What Happens in a Closed Door Meeting?
The Rockies staged the perfect NL West rally last night in Dodgers Stadium. Troy Tulowitzki stayed back and punched a single up the middle. Todd Helton kept his hands inside the ball and dumped a single into left field. Michael Cuddyer drove the ball to right field, and even though he was robbed in the corner by Andre Ethier, he produced a run. Dexter Fowler gritted his way through an impressive at-bat, eventually lining a single to right field to plate a 2nd run.
Those are the kinds of innings you need in those tough, low scoring divisional games in the NL West. There’s just one problem: this showing came in the top of the 9th inning, with the team already trailing 7-1. Until that point the offense had rollover-groundballed and weak-flyballed their way to offensive ineptitude. This after Jim Tracy recently held a closed door meeting reminding his team that they cannot expect to take long swings and drive the ball in those darned west coast stadiums. There was a visible difference on Wednesday in their victory over the Padres; there was not last night. Pending the results of the remaining 4 games on this trip, it is unknown if the meeting was effective.
Here’s what I want to know: what exactly do these closed door meetings look like? We acknowledge them when they happen with a hushed reverence as if to say, “Oh. Things are really serious now.” But why? We don’t know what they look like. Do we just react that way because the door is closed? Is there some type of open door meeting I’m not aware of? Can people drop in on those?
“Honey, what are you doing after work tonight?”
“Well, I’m going to swing by the open-door Rockies meeting. I should be home by 6.”
Here are three more questions I have about the Rockies’ closed door meetings:
1. How many times does Jim Tracy ask himself rhetorical questions? I’ll set the over/under at 25.5 per meeting.
We know that this is his go-to move with the media. For example: “What can you say about a player like Carlos Gonzalez?” And then he answers himself. I have to think he introduces each of his main points in the meeting with a rhetorical question.
“What can you say about a team that strikes out 10 times a game? I’ll tell you, they won’t win many games. It’s as simple as that.”
That brings me to the next question…
2. How many thoughts does Jim Tracy conclude with the phrase: “It’s as simple as that.” I’ll set the over under at 22.5, although I have a feeling that line would get pounded and we would have to go up to like 27.5.
This is his favorite way to emphasize a point. Sometimes it is a simple point and sometimes it is not. In any case it is an effective way for Tracy to indicate that he believes he just closed the debate with a really good argument.
3. Do the players have to participate, or do they just sit and listen?
When I worked in Residential Life as a college student, any staff meeting we had (especially when it was closed door) required our participation. Our supervisor would raise a concern, and then we would go around the room and each employee had to talk about something, whether it was about an area that needed improvement, a concern we had, or something else.
What if Tracy made the Rockies do that? “We’re going to go around the room, and each person say something you have done well this season and something you would like to improve upon.” Imagine the range of responses if this actually happened:
- Todd Helton would pass.
- Dexter Fowler would say that he killed it as a guest host on talk radio, and that he needs to improve at “baseball.”
- Esmil Rogers would say nothing and start crying quietly to himself.
- Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki would both say they have done well on the field, and would agree that they need to improve at telling everybody else to be “more awesome” like they are.
- Jamie Moyer would say that he has done a great job of keeping hitters off balance, and that he sees nothing to improve on because he’s “49 freaking years old!” and would like to see “any of you do this at that age!”
And so on…
4. Do the players take notes, or just nod thoughtfully?
This was always one of my favorite things to check in literature classes. I was a big note taker, but others showed they were engaged by nodding periodically when somebody offered a good point in discussions. I bet that most Rockies opt for the thoughtful nods, but if I had to guess who takes notes, I would guess the following guys (from least to most likely to write notes):
- Ramon Hernandez (because he is a veteran guy)
- Matt Belisle (he just seems like the type)
- Jonathan Herrera (there has to be some reason he is Tracy’s favorite, right?)
- Michael Cuddyer (the obvious choice)
Besides the reverence with which they are treated because they are “closed door,” these meetings fascinate me for another reason. They never work, right? I know Chris Capuano has pitched well this season, and he deserves credit for that. But shouldn’t this offense, especially if they improved their approach like Tracy asked, score some runs against him? The Dodgers dominated every facet of last night’s game, but the shortcomings of the offense were more painful than the equally helpless shortcomings of the pitching and defense.
In the 9th inning the Rockies looked like a team that was profoundly affected by the closed door meeting: solid at-bats, not trying to do too much. They need that good approach to show up more consistently and earlier in games if they hope to salvage anything out of this road trip.
And if they don’t, they might have to attend another closed door meeting. Gasp!
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