Jump to content
ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Really good read on Brady's dedication.


Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...


Brady Anderson's Individualized Approach Benefits Orioles

Look at this guy: He is 50 years old and still looks as if he might pop a fastball onto Eutaw Street, or swipe second base while nobody's looking. He still has a lean Olympian body, strong hair and buccaneer sideburns. Former Oriole Brady Anderson is 50, but he still looks like the guy who attracted attention for being shirtless on a poster two decades ago.

At 50, shouldn't he be back home in California, playing seniors volleyball on the beach or cultivating his tan at some poolside resort? Isn't that the fantasy of all those 21st-century ex-gladiators who made their millions and retired at 35 to live off the residuals for the rest of their golden lives?

Well, here's an exception.

More than a decade after he last chased a fly ball across Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Anderson is entrenched once more in the game he played for 15 summers before they practically had to yank the uniform off of him.

In January 2012, when the Orioles hired Anderson as a special assistant to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, it sounded as if it could have been a front-office favor for a restless former player who needed something to occupy his time.

But Anderson worked the job so productively that, in February 2013, the Orioles promoted him to vice president of baseball operations. It's a catch-all title, which leaves Anderson room to ad-lib his way through any given day.

"[Anderson is] a really solid contributor, very helpful to the team," Duquette said. "And he's a standup, dependable guy."

Anderson arrives at the ballpark each afternoon and doesn't leave until he's spent at least an hour in the postgame clubhouse, picking apart every inning with Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Anderson has rushed off to Aberdeen to check out the progress of top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy, worked on first baseman Chris Davis' swing and his psyche, helped closer Zach Britton regain his shoulder strength to capitalize on his potential, conferred with Duquette about personnel issues and overseen physical conditioning for the entire organization.

Has he made a difference?

"Where do you want me to start?" Showalter said. "He's a troubleshooter for everything. When we need something done, I turn it over to him."

Both Duquette and Showalter described Anderson with a word that seems almost quaint in the modern world of professional sports, with its bottom-line corporate culture and its going-to-get-mine cynicism: passion.

"He's passionate about the Orioles," Duquette said. "He's passionate about winning, and he's passionate about Baltimore."

Showalter said Anderson was passionate about baseball and the way it's supposed to be played, as well as what he wanted the Orioles to accomplish.

"He loves the Orioles," Showalter said. "He lives and breathes the Orioles. Obviously, he's got the unique perspective of a former player. But he has a real thirst for knowledge. Whether it's analytics, sabermetrics or just sitting around the locker room in your underwear talking about situations, he's been there. He's done that, and he's got empathy for what's going on and understands reality."

So what brought Anderson back to the fast lane of MLB when he could be lolling in California? To trace that odyssey, let's remember Anderson's previous life.

He spent most of his MLB career in Baltimore. From 1988-2001, he hit 209 home runs and stole 307 bases for the Orioles. He roamed the outfield with a kind of fearless, balletic grace. In 1996, he surprised many by hitting 50 home runs, an Orioles record that lasted until Davis hit 53 homers in 2013. Anderson had a .297 batting average in 1996, his career high for a single season.

Anderson was a Baltimore mainstay until the calendar got to him. He was 37 during the 2001 season, and his batting average fell to .202. Cleveland picked him up and then let him go. A curtain seemed to have descended.

"You know what the worst thing was?" Anderson said as he reclined on a sofa in his south Baltimore condominium overlooking the Inner Harbor. "For me, the worst thing about not playing in the majors was that I knew I would no longer be competing against the world's best -- no matter what I did -- for the rest of my life. When you play in the big leagues, there is no higher level of competition, no higher league."

Cut by Cleveland and trying to prove he could still perform, Anderson signed with a San Diego Padres Triple-A team. He had an opportunity to make some big league club take notice. He can still recite his statistics like a comforting mantra.

" had a .455 on-base percentage, hitting .294, had five stolen bases in three weeks," Anderson said. "And I got released. I wasn't a prospect anymore. And all of this gave me a perspective on what these guys go through."

But he was still hungry for competition, and still needed to test himself. When he was in his 40s, Anderson played organized football and basketball around Los Angeles. The football was no pads, but hard contact, blocking on the line, recovering fumbles, stripping the ball.

"Loved it," he said. "But all of it [felt] a little hollow, since you're not playing against the world's best."

Meanwhile, Anderson had stayed in touch with some old baseball contacts. They knew him as a savvy baseball observer -- and a lifetime advocate of physical fitness. Several reached out to him.

One was Jerry Hairston Jr., a former Oriole who'd just gone through a couple of nightmare seasons with Texas, batting .189 in 2007. Hairston was working out with younger players and taking some futile swings. Anderson asked the other players to go away for a few moments.

"I was kind of embarrassed for him," Anderson said. "He was really doing bad. I said, 'What happened?' He said: 'I don't know. I can't sleep at night. I can't hit anymore.' So I worked with him, and he goes on to hit .326 with Cincinnati [in 2008] -- his best year -- and whenever he'd feel bad, he'd call me. And it wound up really extending his career.

"So that was very rewarding. I don't know what it is, but that's one of my skills, to be able to analyze movement. It was [Hairston's] swing. When you don't feel comfortable, you don't think clearly. Your mind's chaotic.

"And maybe that's why I think I have a good sense of what some players are going through, because my career was a bit of a roller coaster -- huge slumps, huge successes. Anyway, I realized what an impact I could have, and what a thrill it was to make an impact. And it made me think of my dad."

Anderson's father, Jerry, coached him all the way through his junior year in high school, as he starred in baseball and basketball. (As a freshman, Anderson was 5-foot-1, 105 pounds, and played varsity in both sports.)

"My father used to tell me: 'You'd be a good coach. You'd be a good coach,' " Anderson said. "I'd say: 'I don't want to coach. I want to play.' Maybe he saw that I could analyze."

The Hairston experience led Anderson to other players -- sometimes for hitting, sometimes for getting their bodies into top shape. Several major league clubs let him work with struggling players. Then, a couple of summers ago, then-Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold, struggling in the minors, plagued by injuries, reached out to him.

"So I talked with [Orioles owner] Peter Angelos, who said, 'Go ahead, help him,' " Anderson said. "That was the beginning point with the Orioles. So then I started helping some other players, and Peter hired me."

Anderson said he and Showalter had jelled right away.

"He invited me to spring training to work with players," Anderson said. "Then Dan was hired, and I started getting invited to meetings. They saw that the players I was working with were improving quite a bit."

Injuries have blocked the potential of Reimold, whom the Orioles designated for assignment July 1. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed him off waivers July 6.

"Listen," Anderson said, "Nolan's had some bad breaks, but he's not a tragedy. He's going to be all right. In his case, it was a matter of making some physical corrections, but also getting him to believe in himself again and feeling good enough to forget about the mechanical stuff once you step into the batter's box. And his numbers went up. He slugged, like, .476; started walking more; and stopped striking out.

"So I started working with some other players -- a bunch of pitchers, working on their conditioning. But something else, you know? There's a symbiotic relationship between pitchers and hitters that isn't being taken advantage of.

"I mean, don't think that they can't inform each other. Like, I should have picked [Mike] Mussina's brain when I was playing. 'How are you getting hitters out?' 'How do you see pitchers getting me out?' When I was in a slump, Robby Alomar didn't come help me. And it wasn't because he didn't want to. It's because he had to work on his own stuff. Maybe he thought it'd be rude or something.

"You know, Alomar, [Rafael] Palmeiro, [Cal] Ripken [Jr.], those guys weren't giving me hitting lessons, and I wasn't giving them. And we should have been."

When Anderson reconnected with his old club, the Orioles were in the midst of a 14-year losing streak. Gone was talk of Orioles Magic.

"They were horrible," Anderson said bluntly.

So what difference can one ex-ballplayer make to reverse the tide of history?

"Make the players better," Anderson said. "Look, there's eight guys that go out on the field. If you can make one of them better, that's pretty significant, right? You make two better, or three better. ...

"My asset is that people are too obsessed with programs. Programs? My girlfriend could go online and figure out how to write down a training program for clarity. But it lacks everything that's important -- what specific deficiency that specific player has, and how he recovers.

"It's about individualization. Nick Markakis and Chris Tillman are not the same athlete. It's attention to individuals. Buck always said it: in the draft, you need to get it right once. You need one big leaguer to come out of each draft to be a success -- one good big leaguer, which is hard to do. The Orioles had a decade of disastrous picks. And those things changed the history of the team."

Anderson repeated the word "individualization" several times. Britton, whose potential seemed perennially hidden -- at times because of injuries -- until Anderson worked with him, spoke of Anderson's individual approach.

"When you're coming up," Britton said, "they put you in categories. You know: 'He's a pitcher, so he can't do these specific workouts. He might hurt his shoulder.' Brady looks at the individual. He helps you get stronger physically and mentally, and helps you buy into what you're doing.

"For me, coming off my injury: Is my body going to hold up? I had a lot of doubts. Is my shoulder going to hurt? The thing with Brady, it's not a cookie-cutter way of doing it. It's not everybody doing the same workout. It's individualizing. It's real hands-on."

What's the driving force behind Anderson's return to baseball? Partly, it's the need for competition. Partly, it's emotional ties to his old ballclub. And, not to be minimized, it's partly about a 10-year-old girl named Brianna, who is Anderson's daughter.

He has joint custody with Brianna's mother, who lives in California. Anderson showed a video of Brianna playing tennis.

"She's a good player," he said. "But I want her to know you have to work. She was born when I was retiring, so she never really saw what I did. And it's odd when you have a child and they see that you ... well, they see clothes and things and don't see where it comes from. They don't see that work ethic that provided these things.

"But people have to have that work ethic in life. That's what drives me, that basic work ethic. I want it for myself. But I want her to see it in me, and learn it for herself."


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brady is certainly a good player and I wouldn't doubt a hard worker. But I have two problems. One - the article is a slightly more reporting-based fluff piece. I hate these. We get to read these every week on someone being hardworking or overcoming injury or having a bad life. I don't mean to be unsympathetic because I don't mean that these things aren't interesting. But they simply aren't credible in many ways because of how common they are.


And to bring up an old discussion, I take a bit of issue with the idea of Brady ever being "mediocre." Perhaps he was, but perhaps he was simply overlooked forever. Why even spend a pick on a "mediocre" back-up unless you know there is something there that others don't see? It goes back to the problem with scouting and even coaching throughout this league - there is no truly effective measurement of player value or skill, especially for quarterbacks. We rely on magic and lore as much as anything else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...