Listless Curve ripped into by manager

Commentary

Michael Ryan ripped into his Curve club Monday night as much as any manager I can ever recall during the franchise’s 20 seasons.

The Curve managed just one hit in a 2-0 loss to Bowie, in a game that lasted only 1 hour, 51 minutes, tying the record for the fastest nine-inning game in franchise history. Afterward, Ryan could be heard from outside the clubhouse yelling at the players for about 20 seconds, with the only decipherable words being some expletives and repeated use of the word “phones.”

Ryan didn’t hold back his frustration when asked what upset him.

“To be honest with you, the worst offensive competitive game I’ve ever seen in my career. Hands down,” he said. “You can write it down, you can do whatever, you can highlight it. I don’t give a crap.

“But then to come in six minutes after the game, you’ve got guys on the telephone texting, you’ve got guys in the corner giggling. What bothers me is, if you don’t care, then why are you here? If you don’t care that you just got embarrassed, why are you here? What do you have to say to text somebody? ‘Awful game. Brutal. I went 0-for-4.’

“We had more errors (three) than hits. That’s ridiculous. It’s routine stuff. And nobody cares, that’s what bothered me. You’ve got guys giggling, they don’t care.”

Ryan is a tremendous minor league manager. He cares greatly about his players. He cares greatly about them succeeding. He wants to win (having won league titles the past two years). And he hates to lose.

Ryan also is usually very calm. So for him to have that kind of meltdown after a game, it speaks volumes.

Did he do it to send a message?

“The message is it’s not good enough, and they know it,” Ryan said. “It was mentioned today before we even started this series. Do you want to be average, or do you want to be better than average? If you’re OK being average, then it’s going to be a tough career for you.”

Shortstop Cole Tucker is the leader of this year’s team, and in that role, I asked him to be the spokesman for the club to address Ryan’s comments. Not every player would be comfortable in that role, but Tucker is a terrific stand-up guy and offered this:

“We do care. I don’t want that to be misconstrued. We do care,” he said. “But, however, some guys came in after the game and got on their phones a few minutes after the game, and in a day where we go out and get our (butts) handed to us, that comes off as not really caring. And I totally understand where Mikey’s coming from.

“He expects us to be professional and come to the yard every day. I’m seeing it from the guys in the work day, and I’m seeing guys with intent to go out there and play and contribute, myself included. It’s not showing up right now, which sucks, obviously, but it will get better. I have complete faith in these guys and in myself that it will get better.

“I totally understand Mikey’s frustration because he knows how good of a team we can be. And it’s not popping up right now, and that sucks, and we know that and we acknowledge that and understand that, and it sucks. But it will get better, and I know that.”

Ryan griped that the hitters simply aren’t getting the job done. He was asked about Tucker struggling through a 2-for-42 slump at the top of the order and used that as a springboard to criticize the entire offense.

“We’ve just got to continue to get the work done before the game starts during the work day,” Ryan said. “We’re giving you information; do you want to apply it or not? Ultimately it’s up to you in the box. We can’t hit for you.

“Not saying just Cole Tucker, this is everybody. We had a really good game plan. Our hitting coach, Keoni (De Renne), has been busting his tail giving them all the dope on what they need to get done and what they need to do, and it’s like they’re doing the total opposite. So when you do the total opposite and you want to do some things on your own, then good luck to you.

“I feel sorry for our pitchers. I honestly do. I’m not trying to cause separation between position players and pitchers, but when one swing or one inning costs you every night, it’s ridiculous.

“Kudos to our (pitchers). Our starters have been awesome. Bullpen’s been bumpy at times, but they’re starting to come together. I’m glad they’re not showing frustration because, if I’m starting that game, I’m frustrated. And I know that’s part of being a pro, it’s all about team. But I don’t see much team right now.”

This is a talented Curve team with a lot of expectations. After getting called out like this by Ryan, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be the kick in the rear the players needed to go on and have a big season.

Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” weekdays 4 to 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM.

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