It may not have been quite on par with The King’s Speech, but the pep talk that Marlins skipper Edwin Rodriguez delivered to his team on Tuesday was one that he had been rehearsing for nearly 15 years.
Before the Marlins’ first full squad workout, Rodriguez addressed all 64 players in Marlins spring training camp, delivering the first Big League pre-season pep-talk of his career. And from the quotes we’ve seen so far, it was a motivational speech that could put Tony Robbins to shame.
"I did say that I’ve known them for many years," Rodriguez said. "Pretty much everybody at one point I managed them and I know what kind of makeup they have. There are a lot of winners in that room. There are a lot of guys that have the mental toughness needed to win championships. Why not? Let’s take one game at a time, let your abilities take over and I can feel it. We’re going to be the last team standing come October.
It’s a tall order, but try to forget the part where he mentioned "mental toughness," and referred to portions of the roster as "winners." (Edwin gets a free pass considering this was his first big pre-season speech, and he wasn’t around when Fredi dropped the term in reference to Boni during the team’s darkest era in recent memory, "The Bonifacio Experiment." )
Focus on this instead: "We’re going to be the last team standing come October."
Now, before you scoff, let me remind you that clubhouse speeches are one time you should resist the urge to mentally calculate all of the statistics, roster holes, injuries and question marks that would make you skeptical of a manager’s enthusiasm. Revert to childlike wonder for five minutes here. Pre-season blather isn’t supposed to be calculable or logical. It is supposed to be inspiring.
And inspiring it was. Rodriguez’s zeal was enough to make me want to chuck all reason and believe wholeheartedly that Chris Coghlan will win a Gold Glove in center this season. That Matt Dominguez will not only make the squad, but will hit at a .376 clip through October. That Leo Nunez will emerge as the league’s top closer, and won’t blow a single save. (and strangely, I believe all of this set to the musical score from the training montage in Rocky II…)
Edwin did take a brief pause from his locker room slow clap-inspiring monologue to drop in a little common sense as well, reminding the Fish to master the obvious and do the little things that give a team a better chance of winning ball games.
"…Baseball always is going to be the same. There’s nothing fancy. Just master the obvious, do the routine plays and you’re going to be in the game."
So how did Edwin rehearse for his big moment?
"I would practice it with my wife. After the first time she didn’t pay attention, but I wanted someone to look like they were listening to me."
You know, if Mrs. Rodriguez can still manage to look as though she’s listening to her husband after 15 years, I suddenly believe there’s no reason the Marlins can’t be the last team standing in October.