Friday, June 24, 2005

An imaginary interview with Bob Melvin

After a two-year tenure as manager of the Seattle Mariners in which words such as pablum, humdrum and insipid became a part of the Seattle sports lexicon, Bob Melvin was summarily discharged of his managerial duties following a 99-loss 2004 campaign. Quick to snap up sure-fire talent when they saw it, the Arizona Diamondbacks made Melvin their second choice as manager, hiring him to superintend the franchise for the 2005 season. On an imaginary basis, we caught up with Melvin after his D-Backs posted a prosaic 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers earlier this evening.

T: So Bob, how's it going?

BM: Very adequately, thank you.

T: Tell us about your firing by the Seattle Mariners after last season. Any hard feelings?

BM: The Mariners did what they felt they had to do. The circumstances were that we experienced a cyclical downturn with existing personnel. Given that, I devised a five-year business plan in which I would gradually integrate logical modality into the character of the ballclub. Prior to the unveiling of "Phase 2: SWOT Analysis and its Impact on Strategic Decision-Making", I was let go. I have no hard feelings toward Howard Lincoln or Bill Bavasi for making the move. When I left, I broke down and waved. I heard something about not letting the door hit me, which no doubt was a thoughtful warning about the recently-oiled hinges in the clubhouse.

T: What accomplishments can you point to during your stay with the M's?

BM: I flow-charted every player in conjunction with his optimal output. I even presented pie graphs to the players after each game as a motivational tool -- sometimes in red and blue, other times in green and yellow. I told them to eat, drink and sleep with the charts. I didn't understand some of the fellows saying that it wasn't the kind of 'pie' they were looking to sleep with, so later I switched to three-dimensional charts. That didn't seem to satisfy them.

T: Anything else? How about the performances on the field?

BM: Obviously, we were pleased with the 93-win season in 2003. 2004 was difficult, of course, but we attempted to implement changes that would bring about long-term accountability when I was let go. However, on an overall basis, our winning percentage (which I prefer to call our "success rate") was 48.1% in Seattle. I'm pleased to note that our success rate in Arizona has increased to 50.7%. That's statistically relevant.

T: Bob, you were labeled with such adjectives as "vanilla" and "bland" by the local media, the national press, the fans, your players, your friends, your family, business leaders, civic leaders, construction workers, the unemployed, members of PETA, clergymen, the Rainbow Coalition, the Black Entertainment Network, NOAA and hundreds of other organizations across the country. How would you respond to this?

BM: There will always be impressions that formulate over time in this business. I understand that. Most of them will never see me during lighter moments. For example, just last week I elbowed bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock and told him to take the lineup card to home plate instead of bench coach Jay Bell, as a joke on the umpires. Boy, I couldn't stop tittering over that one. And hey, I can let my hair down, too (chuckling). I remember when Morganna the Kissing Bandit ran onto the field at Memorial Stadium when I was with the Orioles in 1989. I'm telling you, I stared a good, long time at her through my fingers. A long time.

T: Tell us about your win tonight against Detroit.

BM: Gladly. Detroit is a competitive team. We were fortunate to come away with the victory tonight. They gave 110% on the field. You play one game at a time. You can't steal first base. Baseball is played between the lines. It's a game of inches. Sean Estes took one for the team. That's why the game is played on the field.

T: *Ahem* ... well, how about some of your managerial moves in the game?

BM: I was mentally challenged throughout the game with a veritable array of moves. After Estes pitched a serviceable 6 1/3 inning stint, my database indicated that Aquino had a statistically-relevant chance of success against the succeeding two batters, so I brought him in. Likewise, the program recommended that Valverde come in to pitch the eighth. I had confidence in its next suggestion, which was our closer Brunley to pitch the ninth. On offense, circumstances necessitated me bringing in Cintron as a pinch-runner and Hairston as a pinch hitter. Needless to say, i was exhausted after the game.

T: Any words of advice to Seattle Mariner fans, since their team is struggling with a below-.500 record right now?

BM: Certainly. Seattle is a competitive team. They give 110% on the field. You play one game at a time. You can't steal first base. Baseball is played ...

T (interrupting quickly): Thank you, Bob.

BM: Thank you.

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