Ready for more? 2017 was different.
There were gifted players who decided to hold each other accountable. This does not happen often, especially in the Cape, where personal stakes are high. More than once, our catcher, RF or 3B, would remind a player that first base is 90 feet from home plate and you need to run hard and through EVERY TIME. Guys were taking it PERSONALLY. What a player did or did not do reflected on all of us. A very powerful dynamic. We can all wax poetic about how to build unity and what we can do to create it. That’s mostly a waste of time, what was happening here CAN’T be coached, instructed or purchased online. THIS was CHEMISTRY. Like pornography, you may not be able to define it, but you know it when you see it. And I was seeing it. 2017 was very different.
This is when we started to comment on how hard players were working and how they “couldn’t get enough.” Early work became more intense and I was summoned many times by players requesting reps prior to games, in addition to early work…They were hooked and it raised the bar for us all. We needed to find ways to help players, study video, create drills. We started the “conversation,” that critical player/coach dialogue, so vital and rare in the development of players . This was a coach’s dream and we coined the phrase “baseball think tank.” A market place for the free exchange of ideas, with players given a voice in their own development, ownership of their game, a give and take daily on the how, what, why and where of the game...real “inside” stuff, unique and special.
Around this time, our manager saw fit imploring openly, the heady notion of “playing for something bigger than yourself,” asking players to take stock of what the team means to the community, volunteers and how much winning a championship would mean.” Did he just say championship?” I must admit, when he first said the “C” word, I wondered if he had suffered a head trauma. He was tempting fate, we had yet to clinch even a spot in the playoffs and he was challenging us to think in terms of winning it all? He would repeat this refrain as we got closer to the playoffs, essentially doubling down as it became apparent we would earn a playoff berth. Holy Shit. Is he Patton or Custer? Grant or Lee? Captain Sullenberger or Queeg? Well, saddle up boys, I guess we have some work to do.
We would clinch a playoff spot in Wareham and players were quick to mention by name those who had, for any number of “reasons,” gone home early. It was a declaration. “You’re missing out on something really cool.” 2017 was different.