Change in pregame hitter's meeting

Sox Pride

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Jen McCaffrey has an article in The Athletic ($) where she outlines how the Sox have changed their pregame meeting style

Previously, they had been conducted as group meeting with all of the players meeting with the hitting coaches to go over how to attack the pitchers.
But last month, when the Sox had to series with the Rays sandwiched around a STL series, before the second series, they individualized the meetings - aka met with each hitter one-on-one to talk how they were to attack each pitcher.
That seems to have resonated better and the Sox offense has been better since.
 

Van Everyman

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Interesting article in The Athletic on how the Sox have simplified their briefings for the hitters:

TORONTO — A month ago this week, the Red Sox arrived in Tampa for a three-game series having just hosted the Tampa Bay Rays the previous week at Fenway Park.

It was one of the weird quirks of the schedule where they played the same team in seven out of 10 games.

With only a trip to St. Louis sandwiched in between their two series against the Rays, the need for their typical hitters meeting — breaking down the starter and every reliever on the opposing staff in a group setting — didn’t feel necessary as they arrived in Tampa. Instead, they held a shorter group meeting followed by individual player meetings with their 13 hitters to review how the starter might attack each batter.
Following a 4-3 comeback win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the Red Sox were tied for the major-league lead in average (.296) in June while leading the majors in hits (164) and on-base percentage (.372). They lead the American League in stolen bases (24) and rank second in slugging percentage (.475) and runs scored (92) for June.
“Personally, I like it,” said David Hamilton, who has hit .288 with a .796 OPS and 10 steals in June. “I’m kind of a simple guy, so I don’t really like too much information. It makes me overthink, I guess.”

Jarren Duran, who’s been among the majors’ best hitters this month with a .353 average and 1.005 OPS in 16 games, agreed it’s been helpful.

“When we used to do the team meetings, it was kind of like a generic approach,” Duran said. “I feel like some guys handle different locations better with different pitches so the individual plan has really helped guys be like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to look in this specific area like we talked about. I can look somewhere that works best for me.'”

Each day prior to the game as hitters filter through their batting cage sessions, they have informal check-ins with hitting coach Pete Fatse, assistant hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Ben Rosenthal and coaching assistant for hitting strategy Joe Cronin. Some players gravitate more toward one coach or another, but everyone is generally involved. The individual sessions take the pressure off the less experienced hitters and allow them to get more detailed feedback.
https://www.nytimes.com/athletic/5574784/2024/06/19/red-sox-offensive-surge-team-meetings/?source=user_shared_article

Also, I found in amusing that rhe Sox have a coaching assistant named Joe Cronin.
 

InsideTheParker

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Jen McCaffrey has an article in The Athletic ($) where she outlines how the Sox have changed their pregame meeting style

Previously, they had been conducted as group meeting with all of the players meeting with the hitting coaches to go over how to attack the pitchers.
But last month, when the Sox had to series with the Rays sandwiched around a STL series, before the second series, they individualized the meetings - aka met with each hitter one-on-one to talk how they were to attack each pitcher.
That seems to have resonated better and the Sox offense has been better since.
Thanks. I haven't got the time to read the article right now, but I appreciate hearing about it, and am encouraged.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Jen McCaffrey has an article in The Athletic ($) where she outlines how the Sox have changed their pregame meeting style

Previously, they had been conducted as group meeting with all of the players meeting with the hitting coaches to go over how to attack the pitchers.
But last month, when the Sox had to series with the Rays sandwiched around a STL series, before the second series, they individualized the meetings - aka met with each hitter one-on-one to talk how they were to attack each pitcher.
That seems to have resonated better and the Sox offense has been better since.
Thanks for sharing this. I think working with guys one on one vs. in a large group makes a lot of sense. The individualized approach seems to be paying off, at least in the short term. I'm all for it.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Did the hitting team instruct them to BABiP heavily?
Hit the ball into the field. If there’s a player there. Hit it somewhere else.
 

RS2004foreever

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Since the middle of May 12
Boston is 7th in OPS+
3rd in slugging
5th in ISO
And number 1 in BABIP by a considerable margin.
And second un ruins scored - though we have played more games than most other teams at the top of this list.
84416
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Since the middle of May 12
Boston is 7th in OPS+
3rd in slugging
5th in ISO
And number 1 in BABIP by a considerable margin.
And second un ruins scored - though we have played more games than most other teams at the top of this list.
View attachment 84416
Interesting to see that the strikeout rate is quite a bit higher than the rest of the top 12. They're doing a great job when they put the ball in play. Speed kills.
 

RS2004foreever

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Interesting to see that the strikeout rate is quite a bit higher than the rest of the top 12. They're doing a great job when they put the ball in play. Speed kills.
I wonder if there is research tying higher BABIP to speed as measured by steals. You would think it would matter.
 

simplicio

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We have statcast footspeed metrics, you don't need the messiness of steals in that equation.
 

Dewey'sCannon

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Speaking of the impact of speed (on BABIP), I'd like to see some stats on the correlation between the foot speed metrics and times reaching on error, which is not included in OBP. Anecdotally, we often see plays when there's an error because the fielder seemed to rush to make a play to get a fast runner (although sometimes these are scored as infield hits). I looked on Fangraphs but couldn't find stats on times reaching on error.
 

Rovin Romine

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“When we used to do the team meetings, it was kind of like a generic approach,” Duran said. “I feel like some guys handle different locations better with different pitches so the individual plan has really helped guys be like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to look in this specific area like we talked about. I can look somewhere that works best for me.'”
What will they think of next?

This smacks of Cora saying he was going to emphasize defense in spring training. A good and obvious thing, but you have to wonder what they were thinking the two years prior to that.

However, better late than never. (Seriously.) If Fatse and crew get these guys firing on all cylinders, they'll have earned their paychecks.
 

Rovin Romine

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I commented in the monthly thread, but this really has a "what will they think of next" vibe to it. Meaning, I'm shocked they didn't tailor the briefings to each hitter's strengths vis-a-vis the opposing starter.

That said, better late than never. There's a lot of talent and potential on the roster. If Fatse and his merry men get the hitters on-track, they'll have earned their keep.

Speaking of the impact of speed (on BABIP), I'd like to see some stats on the correlation between the foot speed metrics and times reaching on error, which is not included in OBP. Anecdotally, we often see plays when there's an error because the fielder seemed to rush to make a play to get a fast runner (although sometimes these are scored as infield hits). I looked on Fangraphs but couldn't find stats on times reaching on error.
I think speed's effect on BABIP is a bit broader than just if a runner legs one out.

Ideally, you'd also want to look at times when a fielder was rushing to deal with a speedy runner that was already on base. Trying to turn a DP too quickly, and that sort of thing, whether it's an error or not. But I have no idea of where you'd find those kinds of numbers, or if they're kept.

There's also the scenario of a speedy runner on 1B simply beating what would be an out at 2B. A fielder's choice becomes a clean single. Wouldn't show up as an error most likely.

There's probably also a number of instances where a fielder might field a ball conservatively (say, an OF not diving) to be better able to throw the ball in and limit speedy runners advancing. I'm pretty sure that's not tracked at all. It wouldn't be an error, but it would result in something like a single and a runner at 2B/3B.
 

YTF

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What will they think of next?

This smacks of Cora saying he was going to emphasize defense in spring training. A good and obvious thing, but you have to wonder what they were thinking the two years prior to that.

However, better late than never. (Seriously.) If Fatse and crew get these guys firing on all cylinders, they'll have earned their paychecks.
They have multiple in house media sources and mountains of data to isolate and then monitor and break down each player's approach at the plate, what he's done against specific types of pitchers and pitches as well as individual pitchers. They have for years, this is not a new revalation. The whole fucking point of having this type of equipment is to track and trend INDIVIDUAL players, assess the information gathered and adjust accordingly. Time will tell, but if this is truly a difference maker, how are they just figuring this out now?
 

Rovin Romine

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They have multiple in house media sources and mountains of data to isolate and then monitor and break down each player's approach at the plate, what he's done against specific types of pitchers and pitches as well as individual pitchers. They have for years, this is not a new revalation. The whole fucking point of having this type of equipment is to track and trend INDIVIDUAL players, assess the information gathered and adjust accordingly. Time will tell, but if this is truly a difference maker, how are they just figuring this out now?
I have to wonder if something isn't getting lost in translation here, because it's a blindingly obvious thing to do.

But from the quotes, it seems that they're just now doing this.

FYI, there's also a dedicated thread on this.
 

Van Everyman

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In one of the Monday night/post-victory interviews that Joe Mazzulla did, he talked about how it's one thing to understand which analytics are important and another to get players to buy in and understand how they impact their play and to be disciplined on the court. Maybe I'm still under the spell of that interview, but I'm thinking this is really just a version of the latter part of that: determining how guys respond to and absorb this information best, particularly given that it's such a young team.
 

Rovin Romine

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In one of the Monday night/post-victory interviews that Joe Mazzulla did, he talked about how it's one thing to understand which analytics are important and another to get players to buy in and understand how they impact their play and to be disciplined on the court. Maybe I'm still under the spell of that interview, but I'm thinking this is really just a version of the latter part of that: determining how guys respond to and absorb this information best, particularly given that it's such a young team.
I dunno man. . .the bolded falls under the heading of "coaching" and has forever.

I get that in recent years there's been a data tsunami - but that's what the analysts on the staff are for. It's not like the players are expected to sort through the raw data and figure things out for themselves. Modern coaches should have a back-and-forth role between players and the stats department; they have to get the analysts to parse and sort the data in a useful way, which they can then use to coach and prepare the players.

It's evolving. Even so, (maybe it's just me) it seems shockingly behind the curve not to focus that information for individual hitters. If a guy has a skill that matches up with something the opposing staff is doing. . .maybe make sure they know?
 

chrisfont9

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trs

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Not to say that it would make up for the whole difference between our BABIP and the rest of the league, but if hitters are feeling more comfortable and looking to attack pitches in zones they hit better, then one would think that would lead to better contact and better BABIP.

This also fits into the @Rovin Romine idea of "what will they think of next?" or "no shit sherlock." I doubt the secret to a team-wide .330 BABIP is "try to hit pitches that are where you like to hit pitches," but not letting a pitcher's general strategy dictate a message to each individual batter is probably a good (yet time-consuming in terms of preparation) thing to do.
 

jon abbey

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This also fits into the @Rovin Romine idea of "what will they think of next?" or "no shit sherlock."
The Yankees hitting coach at the start of 2023 (two hitting coaches ago for them now) had the blindingly innovative overarching philosophy of 'hit strikes hard'. Whoa, really? I never considered that, thanks coach!!!
 
Not to say that it would make up for the whole difference between our BABIP and the rest of the league, but if hitters are feeling more comfortable and looking to attack pitches in zones they hit better, then one would think that would lead to better contact and better BABIP.

This also fits into the @Rovin Romine idea of "what will they think of next?" or "no shit sherlock." I doubt the secret to a team-wide .330 BABIP is "try to hit pitches that are where you like to hit pitches," but not letting a pitcher's general strategy dictate a message to each individual batter is probably a good (yet time-consuming in terms of preparation) thing to do.
Comparing pre May 12 to post May 12:

LD%: +2.4%
GB%: -2.1%
FB%: -.3%
IFFB: -2.3%
HR/FB: +1.2%
Pull: -5.4%
Cent: +4.9%
Oppo: +.5%
Soft: -3.1%
Med: -1.7%
Hard: +4.9%
EV: +.9
Barrel%: +.2%

Definitely some improvement in quality of contact evident here. More line drives, more home runs per fly ball, more up the middle and less pull, more hard contact/barrels/ev.
 

trs

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The Yankees hitting coach at the start of 2023 (two hitting coaches ago for them now) had the blindingly innovative overarching philosophy of 'hit strikes hard'. Whoa, really? I never considered that, thanks coach!!!
Reminds me of some of the coaching in Ball Four. Hey, I suppose it's still just a simple game.

Well, hopefully not that simple.
 

trs

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Comparing pre May 12 to post May 12:

LD%: +2.4%
GB%: -2.1%
FB%: -.3%
IFFB: -2.3%
HR/FB: +1.2%
Pull: -5.4%
Cent: +4.9%
Oppo: +.5%
Soft: -3.1%
Med: -1.7%
Hard: +4.9%
EV: +.9
Barrel%: +.2%

Definitely some improvement in quality of contact evident here. More line drives, more home runs per fly ball, more up the middle and less pull, more hard contact/barrels/ev.
Interesting numbers, the increased line drive and hitting the ball opposite field would put more harder to catch balls into areas of the field where there are fewer fielders, assuming some degree of a shift, and therefore a higher BABIP. So, perhaps it's not just noise and luck. Of course, the increased LD% and oppo% could be noise, but over 5 weeks, that seems like a significant sample and perhaps the result of actual changes in approach and not random variance.

Using the whole field and hitting the ball hard -- real groundbreaking stuff, but putting yourself in a position to be able to do those things, that's perhaps what were seeing evidence of, and not just managerial non-sequiturs from the bench.
 

Nacl

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The takeaway I got from the article was that compared to previous years when they were more veteran heavy with guys who already had an approach/philosophy about hitting and were familiar with the pitchers the coaches talked in the hitters meetings about pitcher tendencies and how to address those tendencies. Some of the younger guys on this squad said that it was information overload, and they tended to focus on the wrong things. The individual meetings allows tailoring and more of a informal back and forth with a coach that provide some the younger guys better agency regarding their approach.
 

joe dokes

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The takeaway I got from the article was that compared to previous years when they were more veteran heavy with guys who already had an approach/philosophy about hitting and were familiar with the pitchers the coaches talked in the hitters meetings about pitcher tendencies and how to address those tendencies. Some of the younger guys on this squad said that it was information overload, and they tended to focus on the wrong things. The individual meetings allows tailoring and more of a informal back and forth with a coach that provide some the younger guys better agency regarding their approach.
That's one way to look at it. Or, you could just play the greatest hits of "these coaches suck and should have thought of this years ago because its so obvious a caveman could do it."
 

Rovin Romine

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That's one way to look at it. Or, you could just play the greatest hits of "these coaches suck and should have thought of this years ago because its so obvious a caveman could do it."
I'm sure they're very good hitting coaches for veteran hitters who already are familiar with pitcher tendencies.

Kinda like Dave Bush was re: 2023 Chris Martin.

We probably unfairly jettisoned that guy too soon.
 

YTF

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Pete Fatse has forgotten more about hitting than I will ever know, but I have been curious about his effectiveness for more than a couple of years now. I'm not sure if the was pre-Fatse or since his arrival, but I remember Rafael Devers and others crediting JD Martinez for their improved approaches at the plate. In 2021 Kyle Schwarber was widely lauded for his approach toward hitting and the effect he had on others after his late season arrival in Boston. Maybe Fatse played a role in that and encouraged these vets to spread their knowledge and if so, good on him for doing so. But since their departures we've seen many Red Sox players struggle for extended periods if not entire seasons, especially young players. I'm sure part of that is due to the learning curve that is Major League Baseball, but for the love of God it seems that the fairly basic idea of trouble shooting hitting issues in on an individual basis should not be a new revelation. If hitters don't all use the same size and weight bat, if they don't all hold their hands in the same position, if they don't all stand in the spot when they step into the batters box then why in the world would hitters briefings/meetings be presented in a one size fits all format?
 
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RG33

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Also, I found in amusing that rhe Sox have a coaching assistant named Joe Cronin.
I got to meet the HofFamer Joe Cronin at the ceremony to retire his number (and Teddy Ballgame’s) in 1984. A family friend got us access to his luxury box and we shared an elevator with Cronin and Ted. I was 9 years old — my Dad used to caddy for Cronin at Belmont Country Club back in the 1950’s and 60’s — but he didn’t remember him, as he was in a wheelchair and in rough shape (he died 3 months later). It was still cool meeting them both — I was mostly focused on Ted who didn’t say a word.
 

YTF

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I got to meet the HofFamer Joe Cronin at the ceremony to retire his number (and Teddy Ballgame’s) in 1984. A family friend got us access to his luxury box and we shared an elevator with Cronin and Ted. I was 9 years old — my Dad used to caddy for Cronin at Belmont Country Club back in the 1950’s and 60’s — but he didn’t remember him, as he was in a wheelchair and in rough shape (he died 3 months later). It was still cool meeting them both — I was mostly focused on Ted who didn’t say a word.
Great story, thanks for sharing.
 

lexrageorge

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Seems like a coaching staff that is willing to try new things to prepare hitters is something that should be welcomed rather than assumed to be the result of the coaches being "stupid". After all, the Sox are still 5th in the AL in runs scored and 3rd in OPS despite having a lineup decimated by injury all season, so the coaches are probably doing somethings right.
 

Average Reds

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I got to meet the HofFamer Joe Cronin at the ceremony to retire his number (and Teddy Ballgame’s) in 1984. A family friend got us access to his luxury box and we shared an elevator with Cronin and Ted. I was 9 years old — my Dad used to caddy for Cronin at Belmont Country Club back in the 1950’s and 60’s — but he didn’t remember him, as he was in a wheelchair and in rough shape (he died 3 months later). It was still cool meeting them both — I was mostly focused on Ted who didn’t say a word.
Three comments:

1. I want to meet your friends.

2. Very cool, if humorously awkward story. (The awkwardness is about silent Ted.) It’s always somewhat surreal to be in the company of larger-than-life celebrities in a different stage of their life.

3. Had a similarly awkward encounter with greatness more than 30 years ago when we were in a hotel elevator and Muhammad Ali and his entourage entered the floor below us.

As we descended towards to lobby, I whispered to my wife that Ali had just gotten in the elevator and she refused to believe me … until the doors opened and the crowd in the lobby all started calling out “Champ! Champ!”

Ali was basically done speaking in those days, so he never said a word. Just moved very slowly through the crowd while his aides handed out autographed cards to everyone they saw.

Edit: On topic, whatever they are doing in hitters meetings is working, so I’m not complaining no matter how obvious the move seemed. I do want to mention that when teams go on streaks or turn things around, it’s natural for the local sports media to press players to find “the key to the turnaround.” Which is one reason we end up with seemingly obvious-sounding stories like this one.

I’m good with just enjoying the ride.
 
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HfxBob

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The Yankees hitting coach at the start of 2023 (two hitting coaches ago for them now) had the blindingly innovative overarching philosophy of 'hit strikes hard'. Whoa, really? I never considered that, thanks coach!!!
And he works for us now! (Dillon Lawson, Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator.) :p
 

joe dokes

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Seems like a coaching staff that is willing to try new things to prepare hitters is something that should be welcomed rather than assumed to be the result of the coaches being "stupid". After all, the Sox are still 5th in the AL in runs scored and 3rd in OPS despite having a lineup decimated by injury all season, so the coaches are probably doing somethings right.
Does seem that way, doesn't it? Unless one starts with certainty from the position that the hitting coaches stink and simply molds every bit of coaching news into that theory. Just the fact that neither Hamilton nor Rafaela are total offensive ciphers -- which is pretty much what the majority around here (me included) thought would happen -- but are instead catalysts of a pretty dynamic offense speaks well of the coaching.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Does seem that way, doesn't it? Unless one starts with certainty from the position that the hitting coaches stink and simply molds every bit of coaching news into that theory. Just the fact that neither Hamilton nor Rafaela are total offensive ciphers -- which is pretty much what the majority around here (me included) thought would happen -- but are instead catalysts of a pretty dynamic offense speaks well of the coaching.
You could also add Duran, Wong, and Refsnyder to that list.
 

simplicio

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Pete Fatse has forgotten more about hitting than I will ever know, but I have been curious about his effectiveness for more than a couple of years now. I'm not sure if the was pre-Fatse or since his arrival, but I remember Rafael Devers and others crediting JD Martinez for their improved approaches at the plate. In 2021 Kyle Schwarber was widely lauded for his approach toward hitting and the effect he had on others after his late season arrival in Boston. Maybe Fatse played a role in that and encouraged these vets to spread their knowledge and if so, good on him for doing so. But since their departures we've seen many Red Sox players struggle for extended periods if not entire seasons, especially young players. I'm sure part of that is due to the learning curve that is Major League Baseball, but for the love of God it seems that the fairly basic idea of trouble shooting hitting issues in on an individual basis should not be a new revelation. If hitters don't all use the same size and weight bat, if they don't all hold their hands in the same position, if they don't all stand in the spot when they step into the batters box then why in the world would hitters briefings/meetings be presented in a one size fits all format?
I think lots of us have been really critical of Fatse, and deservedly so, for the reasons you mention here.

But something is working this year. I don't know if it's a managerial change, different approaches/voices getting air time, pure coincidence or what, but the turnarounds we've seen from Wong, Abreu, Rafaela, Hamilton, Refsnyder, Valdez and Smith, along with career peaks from Devers, Duran and O'Neill? And the fact that I just listed ten hitters as positive developments? Beyond the injuries, we're veering dangerously close to best case scenario territory here.

Two months ago we were calling for Breslow to get us the offensive version of Bailey. And I don't know who's responsible exactly, but at this point it sure seems like he has.

So Breslow, can we get the infield defense and medical versions of Bailey next?
 

RG33

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Three comments:

1. I want to meet your friends.

2. Very cool, if humorously awkward story. (The awkwardness is about silent Ted.) It’s always somewhat surreal to be in the company of larger-than-life celebrities in a different stage of their life.

3. Had a similarly awkward encounter with greatness more than 30 years ago when we were in a hotel elevator and Muhammad Ali and his entourage entered the floor below us.

As we descended towards to lobby, I whispered to my wife that Ali had just gotten in the elevator and she refused to believe me … until the doors opened and the crowd in the lobby all started calling out “Champ! Champ!”

Ali was basically done speaking in those days, so he never said a word. Just moved very slowly through the crowd while his aides handed out autographed cards to everyone they saw.

Edit: On topic, whatever they are doing in hitters meetings is working, so I’m not complaining no matter how obvious the move seemed. I do want to mention that when teams go on streaks or turn things around, it’s natural for the local sports media to press players to find “the key to the turnaround.” Which is one reason we end up with seemingly obvious-sounding stories like this one.

I’m good with just enjoying the ride.
Wow. Ali trumps even Teddy Ballgame. That is incredible.

I also shared an elevator with Arod in 2018 at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. “Thanks for 2004.” He laughed.