March 24, 2016
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pete Mackanin, less than two weeks away from writing out his first lineup card for his first full season as a major league manager, was asked on Thursday about leadership.
With a young team that’s expected to lose a lot of games over the next six months, it’s obviously important to keep everyone on the same program and content in their respective positions. And the upcoming mounting losses – even if they are expected of a team in the middle of a rebuild – will surely take their toll.
Mackanin, an upbeat sort by nature, doesn’t think any one leader, official or unofficial, is essential.
“You really don’t need a leader in the clubhouse right now,” Mackanin said. “Not only that, but you really don’t need a leader if you have the type of players that you really want, the players with the good makeup. When I played, most of the guys I played with, they played hard. They played to win, they did everything they were supposed to do. If there was a guy or two [that] didn’t play by those standards, everyone on the team kind of let them know.”
Mackanin is taking it upon himself to create that culture in his clubhouse. It’s started with The Pete Rules.
The Pete Rules? OK, there wasn’t an official handbook printed out for players on Day One of spring training, because they’re pretty simple.
But, if you break a rule, everyone pays.
“If you don’t get a bunt down, everyone pays 50 cents,” Mackanin said. “If you don’t hustle, everyone pays 50 cents. If you miss a cut off man, everyone pays 50 cents.”
Since everyone becomes accountable for one player’s transgressions, it keeps everyone on top of each other – but in a fun way. After all, it’s just 50 cents.
“When I announce the fines, this week you have $2.50, and I announce the last fine, a half dozen players get on that guy,” Mackanin said. "Not in a mean way, but like, ‘Come on. Don’t do that anymore.’”
It’s basically Mackanin’s way of making sure a young team learns to play the game the right way, every day and every night of the season, beginning with spring training.
“It’s a way to be picky about little things,” he said. "Like you made it into second base, but you should’ve slid. You hit a double but you coasted into second when you should’ve came around hard in case the guy bobbles the ball. Fifty cents. It allows me to be a real prick about things like that. What are you going to complain about 50 cents?”
Mackanin and his staff keep tabs of the rule breaks each day and put out the day’s collection after every morning meetings. First base coach Mickey Morandini is his bagman, entering the clubhouse each morning with a small, maroon zippered pouch (complete with an old-school 70s Phillies logo) and hollering out that day’s collection fee.
“Four dollars!” Morandini yelled one recent morning. “Come on guys, four bucks.”
How much money has been collected because of The Pete Rules this spring? And where does it go, possibly to a weekly dinner with his wife?
“We’re closing in $1,000,” Mackanin said. “We’ll probably give it to BAT.”
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