Development is not linear, and not everyone responds identically to the same stimuli. To understand how to get the best out of someone, you must know their inclinations, their strengths and weaknesses, and what motivates them to be their best. This is true of coaching and player development, but even more so of love. With our eyes on the future for the majority of this season, let’s go through how the Mariners used their five discrete Love Languages to solve the puzzle of the Detroit Tigers today.
Mallex Smith: Giving/Receiving Gifts
Mallex mashed a microcosm of his season into today’s game. He went 3-for-4 on the day, driving in a run, stealing a couple bases, and generally creating mayhem with his deeds. While gift giving/receiving can often overlap with Acts of Service, he gave Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes exactly what he wanted by olé-ing a ball in right-center to allow a stand up triple. True love is priceless, and so are free bases.
J.P. Crawford: Giving/Receiving Gifts
Another uneven game made identifying J.P.’s Love Language tricky, but the answer came within an anecdote regarding Crawford, Tim Lopes, and Braden Bishop. In the midst of a game where Crawford doubled, walked, airmailed a throw, and got doubled off getting too aggressive on a jump to score from second, Aaron Goldsmith was talking haircuts. Reportedly, when someone needs a trim, Bishop is the go-to-guy, and Lopes was regaling Goldy with the details. As Lopes explained Bishop’s reticence to take payment for his seemingly-expert handiwork, he noted “but I’ve gotta pay him something, right?”, at which point Crawford, who also sees Bishop, chimed in “you’ve GOT TO pay the man.” Good on you, J.P., for appreciating a talent and/or hobby of a friend/coworker and compensating them for their work even if they would do it for free because they’re just nice.
Omar Narváez: Quality Time
Sometimes you catch six different pitchers and also keep the line moving for the offense. Narv didn’t go full cartwheel a la Tom Murphy, but his patience and planfulness brought things together for Seattle today.
Kyle Seager: Acts of Service
The old man in the lineup these days, Kyle has been turning back the clock towards a far less albatrossy version of himself. Seager is famously self-critical, at times to a fault, yet he’s credited hitting coach Tim Laker with helping him simplify and re-adjust to a better swing that has yielded dividends in the past week. While Words of Affirmation would be fitting, Seager’s high tide lifts the sails of the entire lineup, and for that it is a true bit of Service.
Austin Nola: Physical Touch
It is fun for many, Austin, but there is a time and a place for Monkey in the Middle.
Daniel Vogelbach: Physical Touch(?)
Tim Lopes: Quality Time
There was no reason to think Tim Lopes, roughly sixth on the UTIL depth chart in April, would make it here. Yet seven years after being drafted, Mike Zunino, Edwin Díaz, and Chris Taylor are gone, Joe DeCarlo is struggling in AA, and Timmy Lopes is still here. Every moment is precious, even when you get pulled early.
Dee Gordon: Acts of Service
It wasn’t Dee’s day to play today, but when he subbed in for Tim Lopes he immediately provided a spark. Doubling to the gap, then stealing third before waltzing home on a Mallex single, Dee saw an opportunity to take a load off everyone else and he took it.
Keon Broxton: Gift Giving/Receiving
Had Keon gotten his bunt attempt down late in the game, this could’ve been Acts of Service. Clearly, however, the new kid on the block really wanted to be well liked and tried to make everyone happy by neglecting his own desires for his teammates’. Unfortunately, David McKay is no longer with the Mariners and this is therefore bad, Keon.
Dylan Moore: Physical Touch
My man touched this ball up.
Matt Wisler: Acts of Service
It’s not easy to do something you’re uncomfortable with. That may mean going to a movie you’re trepidatious about or trying a restaurant you’re not sure you’ll like. It can even be as mundane as washing the dishes more thoroughly or taking the trash out unprompted. After three years of waffling between the rotation and the bullpen, Wisler has found a spot bouncing between opening and relieving for Seattle. His scoreless inning today stretched his opener resume to 7.0 scoreless innings, and he’s yet to issue a walk in 11.1 total innings with the Mariners.
Tommy Milone: Words of Affirmation
“Tommy Milone got the win” are words that have been and will be said today, despite allowing a home run to Miguel Cabrera’s upper body exclusively. Good for you, Tommy.
Cory Gearrin: Quality Time
I mean, c’mon, you knew what this one was gonna be.
Sam Tuivailala: Words of Affirmation
We’ve seen Tui spend plenty of time on the shelf with injury, but he was as active as anyone cheering on his nearly brand-new teammates. While his lengthy rehab process from a torn Achilles was no doubt frustrating and his velocity has yet to return to pre-injury levels, he’s been dynamite. That should mean a lot to someone adept in talking up his own teammates.
He can't play anymore this season but Sam is out here trying his darndest anyway pic.twitter.com/IRZpDx6geZ— tee (@TeeMil24) August 15, 2018
Matt Magill: Quality Time
Sometimes the best time is recognizing when time apart is needed. I appreciated that from Matt Magill today, when I did not notice that he pitched in the baseball game but it was suddenly one inning closer to its conclusion. Thank you, Matt Magill.
Anthony Bass: Physical Touch
For reasons nobody has fully identified, 31-year-old Anthony Bass suddenly throws 95-97 mph this year, despite moving to a mostly-sinkers repertoire. He’s been fairly effective and, thanks to his deep voice and stern gaze, is one of Seattle’s late inning relievers. Today the Tigers made that mostly unnecessary, as Bass had a 7-2 lead to work with in the 9th, but without a fuss he grabbed this inning nobody else really wanted and took care of it swiftly. His reward - a firm handshake and a pat on the back. Sometimes that’s all we need to keep the spark alive.