Cleveland Indians manager doesn’t care how much you can lift, how fast you can run or throw a baseball or how many specular catches you can make in the outfield.
He can find plenty of players that can do that.
What Acta wants to know is what’s between your ears, that area where the great players and life’s true champions really play the game.
“When you’re in the minor leagues, the game is from the shoulders down. It’s about ability and athleticism and all that. When you get to this level, the game is from the shoulder up. It’s the people that can handle the everyday failure. Because this is a game of failure,” Acta, in his third year of managing the Tribe, said.
Although the first-place Indians are having trouble filling seats at , Acta had no problem attracting a crowd for the first event of the season at in Mayfield Heights.
In an hour-plus talk moderated by Fox 8 News sports anchor , Acta entertained a crowd of about 225 guests with childhood memories, baseball humor and some life-guiding philosophies prior to the Indians’ 8-1 home win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.
The audience had the opportunity to ask Acta questions after Telich’s on-stage conversation with him. And even Tribe mascot made an appearance to entertain the kids and joked around briefly with Acta.
Acta also let it be known he’s a fan of country star Toby Keith and rapper Eminem, along with a fondness for a particular era.
“I’m stuck in the 80’s,” Acta said of his music collection, “in English and Spanish.”
Here’s a few excerpts from the afternoon:
On the Indians’ season so far:
“This year, we started with our No. 1 and No. 2 starters, (Justin) Masterson and Ubaldo (Jimenez), and really, they weren’t consistent for the first month and a half of the season, and they were picked up by Derek Lowe, Jeanmar Gomez and (Josh) Tomlin. We survived without our main guys being there. So I feel now these guys have got going. We’re probably going to have (Travis) Hafner in a couple of weeks. And down the road, we might have Grady (Sizemore), too. We haven’t had our full team there.”
On second baseman Jason Kipnis:
“He’s a throwback type of player. He cares. He’s got what it takes. He runs every ball out. … He does everything to win a ballgame. He runs through a wall.”
On center fielder Michael Brantley:
“(He’s) well mature beyond his age (25) and can handle those types of things.”
On shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera:
“(He’s) able to put behind him a three-error game a couple days ago (in a 9-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday), and does wonders last night (two-run homer in the 10th inning against the Reds) and comes up and hits a guy(Aroldis Chapman) who comes through at 100 miles per hour to win a ball game.
On interleague baseball:
“I love interleague play. I know that some people don’t like it. I love it. It gives me a chance to see the up and coming players, stars that are on different teams. … I love to play the Pirates because I get to see Andrew McCutchen. I just don’t want to see those guys on TV. I love to go to different stadiums every year.”
Acta’s philosophy and dealing with the media:
“The less I know, the happier I am. That’s how I live. I challenge anybody to go to my car at any point. And we can bet our checks that you can turn my radio on and you’re never going to find a radio station. I carry over 50 CDs in my car and that’s all I listen to. … I don’t listen to radio shows. I don’t listen to TV shows. I don’t read the papers. … I want to be able to talk to these people the same way I talk to them every day without thinking about anything they say negative about me.”
“I give you one shot to call me names on my Twitter account. You call me a name once, then you go out. … If you want to call me an idiot, you can do it, but only once. Never again. You’re gone. In the past, I used to try to reason with people. Over. I’ve got rules. If you don’t like them, don’t follow me.”
On what guides his ImpACTA Kids Foundation and his desire to help others:
“If you live, die and don’t impact someone else’s life, it’s like you never existed.”
On the Indians’ low attendance figures:
“We’re just trying to put a good product on the field. If we do the right thing … people are going to show up. Times have changed. We understand about the economy.”
On his father’s influence:
“Basketball was my love. It was my passion. It was more fun than baseball when I was growing up. … (But) my dad stopped me one day and he said, ‘you know what, you really think you’re tall because in our neighborhood, you look tall. Actually, in the NBA, you’re just a little, little, little man.’ And then he goes, ‘how many Dominicans are in the NBA?’ And I go, ‘none.’ And he goes, ‘how many Dominicans are in major league baseball.’ I said, ‘a lot.’ He said, ‘put down that basketball right now. If I see you playing basketball again, I’m going to whip you on the court. Go play baseball.’ It was hard for me, but he was right.”
The day’s festivities will appear on Time Warner Cable’s NEON channel 23 and will also be available on Local On Demand channel 411.