Swagger Seeking Snakes
Arizona Diamondbacks Management Seeks To Instill a New Attitude In Spring Training
Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers is big on swagger.
By Bob Goodwood
Special For Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 21, 2011 — Spring has arrived and the annual migration of major league baseball to the warm climes of Florida and Arizona has begun.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, that means a new spring facility in Scottsdale and a commitment to try to reverse successive last place finishes in the National League West. The first order of business, according to General Manager Kevin Towers, Manager Kirk Gibson and President Derrick Hall, is to tell the players that they believe in them. After a season like last year, that is a good idea, for sure.
Sure, it is spring training and every team has a shot at the World Series in February and March. But, it is a relief that current management’s philosophy might be best paraphrased as, “we will win, we believe in you and anyone who does not come work to better the team will be gone.”
In short, and with all apologies to Mike Singletary, the Diamondbacks brass, “wants winners.” They are definitely on to something since most everyone knows that mindset is paramount in sport. But it is not as easy as the statement implies. Just ask Singletary.
But it seems that while sports psychology 101 is being handled as much through the media as it is in the clubhouse, the second ingredient for winning sports is being handled on the field. Gibson has promised the players will go “full speed” as soon as the guys get in shape. He has also said he wrote down mistakes people made last year and they will be addressed in practice this spring.
Gibson is a baseball legend, but in Michigan, he is also a football legend. He learned how to practice as much from his football career through high school and college at Michigan State. Football players know that practice is the best way for a team to come together.
“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital,” according to a famous quote from Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
Gibson and Towers are expecting nothing less from their ball players. New arrival Henry Blanco, who has been designated “The King” by Gibson, is one of the first to arrive and last to leave the ballpark everyday. His attitude and dedication are reportedly already rubbing off on the Latin American players.
Sticking with the the football theme, Gibson will most likely not just practice his team, but practice them until they are doing it perfectly.
Lombardi perhaps said it best, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
These are all good lessons for a team whose most talented players are young and have not delivered on their talent, according to some. But it is the spring and its baseball, a time and place where everyone can believe and dream.
Even the Diamondbacks.
Will any of this guarantee a winning season and a spot in the playoffs? No, but its a good start.