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 :- )