Mike Schmidt recently had an op/ed for the Associated Press about how today's hitters don't seek the advice of Hall of Famer hitters like himself. (hat tip to darenstevens for the fanshot). While some of it comes off as "get off my lawn" grumpy old man material when he talks about .250 batting averages, strikeouts, and $10 million salaries, he does give an interesting perspective about how young hitters treat hitting advice from their coaches. Schmidt has an especially interesting take on George Brett's brief stint as Royals hitting coach last year.
One of the most telling stories was shared by George. He said when he was hitting instructor last year, there were two indoor cages, and he would be in one flipping balls and the assistant coach in the other. The young Royals hitters were lined up to hit in the cage with the assistant, and none to hit in George's cage.
I find that hard to believe, but at the same time know why. George, one of the greatest hitters ever, was there to coach, to offer his expertise, to suggest mechanics that might make a young hitter better.
The other coach was there to coach as well, but not with a sense of urgency — rather, more by telling the hitters what they wanted to hear. George eventually quit because he felt he was wasting everyone's time in a failing effort to connect with them.
There could have been other issues going on behind the scenes. Maybe his cage-side manner was uncomfortable, maybe he was too quick to criticize, perhaps his stature made them uncomfortable. But I got much the same report from all the HOF guys, which confirmed my personal experiences over the last 10 years that young hitters resist coaching, especially from the great ones.
They listen out of respect, but don't hear.
Now, we are presented this without much context, and basically from George Brett's perspective. Its possible George was a lousy hitting coach. Or lousy at connecting with people, particularly young people.
On the other hand, it does say something that few players seemed to even seek his advice at all. And this attitude seems to reinforce other stories from this organization, that the hitters don't seek to improve themselves and are too complacent. This arrogance seems to almost be organization-wide. Its been a fun season thus far, but if this club learns the wrong lessons and keeps repeating the same mistakes, we're not any closer to a championship than we were eight years ago.