Previous Randy Newsom diary
While the prospect-laden Arizona Fall
League is filled with plenty of household names, one that doesn’t
especially reach out and grab you is Indians sidewinding righthander
as a nondrafted free agent by the Red Sox in 2004 out of Tufts (Mass.)
University, Newsom was the player to be named that Boston sent to the
Tribe to complete the Coco Crisp deal in 2006.
25-year-old pitched for four different clubs that season, finishing the
year with a championship ring at high Class A Kinston, where he also
was named MVP of the Mills Cup series.
began the 2007 season back with the K-Tribe, going 0-1, 1.50 in just 12
innings before being promoted to Double-A Akron. Newsom’s club again
made it to the postseason, but fell in the Eastern League championship
series to Trenton.
the Aeros, the Cincinnati native went 4-1, 3.12 in 49 innings, recorded
18 saves and rolled up ground balls at a 2.94 GO/FO rate. Much better
against righthanders, who batted just .208 against him in Double-A, the
Indians sent Newsom to Arizona to work on his approach against lefties.
will be contributing a weekly diary to Baseball America, and this is
his second entry . . . and first since being introduced to his new teammates: The first day of any baseball season always seems to be like the first day of high school. It’s that rare combination of nervous excitement meeting unfamiliar awkwardness.
Everyone stands around waiting for something to happen or someone to tell them where to go. In baseball, that someone is the manager. For me, the 2007 Arizona Fall League was no exception to the rule.
After meeting up with two of my teammates from the Indians in the hotel lobby and proceeding to get lost on a mere three mile ride to the Texas Rangers/Kansas City Royals Complex which serves as our AFL home, we entered the big league locker room to meet our new team.
Despite the mishap with our directions, the clubhouse was only about half full when we arrived. However, we were quickly able to find our respective lockers because they were separated by our major league organizations. The immediate separation by team led to an atmosphere like my first junior high dance. A few players were talking with the other players from their organization, some were busying themselves setting up their lockers, and a few mingled around the breakfast spread in the middle of the room. I greeted the other Indians guys and took a quick look around. I didn’t recognize any of the faces, knew very few of the names, and like the others started to occupy myself until something else happened. After about fifteen minutes of this holding pattern, our manager, Damon Berryhill, came out to officially start the 2007 Surprise Rafters season.
The beginning of the year speech by the manager is not only a tradition similar to that of a principal addressing returning students but also an indication of what type of season it is going to be. Managers can set an initial tone that can last the entire year. You can’t win a championship in that first speech but you can certainly lose one. You can usually tell what type of manager you have and what the season is going to be like from that very first meeting. And as I sat there looking at my newest manager, I wondered what group he would fall into.
Based on my experiences and what I’ve gathered from other players, minor league managers fall into one of five categories. And while each manager has unique traits and leadership styles, the overall package usually falls into one of these five subsets:
This is the manager who has seen it all. Usually he’s been in the big leagues as player, or as a coach of some type, has spent most if not all his adult life in professional baseball and is now passing on his knowledge to the next generation. These managers are ideally suited for the rookie levels and short-season because they usually have had enough time in the game to understand that development comes slowly and takes time. They are also usually content with their role and not trying to get themselves promoted to the next level.
The Tough Guy
If this weren’t a family friendly website I would use another name for this type, but the essence of this manager is that it’s his team and he is the judge, jury, and executioner. This manager isn’t afraid to scream at players, umpires, sometimes even front-office personnel (especially if they take a key player from them at a key time), and is usually somewhat difficult to approach. This manager also tends to show a lot of loyalty and will have a distinct group of players that will swear by him. The discipline of the tough guy can lead to a team that pays attention to detail or rebels and plays in fear. It seemed that A-ball had a lot of these guys.
The Organizational Guy
In every walk of life you have this personality type. In school it was usually the kid who took the class attendance for the teacher. On The Office, it’s Dwight Shrute. In professional baseball, it’s this manager. I can honestly say I’ve never had this type but I’ve heard about him. He is going to do whatever the organization asks. If they say get this pitcher to 100 pitches every start, he will come out at 100, even if it’s a no-hitter in the eighth or a massacre in the 3rd. The Organizational Guy is looking to move up and will sacrifice certain players to do it.
The Rah-Rah Guy
If I was ever to manage I would probably have too much of this type in me. This manager is usually a good guy who promotes a positive clubhouse environment and tries not to yell or criticize. He is very approachable and usually gets a great effort out of his team because they like him and want to keep the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that when things start going bad he is the first to show it. It can lead to an undisciplined team and sometimes sloppy play. And when it’s time to get tough his past image makes the transition awkward and usually unsuccessful.
This is the guy. “The Winner” takes bits of every other type, mixes it with a dose of presence, and runs his way up the minor league ladder impressing everyone along the way. Whether his team is performing well or not, he is always somewhat even keeled except when the team needs a jolt one way or the other. Players like playing for him and usually it shows. These guys usually end up in the big leagues in some capacity.
When I think about the breaks that have allowed me to make it this far in the game I can point to three things: My faith in God, my ridiculously supportive group of family and friends, and the managers I’ve had thus far in my career. I’ve had four managers that I’ve played for extensively. Each has given me something new to learn from and a different style that worked for that manager. Even more impressive is that each of the four is a good person regardless of baseball. I’ve had two that have shown so much loyalty to me that I would step in front of a punch in a bench-clearing brawl for them. And without that loyalty I would never have the opportunity to be where I am now. So thank you Ralph, Chad, Mike, and Tim.
That brings me back to my new skipper. His first speech took ten minutes. He went over all the rules, what he expected, and what lies ahead. It was quick, concise, professional, and positive. You could tell he wanted to win and wanted us to be professional, but also understood that we were two to three weeks removed from a full season. It sounded like he had been giving this speech for twenty years, apparently, as I found out later, it was his first time as a manager. I’m not sure what category he fits into yet but the first speech left a good first impression.
As I walked out to the field with my new teammates for our first practice, the atmosphere among players had changed from awkwardly tense to playfully optimistic. The players from different organizations were mingling now, some were already joking around, and we had a little bounce in our step. We definitely hadn’t won anything as a team yet but after that first speech we certainly hadn’t lost anything either. And I think that might be the toughest role a manager has; letting his players decide the games in between the lines and not outside of them.
If you have any comments, questions or ideas to pass along to Randy, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.