In mid-January, I was able to talk with John Maine for an extensive discussion about all sorts of topics, ranging from on-field to off-field to media.
Here is a portion of the discussion about leadership and team chemistry.
Matthew Cerrone: Do you feel like a veteran?
John Maine: No, I’m way too immature to be a veteran. Me and Pelfry are just kind of like the kids. We are serious when we play, but we have four days in between to try and lighten the mood of every one, that’s kind of what we do. I’m way too immature to be considered a veteran. I don’t want to be a veteran.
Matthew Cerrone: So, you’re saying being a veteran isn’t necessarily about service time?
John Maine: It’s about attitude.
Matthew Cerrone: Do you consider Jose Reyes a veteran?
John Maine: Yes, I think he’s a veteran. I guess maybe service time does play into it, maybe a little bit. But, when I think of veteran I think of a leader, like Carlos Delgado.
Matthew Cerrone: How do you think things will be different if Delgado is not back?
John Maine: Someone else is going to have to fill the void. I just think that Delgado, what he’s done, who he is, and his demeanor, he was perfect for that. People look to that. If you don’t have him, then there are other guys that can fill in.
Matthew Cerrone: I’m always being told a leader has to be an everyday player, not a pitcher.
John Maine: I don’t think it could be a pitcher either. We are not out there everyday…
Matthew Cerrone: Was Pedro Martinez a leader?
John Maine: He was a leader. He has an odd way of doing it, but he was a leader. I just think it’s best if it’s a guy that’s out there for 160 games…
Matthew Cerrone: There is a lot of talk from people out here (in the stands, media, etc.) about team chemistry. It’s always framed as people getting along. But, when I talk to professional athletes, who are playing right now, they always say it is more about a common goal, and trust, less about friendship. Is that about right? Is it more about having that common goal and believing in it?
John Maine: It is… everyone has to be on the same page. What are we supposed to do? Are we all supposed to go out to a bar after every game together? That’s not going to happen. Everyone has their own life. There are different cultures and different ages. Not everyone is going to mix it up after a game at dinner. But we all have to want the same things when were on the field.
Matthew Cerrone: Does that matter, though, team dinners, things like that?
John Maine: It matters if you can get everybody out there talking about baseball and things like that. But, as long as everyone is on the same page… I need to show up and they need know I am there to try to win… If Pedro Feliciano was here, he’s going to bail me out in the seventh inning if need be, I need to trust him, that’s what it’s about. If Pelfrey’s pitching, and I am not doing anything, you know, I’m there to give him a pat on the back and say good job and things like that. Everyone has to be there is trying to win that day. That’s what it is all about…
Matthew Cerrone: What else do you think fans don’t understand about what you guys do?
John Maine: I think, especially here in New York, you see a lot of negative things in the papers and you see a lot of negative things from the fans. I personally don’t mind it, I know they want to win… But, they’ve got to realize that we want to win too. We are not going out there to try and lose. We are not going out there to try to give up a home run. We are not trying to boot balls. We’re not trying to lose 100 games. We are out there to try and win too. Even if somebody has a bad week or a bad month, it’s not a reflection on their personality. They are good guys and we are out there busting our butts. Sometimes it’s just doesn’t happen… We are out there trying to win for us and the fans.
Matthew Cerrone: I notice some fans who feel certain players don’t try hard enough…
John Maine: Try harder? Why don’t I try to maybe throw harder? That makes no sense. We do care.
Matthew Cerrone: It doesn’t work that way?
John Maine: It doesn’t. It’s about staying loose. It’s staying within yourself. You do have to want it. But, more important, you have to not want to lose. My big thing is, I think you’ve got to hate losing more than you like winning. I think that’s a big thing too, and they you’ve go to go out there and do it.
Thank you to SMG Transcription for transcribing this interview.