Proof Positive: Part 2 of 3
By Josh Greene
After a 17-year playing career that also included two World Series titles (1984, ’88), a 1988 NL MVP Award and stops in Detroit, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, the Michigan-born Gibson toiled as a team broadcaster in Detroit before becoming a bench coach for his former Tigers teammate-turned-manager Trammell from 2003-05.
The two reunited this past offseason when Gibson returned the favor, bringing his longtime friend to Arizona to be a member of his coaching staff for a squad that’s somewhat reminiscently flown under the radar in 2011.
“Gibby says this team reminds him of his 1988 Dodgers team, because those were a bunch of no-names that nobody really considered a threat,” Trammell said. “On our ’84 team, we didn’t have anybody hit 30 home runs or drive in 100 runs, either. What we did have were guys that contributed. And we’re getting contributions from many different players here, too.”
Even though the D-backs finished August atop the NL West without a top 10 player in batting average, homers or RBI, what Gibson did have were overall contributions from multiple players – four in double digits in home runs, another four with over 50 RBI and still another four hitting over .275.
“I want people who want to compete in any situation and won’t quit,” Gibson said. “Some people look for a tools guy. If you have a guy with tools and he won’t compete – he won’t put the group first – that’s not my ideal player. Things get tough, but you still compete. Strike out four times, but are you still competing? If you’re hurting a bit, you can still compete. Your teammate may need you to pick him up. Are you going to compete? That’s how I approach it. Golfer Jack Nicholas wrote a book a long time ago, explaining when he was at the tee, he’d look down the fairway and say, ‘I’m visualizing the ball going into the hole.’ He wasn’t thinking about his hands, or his feet or his swing. He was just thinking about the ball going in the hole. That’s what we try to do, getting back to competing.”
In addition to heavily crediting his fellow coaches, the D-backs manager believed the team’s accession in the standings started last season with the organization’s hiring of Towers, whom Gibson calls a “great communicator” and an important contributor to revamping the coaching staff last winter, as well as the customary roster moves to improve the team.
“KT and I talk about everything and anything all the time, every day,” Gibson said. “When I was the interim guy, the atmosphere around here was bad. The game would be over and I’d be sitting here by myself, trying to figure out what was going on. The place would clear out and all of a sudden KT would appear. We’d talk baseball philosophies all the time, dissecting games, dissecting players and how we feel about things. That’s how it all started. He gives me my say about how I feel about certain things. I respect him and his judgment. I think I realize what his expertise is and what mine is and isn’t. I lean on him.
“We just have a real good balance. It’s reciprocated on his side, as well, where he goes with my gut. I’ve told him whatever he decides, I’ll respect. There are other times I would say I preferred he do something else, and he’s done it. We have a real good working relationship, and he’s great for the organization. And we’re real good friends, too. We have a lot of fun, and man, is the guy competitive. If we can’t compete, how can we expect the team to compete?”
To read Part 3 of 3, CLICK HERE.
To read Part 1 of 3, CLICK HERE.