Scott Flansburg has never played an inning in the big leagues, but “The Human Calculator” recently provided the Arizona Diamondbacks with a welcomed distraction and a bit of “baseball” advice during their time of need.
Flansburg, a math savant and accomplished author who typically travels across the country speaking to elementary and high school-aged students, was recently brought into a team meeting with the hopes that he could perform a simple trick — pick up the spirits of a team who has lost 7.5 games in the National League West standings since the All-Star Break.
His message was simple.
“He said that we can start from zero,” Martin Prado said after Wednesday night’s 9-8 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do or what you did in the past, you have to start from zero.”
Going back to square one might be easier said than done, especially with the first-place Dodgers still up five games in the division and in the midst of their best 41-game stretch since 1953.
But, D-backs president Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Thursday that he believes the team needed a unique voice to help right the ship. In his eyes, Kirk Gibson’s decision to veer from the typical team meeting format might prove to be a season-changing moment.
“There was just a staleness with the way we’d been playing over the last four or five weeks,” Hall said. “There was just no excitement. It wasn’t for lack of trying or lack of heart or passion, because these guys care a great deal. You know in the back of your head if you’re in that clubhouse that we needed to have a team meeting soon, just air it out, scream and yell and say what’s wrong with us.
“But everyone knew that wasn’t necessary, because we already knew all of that. To have a meeting that was more lighthearted and a lot fun, I think the guys were much more relaxed and said, ‘Let’s get back to business. We know we’re a good team. Let’s go back to playing the way we did for so long this season.'”
To some degree, they’ve have done just that since Flansburg’s appearance.
“We’ve seen signs of [things turning around] these last few series,” said Hall. “Even in Boston, in that last game, we hit the ball hard but right at people. You hear that a lot but that was true that Sunday.
“And then of course taking business against a very good team in Tampa Bay, sweeping the series here and winning three of four against that team, who has been arguably as hot as any team other than the Dodgers.”
It might take more than math or magic for Kirk Gibson and Co. to get back into the postseason, but altering the script during the dog days of summer certainly seems to have done some good for the D-backs in the short term.