Article: "Talent + Character = The Ideal Player"
"Character is an important factor for anyone. In baseball, it's definitely important. In baseball, character is referred to as makeup."
>>This sounds important. Let's take a look at some of the attributes that Steve Phillips claims are part of a players "makeup." Shall we?
Leadership: The ability to be yourself and bring others along for the ride.
>> So, leading is being yourself? Oh, okay. That must be what's holding players like Carl Everett back from being a leader. He's just not being himself!
Work ethic: The willingness to sweat and improve areas of weakness.
>>Well, this I can't argue with. I mean, how many times have we seen it..."Alex Cintron sure would be a much better hitter if he were just willing to sweat a little more." Unfortunately for Alex, his area of weakness is being good at professional baseball, and he's not willing to improve.
Mental toughness: The ability to show up every day and play at a high level regardless of what happened yesterday or what happened off the field.
>>Again, right on the money. Perhaps nothing plagues professional baseball players more than truancy.
Competitiveness: The burning desire to win.
>>Fact: Only one in four professional baseball players wants to win.
Aggressiveness: The ability to attack when the situation calls for it.
>>I assume this means you're only supposed to attack when the situation calls for it? What does this mean? And are there really players who don't have the 'makeup' to attack when the situation calls for it? "Coach, I really wanted to line a double down the line, I really did. But I just don't have the guts. It has nothing to do with the fact that I have like a 610 OPS this year. I just can't bring myself to do it." (Adrian Beltre, 5/29/05, on why he couldn't hit a double with runners in scoring position.)
Emotional control: The ability to control the anxiety one feels in critical situations or when one fails. Trying harder in baseball often leads to failure.
>>What if trying harder makes me better? Then can I lose emotional control? Don't you think it's just possible that trying harder would produce better results? And if you're really right, Steve Phillips, shouldn't the best players be the ones who are able to try the least?
Well, maybe he's got a point. Come to think of it, Hank Aaron sure didn't try very hard. Neither did Honus Wagner or Walter Johnson. Wagner, of course, was famous for trying so unhard that he would often lie down in the batters box for some at bats. Johnson was so dedicated to not trying that instead of trying to strike batters out, he would usually throw the ball into the ground and then squat on it while making farting noises. (This move, of course, became known as "The Walter".) And I don't have to remind you about Michael Jack Schmidt. So sure was he that trying hard leads to failure that he refused to ever pick up a bat in his entire MLB career. Didn't stop him from getting in the Hall of Fame.
And you know who does
try hard? Drew Niles. What's that -- you've never heard of him? That's cause even though he's already 28, he's still playing AA ball for the Carolina Mudcats. Poor guy shows up at 9AM every day to take extra BP. Always hustles, tries hard on every play. Keeps more than 25 binders, meticulously scouting the opposition, keeping track of his mistakes, and his patterns of success. Stays after the game, too, just to take grounders, work the kinks out of his mechanics. Classic
case of trying too hard.
Empathy: The ability to understand what your teammate is going through.
>>You mean like, when his grandfather dies?
Decision making: The ability to evaluate situations and make good decisions on the field and in one's life.
>>All right Steve Phillips. Let's do a little comparison.
Player A has a 720 OPS and puts his money in a nice portfolio of domestic stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and international funds, keeping about 10-15% percent in a money market "just in case." Player B has a 990 OPS and puts all his money under his mattress. Player A has 20 XBH in 400 ABs, and is saving himself for marriage. Player B has 50 XBH in 360 ABs (more walks, fewer ABs), and has unprotected sex with a different prostitute every night. Sometimes more than one. Player A's RC/27 is hovering around 4, and he always sends gifts to his friends on their birthdays. Player B's RC/27 is pushing 8.5, and last year for his brother's anniversary he took a crap in his washing machine. Player A is a bench warmer and a middle-of-the-road Republican. Player B is a future Hall of Famer and a card-carrying member of the American Nazi Party.
Who would you rather have?
(Note: I seem to have forgotten the point I was trying to make here. I'm not sure that anyone would want player B on his team.)
Communication skills: The ability to express clearly one's thoughts and feelings to a manager, coach, teammate or the media. Are you loud or quiet?
>>I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, KAZ ISHII! YOUR MAKEUP IS SHIT BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GET YOUR THOUGHTS ACROSS TO OUR GODDAM PITCHING COACH!
Ability to deal with failure: A hitter needs the ability to cope with failing about seven out of 10 times. Perfectionists have a hard time with this.
>>Don't you think most professional baseball players have played enough to realize that this oft-cited statistic is more or less true? Is there anyone who gets to the bigs and can't cope because they thought they just might hit .640 for their whole career?
Ability to deal with success: Knowing the game is never easy and that one must stay on top of his game, because failure is just around the corner. Baseball is a humbling game because of the inherent failure.
>>In other words, the reason you need to deal with success is not because it helps you as a player or anything, but only because you're going to fail eventually. . .well then, shouldn't we just be concerned with ability to deal with failure?
I'm sure it won't surprise any of you loyal FJM readers to hear that Steve Phillips thinks the player with the best makeup in baseball is none other than Derek Jeter.
Special note: Phillips' article is apparently part of a column he writes calls Psychology 101. Well, it just so happens that I have a degree in Psychology. So I think I'm qualified in saying: Steve Phillips, you're a fucking idiot.