Time! My talk on the moundPosted: July 1, 2010
As I walk out to the mound they know what I am going to say. We know how to defend this because we drill it non-stop. One might say there is no reason to go out to the mound and talk if that is the case. But my purpose is to calm everyone down and give an encouraging word.
By the time I get out to the mound every infielder is there. Here is what I say:
Alright guys. No problem here. They are going to bunt. Pierre is showing the bunt early, First Baseman, you can’t crash. Slowly start creeping and watch for the slash. Third base you are creeping also, move 2 steps into the 5-6 hole and get in that guys face and remind him that you are there. Second Baseman you will play over a few steps in the hole and be ready to cover 1st base. Shortstop, you have 2nd.
Now listen, Pitcher, after you throw this fastball, I want you busting your butt over to the 1st base line. Third baseman will cover the entire left side and the mound. We don’t want to allow Pierre to push bunt the ball and get a hit.
OK! We got this. We are going to get an out at 1st base. Get your feet underneath you and throw a strike to 1st base. Hey! Just follow your throw.
We will intentionally walk the next batter once we get the out at 1st. Then we get a double play and we’re good!
Listen! We won’t be able to hear anything. So are we all good on what our assignments are? Good.
Hey! Pressure is fun. Winning is fun! We’re having fun you hear me! Let’s go!
What I really just did…
Our entire team knew what we were going to do. My talk wasn’t about that. Sure it is always good to go over everyone’s fielding assignments, but it is more important for the players to understand how the manager feels. Managers have an incredible influence on their players. They have an ability to give a guy confidence when he has none in himself. He has the power to show the players that he cares about them as people. In this situation, the pitcher probably thinks he did something wrong. Part of my purpose to go out there is to show him that I don’t care about that. He didn’t do anything wrong. This will change the way the pitcher feels and refocus him on his assignment instead of concentrating on the fact that he just gave up a hit in the 9th.
As for the other infielders, it is to show them that I have complete confidence in them. Managers usually go out there so “tight” that you can’t believe it. It makes things worse. We can tell when the game is moving too fast for a manager. We want to see a guy who has a plan. It is also nice when the manager shows that they are human. This too is rare. They think being really serious and intense will somehow influence the players to feel confidence. It isn’t true. It will cause players to tense up and realize the pressure. My goal is the opposite. I will look in each one of their eyes so that they can see that I am calm and believe in them.
Before I turn around and run back to the dugout, I give a little half-smile and say:
No problem here….we got this! Let’s do it!