Two Ears and One Mouth
I have heard it said that it is no coincidence that God apportioned us two ears and just one mouth. As I watch some of our young players interact with the veteran guys, it is amazing and amusing to watch how it plays out. Consistently, the veterans will start to gravitate toward the young players who have the wisdom to keep quiet and listen. A very clear message is given at the beginning of the spring, for the new guys to have the best chance possible of fitting in with the older players, but some of them just can't get out of their own way. There really isn't a meeting that the veterans have, to say, "Hey, stay away from this guy or that guy," it just seems to work out that way.
The young player, who gets it right, realizes that there is so much to learn from just watching the more experienced player work, and if you get the chance to hear how they explain what they are doing, you should make some serious mental notes, until you can make some physical notes. The veterans eventually will notice the ever-present student, and then will usually reach out to involve them in their work. The more experienced players seem to keep investing into the players who are wearing their learning caps, and are hungry, available and teachable. What an incredible opportunity for a young player, who is trying to fill the gaps in his own game, so he can reach the next level.
Sadly, there are other young players who simply like to hear themselves talk, and they "mysteriously" end up working in a cage by themselves, or with a very capable coach. Our coaches are extremely talented, but there is no substitute to talking shop with the current players, and learning from the group. This all sounds simple enough for anyone to apply, but it takes a considerable amount of humility to admit that you don't know it all, and surprisingly, most of the young players will not take advantage of this opportunity.
Not all organizations are like this, where the veterans are willing to help out the young players who are likely to take their job someday, but I believe this is one of the characteristics that makes us different. It has been like that around here for a long time, and with the veteran leadership we have in place, it is not going anywhere soon. This culture takes time to develop and sacrifice from everyone involved. The result, though, is worth the price: A continual model of everyone teaching everyone and an environment of learning and getting better.
"Seen, not heard." The first words I heard from the first person to walk past my locker on my first day in Big League spring training. Wise words.