Those who thought that the Chris Archer’s outstanding 2015 season—in which he made the All-Star team and finished fifth in the American League Cy Young voting—might be taken as an excuse to ease off the gas pedal are sorely mistaken.
On the very first day of workouts in Port Charlotte, Fla., Archer pulled aside two young pitchers, Jacob Faria and Blake Snell, for showing up late to a team meeting. How late were they? It was 8:28 a.m. The meeting started at 9.
For Archer, it was all about tone.
“You guys are the last two pitchers here,” he scolded in front of reporters, according to a Tampa Bay Times report. “You guys have zero service time. You got no right to be coming in after me, really. I get here super early. I wouldn’t expect you to be here at 6:30, but 8:30?”
With that gesture, Archer provided a baseline expectation about accountability—an especially important measure considering the youth of Tampa Bay’s staff. This is the basis for winning clubhouse atmospheres.
Dusty Baker tells a story about showing up one minute late to the hotel lobby during his rookie season, to catch a ride to the ballpark with some teammates. It was 4:01 p.m., and he had been in his room, catching the end of Gunsmoke on TV. The group he was to meet waited for him to arrive, and as soon as he saw them sped off. “I had to run behind the truck all the way to the ballpark,” Baker said. Lesson learned. The incident helped to inform an approach to the game that he carries with him to this day.
“What you learn in this game is not yours to possess, but yours to pass on,” Baker said in The Baseball Codes. “I believe that, whether it’s equipment, knowledge, or philosophy, that’s the only way the game shall carry on. I believe that you have to talk, communicate, and pass on what was given to you. You can’t harbor it. You can’t run off to the woods and keep it for yourself, because it isn’t yours to keep. And what you teach other guys is the torch you pass. I don’t make this up—it was passed to me.”
Archer seems to be right on board. “I remember being in some of these younger guys’ shoes,” he said in the Rays spring training clubhouse last week. “Hopefully I can have the same impact that James Shields and D.P. [David Price] had on me.”
If his recent actions are any indication, the Rays are in good shape in that regard.