Sunday, August 24, 2008

Preaching "fundamentals and defense" since 1987

Really enjoyed Bob Nightengale's article earlier this week about the emphasis the Minnesota Twins have placed on fundamentals since 1987.

It was more than 20 years ago when then Twins manager Tom Kelly implemented "the fundamental, monotonous fielding drills the Twins undergo.... First, it's the infielders. Then, it's the outfielders. And then, after watching their teammates sweat on the back fields, it's the pitchers' turn. The no-nonsense sensibilities began when Kelly and general manager Andy MacPhail came aboard, preaching fundamentals and defense, even if it meant working on drills after games."

"I don't know whether it was the right way or the wrong way," Kelly says, "but it was our way. When you're operating under certain parameters, you have to execute parts of the game. We have to catch the ball. We have to pitch. And we have to play defense."

To maintain the same philosophy for more than two decades is unique in professional sports. It's similar to what Jazz have done with Jerry Sloan as coach since 1988. It's a credit to the Twins' ownership and demonstrates what consistency can do for an organization.

Schemes can change, but the fundamentals of a game never do.