Box score — Pheasants 5, Wingnuts 3
I was thinking the other day about how Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper would have handled the situation with Hanley Ramirez, where Ramirez loafed after a ball that he misplayed and then was taken out of the game by manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Hooper would have done the same thing — taken Ramirez (or any player who did the same thing) out of the game and handled it behind closed doors. (Though Gonzalez couldn’t really handle it behind closed doors because he was publicly called out and disrespected by the player. He had to respond publicly to save face and keep control of the clubhouse.)
And that’s how you’re supposed to handle it, so I guess no real credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. But one of the things I respect most about Hooper is that he isn’t fake. He doesn’t do things as a manager just do them. He does things that fit his personality, and his personality is as an old-school baseball guy who also happens to enjoy having fun and treating his players like men.
I bring this up because Hooper described his team’s poor collective approach in the second game of the doubleheader as “not very good.” That’s about as critical as Hooper is going to get publicly, but you know when he does get critical at all that he means it. He isn’t saying things for show or for false motivation or out of heated emotion, like one former manager here liked to do.
Hooper is positive. Optimistic. But not for the sake of being positive and optimistic. He keeps the respect of his players because he makes sure every guy is accountable and because he tells the truth. When I get into a line of questioning with him about his team’s sluggish offensive showing in the second game against Sioux Falls, he’s not going to duck questions or try to make the situation look better than he actually does.
Of course, it’s just one game. And even though the Wingnuts aren’t hitting a lot right now, the positive, optimistic side of Hooper knows — KNOWS — that it’s going to get better.
Up next: St. Paul at Wingnuts. Starting pitchers: St. Paul, RH Jason Godin (0-0, 2.70 ERA); Wingnuts, RH Luke Massetti (0-0, 4.50)