When Roberts was a 26-year-old hungry for information in the minor leagues, he absorbed the valuable advice of a veteran third baseman named Jeff Manto who still serves him
When the Dodgers won the National League pennant last week, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts was unusually moved as he spoke to a lectern about how this would turn out to be the year of the Dodgers
Roberts is normally seen as a steadfast, independent character standing in the canoe, calmly writing down snippets of tactical information and other management data in a little blue notebook.
Some of these attributes are innate, but Roberts credits an early mentor named Jeff Manto for teaching him the value of a measured, composed approach to baseball through a specific technique he still serves as he seeks. block the uproar while trying to guide the Dodgers to their first World Series title in 32 years
« You want to make sure that doesn’t speed you up, » Roberts said Friday before his Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-2, in Game 3 of the World Series
Baseball may seem extremely slow to some, but for a manager, time can pass quickly during games, as crucial decisions follow each other quickly, especially late in games when vital elements pile up: the status of each of the manager’s players and players of the other team; the state of the game; what someone looked like in a previous fight; weather situation; field conditions; piles of statistical information that must be sorted, prioritized and applied at the right time And all of this measured against instinctive instinct
Roberts, who has led the Dodgers to three World Series since hiring in 2016, had much less to worry about as a 26-year-old miner just hoping to make it into the majors
In 1998, he had just been traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Cleveland Indians and sent to the AAA Buffalo Bisons class It was there that he met Manto, a minor league third baseman veteran for several organizations.
Manto was 33 at the time and had played over 1,100 games in his 15-year career, mostly in the minor leagues and in Japan But he also shuttled between major league clubs in places like Cleveland. , Baltimore, Boston, Seattle and the Bronx He was as respected and knowledgeable as he was persevering He is one of only three Bisons players to have his uniform number withdrawn
Roberts describes Manto as a type of Crash Davis, referring to the main character of the movie « Bull Durham » – a wise miner league veteran with a lot to learn Roberts, known for his curiosity, absorbed a good deal of it. party
« When he came to our ball club he was full of energy, » Manto said of Roberts last week in a phone interview. « But the main thing was that he wanted information. He always asked veterans quality questions about how to do everything. It impressed you »
The feeling was mutual, as Roberts recalled how Manto, who now runs a player development academy in Pennsylvania, explained to him one of the keys to success in professional baseball, a method to keep the game from falling. gets out of hand
“It was one of the tricks I learned over the years,” Manto said “When things started to pick up and something was going too fast – maybe even outside from the field, like a family situation – I did everything more slowly
« I went over the speed limit to get back to the point, I would eat more slowly Whatever it means, it meant a lot to me »
It also meant something to Roberts, who still remembered the advice 22 years later On game days, Roberts drank his coffee slowly, moved around his house slowly, walked to the park early, and dressed slowly. And when it was time to strike, he was walking slowly towards the batter’s rectangle
Perhaps this is a little unexpected for a player whose singular moment of glory – stealing second base in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series to spark the Red Sox’s historic comeback against the Yankees – was all about speed But mentally, the approach should be relaxed enough so that the game feels slow
“When Dave stole this base I knew there was something he learned by asking a question,” Manto said “There is no doubt that maybe it was his advance, how to read the pitcher, check the catcher Maybe all of that But that’s what made it unique «
Manto described Roberts as extremely respectful, not only to himself, but also to the game and the process of being a player and a teammate.Once in 1999 in Buffalo, Roberts was in charge of the shoebox containing the fines for the players’ kangaroo field But he lost it, and the money in it.Some of the players told Manto, who was the judge that week, and he waited to see how Roberts reacted.
« He came to see me a few days later and just told me the truth, » Manto said « He said he left it on the bus In Double-A, you use the same bus everything time But in Triple-A one bus leaves and another comes to pick you up He was so sorry, and I just told him to pay it back But it showed how seriously he took it, because it was about doing part of a team «
Roberts impressed many people at the time, including Mark Shapiro, now president of the Toronto Blue Jays In 1998, Shapiro was Cleveland’s assistant general manager, and although the two only spent a few years in the same organization, they remain friendly Shapiro calls Roberts one of five or six people in his career with whom he shares a special bond
Three years after Roberts left Cleveland, he found himself in Boston on a team that would go down in history in October 2004 Shapiro told Roberts at the time that his brother David, who worked for a nonprofit organization, lived in a modest home in Boston and should visit her for dinner
« And he’s gone, » Shapiro said. « Here he is, a great major league player from the Boston Red Sox, and he goes to my brother’s little house in Jamaica Plain and plays with the little kids from my brother »
Shapiro said he wished he could say he always knew Roberts would make a good manager, but he admits he never really succeeded, mainly because he was focused on him as player and later as a friend Now, even when Roberts is criticized for a decision that backfires on him, he realizes it makes perfect sense.
“He’s so well grounded and genuine,” Shapiro said. “That’s what gets him to handle things, the criticisms that come with the job. He’s certainly learned a lot along the way, but it’s in much of what it is «
Years later, Roberts is mentoring a group of players who appreciate his calm and steady approach Mookie Betts, the star right fielder of the Dodgers, said the players were responding well to Roberts’ behavior and noted how much it helped when they fell behind in the NLCS
« Even when we were 3-1 against Atlanta he still believed he was still the same guy, » Betts said. « He didn’t have any panic in him »
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World News – USA – How a playground player taught Dave Roberts to slow down the game
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