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.

22 Responses

  1. Shannon

    I didn’t know that wasn’t protocol until now. I was glad to see it, and glad to see what happened next.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Me, too. Most professional managers don’t like to do that stuff in public (I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it before).

      • pinson343

        Right that kind of speech is usually associated with the phrase “closed door meeting.” And it happens before or after a game, not during. I like the timing, the players were taken by surprise.

      • lost11found

        I remember Buck Showalter doing a couple of times maybe in his earlier stints as manager, but he also overdid it perhaps and it begins falling on deaf ears.

        Probably the hardest thing to learn as a manager or coach. When to be a lion or a lamb. Too much of either does not work long-term.

  2. Vicferrari

    True game of inches, and a few inches Monday and the Reds could have been looking at 6 games under .500 with no momentum coming into the game, cannot give an inspirational speech all the time but hopefully Price uses it well. Keeping this season salvageable avoiding losing streaks, my biggest leap of faith that Price might be a winner and not a bridge to get some other high salaried manager

    • pinson343

      As you say baseball is not usually a “Win It for the Gipper” speech kind of sport. Rah-rah enthusiasm cannot be sustained over the 162 game grind. But at points over that grind, players need to be woken up and go all out to win a particular game or series. It’s all about timing, and I agree with Bryan Pena that Price was “very clutch”. A statement that a manager is clutch is kind of funny but just the same …

  3. Chad Dotson

    I don’t know if that stuff works with professionals or not, but I liked it.

    At some point, I’m going to figure out my opinion on Price. The jury remains out.

    • Kyle Farmer

      I think it might work with professionals in extremely rare circumstances. It has to be with the right group, at the right moment, and you can’t go back to that well.

    • RedinTenn

      Hey, Chad – even if it works with some of the professionals, some of the time (including professional fans!) it could have an impact. At any rate, it can’t hurt. The season-long deliberation on Price will be interesting. I sure hope it ends up way positive. Good to see you on here.

  4. sezwhom

    I liked his timing and approach. Dusty would never have done that. It was needed and I applaud his motivational drive. Gained some respect Mr. Price. Team responded too.

  5. pinson343

    Nice statement, Steve. We tend to be on the analytical side here (which I like) but there is an emotional component for both players and fans – a good manager has to know when the team needs to be inspired to play with more passion.

    In any case I’m glad we’re not just pooh-poohing what took place.

  6. Kyle Farmer

    I am a football guy. That was the sport I played and the sport I coached for a decade. I’ve come to understand, mostly from the editors and commenters of this site, that baseball has to be different than football. However, it was sure nice to see a “football” moment. I imagine that Mr. C was pretty darn pleased to see that as well.

    Kudos to you Bryan Price and to the Reds for responding!

    • WVRedlegs

      For a football speak, google former WVU football coach Bill Stewart’s (RIP) pre game speech before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl when WVU was a huge underdog. WVU won 48-28. The speech still gives me chills every time I hear it. It is one of the best football ones I’ve ever heard.

  7. enigma

    Let’s not overblow the Reds winning a 2-1 ballgame with numerous rain delays because of a brief speech between innings

    • redsfan2014

      That’s not necessary Enigma. It is perfectly fine for someone to believe that this was a good speech to have, if one wants to believe that the speech was key to victory, let them believe. I think that this was a decisive win, missing your two best hitters and coming and winning a series against a good team, nothing wrong with celebrating.

  8. d.j.t

    Bryan Price is making his own mold on being a manager. Love it.

  9. WVRedlegs

    I loved the response from Jay Bruce, who wasn’t playing, as the meeting concluded. He smacked his glove and was itching to go. It was if he was saying, “Put me in coach!”
    Whatever was said, the players responded positively to it.

    • zaglamir

      Helps if you remember to post the quote:

      “He really fired this lineup up,” first baseman Brayan Pena said. ”It was a very, very clutch speech from the skipper. … I didn’t know he could speak like that.”

  10. Eric the Red

    The top of the 3rd was pretty embarrassing. I assume the speech wasn’t just “rah rah”, but a reminder that they had a scouting report and they needed to take smarter at bats. Hey, whatever he said worked; he also let Simon pitch after the rain delay, batted Cozart–who started the winning rally–2nd despite just about everyone on earth thinking that was a bad idea, and pulled Simon at the right time over his protests so that his high-priced relievers could do their jobs. That seems like enough to put this into the category of “one of those games the manager helped win.”

  11. Reed Tom

    Win or lose I was glad to see this. These guys are at the top of their profession and they’ve all been through a lot of rah-rah on the long road to the major leagues. But in a long season a pep talk from the manager out in the open at the right time can be a motivator. Well done, Mr. Manager.