Unfortunately, only 10 of my 13 responses resulted in signed baseball cards that will go into my collection. The folks at the Atlanta Braves’ spring training complex are apparently not accepting mail this year, so both of my letters came back “Return to Sender.” (I had tried Fredi Gonzalez and Eric Young Jr., in case you’re curious.)
I did get a signed card back when I wrote to Minnesota Twins pitcher Tommy Milone, but I have no idea who signed it.
Manager Buck Showalter instituted a winning program in 2010. There wasn’t a “rebuilding.” There wasn’t any talk about payroll flexibility nor fiscal responsibility. There wasn’t an expectation of losing seasons while they got their s*it together. There wasn’t any yakkety-yak about building from within nor over-hype of prospects to placate the fan base. Rather, Buck Showalter joined Baltimore and changed the focus of the organization. It was not unlike Vince Lombardi’s influence on the Green Bay Packers way back when — winning was the goal, and winning isn’t an outcome, it’s a process, it’s a habit. Yes, the Orioles had one rough year in 2011 while making the conversion from whatever was happening before to winning. Now, though, they’re a juggernaut, despite a cast of characters that changes every year, every month, and every week. Parts are interchangeable because everyone knows the goal, knows what they need to do, and are put into situations in which they can succeed. Pitchers make pitches, fielders execute, batters put the ball in play. It’s baseball at its simplest, much like we witnessed in Atlanta during the Bobby Cox years.
Don’t you want to see that kind of culture-change take hold in Queens?