On InsideSocal.com, J.P. Hoornstra wrote a blog on December 30, 2017 about O’Koyea Dickson going to Japan. I took me until today to read it because J.P. seldom posts there… the last time he posted was on July 23, 2017, where he wrote about Clayton Kershaw Leaving the Game With a Back Injury. So, him writing a post there was an actual event. When I saw the post entitled: “Headed for Japan, O’Koyea Dickson reflects on his Dodgers tenure.” I almost didn’t read it. I don’t have time to read every items about the Dodgers, and while O’Koyea Dickson was a First Class Human Being, I admit I almost skipped it because I tend to look forward rather than backwards. As I read it, something really jumped out to me. Read this part and then I’ll talk about it:
Being the eighth-longest tenured player in the organization comes with an iota of perspective. Dickson was a 12th-round draft pick in June 2011, six rounds after Barlow. Logan White was the Dodgers’ amateur scouting director then, Ned Colletti the general manager. Gabe Kapler had just retired after being cut in spring training.
To hear Dickson tell it, the regime change had a significant impact.
“Having (farm director) De Jon Watson and (minor league field coordinator) Jeter Hines was a total complete 180 once (Andrew) Friedman and Kapler came over,” Dickson said. “I felt like we were kind of caged in. I don’t think they were allowing us to be the players that we all could be. Some of the limitations were kind of on us a little bit, whether it was the clean-shaven, wearing your pants a certain way – the ‘Dodger way’ – it felt like we were limiting ourselves. No disrespect to De Jon and Jeter, that’s how they wanted the organization, or at least the minor league side, ran. Some players blossomed in it. Some players didn’t. When Friedman and Kapler came in – ‘you can be the player you want; you know what your strengths and weaknesses are; continue to better your weaknesses but we’re going to focus on your strengths’ – complete 180 for sure. It was kind of an eye-opener.”
While respectful and not throwing anyone under the bus, Dickson said a mouthful in what might be his last Dodger interview. Essentially, he said that the old front office was more concerned with appearances and order than they were with growing the farm. When Friedman and Kapler came in, it was a complete 180! That day was the Day the Culture began to change for the Dodgers’ Farm System.
De Jon Watson and Logan White are first class human beings and I am not writing this to be mean, but “culture” is almost an intangible… except that it’s not! The cover photo is of De Jon Watson giving me a tour of the Minor League Side of Canelback Ranch and he was pure class. I wish him well in everything he does.
Culture is also hard to change. This may explain the sweeping changes in personnel throughout the Dodger coaching and managerial staffs in the first two years of FAZ taking over. It may also explain why the farm system has been more productive than ever and is one of the best in the game – Culture!
In Live Science, it has this to say about culture:
Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.
The Center for Advance Research on Language Acquisition goes a step further, defining culture as shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group.
“Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things,” Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London, told Live Science.
The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture. “It shares its etymology with a number of other words related to actively fostering growth,” De Rossi said.
Culture is really an excellent term to describe what a farm system does: “Grow, Cultivate and Nurture!” Evidently, it wasn’t doing that when Friedman arrived. It is now. Any good gardener knows that plants grow quicker, faster, stronger and more robust with proper weeding, watering, fertilizing and nurturing. It’s takes the right culture. Culture is a big deal to everyone and especially the kids on the farm. Past performance may not be an indicator of future results. Watch these kids flourish as the Farm System builds on their strengths. Great careers usually start with one thing – a Belief! The right Culture provides a fertile ground for that belief to sprout and grow.