Jeff Banister: What Texas Rangers Fans Should Know
ARLINGTON, Tex. — On Friday Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels held a press conference introducing the team’s new manager, Jeff Banister. After three weeks of interviewing 8 different candidates the Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach earned the position.
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I’ll admit that before the press conference I didn’t know much about Jeff Banister. I also didn’t think that I needed to research him because I personally felt that Tim Bogar would be named the Rangers’ new skipper.
Well, I was wrong.
As the announcement came on Thursday that Banister would be the manager, I quickly began trying to find out as much about him as I could. By now I’m sure many of you have read about his incredible story of overcoming huge obstacles in his childhood. His 29 year tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that he had one at-bat in the big leagues. But, during the press conference, listening to Banister speak, watching him answer the media’s questions, I feel that I learned more about him than what had already been written.
Here are a few things I learned and what I think every Texas Rangers fan should know about Jeff Banister:
A BASEBALL MAN: In spending 29 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates Jeff Banister has experienced baseball in just about every capacity. He was a minor league player, coach, manager, and Field Coordinator. He played one game in the majors, where he hit a single. Banister was also a Field Coordinator in ML, was a bench coach for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle from 2010 through this season. He also served as manager in 2009 for the Arizona Fall League’s Scottsdale Scorpions.
But, even before his his 29 years with the Pirates, Jeff Banister played ball his whole life. To simply say that he’s a baseball man doesn’t seem sufficient enough to explain what baseball means to him. When asked during the presser how the events he experienced during high school and college impacted his life Banister replied that while talking with Mike Maddux and getting to know each other he explained
"Why my passion for this game runs so deep. There were nights I couldn’t get up out of the bed in the hospital, but I could dream. I could dream about getting out of the hospital and playing again. Baseball gave me joy in a time when there was no joy. That burning desire, that internal fire that burns inside of me to have success, to pass on, to push forward, was melded a long time ago in a couple of different hospital rooms.”"
If that doesn’t get you to believe he’s a baseball man in every sense of the meaning, I don’t know what will.
GRATEFUL/DEDICATED/TEAM-PLAYER: Jon Daniels introduced Jeff Banister as the new Texas Rangers manager after stating that he is “a baseball man, prepared, blue collar, focused….” He also stated that
"We were looking for a partner in all that we do, and we found that in Jeff Banister”"
When Banister took the podium and lead with his opening sentiment, he said exactly what I didn’t know I wanted to hear. Besides thanking the Texas Rangers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, he managed to include everyone, and not to lead the team, but to be a PART of the organization.
"….but first and foremost giving me the chance to be a part of the organization [and] the guy that believes in the scouting department, player development department, plus the 25 men who show up to play for the fans here in Arlington. Because, ultimately thats what its about, showing up and playing hard, getting ready to play, and playing to win. The most important games played are right here in Arlington."
I think the fans needed to hear that recognition. To hear that he knows how important it is to be A PART of the team, and to include the fans in that showed me that he gets “it.” The it being that fans do feel like they are a part of the team. We pay money to attend games, buy game gear, and we are with them every single step of the way.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Throughout the entire press conference there were two descriptions that Jeff Banister repeated “PLAY HARD. WORK HARD.” And, not as in if you work hard, you can play hard. No, Banister’s statements were in regards to how he expects the team to play on the field. When asked how he envisions the Texas Rangers playing next season he was very frank in stating that the Rangers need “multi-faceted” players. As in, players that “are capable of meeting the demands of the game, the game presents different situations every single night,” are driven, and selfless.
Jeff Banister expects his players to throw the ball to the correct base every single time. (Wait, I want that too.) The new skipper wants the team to stay focused during every pitch. He wants the players to run hard, and if you need to break-up a double play, well, break-up that double play. Banister also stated that he “likes pitchers who compete off the mound.”
I want all of these things in our Texas Rangers players as well. I’m starting to think that Jon Daniels made a pretty good choice.
A BASEBALL RENAISSANCE MAN: Jeff Banister understands that Sabermetrics is a tool, it isn’t the entire game. He realizes that the data he is given has a purpose. As Banister said what he came to realize is
"….all these numbers mean predictable outcomes. We’re looking for the predictable outcome, [and] the coach inside of me went ‘well, can i push this predictable outcome a little to the right? Can I outplay the predictable outcome?’ And, then how can we formulate a plan for a player? [Then] give him the information to utilize the information that best fits that player to go out and help him perform better on the field. Sometimes, just simplifying the data for the player so they can just understand the numbers."
In all honesty, this is the best way I have EVER heard a manager explain how to use the data given to him in a valuable way that seems to combine the best of both worlds “baseball man” and “analytics only,” and I think we will all benefit from his style of managing. Also, Jeff Banister feels that ballplayers want and like consistency, especially where the lineup is concerned. However, he also feels that if an adjustment needs to be made, then he will make it.
I’m ready to work. ~ Jeff Banister
Bottom line is this:
Jeff Banister is hungry. He WANTS to win. He dreams about winning multiple championships. He wants to be playing in October. And he wants and believes he can lead our Texas Rangers to a World Series Title. And after watching the press conference (more than once) I am all-in on Jeff Banister, manager of 2015 Texas Rangers.