Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Losing the battle to win the war

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has two rules:

1. Hustle.
2. Be on time.

So when arguably his best player -- SS Jimmy Rollins -- was late to the ballpark recently, he had a tough decision. Manuel scratched him from the Phillies' lineup.

It wasn't the first time Rollins had violated one of Manuel's two rules. Last month, Rollins failed to hustle on a pop fly. Manuel pulled him from the game.

Here's what Rollins' teammate Jamie Moyer had to say about it:

"It's unfortunate, but rules are rules. I commend Charlie for standing up for the rules that he has. I think we all need to be accountable to that. Each team has their own rules, and they play not only for their managers and their coaching staff, but they play amongst their teammates. I think you create who you are in the clubhouse and on the field by the way you act and the way you carry yourself."

[Can you tell Moyer's a 22-season veteran who sees the big picture?]

The big key here is Manuel and Rollins sat down, face to face, and discussed the situation right away. They didn't let it drag out.

My thought here is if it's the first time a player is late to take him aside in private and speak with him about it. Let's win the game that night. If you choose to keep him out of the game, the owner and the GM have to be on same page with the decision.

I've been with a team where they didn't fine a player if he was late for practice. Showing up late to any meeting -- whether it's lunch with a friend, a business meeting, or a formal team practice -- is disrespectful to those you're meeting with. It's common courtesy.

In the context of a team, it demonstrates that you're not prepared. Put simply, it's not conducive to a winning environment.

This past season, my alma mater, the University of San Diego, played at St. Mary's. A big game. When the game tipped off, two of USD's best players weren't on the floor. Coach Bill Grier put then in several minutes into the game, but St. Mary's had the lead by then. USD lost the game.

Later on, I learned that both players had broken a team rule. But Coach Grier set the tone. He lost a battle that night, but won the war as this decision helped him the rest of year with his team.

How much did it help?

USD went on to win the conference tourney and earned a trip to the NCAA tourney where they upset UConn.