Good evening, we've got a really big show for you tonight. Our special guest is Mariners managerial candidate Chip Hale.
The reason for the late-night affair is that Mr. Hale's flight out of Tucson was stuck on the tarmac for awhile and then stuck on the tarmac and delayed in Phoenix, causing him to miss his connecting flight to Seattle.
So that obviously delayed the interview process and our subsequent conference call with Hale and Jack Zduriencik.
So let's get into what Hale, who's the current third-base and infield coach for the Diamondbacks, had to say.
"It's been quite a day so far, it's been interesting," Hale said, discussing his traveling issues for the afternoon.
Hale had dinner with Zduriencik and Chuck Armstrong before the conference call and was going to meet with Zduriencik for the official interview afterward.
This is the first interview Hale has had to be a major-league manager and he understandably was excited.
"It's a great opportunity," he said. "This is a great organization. It has won and will win again and I'd love to be part of that. Just to be in the process is fantastic. It's my first interview as a manager, but also just the fact that I feel like it's a good place and would be a good fit for me."
Hale did plenty to prepare for the interview, but also had some knowledge of the organization already.
"I looked over the organization, I know this organization pretty well from managing in Triple A with Tucson, and I watched a lot of games. I'm a guy that watches a lot of games. I've seen this team play and I know the strengths and we'll fix some of the weaknesses. I talked to some of the different people that have been around this team in the past and handled some of the players on this club."
Two of those people are D-Backs manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Bryan Price, who used to work in the same capacity for the Mariners.
"They said it's a great spot," Hale said. "Bryan was obviously here for a long time in the minor leagues and major leagues. He has nothing but great things about the city, the organization and everything about it, and the people that run it. Obviously, Bob was here and let go, but he had no hard feelings and has landed on his feet. He loves this area and he was excited for me."
Hale was asked about assessing what went wrong with the Mariners from what he had seen in his preparations.
"Bedard getting hurt was tough. To me they made a great trade, it's sort of like with the Diamondbacks. and we get Danny Haren. We gave up a lot to get him. But he's a legitimate No. 1 pitcher in the major leagues and we put him with Brandon Webb. It was supposed to be the same deal putting (Bedard) with Felix Hernandez. But (Bedard) gets hurt and things don't go right.
"I don't know the ins and outs of every problem, but I will tell you that this will be a place that has enough talent to win. The pitching and defense are there when you have Betancourt at shortstop and Beltre at third and Ichiro is one of the best players in baseball, I think it's a good situation."
One of the things I liked was something Hale said about not saying things just for the sake of getting hired, but saying things he truly believes in during the interview process.
"I have to be honest about my feelings, and what I'd do in situations, so you're really not trying to play up to anybody in this organization by saying the things they want to hear," Hale said. "You want to say the things you believe in. You are going to make this place better because I'm the manager, and not (just) try to do things that are going to make people happy."
Perhaps the biggest aspect of Hale's background that I certainly consider a huge positive was his time spent as a player in Minnesota under manager Tom Kelly.
You won't find a much more respected manager than Tom Kelly. And Hale said he learned a lot from Kelly and from the Twins organization.
"My biggest thing is play the game the right way," Hale said. "I played under Tom Kelly in Minnesota, and the one thing he preached from day one was 'respect the game,' and it could be as simple as that. If guys just buy into that fact and play the game a little better and play the game the right way, we can beat a lot of teams."
"I came through that system and we just did things the right way. It sounds kind of simple, but whether it was working on bunt defenses or taking infield/outfield, if we didn't do it right, we kept doing it. And the bottom line, good minor-league and major-league systems are built by drafting good players. They had tremendous scouting and Jack has a great track record of that. To build that way, and to build through the system, is the way to do it. You are going to go get your free agent here and there, but if you can build this system from the bottom up, you are going to have guys who end up being superstars at the big-league level, and you'll have guys you move for other pieces."
Finally, Hale was asked him about what he would do to prevent some of the cliques and clubhouse division that seemed prevalent with the Mariners this season.
"You have to nip it in the bud," he said. "And you have to just convince the guy that this is our club. There's certain things that the media need to know, and ... certain things certain things that needed to be handled inside."
Of course, he admitted he knew no details of what went on with the M's, but the concept wasn't something new to baseball.
"I have to know the guys well enough and push the right buttons within," he said. "I should be able to see that problem way before it hits."