Chip Hale A Surprising,
But Smart Pick For Dbacks
The Coming Home Party For The Former University Of Arizona Star And Longtime Contributor To The Diamondbacks Will Be A Welcome Breath Of Fresh Air To A Team That Has Suffered Through A Season That Saw Them Finish With The Worst Record In Baseball
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 14, 2014 — The Arizona Diamondbacks managerial search is finally over and the team defied most predictions by going with the most conventional, white bread and safe pick anyone could possibly imagine. I’ve only got one thing to say: thank goodness.
Instead of going with a legacy pick like Jay Bell or a Tony LaRussa company man like Joe McEwing, the team chose Chip Hale.
That name is likely to elicit two reactions from most casual baseball fans. First, they’re going to ask a serious baseball fan if Chip Hale is the most fantastic and quintessentially “baseball” sounding name a player or manager has ever had. Second, they’re going to ask that more serious baseball fan who Chip Hale is.
To answer the first question, no. While Chip Hale is a great baseball name, the title of the best goes to current Diamondbacks backup catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who narrowly beats out the likes of Goose Gossage, Duffy Dyer and Boof Bonser.
To answer the second question, Chip Hale is a qualified and smart choice for the job. He’s a former major leaguer, having spent parts of seven seasons as a reserve infielder with the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers.
He’s also a coaching veteran with a track record of success. He managed in the Diamondbacks minor league system for 10 years before becoming the team’s third base coach under Bob Melvin. He then served as the Mets third base coach for two years before working with Melvin again as the A’s bench coach.
But, the most important thing about Hale is what he’s not: Kirk Gibson. Gibson was the gritty, superstar player turned gritty, hard-nosed manager. Hale was a role player but has since proven that he knows what it takes to develop players and coach them up. You don’t consistently find minor and major league coaching jobs over nearly two decades without knowing how to coach.
The only problem with Gibson is he couldn’t actually coach. He chose gut over skill in almost any situation because he didn’t have any managerial skill to begin with. With the help of GM Kevin Towers, he turned a winning team into a mediocre team into a horrible team because he constantly held grudges against good players who didn’t fit his mold. Rather than coaching them up, Gibson tore them down and then threw fits on the field to distract everyone from his shortcomings.
Judging a manager by his first season is like looking at the economy during a President’s first year, which means I give the guy who came before him more credit for the failures and/or successes. So, that means I don’t give much credence to Gibson’s first full season when the team went 94-68. He’s proven that he’s not capable of regularly coaching a team to anything better than a .500 record.
Hale, on the other hand, is capable of better, I think. I can’t say for certain because this is his first big league managing job, but his record as a minor league skipper shows he knows how to coach. He took over a mediocre Tucson Sidewinders (AAA) team in 2004 and turned them into a league champ in two seasons. In his final year as the manager, Hale coached the team to a franchise best 91-53 record.
He’s also known as a high-energy guy who knows how to motivate his players. Anyone who’s seen a Kirk Gibson press conference knows that energy in the clubhouse is something the team has been missing. Gibson tried to fire up his players by making every other team into some larger than life villain, and that spawned a lot of bean balls and fights, but very few wins.
Hopefully, Hale’s approach is a little bit different. Hopefully, that natural energy and magnetism he’s been known for feeds into his players so they can get excited about winning, and not distracted by some faux beef with the other team.
The Arizona Cardinals Didn’t Need A Stretcher This Sunday
In other Arizona sports news, the Cardinals proved they could play a game without suffering a serious injury. The team is now 4-1 after beating the Redskins 30-20 and didn’t lose any players in the process.
But, as hopeful as this season has been for the team, it seems that every victory (and the one loss) come at huge costs. They lost quarterback Carson Palmer for three games, backup Drew Stanton to a concussion, Calais Campbell to an MCL sprain and Darnell Dockett to an ACL tear in the preseason.
The win was nice this week, but I’m just glad the team managed to stay off of the stretcher.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
The Sun Also Sets: Or, Living In Phoenix In Summertime? Local Writer Takes Us On A Trip Through Some Of The Sights And Sounds Available In The Phoenix Metro When Its Hot — And What We Adore, Bemoan And Find Jocular — In A Partly Fictional Tale.
Beyond The Hill An exceedingly intelligent homeless amnesiac finds a dear friend on the streets who is not really from the neighborhood, but beyond the hill.