Our new esteemed manager Rick Churches spoke to the full team yesterday. With nearly every man on the roster now reported to camp, this was Rick's first opportunity to get everybody in one room to hear him philosophize.
I'll give him one thing—the man can speak. There's a reason why he was in our TV booth for the last eight years (replaced by my father, "Red" Scott). It's his voice. He's got a golden throat. If Obama needs a VP who has similar oratory skills as himself, he should turn to Rick Churches.
These speeches are generally closed-off from the media. The purpose from Day 1 down here is Team. We win as a team, we lose as a team, etc. You've heard it before. Having this one team meeting, with just us, helps the spiritual bond between players and each other, as well as players and management. Imagine if every discussion between you and your significant other was held in front of a gaggle of reporters, all wearing identical khakis and collared polo shirts, each asking you to hurry up so they could meet a deadline or update their blog. It's important to have some private time so we can be ourselves, so we can feel inspired or motivated by our leader and reflect personally or with each other without 3rd party interference.
As you know, Rick chose yesterday's team forum to be a public affair. I'm not certain why he went this route, although I have my opinions which I'll share with you now. Well, it's not really opinions, with an s. I have one opinion—the man knows he has a fabulous voice and wants others to share in its fabulousness whenever it's put to good use. That said, the inspiration and motivation we, or at least I, was supposed to feel did not happen.
Blah. That's how I felt when he was done. (53 minutes! He lost me at mile marker 10.) Yes, he and I are on different personal wavelengths. There's been more than a little animosity between the two of us this off season. But I didn't go in there to criticize him. I went in there to be impressed. I wanted to be moved. I wasn't.
As he spoke, I thought back to last year's speech that former manager Larry Picketts (he of the YouTube tirade now viewed over 850,000 times) gave. I wasn't moved then. So I thought back some more. 2004-2006 was all Larry. Nope. I didn't feel anything. 2003 with Vance Dunn? Nothing. Our most recent championship was in 2002, Gum Wilson's last year on the job, allegedly, before coming back to be Rick's bench coach this season at GM Alvin Kirby's behest (does that mean the bench is a hot seat?). Gum definitely didn't inspire with his words. Not of much use for them, he led by letting us play. He could push buttons like any of today's best videogame fiends. He motivated us by letting us win. His spring training state of the union addresses? Terrible. Five minutes and out. I felt nothing.
As I drove to my afternoon session with Andy, my personal trainer, I wondered if it's not the speaker that has the problem; maybe the problem lies with me. Not one to admit anything could in any way be wrong with me, I quickly dialed Dr. Henry Cochegans, team psychiatrist (or is he a psychologist? Not sure the difference and always forget to ask.) to have a quick cellular session.
Luckily, Dr. Cochegans could speak with me for a few moments. After he reminded me of the non-disclosure agreement I signed, what you see below is just my input in the conversation. The NDA does not allow me to quote Dr. Cochegans in this forum. "For my own protection," he always says. Oops.
Me: Getting stronger each day, in both mind, body and spirit.
Me: Okay. Yes, I am aware "both" signifies two and I spoke of three characteristics. You going to analyze or criticize today?
Me: Sorry I snapped at you. You probably get that all the time from the other guys on the team who speak to you, huh? What do they say? Be specific. Do they talk about me? They all hate me, right?
Me: I'm not paranoid. I'm paranormal.
Dr. Cohegans: (Ed. note: I couldn't hear what he said here. I hit a bad cell area.)
Me: I need to talk about my lack of inspiration when I hear my managers speak.
Me: You're saying it shouldn't matter what they say? It only matters how I feel inside?
Me: Are you reading from a pamphlet or something? It takes me five minutes to tell you what I want to talk about and you give me your diagnosis in one sentence without letting me whine.
Me: Okay. I'll listen to my heart, my soul, and find it within myself to succeed. I'll be an individual. Sounds like I never should have quit Boy Scouts.
I don't need to elaborate any further because, as Dr. Cohegans said, it's self-explanatory. Part of my problems with Rick have been because of me. I'm looking for something from him, as a manager, as a man, that he can't, or doesn't need to give. I need to look at myself and solve whatever riddles my subconscious is querying me about. No more relying on others to make me feel something. It's up to me to feel it on my own.
I talked to Andy, my very large personal trainer, about the previous paragraph (I practically recited it to him, word for word), and he said I was already motivating myself.
Andy: Why are you here?
Me: On earth? I guess all humans...
He turned the treadmill I was running on from high hill to Everest mountain.
Andy: No, dummy, why are you in this gymnasium working out? Why are you asking Dr. whatever his name is...
Me: Cohegans. It's really not that hard to say after some practice.
Andy: May I finish?
Me: (sulking and sweating a lot, my few hairs matted onto my scalp like wet string on the underside of a garbage can lid)
Andy: We've been doing two-a-days and three-a-days for months. I rarely have to raise my voice and egg you on. You're plenty motivated.
Me: (breathing very hard, unable to speak)
Andy: I always like these parts of our sessions. You can't get the last word in.
When I got back to the house Vanessa, the kids and I are renting down here, I told Vanessa all about my mentally (and physically) stimulating day. I told her how much Rick likes to hear himself talk, how I haven't really paid attention to what anyone in authority has said to me for at least 6 years, and how I will never scale Mt. Everest without the aid of a helicopter.
She smiled and told me we should celebrate by taking tomorrow afternoon off and going with the kids to Disney World. I told her I couldn't. I'm down here to work, even when practice is over, even on weekends, even when I'm about to drop from exhaustion. I'm down here to work. She smiled some more and told me she liked my answer. To her, it was inspiring. "Sounds to me like you should've been the one giving the speech to the team today."
I gave her a kiss and a long, tight hug. It felt good to hear her say that. And it felt even better to be able to respond without the glare of the media standing three feet away, khakis and polo shirts ready to pounce. Sometimes, the best motivation happens in the privacy of our own homes, in our own minds, in our own time.