Former Reds manager Dusty Baker seldom, if ever, criticized his players in public for a lack of effort. That philosophy caused many outsiders to question whether Baker was holding the team sufficiently accountable. At the start of the season, new manager Bryan Price promised to supply plenty of that quality. Reds fans have been watching to see if that supposed change would become apparent.
Last night, it did.
Price took the opportunity presented by his post-game press conference (video) to call-out Reds players for a “disappointing and unacceptable” performance, citing a “lack of fight and lethargy.” HeÃ‚Â enumerated exactly the type of the behavior he was criticizing:
“What was disappointing and unacceptable tonight was that we didn’t have our head in the game at all, especially in the first five innings. We had two guys who didn’t remember how many outs there were, we had a pitcher that didn’t cover first base on a ground ball to the right side. We had five base runners in the first three innings, and with that three-run homer, it seemed like the game was over.” (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)
Price was quick to add the team has generally not been guilty of a lack of effort this year and he expected it to be the last time:
“We did rally a bit and come to life a bit in the last couple of innings offensively and with a little bit of energy in the dugout, but it was unacceptable. We haven’t done that much this year, but what happened tonight was unacceptable from an effort and mental perspective, it’s not the way we play, it’s not the way we’ll play again. But we need a lot better than that.” (Rosecrans)
The contrast with how Baker handled criticism of players was stark. That’s not to say one style or philosophy is definitely more effective. Managers with varying styles have been successful. Different teams might need distinct approaches. Or one team might require contrasting treatment over the course of a season. Regardless of the wisdom and effectiveness, Bryan Price followed through with his pre-season pledge.
The Reds poor performance last night followed their series win in Miami. It marked the team’s tenth consecutive loss at Progressive Field and their sixth straight loss in American League ballparks this summer.