In the days leading up the press conference, I said a few times that in hiring Eric Wedge, the Seattle Mariners were basically hiring the same guy they had earlier in Don Wakamatsu. Both were former catchers, both were organization type guys, both were very protective of players, both had certain expectations that players should live up to and both were going to let the players be responsible for living up to those expectations.
But after today, there are some apparent differences, particularly intensity. They both had it. It's just that Wakamatsu did a good job hiding it. He was intense, but calm to the point where some people may have mistaken him for being docile.
Wedge can't hide that intensity. It's simply not in his nature. At certain points when he was talking about something he's was passionate about, his voice would rise and his face would turn red and the intensity could be felt. This is who Eric Wedge is. He's a guy that views being in professional baseball as the ultimate privilege. And with that privilege a responsibility to prepare, to work, to perform and to maintain also accompanies it.
Wakamatsu expected all those things - he just put them all under one phrase: "Belief System." Wedge isn't like that. He doesn't have an all encompassing catchphrase. It's readily apparent that he can and will get in the face of a player that isn't going to follow suit. He won't do it in the dugout. He won't do it in the media. But he will do it.
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And the mustache? Well that's just magical, and a whole other blog post in and of itself.
I'm not going to do a whole transcription of the press conference. If you want to watch or listen to it, you can go to MLB.com or KJR to listen to it.
But here's 20 things that Wedge said from today's press conference and post presser interview I found interesting.
1. When you talk about moving forward here in Seattle, there’s certain things we are going to work hard to accomplish - that are going to be foundation based, that are going to be things you can count on. There’s always going to be X factors involved. But the bottom line is, we are going to stand for something here within the Mariners organization, from head to toe.
2. It was interesting. I always thought I worked hard to keep the proper perspective and keep a bird’s eye view as much as you possibly can. But when you are that close to it day to day as you know you can get too close to it at times. I think the way it worked out, I was able to recall certain things that happened both positive and from negative standpoint that are going help me as I move forward. I think my perspective has always been good. But it’s even better now.
3. I think the experiences that I’ve gone through over the course of the seven years in Cleveland have been tremendous for me as I move forward. I think there’s a strong argument that if you go something the second time around you should be that much better. I think there’s an argument you should be that much better if you paid attention to what happened over the first go around
4. No, not at all. That’s about me. If I do my job, the rest will take care of itself. I can’t be any more honest than that. I like that responsibility. I like the accountability and responsibility that goes along with being a manager. It’s not an easy job. Hell, it’s not easy to win a big league ball game. It takes a lot of work, a lot of preparation.
5. It's not just about today. It's about tomorrow, next day, next month, next year, two years from now. We're not looking for this to be a fly-by-night operation that's when he came in here and he's on that path and we're going to continue on that path and just keep making it better. It's going to be foundation based and we're going to have people here that understand how to win and it's my job to help that happen.
6. First of all, that's a compliment, that means a lot to me they felt that way. I don't even think it should be negotiable. You have to be. I don’t see how you can be a leader in this day and age and be a manager. Because as a manager - it's not a head coach - it's a manager. A manager of people, a manager of situations and you cant' do that without communication. You can't do that without have difficult conversations. You can't go through some of these things on a day-to-day basis and earn the respect you have to have as a leader as a manger without having that type of communication. they have to know you care about them first, it's not about me as a manager,
7. Preparation is big. This game demands your respect as a player. Every time you put on a big league uniform, a professional uniform for that matter, it's an honor. Like I tell the kids, the players, listen, every night you come to the ballpark, there is a family of four up there who's been saving all year long, mother, father and a couple of kids and it's their night. This is their night. This is all their savings. This is everything their about. This is their night and you owe it to them to show up and play your you know what off. That's the way we're going to play.
8. The consistency we display, the manner we do that, there are certain things that are non-negotiable. Being a good teammate and respecting the game are going to happen here, every single day with all of our players at some point in time. It may not happen from day 1, but at some point in time that's going to be a big part of what we're about. Like I said to someone the other day, I could write a masters thesis on what it means to respect the game and everything that goes along with that. But that consistency in what we're going to show is going to allow them to come out and play it all the way through. doesn't matter how many people are in the stands, where we're playing, the time of the year, what the weather is like, what our record is, the way we play and our effort and the way we go about it is going to be there each and every day. It's going to be at the point where the other team knows who they're playing and who their fighting against. Those are things that are going to happen here.
9. When I look at the game of baseball – I’m going to stress this to our players – you’ve got to pay attention to the game. You’ve got to watch the game. Pay attention to the game. Not just when you’re up to bat or on the mound or in the field. Watch the game, because you’re going to learn. Manage the game with me, OK. Be a smart baseball player. Because in the end, when we get to the playoffs and we’re out there fighting and doing our thing, those are the separators. Those intangibles are the separators once you get to that point. That’s how you control the heartbeat – your knowledge and understanding of the game, and your ability to perform in key situations. These are the things that allow you to separate. You look at the championship teams, and those are the attributes they have with their players.
10. It was a short conversation in the interview. We talked about it very briefly and left it at that. I look at Milton, it’s 7 ½ years since I had Milton. I think one of Milton’s biggest obstacles is just staying healthy. Hopefully, he’ll be healthy and help us have an opportunity to win some ballgames here. I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to work with him. I don’t hold any grudges. Milton’s a long ways away from that, too. I’m sure our relationship is going to be fine.
11. Hardnosed, consistent, passionate and prepared. I think there’s not a greater compliment someone can give us as an organization or as a big-league club than when an opposing manager, coach or even player comes up and says, “I love the way you’re ball club plays.” That’s what we’re shooting for, guys. That’s what we’re shooting for. We want these other teams to have that type of respect for how we play the game.
12. One thing probably turns me off more than anything in the game, whether it be managers or coaches or executives is anybody that doesn’t have a great appreciation for how damn hard this game is to play. And it is hard. You’ve got to have a certain level of toughness to play this game and do it with consistency over the course of six months.
13. I don’t worry about my job. I concentrate on doing my job. I don’t think you can do both. We’ve all seen it. You start worrying about your job, that’s the day you quit doing your job, or at least doing it to the utmost of your ability.
14. Circumstances should never, ever dictate how you play. What I mean by that – it’s effort, approach and preparation. It doesn’t matter. Those things that happen that are part of the game, you block it out and play.
15. If you have a team meeting, that’s something demands a lot of respect. So if you do it, you better have a good reason for it. In ’03, when he had about 26 or 27 rookies come through, I think we had about 30 of them. In ’07, I think we maybe had one, when we were a game away from the World Series. I prefer one on one and to do it behind closed doors.
16. I’m not going to call a player out in front of anybody, unless he gives me no choice. Otherwise, I’m going to handle it behind closed doors.
17. If you do your job before the game, take care of yourself after the game, you’re ultimately going to give yourself the best chance to have success during the game. It takes routine. It takes discipline. It takes sacrifice. It takes commitment for all those things to happen. I hate when people throws those words around and they don’t know what the hell those words really mean. There’s a lot of content behind those words and once you start living that, then you have an opportunity to be the best you can be.
18. Coach (Bobby) Knight was someone I was pretty passionate about because I loved his passion for the game. I love the flipside to that – his players were graduating. They were good within society and the community. Having the opportunity to spend some time with Bobby, his passion for human beings and other sports – he’s a huge baseball guy – was something that was good for me. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk to him – some of the good, some of the bad, but just his experiences. Whether it be with past presidents of the United States or some of his players, this guy has been around everybody and done just about every thing. It was good for me as a human being. That passion was something that was important to me.
19. There has to be an identity for lack of a better of a term. You have to establish an identity as a ball club and organization.
20. I think communication, just being open and frank with each other, is important. I think you have to do that. And there has to be a certain amount of toughness there. You can't be afraid to have difficult conversations. I'm not a yes man by any stretch of the imagination