BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Brandon Hyde hates losing, yet he took on a job that he knew would include an abundance of something he hates. Through his first 50 games as a full-time Major League manager with the Orioles, Hyde has lost more games this season than any other manager. He hates losing, but he loves his job, even with a 15-35 record.
The Orioles are 50 games into a franchise rebuild that will likely span several seasons. General Manager Mike Elias is the architect of a massive project and Hyde is his foreman — the guy on the top step of the dugout and at the microphone twice a day to provide updates. Hyde tells me it’s important to him to communicate to O’s fans what everyone should understand is a long, sometimes painful process.
When I asked him about how he’s handling the job, his answer went directly to the players: “I love our players. I couldn’t be happier with how our guys prepare and compete and I think we play hard. That’s what I hear around the league is ‘your guys play hard’ and that feels good, that’s the whole point of going through what we’re going through right now is giving guys opportunity but also creating the right culture in our clubhouse. Creating a great place to play, creating a great environment which I think we’ve done, and showing teams that we’re going to compete and we’re going to play hard.”
Only three players who are in the daily Orioles lineup have prior experience being everyday Major Leaguers: Chris Davis, Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini. The rest are among the young and those with minor league experience “getting an opportunity” as Hyde states. Davis and Mancini were around for the O’s last playoff run in 2016. Both speak openly of the difference from this years team compared to how the O’s were when they finished in last place the past two seasons. The difference – as they explain- is in the effort and understanding of what the team is going through. Mancini says it’s human nature to think “here we go again” but this group of players doesn’t dwell on defeat and just looks to win each night. The wins don’t come easy or often.
And that’s what happens when a team is rebuilding. Elias said this week, “There have been good things this year so far with the Major League team play, the win-loss record is not one of those good things.”
No, there’s nothing “good” about having the worst record but when viewed through the frame of the long-range plan, the poor record is expected and understood.
“Look, we have a big effort on our hands. This is the beginning of it, we all know what this looks like,” Elias added. “Doesn’t mean we’re not going to push hard to get better but it’s where we’re at right now.”
It’s still painful for Hyde who, again, hates to lose. So do O’s fans. This is the first time in the O’s 65 year history that fans have been asked to have the patience to endure a rebuild. In my interaction with fans, my sense is they “get” it and are aware of the success Elias had in the Astros rebuild that led to Houston’s World Series title in 2017, and Hyde’s front row seat on the Cubs coaching staff during their rebuild that led to Chicago’s epic title in 2016. As the manager and everyday spokesman for the team, Hyde seems to me to be of the perfect temperament. He loves and supports his players while he also doesn’t stand for their failure to execute basics and fundamentals. He told me, “Are we short some nights, yeah. It’s not easy, we’re in the American League East with inexperienced guys and I just want our guys to be ready and compete and we have. First 50 have been good and bad at times but I feel good where we’re at.”
And Elias feels good about his manager. When asked about Hyde’s work so far he said, “I think he’s done an excellent job. It’s a difficult circumstance with a young team. I know the players have received his message very well.”
My question to O’s fans: what do you think of Hyde so far and are you receiving his message well?
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