Melvin the Mad Scientist

I’m still trying to digest the fact that Arizona Diamondbacks baseball is over for the 2007 season. I know I shouldn’t be disappointed with the outcome of this season but in the back of my mind I still feel slighted because I believe that the Diamondbacks had the better ball club in the NLCS. They just didn’t get the breaks they needed to show that. But I can’t sit here and dwell on the past. It’s also a little premature to begin planning for the 2008 season. Although I can hardly wait for Spring Training to begin, if I start talking about that now I am going to drive myself and more importantly Trina crazy well before Christmas. She is usually accustomed to be driven crazy around the last week in January so if I push the timetable up to December she is likely to go postal on me before I ever get a chance to buy Cactus League tickets. So that leaves me in a slight quandary as to what I can and cannot think about. I know there is still baseball going but watching the remaining ALCS games is kind of like pouring salt in an open wound. Hopefully I’ll heal enough to watch the World Series when in begins next week. If not I have at least got my Tivo set to record the games for when I am ready to watch. So please don’t anyone tell me the outcome of any of the games.

There has been talk for the past few months of what a great job Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin has done this season. With Arizona’s success in winning the National League Western Division many baseball insiders are predicting that Melvin will be rewarded by winning the Manager of the Year award. An early barometer of this award is The Sporting News awards. The difference is that Manager of the Year is voted on by the Baseball Writers of America while The Sporting News awards are voted upon by the other National League coaches. So in a sense The Sporting News holds more distinction as it is voted on by your peers.

The 2007 recipient of The Sporting News National League Manager of the Year is Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Bob Melvin. This was announced shortly before the beginning of Game 4 of the NLCS. Melvin had this to say when he was notified of his winning.

Obviously, because of the fact that it’s voted on by the managers it’s an honor, but for me it ends up being a group award. You’ve got to have good players which we do. We’ve got a great coaching staff that prepares the players to play every day so it’s a credit to them. And a front office that gives us the right tools and the right players to be successful with. So it ends up being a group award.

One of the traits Bob Melvin is known for is his humility and his ability to focus the praise on those around him. With a young team like Arizona had this year those traits have been extremely beneficial. The rookies were given an opportunity to play and put into situations where they could be successful. When success came there way Melvin went out of his way to make sure everyone recognized their accomplishments. This is definitely the type of person that you want to work for and to be around. Several of the Diamondbacks players congratulated Bob Melvin on winning this award and their comments were especially telling of how the players feel.

Tony Clark who is recognized as the “elder statesman” and clubhouse leader said, “It’s well deserved. His X and O ability is above par, but his asset is his communication. The atmosphere he created here is the biggest reason we’ve been as successful as we have been. I’m hopeful that moving forward this is just going to be one of the many awards he wins this offseason.” This communication skill that Tony referred to was a constant throughout the season. Stories and comments were made from the players of how Melvin set their expectations of when they would play and when they may have a day off. Everyone knew their role and what was expected of them. This is important to a ball club especially one with young players who might not necessarily know what they should or should not do. With open communications they were always apprised of how they stood. A classic example was rookie Mark Reynolds. After a torrid start when he first arrived, Reynolds struggled for a couple of months of the season. Rather than getting down on him, Melvin instead assured Reynolds that the team still backed him and that he would remain in the line-up. That show of confidence paid off and Reynolds bounced back to have a decent end of the season and post season from which he can build upon next year.

Bob Melvin has shown a knack for making the right moves at the right time which put his team in a position where they could win. The Arizona Diamondbacks were the surprise team of 2007 thanks in large part to the management style and coaching ability of their leader. He will quickly pass the praise torch to others but as in most jobs, the team is a reflection of their coach. Congratulations Bob Melvin! I hope this is one of many awards that will recognize your accomplishments this season.

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