There is a strange phenomena in minor league baseball. I will call it the “Second Year Syndrome.” This is how it works. When a player, coach or manager returns for a second season to a team, for example, the PawSox, there is an automatic rise in the friendliness level towards the radio broadcaster. Even if you weren’t especially close with the guy the previous season, it happens most of the time. This unfolded on Friday night at McCoy Stadium during the annual Hot Stove event. Hundreds of PawSox fans braved the cold to meet manager Arnie Beyeler and players Luis Exposito, Alex Wilson, Brandon Duckworth and Alex Hassan. Expo and I got along well in 2011, but I was surprised when “Dapped me down” when we first saw each other. A “Dap” is when you shake hands and put the other hand on the other persons back, pull them in closer to you and pat them on the back. I was taught that term by former broadcast partner Raymont Harris, a running back from Ohio State who went onto a fine career with the Chicago Bears.
It was great to see Arnie Beyeler again. The skipper did a really good job in 2011, leading the PawSox to the I.L. North Crown. He feels he has a decided advantage heading into this season. “Familiarity. It’s been a lot more comfortable coming in here, knowing the people, knowing you, knowing the setup and just knowing what you are getting into. Last year was new and all the challenges of everybody telling me how difficult it was going to be, Triple A with the older players. I just hope we can duplicate the type of season we had last year. It was a lot of fun.”
Arnie hasn’t had much time to relax this offseason. He managed in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, but he’s not complaining. “I had a good time out at the Fall League. That goes through the end of November. Usually I get a little more “down time”. Get into shape, That hasn’t happened, but I had a great time out there, developing relationships with players and other people was great. We had some good players out there. Top prospects from other organizations. We had a good team. We didn’t play too well, but it was a lot of fun”
As the Triple A manager for the Boston Red Sox, Beyeler worked closely with Terry Francona. He hasn’t really had the opportunity to work yet with Bobby Valentine, but looks forward to the chance. “Haven’t spoken with him yet. I don’t even really know him. I met him briefly last year while he was working an ESPN game, but that was it. I’m really looking forward to developing a relationship with him and his new staff, working with those guys and learning from them, just like we did with Tito the last few years. I’m going to miss Francona, because of the familiarity I had, but it’s going to be great picking a new guys brain and hopefully, broadening my horizons.”
Beyeler is looking forward to Spring Training and the team he will bring up north for the season opener. “I think we’ll be pretty much the same team we ended up with last year. There’ll be new guys in town, free agents and guys like that. These guys will get the chance to make a new first impression with the new staff in Boston. Hopefully, these guys can repeat what we did last year and they can be successful, get the opportunity to go to the Big Leagues. That’s what it’s all about.”