Via the Daily News -
Alex Rodriguez captivated his teammates before Friday’s game against the University of South Florida, speaking from the heart about dedication, determination and what it takes to win.
No, he wasn’t auditioning to become the next captain once Derek Jeter retires. He was simply taking his turn.
With an eye toward team unity, Joe Girardi decided that one afternoon at the Improv wasn’t enough. The manager has implemented a new tradition that calls for a different player or two to stand in front of the entire team every morning and recite a quote of his choosing, followed by an explanation of what the quote means to him.
“Words from your teammates can be really powerful,” Girardi told the Daily News. “They can be motivating. It also tells you a little something about that person from what they pick, so we get to know them. It’s worked out well.”
Rodriguez, however, impressed by taking a unique approach. He declined to discuss his presentation, but a witness said that instead of reciting a quote, the third baseman took the word “score” and used each letter to deliver a different message.
“What Alex did, it blew me away,” Eric Chavez said. “To get up in front of the whole team, out of your element, he really embraced it. I don’t see myself doing that. I can’t knock down those walls, so to see Al do it, it was like, ‘Wow.’”
Said A-Rod: “One of the hardest things to do is to communicate in front of your peers. I bet if you asked them, some guys would probably be more nervous about doing that than playing in the World Series. It’s hard to stand in front of 85 people that you trust and respect. It makes you feel vulnerable. It’s a great exercise and it’s setting the right tempo for our team.”
Girardi came up with the routine as he sought to better use the 15-minute block of time he had set aside to meet with the team each morning
“It just kind of came to me,” said Girardi, who often receives inspirational quotes via email from his friend, basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. “The biggest fear in life is public speaking, so this really encourages them to do a lot of different things.”
Girardi gave his players only two rules they must follow when choosing their quote. They were not allowed to use any of the motivational quotes that hang in and around the clubhouse at Steinbrenner Field or ask Chad Bohling, the team’s director of mental conditioning, for help.
“It gives guys an opportunity to get to know themselves,” Girardi said. “Guys are doing research, looking for something that’s really good and that appeals to them. Some of them are really deep. I’ve been wowed.”
Rather than assigning the days to players randomly, Girardi started with the oldest player in camp — 42-year-old Mariano Rivera — and told the team it would go in reverse order of age. That meant 39-year-old Raul Ibanez followed Rivera despite the fact that he has been a Yankee for less than a month.
Based on what I have heard, read and seen of him, I cannot imagine having more respect for a person than I do for Joe Girardi. He’s the guy you want as your neighbor. He’s the guy you want your daughter to date. He’s the guy you want your son to grow up to be, etc. And, in terms of being a big league baseball manager, while he’s not perfect or close to it, you could easily do a lot worse than having Girardi skipper your club.
That said, this “new tradition that calls for a different player or two to stand in front of the entire team every morning and recite a quote of his choosing” has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in a while now. It’s turning a baseball clubhouse into a Dilbert comic strip.
What I wouldn’t give to see one of the Yankees stand up during one of these show and tell sessions and say “I remember signing a contract, to play ball not to be put to sleep by some two bit carney hypnotist or to be part of some corporate bullshit eyewash exercise. I won’t do that Joe! I can’t…”