NEW YORK (AP) ― Kirk Gibson took a tough-guy approach. So much so, he brought three Navy SEALs to spring training.
The SEALs wrote D, W and I on a board. The letters stood for a sense of purpose, not a traffic offense: “Deal With It.”
“They bought into it,” said Gibson, voted the NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday after the guiding the Arizona Diamondbacks to a worst-to-first finish.
Joe Maddon took a different tact. After Tampa Bay lost its first six games, he proclaimed with a great flourish that this team was the best 0-6 club in baseball history.
“I think a lot of people are into the Rays’ style,” he said after being chosen the AL Manager of the Year.
Gibson was a clear choice for guiding the Diamondbacks to a runaway NL West title. A former MVP as a rough-and-tumble outfielder, he was honored in his first full season as a big league manager.
“I certainly had a vision,” Gibson said during a conference call while on vacation in northern Michigan, adding, “It’s certainly not all because of me.”
Maddon won the AL award for the second time. He was an easy pick after helping the Rays overcame a nine-game deficit to beat out Boston for the wild-card spot on the last day. It was the biggest rally any team had made in September to claim a playoff berth.
“I like to think of it as a validation of the Rays’ way of doing things,” Maddon said during a conference call while visiting family and friends in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
Maddon led Tampa Bay to the playoffs for the third time in four years. After that, his name popped up in speculation about managerial openings with Boston, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis.