Bryan Price convened a remarkable impromptu meeting in the Reds dugout after the Reds came off the field to follow the third inning today. From the FSO broadcast, it appeared that Price had chosen that unusual moment to deliver a message to the team. The Reds promptly hit and hustled their way to two runs in the top of the fourth. It easily could have been five, as Chris Heisey’s deep fly ball fell just short of the left field fence.

Cause and effect is often slippery. Whether the rally was caused by Price’s motivational speech or simply that it was the second time for the lineup to face Tanner Roark, who knows. It’s certainly a better narrative to put it on Price’s encouragement.

One of my favorite examples of the use of emotion in persuasion is Al Pacino’s “Inch by Inch” monologue from the film Any Given Sunday. [Kids, Mr. Pacino uses a couple words in this speech that you shouldn’t.]

Pacino’s speech exemplifies a number of persuasive devices, ranging from the creation of dissonance, involving the audience and appeals to identity. Successful persuasion is complicated, especially to millionaires. But one tactic that stands out is empowerment – the idea of making a difficult task seem plausible. When Pacino emphasizes “one inch at a time” and the “six inches in front of our face” that’s exactly what he’s up to – making winning seem possible if everyone does what they can.

That’s probably similar to the unique public message Price delivered for his team today.

The litany of injuries that have befallen the Reds has created deep adversity as plain as the eight names on Price’s lineup card today. But when the fourth inning began, the Reds were only one run behind, two runs away from a lead that, improbably, could win the road series. A few good at bats, one per person, could overcome that adversity.

I wrote and published this post during the rain delay, not knowing the ultimate outcome of the game. But it was encouraging to see Price break protocol and take the risk to challenge his team when everyone could see it.