What It Takes

What It Takes

The Right Team

By Callie Oettinger | Published: September 2, 2011

Jose Bautista joked that he led for foul balls.

And then he landed on the Blue Jays’ doorstep.

Jays’ manager Cito Gaston saw something in him.

And Jays’ batting coach Dwayne Murphy pointed out how to fix his swing.

And then he hit 54 home runs in 2010.

And then his 2010 record was called a fluke.

And then he found himself doing better in 2011–and being called one of the best players in baseball.

Read Joe Posnanski’s Sports Illustrated article titled “Do you believe in Jose Bautista?” This sticks out in the article:

“Everybody had always told me I was late swinging the bat,” Bautista says. “Well, I knew that. But they didn’t really tell me what to do about it. Or anyway, I didn’t get the message, you know?”

“We just had to get him on time,” Gaston says. “That was the biggest thing with Jose.”

Murphy and Bautista changed the mechanics of his swing. “He had that natural bat speed,” Murphy says. “He was a natural pull hitter. But he didn’t know how to pull the ball. I told him that with that bat speed he should destroy inside fastballs.”

It didn’t click right away. Then heading into another game, a team mate offered advice:

“You know what you should do,” [Vernon] Wells said. “Think about starting as early as you can possibly imagine, so early that it seems ridiculous. And then start even earlier than that. What do you have to lose? If you look like a fool, you look like a fool. It’s just one game.”

Bautista took Wells’ advice.

Game changing.

Bautista always had the talent and the work ethic. That wasn’t enough. He needed help getting to the next level.

Quite a few teams passed on helping him. Instead, trading him to another team.

And then he landed in a place with leaders who could see the talent — and who were willing to do something to pull it out.

Some players go straight to the big leagues, and the team is ready to support them right away. Others start out slower–with equal, if not more, talent–but need a little help to blow out their stats.

In publishing, it makes sense for publishers to work with authors falling into both categories. Go in it for the long haul. Nurture and encourage the authors–and no matter what, don’t trade talent for any amount of money. Can you imagine if the Red Sox had held onto Babe Ruth?

And teach them about the business so that they have an understanding of everything that’s going down. Develop long-term programs to keep amazing talents in one place, instead of constantly worrying about them jumping ship, from Cleveland to Miami…

And for the authors, share your ideas, but listen, too. Bautista listened when he was with the right team. And that’s hard for some authors. They’ve been on the wrong team for so long–or they’ve listened to too many horror stories from other authors–that when they hit the right team, there’s a lack of trust. They don’t recognize that people are trying to help them, to do the right thing.

Work hard.

Find the right team and/or team members.

Listen.

Work harder.

Lead the season in home runs.

Posted in What It Takes

10 Responses to “The Right Team”

  1. September 2, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Thanks Steven for the inspiration and great article -and for the much needed mega dose of courage to keep digging.

  2. September 2, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Steven, you’re describing what editors – the good editors – used to do. They may still do it. The publishers are like the owner of the team. The good owners put in place good managers, let them spend and manage. In the chase for the big buck and the fast book – everything Wal-Mart, how can the editors truly edit (i.e., coach)? Anyone who’s had even minimal publishing success can name at least one editor with the courage to fight the Resisitance lurking behind what you’re describing. I can name two, Lester del Rey and George Scithers. Maybe there should be a post that’s a tribute to editors who stand up for authors, like the Blue Jays management team? A deep, heart-felt thanks for this post.

  3. September 2, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Great stuff Callie! I love the analogies. You mentioned Cleveland to Miami–what is an author to do if he or she looks at the team and thinks, “I can do better”?

    Let’s skip “the grass is always greener” for now. What if the team is capable of getting you to the playoffs, but not the big show, and a big show team comes knocking? I would think an author who jumps ship in this case would be branded negatively. How can the new team think he won’t do the same if a better team comes knocking again? And the first team worked so hard to get him to that point in the first place, then he bails?

    It’s on the team to do the best they can for the author, but what if it’s not good enough? Better yet, how does the author know when it is good enough?

  4. September 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Great post, Callie. Probably one of the best in the series. Thanks so much for writing this.

  5. September 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Callie – this is fabulous and inspiring. I confess, I’m not a huge baseball fan, but it still resonated wildly.

    Recently, another writer, whom I deeply admire, took an interest in my late-swinging-but-naturally-talented way with words. Her coaching has made a world of difference (heh, if I do say so myself). And for that I am grateful.

  6. Paul C
    September 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    You hit a home run, Callie.

  7. John Thomas
    September 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Great post, Callie.

    I see the music industry having exactly this problem right now. Too many labels are only willing to put money on what has the quick payoff and not willing to invest the time and money for artist development (what a good manager and a good label rep SHOULD be doing) to help give that artist a quality, long-term career. All of the superstars of yesteryear (and many still with us), whether you talk about The Beatles or Led Zeppelin or U2 started out slowly without hitting it out of the park in terms of sales from the get-go. It took time, and development, and touring, and experience, and tweaking, and doing it again.

    And, funny, many, many of the bands who went through that process stayed with the labels that helped them do it. So, there is often a reciprocation of loyalty. There just has to be a longer term vision from those putting in the time and resources to make it happen.

  8. September 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Am a Jays fan. It’s perfectly acceptable for Brett Lawrie to be called up and hit 8 HRs in first 24 BL games, but I’m completely baffled by Baustista’s performance. So late, such a night and day contrast, and not a fluke.

    On the publishing industry. How are they going to pay for the staff to support writers? E-publishing is here to stay and it’s will affect the revenues and profit margins of traditional publishers.

  9. Scott
    September 8, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Great post!