THE BRUIN WAY II
The foundation of any team lies within its basic philosophy or style of play.
Every team has its own unique style, whether it is obvious or not, is unimportant. But, I believe that the players should have some understanding of their style so that they are consistent in their behavior and their play on the field. Usually the style of a team is a direct reflection of the head coach's philosophy, particularly if he tells them his philosophy – which is what I do every year on the first day I meet with the team. The combination of my philosophy and the Bruin style is summarized briefly in the next few paragraphs.
THE BRUIN STYLE
Perhaps the least obvious characteristic of the Bruin style of play is the attitude each player takes toward the team. Yet, there is no question as to what comes first in the Bruin player's mind... it is the team. From the first day of practice to the last, the Bruin players must put THE TEAM FIRST. It may be evidenced in a game by a player hitting a grounder to the right side of the infield in order to advance a teammate from second to third base; or taking a couple of good pitches to permit a teammate to steal a base; or playing an unfamiliar position in order to make the team stronger as a whole. It means being loyal to the team – its players and coaches. This doesn't mean that a Bruin player should never complain. I realize that during the course of a long season players are going to gripe. Some gripes are relatively minor – they come and go quickly – they do not overly concern me. But, the serious gripes – the ones that deal with a continuing problem – should be voiced to the coach. Otherwise, they become a source of disruption to the entire team. I want to hear these major complaints so that I have a decent chance of doing something about them. Persistent complaining without giving the coach notice, would not be putting the team first and as I said before, that should be foremost in a Bruin player's mind.
The Bruin team sets the pace for the whole game. It is a fast pace analogous to a basketball team's fast-break style. Complimenting this style is the manner in which the players hustle. Whether it be sprinting to their positions on defense, sprinting to the dugout to get their bats, or sprinting to first base after earning a base-on-balls? the Bruin baseball team is always hustling. To any observer or any opponent, the most obvious characteristic of the Bruin team is its HUSTLE.
FUN. It sounds a little corny, doesn't it, for a coach to be talking about fun; but, I include it in my philosophy because I want my players to have fun. If they aren't, they should quit. And, if I'm not, I should quit too. I mean it. I'll try my darndest to make it fun for the whole team by joking once in awhile or laughing at myself when I make a mistake. And I'll try to incorporate some fun into the practices as much as possible. But, a coach cannot go too overboard with trying to please his players in practice – most of the time practices have to be plain hard work and, in baseball, a little boring. But, we all have to put up with it if we expect to win. And, let's face it, that's the most fun of all.
No matter who the opposition or what the score, the Bruin team will always play with the same intensity and desire. If it is a national championship game or a contest with "Podunk University," the Bruins play hard. If behind 0 to 21 the Bruin players will not give up and if ahead by the same score, the Bruins will still play their best without "rubbing it in the face" of their opponents. Bruins will lose or win with dignity. This characteristic may not be obvious to the "outsider" because it is a trait that should be within each player and motivate him under any circumstance – it is called Bruin PRIDE.
The Bruin players are sound fundamentalists. Whether it be performing the sacrifice bunt on offense or executing the double play on defense, the Bruins execute better than their opponents. Yet, when a misplay is made, the Bruin player does not blame the umpire, nor kick at the dirt, nor offer any excuse. The Bruin player keeps his POISE. He knows that losing it may prevent him from being ready for the next play? he cannot risk that. He concentrates on the play coming up, not the one that has already passed. Even if the opposition "rides" him, his confidence and his pride will prevent him from losing his poise. "Riding," by the way, is only done by opposing teams who know of no other way to win. Bruins do not "ride" because they do not have to – they know how to win by simply playing better baseball.
So, there it is? The Bruin Way. Put in a formula, it looks like this:
THE TEAM FIRST + HUSTLE + FUN + BRUIN PRIDE AND POISE?
It all equals SUCCESS*. ?*
I have never found a better definition of success than John Wooden's:
"SUCCESS is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
Pete Rose said it more simply: "Makin' the most of what ya got."