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Outside the Lines:
Managing Success


Here's the transcript from Show 82 of weekly Outside The Lines - Managing Success

SUN., OCT. 21, 2001
Host: Bob Ley, ESPN.
Reported by: Lisa Salters, ESPN.
Guests: Gene Michael, director of Major League Scouting, New York Yankees; Bill Madden, columnist, New York Daily News; and Mike Hargrove, manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

Bob Ley, host - Baseball is unique in sports, a languid six-month journey through changing seasons. It seems success can be shaped as much by personalities and chemistry than strategic decisions or intense collisions on the field. Through that long march of a year, penciling in lineup cards, changing pitchers and juggling the emotions and performances of fiercely talented men. Through it all, the buck stops with the manager.

It's easy to forget Bobby Cox was fired by the Atlanta Braves 20 years ago after four unremarkable seasons; that Joe Torre was damaged managerial goods when George Steinbrenner hired him seven autumns ago. One New York headline read, "Clueless Joe." And there was a time that Lou Piniella charged out of dugouts to throw bases for distance.

People change, they adapt, and they grow. In the case of these three managers, that growth has lifted them to the top of their profession where sustained success is so difficult to achieve.

Lisa Salters examines how these men of October have each come to this moment.

Lisa Salters, ESPN correspondent - One wears his emotions on his sleeve.

Bret Boone, Mariners second baseman - It's what makes Lou, Lou. And, you know, he'll go -- he'll explode once in a while and go crazy.

Salters - One, winning or losing, almost never changes his expression.

Unidentified Male - He has a calming effect on the team.

Salters - And the other could be the most underrated manager in the game, despite leading his team to 10 consecutive division titles.

Mike Remlinger, Braves pitcher - I don't think he gets near the credit he deserves for exactly that, just kind of staying in the shadows and letting us go do our job.

Salters - Their names have become synonymous with the post-season. Combined, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella have managed for over half a century, and have won 60 percent of their playoff games. But each has done it very much his own way.

George Will, author, "Men at Work" - He's ethnic in the ethnic city par excellence. He is not glamorous. People think New York is a big glamour city -- no, that's the middle of Manhattan. New York is outer-borough ethnics, and that's Joe Torre.

Salters - But Torre hasn't always been New York's favorite son. His first job as a manager was with the Mets in the late '70s, where he never finished higher than fourth place.

Peter Gammons, ESPN baseball analyst - I think he's matured in his certain ways. I think he -- you understand more as a manager the longer you manage. The great thing about Joe is he's never pretended to be a genius. And so therefore, he never had preconceived notions.

Salters - There is a bit of brilliance in the way he handles his players. Not all managers would have allowed their centerfielder to miss 10 games in April to be with his ailing father.

Bernie Williams, Yankees centerfielder - He just sounded like it was a no-brainer. He said, just do whatever you need to do.

Joe Torre, Yankees manager - We sometimes get away from the fact that we're people here, and we're human beings. And, you know, if I say, Bernie, it's best you stay here, I don't want you to leave. Then, you know, I'm not going to have Bernie; I'm going to have a piece of him, but I'm not going to have the part of him that I really want, and that's his heart and soul.

Don Zimmer, Yankees bench coach - Joe will always say, family comes first, then baseball. And that's the way he thinks, and that's the way he feels, and that's the way he treats his players.

Willie Randolph, Yankees third base coach - He's a guy that's easy to go through a wall for, because he understands the situation. He's sympathetic to your needs, and off-the-field situations.

Salters - Does he ever go off?

Randolph - Every once in a while. He doesn't have to raise his voice, but when Joe's upset, you know it. He doesn't really get excited, but his demeanor changes. You can tell when he means business, believe me.

Lou Piniella, Mariners manager - We're going to be back here to play game six, OK. I told the people outside the same thing. We're going to be back here to play game six. Now you can ask any questions you want.

Salters - You don't see it as often, but the fire that has burned in Lou Piniella's belly throughout his career is still evident on occasion, even at age 58.

Torre - Everybody knows Lou. I mean, Lou's been around a long time. He's, you know, he's a very animated individual. He's got a lot of passion.

Will - We've seen him read the riot act to players. We've seen Piniella pick up a base, chuck it around the diamond and get tossed out of games. He can be volcanic.

Piniella - I have changed, there's no question. I don't go out and grab second base and throw it around any more, like I did when I was in Cincinnati. I don't go out and argue with umpires very much at all. I've gotten more patient, I've gotten older.

Salters - Case in point, Piniella hadn't been ejected from a single game this year until the final week of the season.

Piniella - You've got to be yourself, there's no question. You really do. But you look back and start thinking about the managers that you played for. And you picked up some things from them. You know, from Yogi, for instance -- don't take yourself all that seriously. And it's true. Now Billy, I thought that Billy managed a ball game as well as anybody that I've seen.

Gammons - He's very smart, he's very organized. You learn from good managers. And I think he's evolved over the years to learn how to control his temper.

Torre - I read all about that stuff, or heard all about how he's changed. He hasn't changed. I said, are you crazy? Did you see him come up out of that dugout last night on that check-swing stuff? I mean, I love him. He's full of passion. And he knows how to win; I think that's the most important thing.

Salters - And then, there's Bobby Cox. Cox has had unparalleled success in the regular season, and yet he prefers to let his players to take all the credit.

Bobby Cox, Braves manager - We've had great players here for the last 10 years. And anybody could have managed this club and done well, I think.

John Smoltz, Braves pitcher - He's an up-front guy. He's consistent. He's patient. It's incredible the amount of patience he's had over this run, and the lack of credit he has got.

Will - And when he wins people -- oh, the manager didn't do it, it's these great players. Heck, I could do that. Well, no. The line-up from one year didn't look like the line-up last year, let alone two years ago. And Cox is still back there, which tells me something -- you say, well what's the constant in this picture? Well, it's good pitching and Bobby Cox.

Salters - But if there is one common thread among the three, it is respect - The respect they give their players, and the respect they've earned in return.

Will - What they, all three, do is treat their athletes like grownups. They treat them not as -- these are older men who do not treat their athletes as really young men. They treat them as men. These are not boys of summer, these are men at work. It's a much more mature understanding.

Torre - The thing I probably have enjoyed over the last six years more than anything is the fact that when I do talk to the players, they listen. And they respect the fact that I'm the boss and I make decisions that are tough. And they've bought into this thing. And to me that's been -- that's made managing a lot more fun.

Ley - Well let's put some numbers to those concepts. Here are the winningest active major league managers - Cox, Torre, Piniella - two, three and four. And Bobby Cox's winning percentage is the highest of any active skipper, with at least five years Major League experience.

Joining us this morning to talk about managing success, Mike Hargrove, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. During his nine seasons in Cleveland, he won five divisional championships, two American League pennants. He managed against Bobbie Cox in the 1997 World Series. Mike Hargrove joins us this morning from Richfield, Ohio.

Bill Madden is baseball columnist for the "New York Daily News"; the author of many books including, this year's "Zim -A Baseball Life." He joins us from Montvale, New Jersey.

Good morning guys. Let me begin with you, Mike, if I could. It sounds so simple, when people talk about managing, creating that right atmosphere in the clubhouse. Why isn't it that simple?

Mike Hargrove, Orioles manager - Well I don't think it is that simple, just for the simple reason that you've got so many diverse personalities. You've got to find a way to get all of those guys on the same page. And the same approach, the same tact doesn't work with everyone. So I think that the biggest problem that you have, or the toughest obstacle that you have is getting everybody to buy into what you are trying to sell.

Just as much as Joe said right there at the end of the piece, that, the biggest joy he has in managing right now, is the fact that his veteran players believe in him as the boss, and have bought into what he is bringing to the party. And that's a tough thing to get across to players.

Ley - Bill why isn't it simple, from your vantage point?

Bill Madden, "New York Daily News" baseball columnist - Well, I think the one thing about all three of these guys is the fact that they -- the common denominator about them is that they are basically book managers. There are not guys who try to reinvent the game. And I think that's what separates them from so many other managers in the game.

You don't ever hear the word genius applied to any one of these three guys. And yet they have three of the best records, probably in the history of the game. And I think the reason for that is the fact they concentrate as much on managing the players in the clubhouse and around the game. And then as far as the game is concerned, like I said, they don't try to re-invent the game, these three guys.

They basically manage by the book, and their players know that they are not going to go out there and do something in the game that is going to be, maybe reflect on them as far as their genius ability -- to do something that other managers might not do. And I think that there's a sort of trust between these guys and their players.

Ley - You mentioned, managing in the clubhouse, Bill. It's pretty well known that in the Yankee clubhouse, Joe Torre's got his office, that's his domain. You rarely see him out there among the general portion of the clubhouse.

Madden - Well that's the same thing with Bobby Cox. I mean, Bobby, you go into the Braves' clubhouse, and Bobby's in his office all by himself. Before the games, when the players are out on the field, Bobby, will be in a little private room there right off the Braves dugout smoking a cigar. And he basically stays away from the players, let's them do their things. And of course, when the game starts, they know he's in charge.

And you can also go into any one of these three clubhouses -- I mean, Lou's the same way too. Lou kind of lets his players have the clubhouse to themselves and do their thing. But you walk into any one of those three clubhouses, and you know that the guy in the manager's office is in charge here, because of just the whole way the demeanor of these teams are.

Ley - Well, Mike, these guys have been through the managerial wars as have you. What's the most important thing it took you maybe a couple of years to, maybe learn and apply?

Hargrove - Oh, gosh, there are so many things. But I think that the one thing that we see out of these three guys, and really all managers that have had success is the consistency in how they approach, you know, their ball clubs, their players, and the ball game. Let's face it, most everybody in the world today can go out and know when it's time to bunt and when it's time to hit and run. Not many people know when it's time to change pitchers.

But these guys, they go out and they are consistent in everything they do. They don't try to be the players' friend, they don't try to be their enemy either. They have found a way to be able to take that us against them mentality and get rid of that. And bring everybody together. And to get them on the same page, or have a common goal, however you want to say that. But these guys are consistent in what they do, and they are disciplined in how they approach their job. And the expectations they have for their players, they communicate them very well.

So I think, consistency, communication, is probably with all good managers. And especially these three. Since we're talking Bobby and Lou and Joe. Discipline and consistency and communication are probably the three biggest traits that these guys bring to the party. And their players relate to it well, as do all players everywhere.

Ley - You're talking about selling your program to your players. Do you ever find yourself, Mike, in a position you think these skippers had as well? Where you might have to lose a game, lose a battle to win the war -- keep somebody in a little bit longer than perhaps your gut tells you, because...

Hargrove - Oh, I think so. I think there are times that you go into -- and let's face it -- Baseball is a percentage game. And if you manage according to the percentages, according to the statistics, and if you've got the talent, you're going to be right more often than not. And you play 162 games, if you are right more often than not, then your talent -- the talent, I say, your talent -- the talent you have on the ball club will tell in that ball game.

And you're going to win and you're going to be in the post season. These men are intelligent enough to understand that. The managers you see getting in trouble are the ones that go out there and fly by the seat of their pants. All of a sudden, they start losing the trust of the players, whenever something happens. And I'll guarantee you, they'll -- you know, somebody will put a squeeze bunt on in the second inning with the bases loaded, and nobody out. And 15 players looking at themselves, look at each other and say, what in the world was that all about? Why are we doing that?

And you start doing that, and you start losing the trust of the players in that regard. Trying to reinvent the wheel, trying to show everybody how smart you are as a manager. And you end up doing the wrong thing and losing the trust of the players, and it never does work. But the players, when you make good solid decisions, and you are consistent in your decisions, and you are consistent in your approach to a player. You are consistent in how you deal with a player. You are honest with a player. And you communicate all that well, then that translates very, very well to young players. But especially to veteran players...

Ley - We'll pick up right there.

Hargrove - Veteran players are the ones you need to have to bind your program.

Ley - OK Mike, we'll pick-up right there.

More ahead, including, as we continue on Outside The Lines, the clubhouse dynamics facing a manager that sometimes are a little bit too dynamic.

Piniella - Come on! (Expletive deleted) (unintelligible) you don't want to be treated like a man!

Rob Dibble, played for Piniella (1990-1992) - Everybody fights with their brothers in a family. As far as the whole Lou thing, it made both of us stronger. It made me a better person, it made me appreciate him a little more. The next day, if anybody saw him, you know he hugged me after a save. And it was way behind us, because both of us are very similar in personality where we can explode and blow up in five minutes. And five minutes later, be as easy going as anybody. But, you know, we're the best of friends, and I love him dearly.

Ley - Well we continue now with Mike Hargrove and Bill Madden. And welcome to our panel, Gene Michael, who is -- the baseball term is -- a lifer, who has been around. A ten-year major league player, he's held just about every position in major league baseball, including two stints managing the New York Yankees, in the early 1980s. He's the Yankees' advanced major league scouting director. And he is in Atlanta this morning.

And Gene, let me begin with the topic of Lou Piniella. Some people say he has changed. You know him well. Has he mellowed, has he changed?

Gene Michael, Director of MLB Scouting, New York Yankees - I think he's mellowed a little. I think he's known for some time that he had to cool a little bit on the bench. But he's a great manager. He handles people well, he's honest, he's fair. And I think he's firm enough.

Ley - Mike, let's talk about the bench. You're the skipper that knocked down Joe Torre, 1997, with Cleveland. Otherwise this would be a complete Yankees run of the table. When you are playing in that environment in the post-season, and even now in the regular season, there is so much media. That camera is on that skipper all the time. Any twitch, and expression, any comment is picked up and amplified.

Hargrove - Well you've got to be careful about what you do, what you say, and how you project yourself. A lot of times the players really pick up on how you react and act to what's going on. And the camera does not lie, and it is very intrusive. And at times it is a pain in the rear, to tell the truth. But I think, all good managers -- I mean most of the good managers.

Let me qualify it that way. If they have got dirty business to take care of, they've got things that need to be dealt with, they will do it behind closed doors. And keep it out of the view of the public. And the old saying, "you don't want to air your dirty laundry in public," really holds true with a professional baseball team.

Ley - Well, Bill, both Willie Randolph and Don Zimmer, you've talked to them -- Joe gets upset, you just don't see it. He's the sphinx on that bench sitting next to (unintelligible). Behind closed doors, if he needs to, he can be.

Madden - Well, I think that's the players' security blanket, Bob. I think, in Joe's case, anyway, they expect him to be calm. They expect him to show no signs of panic in times of real stress on the field, when the games are really getting hairy. Whereas with Lou, Lou's a totally opposite of Joe.

But it is the same sort of security blanket with the players. Because they know that Lou is going to wear his passions on his sleeves, and that Lou is going to let everyone know how he feels. I think if Lou tried to be stoic and sit there and act like nothing's wrong, I think the players would then really be worried. And that's the difference between these two guys.

But like Mike was saying before, there is a consistency there. Joe's consistency is his calm, cool demeanor on the bench. Lou's consistency is his passion for everything that is happening involving his players.

Ley - Gene does that consistency go to the working conditions? I mean, you've been around this game so long. So much more media now in the clubhouse and around the game, so much more money for the players. How has that changed, or has it changed the skippers job?

Michael - It's changed, it is much more scientific today. There is so much more to deal with per player, then for the managing and coaching staff.

But going back to what Billy said, there. Lou shows his emotions, Joe is more laid back. He doesn't want to be too high, too low, (unintelligible) is very flamboyant. Lou sits somewhere in between those two. Beau is maybe younger, more vibrant.

But you can manage in different ways. But you know, getting to that one point where you have to be a little bit of a players' manager, I think all managers today are somewhat players' managers.

Ley - Well, you're scouting -- go ahead, go ahead.

Michael - I don't think they can really step out and be like they used to be in the old days. Even Ralph Elk was a players' manager. It started back more recently than the last 10 years -- I mean, further back than the last 10 years. Casey Stengel and managers before that, they could say anything, they could tell players to be in a certain place and on time, and they just had to tell you how much they wanted. And it's not that way today.

Madden - I think Gene's right, I think the old my way or the highway mentality is right out the window. You've got to find a way to be able to get these guys to want to do what you want them to do. And you become really almost part psychologist. But the biggest thing is, is be consistent in your approach so the player knows what to expect from you. And that doesn't mean you don't have a few surprises along the way for them.

But the job of a manager is to put the player in the best situation that you possibly can, that will allow his talent to prevail in that situation. And that is both mentally and physically. At this level, the mental side of the game is all-important, and these guys do a great job of getting those guys in those situations in a great mental frame of mind. And it works more times than not because the players they have are good players.

Ley - Gene's down in Atlanta scouting for the Yankees. Mike, we've got less than a minute. Give me an encapsulation of how much information you have available, you have to sift through. And at the same time keep in mind you are dealing with flesh and blood human beings, trying to motivate them.

Hargrove - Well we don't have the advanced scouting system that the Yankees do -- I wish we did, but...

Ley - But you have videotape, you've got...

Hargrove - Yeah, we do, we've got a lot of videotape. We've got two different advance reports we look at probably a total of -- I want to say 75, 100 pages of information, computer printouts as far as match-ups are concerned. All the coaches and myself, we go through that information, and take out of that amount of information what we think the players need and can use.

We certainly don't want to over-inform them. And so it's a job that is a lot of fun to do. You have to love it to want to do it. And you have to love it to do a good job at it. So it's a big job, but it gets done.

Ley - Guys, thank you very much. Mike's been at it a number of years. Grover, thanks for joining us -- thanks to Mike Hargrove, Gene Michael, and Bill Madden as we've been discussing managing success.

Next, women coaching men, an emotional response to last week's topic.

Ley - Should women coach boys or men's athletic teams, our topic last week in the wake of a federal discrimination verdict in favor of a woman seeking to coach a boys team.

And from our in-box -"The irony of Debbie Schlussel's case" -- one of our panelists last week -- "that men who are predominantly from female-headed households, and therefore need the male role models is the very same social engineering people like here from the political right rail against when it comes to affirmative action. While male role models are certainly important, we should not deny a candidate that is already from a discriminated-against group a well-deserved opportunity."

Kansas City - "Women have fought and screamed for Title Nine, now they have their scholarships, pro-soccer league, WNBA, and their Division One spotlight. Now you have women that want to cross over to male sports. For what? A woman coaching men on a Division One or professional level is insane. Men's and women's basketball are two different sports."

Those e-mails are among many addressed to us online. The address - For our complete library of streaming video and your e-mails, always welcome at

Ley - And if you join us along the way, a reminder that this program is going to re-air at 11:00 a.m. Pacific over on ESPN2. I'll be rejoining Robin Roberts in 30 minutes for another addition of "SportsCenter" with all of last night's basketball and baseball. Michael Jordan, not shooting -- at least that was the instruction last week in the new top 25 college football poll.

Now John Saunders in for Dick Schaap with "The Sports Reporters" from the ESPN Zone in Times Square. We'll see you next week.

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 Outside The Lines
ESPN's Bob Ley examines how MLB's top skippers manage success in October.

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