Friday, October 21, 2011

The Managerial Secret of Tony LaRussa

“He’s on a whole different level. He thinks about stuff nobody else is thinking about. I played for him, I know how he is. He’s one of a kind.” 
--Darren Oliver, Texas Rangers pitcher, discussing St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.   
Tony La Russa has been a major league manager for 33 seasons.  In the opening game of the 2011 World Series on Wednesday night against the Rangers, La Russa pulled the right levers with his bullpen, making five changes. Each move went his way, and the Cardinals won the first games of the series.  3-2 in front of 46,406 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.
LaRussa emphasizes caring as a key component of this managerial style. 
“There’s a lot of smart baseball people around,” La Russa said. “Nowadays, with all the distractions, you better get kids that care for your message. And how do you get them to care? You care for them as people.”

It is not easy and it takes time. 

“Our staff, we believe in being very personal, up-close with our players,” La Russa said. 

“It’s not a line drawn and you rarely step over it. We really believe in a lot of intermingling and making each other personally accountable to each other. In other words, you care for your players. Actually, it’s a harder way to lead, because you spend a lot of time as a staff thinking about each and every guy, every day.”

Excerpts from the (10/19/2011).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

San Francisco 49ers' Fast Start

“I think a lot of you think it’s a cliché that we’re really just focused on getting better. Being better tomorrow than we were today. Being better today than we were yesterday. That’s how we’re judging success, so we didn’t put any limitations on ourselves or any things like that. We’ll just keep moving on with that plan, improving. Not changing but improving.” “Thought it was a great win for our team, great thrill of winning. We take the next step. It was a step. I feel like our team performed well, competed hard.”
--Jim Harbaugh, first-year head coach of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, responding to questions from the media about the team’s 4-1 start in the 2011 regular season and the quick turnaround by his team.

Coaches’ Mindset Extends to the Team

"You act like your coaches," said 49ers tight end Delanie Walker, whose 26-yard scoring reception got the 49ers rolling in their latest victory over Tampa Bay. "We are going to keep our heads, keep our cool and make smart decisions. When other teams make bad decisions, we capitalize on that." "I love the fact that he motivates us and has us ready to win every game," wide receiver Michael Crabtree said of Harbaugh. "It's like the will to win. It's not just focusing on one person. Everyone has the same goal in mind."
‘‘You can just tell the attitude difference. Everybody has a plan, a direction of what they want to do. Those guys played hard for [former coach Mike] Singletary, but they certainly play hard for Harbaugh. They certainly show a sense of urgency to go out and win this year. And it’s no different from what you would get any time you get a new coach. Harbaugh has done a wonderful job with these guys, and we look forward to going out there and having a good game.’’
--Raheem Morris, head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucanneeers, before his team played the 49ers.

Team Not Surprised by Fast Start

"It might be surprising to the outside," left tackle Joe Staley said, "but it's part of the culture that Harbaugh is instilling. We don't care about what anyone says on the outside. If they respect us. If they like the way we play, if they don't like the way we play. It's all about the guys in this locker room and believing in one another. That's what we're doing."

QB Alex Smith: Staying Loose and Focused

 "Alex is a strong-minded individual," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's struggled in the past but he's headed for success. He's taking advantage of his opportunities. He knows there's a possibility he'll get hit from all sides and he still wants to make the play." "He has the ability to stay loose and focused at the same time," Harbaugh said. "He plays with a calm demeanor." "He studies the game plan and the opponents' structure," Harbaugh said. "He's smart, talented and doesn't rattle easily. He makes good quality decisions."

Team Confident about the Future

"It's about getting into rhythm and staying together as one," tight end Vernon Davis said. "What I saw last week I had never seen before. I saw that this team has what it takes to go all the way." "Just top to bottom, collectively," quarterback Alex Smith said. "It's a completely different mindset, a different attitude."

Taking It One Day and One Game at a Time

“Across the board,” Harbaugh said after the victory over the Bucanneers, “I thought it was an outstanding day by our team.”

49er running back Frank Gore called his team’s winning performance as, “another step.”

It’s the first time he’s been 4-1 as a professional athlete, and Gore wasn’t getting ahead of himself, either.

“It takes steps,” Gore added. “It takes the right steps and we’re just going to keep getting better and better. “The longer we keep taking the right steps, and that’s taking steps forward, we’re going to keep getting better.”

Excerpts from,,,, and sports (October 7, 9, 10, and 11, 2011).

Friday, October 07, 2011

Eli Manning: Maturity, Preparation and Focus Equals Success

“He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed, he hangs in there. He believes in himself and his teammates. This is something that we’ve worked on and directed an awful lot of attention towards from the neck up with our team, and the last two weeks it’s paid off.” --Tom Coughlin, the New York Giants’ head coach, discussing quarterback Eli Manning mindset and maturity.
Eli Manning has been on fire during the past two weeks. In a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants trailed, 16-14, but won, 29-16, after Manning threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Manning threw two more touchdown passes — this time only 58 seconds apart — as the Giants came back from a 10-point deficit late to win, 31-27. Manning is 29 of 38 for 353 yards in the fourth quarter this season, with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 139.5 — best in the N.F.L. and nearly 34 points higher than his 105.6 rating over all.

Manning Inspires Others to Prepare

“You study so you can react without hesitating. The only way we’ll all be on the same page is if we have seen it before.”
--Kareem McKenzie, Giants’ lineman, who understands the importance of preparation and practice.

An Appreciation of a Team Approach

Manning was quick to deflect the attention when asked about the Giants’ successes in the fourth quarter, saying, “It is not just one person, it is everybody doing their job.” The team understand Manning’s importance to their success.

“We follow his lead.” --Giants’ tight end, Jake Ballard.

Excerpts from (October 6, 2011)