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Did Chip Hale Win

The Press Conference?

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Perception Is Reality, Especially In Professional Sports Where Champions Are Usually Derived From Those Willing To Push Themselves To Win, And If The Press Conference Is Any Indication, Chip Hale Is The Right Guy To Step Into The Hot Seat With The Arizona Diamondbacks


By Bob Goodwood
Special for Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 14, 2014 — There is a lot of talk in this day and age about winning the press conference in professional sports.

But its more a condition of winning by not losing. It hardly matters anyway, because everyone has seen coaches win press conferences but lose so badly on the field that it barely matters (see Ryan, Buddy).

With all of that said, how did Chip Hale do Monday in downtown Phoenix when he was announced as the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks?

In the words of Dennis Green — and with a little poetic license and in not a derogatory manner at all — he is who we thought he was.

He’s a baseball guy. He’s been a very successful minor league manager and is an established major league bench coach. He knows the organization and the organization knows him. He’ll squeeze every ounce out a player. He has integrity. He has never worked with Tony LaRussa nor Dave Stewart.

And most importantly, he’s a guy who knows that the press conference is JUST a press conference. He’ll leave his mark in the clubhouse and on the field.

When LaRussa brought in ‘his guy’ in Dave Stewart, many figured he would also bring in a guy that he knew or had mentored in any way as manager. But Hale has never worked with either. And, he has a stronger connection to Diamondbacks ownership than LaRussa.

“I want to thank all of those who were part of the process. I especially want to thank Ken and Jeff, I have known them a long time,” Hale said Monday when beginning his remarks at his press conference.

“Ken and Jeff” are Ken Kendrick and Jeff Royer, the two most active owners in the organization.

But rather than it be a situation of ownership forcing a manager on a newly hired executive, it seems like more of a case that ownership and LaRussa both realize the organization made a big mistake in letting Josh Byrnes fire Bob Melvin. Kendrick has admitted so publicly and LaRussa alluded to it Monday.

“There was an integrity thing that happened here when Bob Melvin was let go,” LaRussa said. “Alot of us that were watching from other places said, whoa.”

And, it seems like LaRussa sees a bit of himself in Hale. They both were basically career minor leaguers who just could not stick in the big leagues. LaRussa has 7 career RBIs. Hale has 78. LaRussa was a manager 4 years later. Hale, however, took nearly 20 years to get there.

“We were looking for a leader and a guy that knows baseball and there wasn't a box that he didn’t have checked.”

And Hale seems to have a level of integrity. With his quitting in protest of Melvin’s firing in mind, one can surmise that although he looks forward to talking baseball with LaRussa and Stewart, he won't be afraid to go toe-to-toe with them if it ever comes to that.

Still, he’s glad to be home in Arizona.

“When you walk into a room like that to talk baseball, you know this is where you want to be,” Hale said.

He also realizes the task ahead is great and may take time and will likely be accomplished through the draft and developing the talent already in the system.

“We’re excited about what we have. We were the worst team in baseball, but we get the first pick. That is the positive,” Hale said. “Whatever roster we are given, we are going to give it everything to get every ounce out of those guys.”

But he also knows that task is much, much, much easier when a team is winning.

“People would always ask me about Oakland: How do you have such a great clubhouse? When you win, it's pretty easy to have a great clubhouse. Guys are happy,” he said.

In 2014, there was very little winning and likely a ‘not great’ clubhouse that mirrored what happened on the field for the Diamondbacks.

Monday, Hale commiserated with Gibson. They served on the same staff together under Melvin from 2006 until his firing in 2009. He said he and Gibson were, “close friends.”

“I know what he was trying to do but when you have injuries and the losses stack up, its very difficult to maintain a good culture,” Hale said.

Sure, if Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollack, Bronson Arroyo, David Hernandez and others did not get hurt, Gibson might still be here.

Did Chip Hale win the press conference?

Not necessarily.

But he didn't lose it either.
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