that we can do it. 

If you don't mind our saying so, this is a sine qua non for the great moral leaders of history, too.  You don't need a degree in English Lit to get them.  You can scan down one page's worth of their teachings and walk away feeling like, "Yeah!  That!"

Which is why academia fails to inspire and Pete Carroll succeeds.  He understands that you get three (3) team rules.  It's why Edgar Martinez fixes a player with one drill, as Robinson Cano does.  Grandmaster Richard Reti was asked, "how many moves do you see ahead?"  His reply, "Only one, but it's the right one."

A cheap joke, but what Reti meant was ... yeah, in a simple ending you might calculate 15 ply for each side.  But it's much more important to prioritize.


From Section 341, anyway, here are a few ways that Edgar has inspired:


1.  By pivoting around positive visuals.  You're a nervous flier, strapping in.  Try not to think of your plane going down?  Don't think of black smoke coming out of the engine... don't think of a power dive... what did you just think of?  Edgar has talked about using vids from when a player was going good, or failing that, of Miguel Cabrera going bad :- )


2.  By caring about others.  Here's where the Pete Carrolls of the world are listeners, question-askers.  Not to be curmudgeonly, but was this your impression of Lloyd?  That he'd hold a quiet, contemplative interview with an on-the-cusp player like Erasmo Ramirez to get his thoughts on pitch sequences?  And then adjust his thinking going forward?

21st-century, babe.  Pete Carroll makes it HIS responsibility to deploy Bruce Irvin in a way that exploits Irvin's strengths and minimizes his weaknesses.


3.  Encouragement in tough times.  "I got your back" is so easy to say, ain't it?  You know anybody who DOES have your back?  If so, what about telling them what you think of them.

McClendon didn't (particularly) give Dr. D the idea that he was quick to turn against players.  He doesn't get a bad grade from Section 341.  But dunno that he gets an "Inspiring!" grade, either.


4.  Be really, really good at what you do.  As Michael Angier put it, "be a mentor, not a tormentor.  Practice "carefrontation."  That is, true expertise can afford to use its indoor voice.


5.  Be vulnerable ... don't even know why we're throwing this one in.  Bill James told a story about George Brett visiting a class-A ballfield, and the infielders gathered around, ready for The Great Enlightenment.  Instead, Brett told them about one time he slid into 3B and messed his pants...

James walked away, Huh?!?  And he said that very Sunday, the minister gave a sermon on how great leaders have to be one of us.  Brett had just been telling the ballplayers, they can afford to relax, to be themselves.  There's a little Willy Wonka in every inspiring leader :- )


Dr D



A very apropos comment about Lloyd. 

And I'm not sure I could have articulated that before reading your post, Doc.

Lloyd had the "team's" back, but I'm not sure he gave any sense of having a PLAYER'S back (minus the H0F'ers), especially the ones who needed it:  Taijuan, Erasmo, Taylor, Montero,  etc.  When he was done with a player he was done with him.

He took a while, sometimes, to be done with a player, true.  Almonte, for example: but often he beat up on a (young) player (Taijuan) in a way that seemed to be counter-productive.  

In June, I was terribly ready to see him out the door, even Bloomie looked like a better choice.  By Sept. I was prepared to live with Z and (because they were married at that point) Lloyd.  I had grown accustomed to his face, as Rex Harrison once (sort of) sang

But I am not upset that he is gone.  

(The other) Lincoln fired McDowell, McClellan, Pope, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker and Meade before he found his man.

Let's hope Dipoto gets it right the first time.

Lloyd McClendon is a fine man; I am positive I would like him much were I lucky enough to get to know him.  I wish him luck;  He's got a million samollians coming next year with which to find it.  I do not feel sorry for him, as such is the nature of his business.

I will say this about Dipoto: He does bring a "holier than thou" approach with him, intended or not.  

Such an attitude can be tough to work with, unless you have your own guy in the field general's seat.

Dipoto lived in a (baseball) universe where going big (with contracts) was the rule of the day.  Do you know his Angels never won a playoff game, let alone a series?  He was no miracle worker, certainly....

The best run franchise in professional sport is the St. Louis Cardinals.  John Mozeliak just wins, and does it with little splash.

There's your template, JeDi,

Make it so.

Go team.

Go team.  



Of all the fallacies which pop to the surface any time baseball is compared to football, I wonder if the 'energy and inspiration' factor isn't the the prime example.

I don't think it's possible for any football staff to get its players into a prime emotional state for all 16 games in an NFL season, even with a week to build the momentum.

But I would say that to do this to any group of people, in any field, 162 days in a six month period is not only unprecedented, but impossible.  

My guess is that if the new manager tries the Pete Carroll frat boy cheerleader thing every day, we will see a very unhappy result.

Hope I'm wrong!


Hmmmmmm ... checking my dictionary, it looks like a "fallacy" is a mistaken belief based on an unsound argument.  Since "Energy and Inspiration" are (1) dum-dum blunders and (2) Dip's keynote ideas for a field manager, our Nickname Dilemma is promptly solved :- )


The intensity between sports varies, the Tommy Lasordas / Bobby Valentines / Tony La Russas less so, Did m'man.  DiPoto isn't talking about pre-game speeches that raise blood pressure.  He's talking about what Edgar does.

Sports psychology is about positive visuals.  That's any sport.  "Psychologically, the key is confidence, and this confidence must be based on fact." - Bobby Fischer


And maybe I'm reading too much into this comment:

"Leadership will be an important element to me and energy will be an important element to me. Players need to be energized, to be inspired to do something,"

I read that as him saying the players liked Lloyd...and that he didn't have any problem with his baseball knowledge...but that he simply wasn't electric enough for him as a personality. They certainly do present different personas.

Someone said Lloyd's firing was about Scoscia, not Lloyd.  I think there's something to that.

On topic #1, I have to confess you totally lost me on your 'fallacy' comments.  I'm guessing you laid me low!


This is going to be an interesting off season. if he can land Servais, I'll be excited. That's the kind of shot in the arm the player development system needs. Boger sounds fine, given that Dipoto has already signaled that the manager won't have a ton of power. Certainly not enough to assemble his own staff - his hitting coach and IF coach are already in place, put there by Dipoto. This will be a Beane-like GM, which seems to work. I expect some serious trade/purge activity, as he moves Jack's players out. And we get the draft. And free agency. 


Cool little read here.

Never thought about GM's on a sliding power scale from -BavasiCommittee over to +Beane, at least in terms of day-to-day impact, but that's an intriguing point.


Jack did a pretty good job of purging many of his own players, although he did it in an indirect way. He drafted or traded for them, then they failed.


Yeah, but the minors are still stuffed with Jack's guys and I expect a good # of them to be gone soon. Between trades and the draft, Jerry will be putting his stamp on things in a big way. The Purge is under way, with another 10 coaches from the minors given their walking papers per Curto. 

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