Tuesday, April 5, 2011

KEVIN MILLAR: COWBOY, SHUT UP!

As a player, Kevin Millar never met a microphone he didn't like.
He was the quote machine with bleached-blonde streaks in his
hair and the, "I'm having the time of my life" smile on his face.

He  became a cult hero in Boston, bringing together a band of
"Idiots", while helping the Red Sox exorcise an 86-year curse. Gritty
and clutch on the field, Millar was engaging and entertaining off it.
His "Cowboy Up" mantra during the 2003 season has been woven
into the fabric of Red Sox nation.

Few were surprised that after his 12-year career ended, Millar went
straight into television, working as a baseball analyst. He's funny,
insightful, and loves the camera, as much as the camera loves him.

Millar has made a seamless transition from the batter's box to
broadcasting, landing a coveted role on MLB Network. Perhaps
in an effort bring attention to his new show, "Intentional Talk",
Millar launched a verbal grenade at Lou Pinella, the former manger
of the Chicago Cubs, and future Hall of Famer.

Millar, who tried to make the Cubs on a minor-league contract
in 2010, said while he was in spring training, Pinella lacked
organization and preparation. This of course, coming from a guy
who admitted to taking shots of Jack Daniels before playoff games
while he was with the Red Sox. Now, that's preparation.

According to Millar, Pinella often didn't know who was in the lineup and
didn't give him the courtesy of telling him when he was going to enter
a spring training game. First of all, Millar was hardly an established
star with the creds to make any type of demands. He was trying to
earn a job as a role player, which meant he could pinch-hit, spot start,
be part of a double-switch, or  insurance against an injury to an every
day player.

Perhaps, Pinella was trying to see how Millar would react if he
had to go into a game cold after a player got hurt, or had to pinch-hit.
That was going to be his role, wasn't it?  Bill Belichick has pulled
Tom Brady in late season games, inserting the back-up quarterback
for a series to see how he performs on the spot and under duress.
Belichick wanted his team and back-up QB to be prepared in the
event of an injury to Brady. It's all part of his meticulous preparation.

And the last time I checked, Pinella, who is a three-time manager of
the year and on his way to Cooperstown, didn't have babysitting as
part of his job description. That came out of his contract after he gave
Rob Dibble a facial with the carpet in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse
and scolded him for "not wanting to be treated like a man."

Pinella, like Millar's former manager, Terry Francona, has always
treated his players like men, not children.  Both expect the players
to always be prepared.  It's part of being a professional. Pinella, like
Francona had only a few rules: Be on time, be ready, and play hard.

Sweet Lou managed for 23-years and led the 2001 Seattle Mariners
to 116 wins, tying them for the most in major league history. In 1990,
he led the Reds to a stunning World Series victory over the vaunted Oakland
A's, sweeping them in four games. And now, he gets a dart from
a guy who never played a game for him in the major leagues?

This shot by Millar was unnecessary. If he brought some attention
to his new show, then good for him. But a man who lives in a big
glass house, shouldn't be launching missiles, especially at Pinella,
who had a good career as a player,  an even better one as a manager.

Millar, you may remember was a "scab", a replacement player during
the strike of the 1994 season. Because of this, he could not be a
member of the  Major League Players Association. And there were
more than a few whispers about him being a steroid user. Google Millar
and steroids and you'll see a lot of stories on the subject
pop up.

Kevin Millar is an applause junkie, who enjoys seeing his
name in the headlines, and face on big-screen tv's.  He has a bright
future in the business, but this is one time the man who coined
the phrase, "Cowboy Up", should have just shut up.

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