Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Man-Child: Today's Pro Athlete - Part 2

Welcome back to my rant about the modern professional athlete. If you haven't read Part I, take a few moments to read it here.

7 Problems I have with today's professional athlete

Problem #4: Today's athletes believe they are in charge.

In early September, Gaston indicated that catcher Rod Barajas would not return to the team next season. Barajas, a potential free agent, said that he wanted to stay with the club.

Now, I'm not one who thinks Barajas is on the "Anti-Gaston" train. Rather, I think that this particular reporter was trying to give an example of Gaston being "not nice". If so...it's a really poor example.

However, It wouldn't surprise me if many athletes would believe differently. In regards to their future, the prevailing attitude among athletes seems to be, "I will go and stay where I want to go and stay". Uh...no! Wrong answer, but thanks for playing.

The last I checked, Free Agency needed two sides to agree. It doesn't matter where a player wants to be. If a team doesn't want them there, then...no deal!

The whole "I'm in charge of my destiny" thinking, started when "no-trade" clauses were added to contracts. Then when things went bad, the players, who negotiated those clauses, started to demand to be traded. And...even began dictating which team they will go to...C'mon! Who's in charge here! The inmates are running the Asylum and it needs to stop!

If Barajas, or any player for that matter, doesn't like what they hear in regards to their future, well...too bad. You're IN "The Show". Not directing it!

Problem #5: Today's athletes feel "entitled" to play regularly.

Certain Jays veterans bristle over reduced playing time and Gaston's failure to properly communicate substitutions, sources say.

"I am Joe Schmo...so I expect to play". Well, Joe...I don't care who you are. If you aren't producing, have a seat!

Apparently, Lyle Overbay has publicly said, in an Associated Press report, that he wants Gaston to "improve his communication" and that he was "caught off-guard" when he wasn't playing as much as he thought he would.

I give him a lot of credit for putting his name to the quote, but "caught of guard" by platooning? Lyle, did you not look at your stats? Look, I am not an Overbay basher, but he was hardly having an outstanding year, and quite frankly, he's lucky he played, at all, during the entire month of July. He was horrendous!

On the Blue Jays, there were only three position players who deserved to play every day. Hill, Lind and Scutaro. Period! Other than that...NO ONE should have been surprised that they had their butt pinned to the bench.

Really, at this level of competition, "entitlement" is not part of the equation. There may be more patience given to a perennial All-Star, but even David Ortiz, one of the premier power hitters of my generation, had to eat some humble pie earlier this year, when he wasn't producing. And you know what? He accepted it. He's old school...and Boston is a winning team because of it.

And, in regards to the proper way to "communicate a substitution": "Hey Joe. Have a seat." is more than reasonable.

Problem #6: Today's athletes need their manager to hug them.

Younger players require more positive reinforcement than Gaston provides, according to another source.

It seems there is a belief that the Manager should be the players best friend and it is a complete misunderstanding of the role. The Manager is there to make final decisions regarding the proper use of his personnel, and deal with "big picture" problems. He is not the teams "Love Guru".

In fact, a good General relies much on his Lieutenants to do the relational work. The assistant coaches, the guys in the trenches, are the ones who gather the information and bond with the players. They are the ones who have the players ear. If a player wants emotional reinforcement, go to the Manager's coaching staff. Everyone in team sports know these guys are usually the "father figures" on a team.

Granted, the occasional Manager, due to certain personality traits, does try and be-friend his players. But by no means is this necessary. Developing a "loving" relationship with the players is not in a manager's job description and it is definately not a requirement for winning.

Let it be noted. Two of the "young" players, Hill and Lind - and the two best players on the Blue Jays - seem to be holding up just fine...under whatever reinforcement has been given.

Problem #7: Today's athletes have no personal accountability.

"(Gaston) never really said a lot. As we were winning, he was kind of sitting on the back burner, watching us play good." - Lyle Overbay

That comment really ticks me off, and it could easily have been uttered by any number of today's athletes. I think it reveals most of what is wrong with today's professional athlete.

"As we were winning, he (the manager) was sitting". That sounds like someone taking a whole lot of credit for the "winning" part. But I don't hear a whole lot of credit being claimed for the "losing" that eventually happened. Why is that, Lyle?

And why, after 40 games (not including last year), did the team all of a sudden "stop playing good", Lyle? By your words, Cito obviously didn't bring it on, as a result of meddling with a successful game plan. If you won in spite of Cito, can you really say that you lost because of him?

So what happened? Did the Manager cause you to hit .227 in July? or make the team pop out every time (so it seemed) with runners in scoring position? Maybe the players, need to stop looking down the bench and take a look at themselves, and their sub-par performances, in the mirror.

During Gaston's first 162 game stretch - that resulted in 91 wins - I didn't hear anyone complaining about his "sitting back". You know why? Because, collective winning covers up the flaws of the individual athlete - which is all the athlete is concerned with.

As soon as the losing starts to point out those flaws...today's professional athlete starts to point out the flaws in others.

The manager is usually the first to get attacked...because he is the easiest target. And, isn't that just the cowards way.

In closing, Mr. Rosenthal, opened this Pandora's box, because of his "multiple" sources. I think that if a reporter has found enough cowards to anonymously speak to them directly (hence the term "source"), then certainly they must know how many there were. Don't reporters carry a pen and pad anymore? The moment I read "multiple", instead of a defined number...I'm thinking "two"...and no longer believe that the mutiny in the Jay's clubhouse is as looming as reported.

I could be wrong. And if I am...it really doesn't matter!

The time has come for all sporting organizations to take back control. Tell the players to suck it up and play...like their paid to do. Hey, in the real world, "I don't like my boss", doesn't go very far.

So to the Blue Jay organization: Keep Cito.

As for the malcontents. If they turn out to be Hill, Lind or Halladay (which I doubt), all three have proved they are professional enough to perform regardless so...you can keep them.

As for anyone else. Hey, if you're not happy...take your mediocre stats, and your soother, else where.

No more successful coaches and managers should die at the hands of cowardly, under-performing, whiny, pampered athletes. Put up the numbers or shut up!

And finally,
Go Jays Go.

Have a good one,

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