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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Baseball managers and coaches fail to motivate

In the closing weeks of the season and with his team out of contention, Chicago Cubs manager Don Baylor downplayed the importance of motivating players.\n"I get sick and tired of people saying you have to motivate," Baylor told the Houston Chronicle. "Motivation, everyone talks about it, but that's a bunch of (bull) if I ever heard it. Sometimes people get carried away with that term. I don't think I ever had to be motivated by a manager."\nDays later, Baylor was fired. Now, he has company. Man, does he have company. Since the start of the regular season in April, twelve out of thirty teams have parted ways with their managers. Head coaches are falling left and right, and many of them come from teams that were supposed to contend.\nBaylor's Cubs were coming off of a solid 2001 season, and after acquiring talented hitters like Moises Alou, the team was supposed to be one of the best in the National League. Bobby Valentine was fired by the Mets after he took a team that made several big off-season moves to the NL East cellar.\nThese managers had the players to win, but could not. So now the question must be answered: Is Baylor right? Is it only the players' responsibility to do the motivating?\nNo.\nBeing a manager in professional sports is a lot more than managing a specific game. A manager must manage the team both on and off the field. He must keep players focused -- especially when it comes to baseball.\nBaseball is probably the easiest sport in which to lose focus. First of all, during the game, there is so much down time when players are alone in the field, simply waiting for the next pitch, or waiting in the dugout for their turn to hit. Some pitchers sit and wait for four days before they are involved in the game.\nSecond, the season is incredibly long. Very few people can stay completely focused for 162 games, especially when they are struggling (which is the inevitable case when these managers get fired).\nA good manager must understand these challenges, and make sure that his players are ready to take the field every day. He must motivate. Sure, in a perfect world, every player would be as good as Baylor and be able to motivate themselves for every game. But, that's not possible for most of these players.\nFootball coaches know this. Football coaches are great motivators. They know that for the team to perform at its best, the players have to be full of adrenaline and all psyched-up. These are players who play once a week, and only sixteen times a year. If anyone should be able to stay focused, it is football players.\nBaseball managers must realize that for their teams to win, they too have to make sure that the players enter every game with a mentality similar to that of football players.\nBaseball managers must stay in control of the team, because when the coach allows the players too much freedom, their thoughts stray from the task at hand. This is what happened to the Mets, and that is why Valentine was fired.\nInspiring players is a skill that has obviously been lost, and is also obviously at a premium in Major League Baseball. As these coaching vacancies begin to fill, the new managers must find ways to focus their players -- or else they too will be out the door.

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