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HRL off-season 2005-06 Free agency and Trades: A Survival Guide
posted by Jim West


jw03_01
Lesson 1: How to adjust to new teammates.
As HRL:Twin Cities first free agent, I have had a unique perspective into the goings on in the free agent market.  The article is designed to be a blueprint for one of the hardest parts of joining a new team: adjusting to the personalities and chemistry of a new team. Below, I will offer some tips for teams adding new players.

Step one: Deconditioning and Deprogramming
When adding a player that used to play on another team, it is important to erase the damage that the former team has done.  Over the course of a wiffle season, psychological damage is inflicted on the player by the original team, damage that must be overcome before the player is able to adapt to the new team.

Exit Coaching (EC) can be used to free players from their previous bonds. It is gentle, direct, intensive and time-limited. EC emphasizes respectfully sharing information, and it should not be rushed. The keys to regaining freedom of thought and action are: rebuilding trust, dissolving guilt, improving important relationships with teammates and finding worthwhile team goals.

The amount of exit coaching and the style of the approach depends on which team the player originally played for. Here are a few suggestions:

If the free agent came from the Brewers, it is important to help the player to understand that you can be competitive and drink at the same time. Alcohol does not prevent a team from successful in this league and winning can be fun too.

If the free agent comes from the Royals, they will most likely be shell shocked from exposed colons and team bickering. Place them in a deprivation chamber for a week before addressing them.

If the free agent came from the Indians, help them to realize that the league does not hate them and the HRL does not need to be an "us against them."  Mostly, they need to be hugged and told "it will be alright."

If the free agent is from the Senators, you will not need to do much, they will already be looking to latch onto a new team philosophy. The original Senators brainwashing did not "take."

If the free agent is from the Twins they need to be treated carefully. Inform them the passing gas into a camera is not socially acceptable on most teams and urinating on the 3rd base line should only be done in extreme emergencies. 

If the free agent comes from the Braves, talk to them about the importance of keeping their ego in check, and help them to get over the rollercoaster of dominating the regular season only to lose in the playoffs.

If the free agent is from the Cubs or A's, help them to understand that wiffleball can be an offensive game.  Scoring is not something to be feared.  This is going to take a lot of time but the payoff is worth it.  If the player is on the A's emphasize that hitting the ball hard is a good thing as homeruns are at least one run for your team every time you hit one.

If the free agent is from the Dodgers, the opposite is true, you need to help them to see that offense is fun, but not as much fun when the other team is providing it. By cutting into the other team's fun (preventing them from scoring), you can win more games, while shortening the time it takes to play the games.

If the free agent is from the Padres, you have your work cut out for you.  The Padres brainwashing is insidious and thorough.  Soon after joining the Padres you learn to compulsively spell the team name "PADRES!" and attend democrat or green party events. Not much can be done to counteract the effects of the brainwash so minimize the new player's impact on team chemistry by isolating them and telling them it will be 4:20 soon.

Step two: Indoctrination
Once step one has occurred the player is now free to be taught to accept team doctrines unconditionally. One method that teams can use to prevent the prospective convert from investigating the team is to recommend that one only associates with teammates.  During the team philosophy training the initiate's attitude towards outside ("worldly") ties is frowned upon. Hence, if one doesn't make contact with anyone other than a teammate, it is highly unlikely that a counter argument will reach the convert's ears, or that warnings from friends will be a problem. It is extremely important that the new team member not be allowed to log onto the HRL:TC messageboard during this process.

Step 2 can be accomplished by having a team outing to a bar or a spring training session at a nearby rink. Once there, have the new team member repeat the team motto repeatedly to help them to learn to think exactly like the team does. Giving them mood-altering drugs (such as beer) is useful at this stage.

Step 3: Monitoring
After indoctrination, the key to integration into the team is careful monitoring of your new teammate to make sure they don't slip up and revert to their old ways. Round the clock surveillance, though time consuming, is the only way to effectively accomplish this. If your team has the means, I suggest purchasing an ankle bracelet for the new team member and placing them on house arrest.  This should continue for 3 month until or until you have a happy, successful team.
 

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