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What's the secret to Raise's success?culture club

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CLEVELAND — After being traded from Oakland in early July, catcher Christian Bethancourt quickly understood why the Rays had four straight playoff appearances.

“It’s not,” he said. “It’s definitely a different culture here.”

Despite his limited success in the past, his new teammates welcomed him. The staff made sure we had everything we needed. The coach conveyed information in a simple way, highlighted the positives and boosted self-confidence.

And he soon came to understand manager Kevin Cash’s main mantra. It’s all about making players feel comfortable so they can perform better and help their teams win more games.

“Two days after being here, I felt like I’d been here all year just because of how they treated me,” Besancourt said during Thursday’s Wild Card Series workout. Told.

“They were like, ‘Hey, we’re only concerned about what you do on the field. Don’t worry about anything else. Don’t you want to hit at batting practice? As long as you do what we’re asking and you take care of what you’re supposed to take care of, we’ll be fine.

Bethancourt has played for seven other organizations and has played for South Korea for a year.

Some teams are obsessed with details like dress codes, matching workout gear, and other strict rules. They focus on what players are doing wrong and need to fix. And they operate in an atmosphere that creates pressure from above.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s coming from the front office, the cash, the coaching staff, and telling the players that they shouldn’t worry about anything other than what they do on the field,” Besancourt said. “It’s what makes us feel a little more comfortable as a team and personally as players.”

Outfielder Randy Arrozarena, 56, celebrates with fans at Tropicana Field after the Rays clinch the 2021 American League East title. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Veteran outfielder David Peralta, who arrived from Arizona at the end of July, was similarly struck by how different the Rays’ success was and how much collective effort it was.

“That’s all,” said Peralta. “It’s all about teamwork. It’s not just one person. It’s everyone who does their job. And that’s why we’re in the postseason. We eat together, we hang out together, and that’s what makes the difference.”

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The Rays are one of only three teams in the American League to make the postseason four years in a row, and six teams overall took longer to reach this point.

The first wave of success under Stuart Sternberg’s ownership — reaching the postseason four times in six years, including a shocking run to the 2008 World Series — is baseball’s top executive after the 2014 season. It seemed to be over when Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon left.

Team president Matt Silverman initially ran baseball operations before handing over control to up-and-coming executive Eric Neander.

“It’s one thing to talk about it and hope, but it’s also been a trying year,” Cash said. “It’s not easy.”

The Rays qualified for the playoffs in 2018 after finishing under .500 three years in a row, but failed.

“There is no time frame and a lot of ignorance,” Neander said. “It has to be simple enough that you believe you can do this and you can just get to work. There are a lot of really good people out there. , built it right, tried to rebuild it… And I think we did it, and it certainly has for the last four years.”

Obviously, it’s not just about allowing players to wear jeans and t-shirts on team flights, skip batting practice, listen to music, and play video games in the clubhouse.

Rays players celebrate after defeating the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of a doubleheader in Baltimore to earn a 2020 playoff spot.
Rays players celebrate after defeating the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of a doubleheader in Baltimore to earn a 2020 playoff spot. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]

The Rays, especially on the pitching side, do an extraordinary job of absorbing complex analytical data and presenting it in a simple, applicable, and personalized way to convince players that it can help. increase.

They do a great job of finding underrated players to supplement their core talent and spend their limited money wisely. They bring great people who share the team-first value. They emphasize communication and transparency in every direction.

New relief pitcher Jason Adams of the year said the group’s openness, simplicity of message and selflessness stood out. His 2021 Rey reliever Sean, who returned this year, his Armstrong, can’t hide his surprise that “everyone helps each other” on and off the field. He noted that they share a common goal of simply winning, citing Wednesday’s bright flight out of Boston as an example of how he was able to shake off a five-game losing streak in a playoff clean slate. Did.

“This is a great environment to play a stressful game with a lot of anxiety,” said Jaren Beeks, a relatively veteran pitcher who joined from Boston in July 2018.

“I think the most important thing is how comfortable it is for the young players to come and play.

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