Bagwell as leader? Bah. Humbug.

added 5/31/2001 by Steve Cutchen

Today's Houston Chronicle has a story by Jose de Jesus Ortiz praising Jeff Bagwell's leadership:

Some excerpts:

"He's the boss, the silent leader most likely to help guide the team out of its recent stumble."

"I need to do more. I'm a lot better hitter than what I've shown so far. I know that. It's just a matter of getting it done."

"I speak up," he says. "I've called team meetings. I've called my fair share of those. But there has to be a good reason for it. You just don't call one to hear yourself talk. Hopefully I won't, but if I feel like it's necessary, then we'll have one. Right now I don't feel like it's necessary."

"You just try to teach them to play the game the way it's supposed to be played," he said. "Do the right things out there and don't show anybody up. Respect the game. You're showing those things by how you approach things. And when they mess up, you let them know about it. You say, `Hey, this is what you should have been thinking.' "

"He has quiet leadership more than anything," said Wagner, 29, who sets the tone in the bullpen on and off the mound. "With everything he does on the field, he doesn't have to say much to get his point across.

"Yeah, we don't have a vocal leader. We don't have someone who rants and raves and gets in someone's face. But if someone's out of line and is not paying attention, you say something."

So is Jeff Bagwell an effective team leader?

I don't buy it. Quiet leadership is an oxymoron. Lead by not showing anybody up? No. That's not the point.

I think the clubhouse DOES need a vocal leader. Someone to lead the fun when the team is winning. Someone to express the frustration when things are down.

Bagwell (and Biggio for that matter) is the type of athlete that internalizes his excitement. And his frustration. He withdraws to a (hopefully) higher level of concentration. This is fine motivational method on an individual basis. But it is NOT leadership.

A leader's teammates need to see that the fire BURNS.

A leader gives strength.

I want some emotion. I want collaboration. I want a Casey Candaele on the team again. I need another Billy Spiers. Hell, I'll take another Larry Anderson!

Who is our Mark Grace? Our Roger Clemens? Our Jim Edmunds? Our Derek Jeter? Our Pedro Martinez? Our Jason Giambi? Our Trevor Hoffman? Our Pudge Rodriguez?

I want to have a leader that doesn't mind going on the record when we're playing poorly. A guy that will inspire. That will console. That will incite...

Don't get me wrong. Jeff Bagwell is a great player. He has a chance to be the first Astro in the Hall of Fame. He is one of the best first basemen of all time and the best Astro ever.

But he is an individual contributor, not a team leader.

Leadership is not only about setting examples. It is about actively teaching and exhorting. There is a lot of parenting in leadership.

Tom Landry said. "Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve."

Getting someone to do something is an active pursuit, not a passive one. It cannot be done just by taking care of your own business and setting a good example.

That's my knuckleball. Try to hit it.

Send this story to a friend