Friday, March 27, 2009

Where Great Pep Talks Meet Reality

Yesterday, Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik addressed his players about what character means in team sports and it was a World Series-winning rev 'em up speech, complete with impressive hand gestures.

Seattle Times staff reporter Geoff Baker: "Zduriencik wanted to impress upon them that talent and character go hand-in-hand for winning clubs, almost like two sides of a pyramid. He told them to imagine a pyramid and began sliding both his hands up and down diagonally across what would have been its sides.

The hand on one side was eventually kept higher than the other, showing players that the talent side of a team could often be strong while the character level on the other side was lacking. Or, he added, slowly sliding one hand higher and lowering the other, sometimes it's the character of a team that's strong, while the talent is inadequate.

"What you should be striving for as an organization," Zduriencik added, bringing the fingertips of his hands together and pointing them toward the sky, "is to meet at the top, where the talent is at the top and the character is at the top."

That message wasn't lost on Mariners first baseman Mike Sweeney, one of a core of veterans who has taken to altering the goings-on inside the Mariners clubhouse. The trio of Sweeney, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adrian Beltre have worked hard this spring to lay down a new clubhouse order.

"The main thing is accountability," Sweeney said. "You hold guys accountable. If guys are not adhering to the rules or guidelines of this clubhouse, you point it out. It's simple. There are no official rules, but if you're doing things that are detrimental to the team, then you're going to get called out on it, whether you're a 10-year veteran or a rookie.

"It's called accountability," he added. "If you don't have that, then you're not going to have, No. 1, a team. You're not going to have unity. The days of, if you blow a game, hiding in the trainer's room, those are over. It's being held accountable."

Then, Ichiro Suzuki arrived in camp.

Anyone who motivates teams for a living has to love spring training, the petry jar where leadership becomes achievement, or not.

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