THE “PEP-TALK”

Not sure if you watched yesterday’s game vs. the Nationals, but something very interesting happened following Alfredo Simon’s perfect third inning of work.

When the Reds telecast returned from commercial break at the end of the inning with the Nationals leading, 1-0, cameras caught Reds players in the dugout, huddled around manager Bryan Price. The Reds skipper appeared to be delivering a fervent pep talk to his club.  Check it out in the video below…

During the dugout meeting, Reds broadcaster Chris Welsh told viewers at home, “I’m not sure if it’s a pep-talk or if he’s telling these guys, ‘Get your head in the game, here.  This is a winnable ball game.  You’ve got a guy (Simon) busting his butt out there to get outs and we need to get a little better at-bats.’  That’s what it looks like to me.”

Once the dugout talk was finished and the Reds batted in the fourth inning, Zack Cozart led off with a double to left.  The next batter, Brandon Phillips ripped an RBI-single, scoring Cozart to tie the game.  Two batters later, Brayan Pena put the Reds out front for good, singling home Phillips for what would eventually be the winning 2-1 score.

Following the game, Pena reflected on Price’s pep-talk, telling MLB.com, “This one was a perfect one.  I don’t know if I can find a better one, better timing. He really said some great things there. It really encouraged us to go back and do what we do. … I didn’t know he could speak like that.”

Baseball is a game that contains lots of numbers, statistics and mathematical formulas but it’s impossible to quantify the substance of  “pep-talks” and “clubhouse chemistry.”  So, it’s really kind of difficult to determine whether Price’s speech had an effect on the team, especially considering that following the fourth inning, Cincinnati couldn’t plate another run.

However, in addition to Pena’s comments above, Zack Cozart told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, “You know what, it was getting to a point where as hitters, our pitchers have been doing so well, we have to step our game up.  We had a little talk. I’m not going to say what was said. It was something that was needed and it showed. We had some big hits that inning. The rest of the game, we had some good at-bats in general. Sometimes you need a little kick in the butt, and he did it.”

As the team’s hired leader and the man who ultimately takes the blame when the team underachieves, Bryan Price keenly recognized that his team needed a “talking to.”   If both Pena and Cozart felt that Price’s speech “worked,” then I’m going to assume that others on the team thought so, too.  Would you agree that sometimes we all need a “kick in the butt” to perform our best?  I do, no matter our profession or how much we get paid.  It’s just natural to sometimes fall into a funk.

Price told Rosecrans, “I really don’t care to talk about it.  We just got together collectively to make a rally and beat the guy. There was nothing really important or significant, to be honest with you.”

I admire Price’s humility, but as a fan, I think his pep talk was important and significant.  When I saw Price going all “Patton” in the dugout, it reminded me that there is in fact a human side to this game.  These guys on the field, in the dugout, in the bullpen aren’t just numbers.  I love the statistical analytics of this great game but it’s also refreshing to see the “warts and all” part of it and enjoy baseball for its immeasurables.

Here’s what Price told MLB.com the day he was hired as Reds manager in the offseason: “To be able to bring the full 25-man roster and coaching staff together and that common goal is important. It also means the players holding themselves accountable for things, the coaching staff, etc. But we have to be unified in that one goal. The most important thing is to play the best baseball that we’re capable of playing on a daily basis with energy, and when we see those people that are surrounding the ballpark at the end of the day when we’re leaving that are ensconced in Cincinnati Reds gear, we have to feel that we’ve given them their money’s worth on the field — won or lost.”

Yesterday, the Reds gave us our money’s worth.  Here’s hoping this is the beginning of an exciting rest of the season.

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Here’s how Twitter reacted following the “pep talk.”…..

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