State College Spikes manager Gary Robinson stood between first and second base last Wednesday, arguing back and forth for about five minutes to prove to the umpire that he made the wrong call.
Even though the game was already over, and the players were heading into the locker room, Robinson was as fiery as ever. It didn't matter that his team had just lost 5-1 to the visiting Lowell Spinners, he wanted to do what he feels necessary -- protect his players.
Since Robinson has become the head coach of the Spikes, the players have noticed how far their manager will go to take care of them. Whether its arguing about the last out of a game or trying to fire up his players by getting ejected, Robinson's passion doesn't go unnoticed.
"He cares about us," shortstop Brock Holt said. "And he cares about the game. He wants to see us succeed and he's a great guy and he's definitely a players coach."
Holt said this even after he was benched for the game against the Spinners because of what he called a miscommunication about the reporting time for the noon game. Holt said Robinson was very fair in making him sit out the game and that the manager gives his players "one free mess up" until he starts to fine them.
Throughout the season, Robinson has continually stepped up to the plate for his players, even when they have struggled.
At the beginning of the season when third baseman Matt Payne led the team with six errors and his batting average dipped in the .100's, Robinson was quick to point out Payne's strengths.
Robinson said Payne's top-notch work ethic made him one of the toughest players on the roster, and that he had complete confidence in his abilities.
While Payne hasn't seen much
playing time since then, he contin-
ues to develop and remain on the roster.
Robinson said he was unfamiliar with the exact definition of being a player's coach, but that there are two things his players know he will always do.
"I care about their development as a player more than anything else," Robinson said. "And I will do whatever I have to do to help them understand that. My job is to stay in the game and to do what I need to do to protect my players."
The players realize that playing for a coach who values their future and is willing to do whatever it takes to have them tap into their potential makes for a great pairing at this level.
Starting pitcher Jason Erickson, who is in his first season with the Spikes, said he has a great deal of respect for his coach because of the way Robinson refuses to let anyone talk bad about the team.
"He has our back all of the time and it makes you wanna play for a guy like that and work hard," Erickson said. "He definitely knows how to have a good time and he can kid around with us but be also tells us straight up what we need to work on."
With the team hovering around the .500 mark, the players realize that as long as they continue to fight, their coach will be right there with them.
"He's just a great, competitive manager," Erickson said. "With two outs in the ninth some managers say 'screw it, the games over, we're down three runs anyway.' But not Gary, he's out there fightin' because he knows the game ain't over till that third out is made."