After our last lost I really had to juggle some things up. Not everyone was supportive of my decision to re arrange our line-up.
At least 6 different guys had an opinion. I’ve learned to NOT have these type of discussions with the team as a whole. Because they eventually start to argue and things can get messy real fast.
So I approached my guys one at a time, one on one. I listened to them. And I encouraged them by saying things like, “Thats a great idea” and “I see your point!”
I even gave them a pencil and paper so they could draw up what they think would be the best line-up.
Then I concluded by saying, “Thank you for your insight and perspective. I’ll definitely consider this.”
Meanwhile, I’m really thinking, “Your drunker than a skunk…there’s NO WAY I’m going with this line-up!”
Game time comes. I show the team the new line-up. As I explain, I give the illusion that I have incorporated everyone’s input. But really, it’s just coincidental that some of their ideas coincided with mine.
As we were on the field warming up, I pulled my hamstring! What a bummer!!! It’s bad! I can’t play. So I pull Kenny off the bench and plug him in the outfield. I also use this as an opportunity to encourage the bench players to stay positive and supportive, because you never know when your opportunity will come.
As I watch my replacement warm up, I notice he is struggling with ground balls. In just a few minutes he lets four balls get past him.
I ask him if he’s alright. He says, “Yes, I’ll be good in the game.”
I continue to watch him. Another ball gets by him! I know he can catch, but he struggles with ground balls. And that’s what killed us last game. I’ve seen enough!
I switch him with Bundy, who is at the catcher position. Immediately Bundy does much better!
Pino is the captain of the outfield. He yells to Bundy, “Charge those balls a little, then get down.”
Bundy does. He misses!!! The ball gets by him.
I call all four outfielders to me. I say, “Look, the key to winning is simple. Just don’t let any balls get by you.”
Then I look at Pino and say, “I know your used to charging balls. But that’s why we lost! On this raggedy field, just get in front of the ball and LET IT COME TO YOU!!! THAT’S IT!!!!”
Pino said, “Well you can run up on it a little bit.”
I said, “NO! DON’T!! Trust me. You just saw Bundy miss a ball he ran up on.”
Then I looked at the other three outfielders and said, “Error on the side of caution. Don’t charge. Let it come to you. If you do that…we’ll win!”
The game starts. I have all my outfielders playing deep. My philosophy for this game is: KEEP THE BALL IN FRONT OF YOU
A ball is hit in the air. It’s not going very deep. But it is headed in the direction of Bundy. He runs forward! It looks like he might be able to catch it. Then he does something amazing! He slows down and lets the ball hit the ground. The ball takes one bounce right to him. The batter
is held at first base.
Immediately our third baseman yells at him. He says, “Come on man, catch those!”
Then Pino chimes in, “That’s horse sh*t! I’m going to quit if it’s going to be like that.”
Now I admit, Bundy probably could’ve caught that. But he erred on the side of caution…just like I told him to.
I yell out “Keep it positive guys.”
Then I yell to Bundy, “Good job, way to keep it in front of you!”
Meanwhile I can’t help but to hear a benched player say, “I would’ve made that catch. I’m the best outfielder on this team! Whatever happened to “open tryouts”? How you gonna bench the best player…blah blah blah…”
He’s not talking to me, he’s just talking. Being negative. Being a distraction. Spreading negativity.
I ignore him and focus on the game.
The second batter gets up. He hits a pop fly that is easily caught by Pino.
The third batter hits a grounder to our 2nd baseman who easily turns a double play.
That’s three…switch ‘em up!!!
I gather all the players and reinforce why the outfield is playing so deep. I praise Bundy. And I tell everyone, “Trust me, if we play this way, I promise we will win!”
And “WIN” we did! The score was 19-5.
There were four balls that probably could’ve been caught in the outfield. But my guys played it safe. NOTHING got past them and six balls were caught.
The infield played “lights out”! They turned three double plays. Our pitcher even struck out two guys.
After the game I pointed out ONCE AGAIN why we play the outfield so deep. I referenced several plays in the game that validated my philosophy. Including the time the other player charged a ball that he could’ve easily played on the bounce. He missed it! And we scored three runs!
I feel like my players are starting to buy into my philosophies.
All except one guy. That negative bench player. He’s been a constant distraction. I’ve tried to work with him, but he just doesn’t get it. All he does is argue. So I had to take him off the team.
Our record is now 2-1. We won’t lose another game.
WE WILL WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP!!!