D-backs Fan Fest showed hope, optimism
Kirk Gibson wasn't happy with me, and that my friends, is a precarious position to be in.
Moments earlier he had just used the word "insane" to describe himself as a player. He's got hands the size of frying pans and a look in his eyes that indicate if he were so inclined, he could still whup you.
My crime seemed harmless enough; when interviewing the D-backs manager this past weekend I simply mentioned his Arizona Diamondbacks are going to play 162 games this year. But Gibson believes his team is going to play more than 162 games this year. He wants his players to believe they're going to play more than 162 games this year. And he doesn't want anybody, least of all a professional yakker like me, suggesting otherwise.
Gibson is more philosopher than fiery these days. He believes in the mental picture that a person portrays for themselves. You think you're a slow runner? Then, you're a slow runner. You think you're a lousy public speaker? You're going to stutter worse than Colin Firth in "The King's Speech".
Think you're going to play 162 games? That's right….you'll only play in 162. If your personal picture has you playing in more, you'll play in more.
After hanging out at the D-backs Fan Fest over the weekend I certainly can understand the optimism. It is, after all, spring. Hope comes cheap this time every year.
As a lover of movies, and movie analogies, baseball in the early spring makes me think of the previews before the movie. I love ‘em because they're great at making even the most mundane movie look terrific. I'll lean over to the Decision-Maker (code name for the wife) and say things like "oh that looks good" or "can't wait for that" or "yeah, I heard about this one, should be good". Then the flick comes out and reality sets in like a popcorn butter stain. At best the movie is average. At worst it's awful.
Walking out of Fan Fest on Saturday it was very easy think it's going to be a good movie. It's very easy to hope.
The bullpen has undergone a major renovation from one of the best contractors in the business. The clubhouse is now filled with been-there-done-that guys who won't be shy about setting the tone for the tone-deaf. The rotation looks deep. The front office has been revamped and the manager doesn't have to defend his credentials to anyone, least of all his own players.
Outside of JJ Putz, the bullpen isn't loaded with a ton of proven commodities. Been-there-done-that guys are great but can they score enough runs to get there and do that? The rotation lacks anything close to an ace. The revamped front office is working under serious financial constraints. And the manager?
Well, I'm not going to say anything bad about him. Hands the size of frying pans, remember?
Despite that, I am supremely confident the D-backs will play 162 games this year. What can I say? 189 losses in two years is tough to overlook and tougher still to fix in one offseason.