D-Backs wasted no time in building a winner
|When Cashman was hired at the age of 30, he became the second-youngest GM in the history of the sport.
NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman may have the hardest job in sports, but that doesn't mean he's losing any sleep over it. Actually, this job wouldn't let him if he tried. As General Manager of the Yankees, Cashman holds one of the most exhausting posts in America.
At the end of a day in Yankeeland, it's easy to go to sleep -- because there's always a million things to do tomorrow.
"When you put in the hours required by a front-office baseball individual," Cashman said in a recent chat with Yankees.com, "sleep is something that comes quite easily when you put your head on the pillow."
Cashman is getting plenty of winks in these days, even when he's awake. That's because at the age of 34, he's steered his team to four straight World Series appearances. In just four years on the job, he has three World Series rings and a shot at another.
There are only two other people who have achieved that feat, and fittingly, they were both Yankee executives. Ed Barrow's teams won four straight titles from 1936-1939, and George Weiss did him one better, winning five straight from 1949-1953.
That's pretty good company, considering that when Cashman was hired at the age of 30, he became the second-youngest GM in the history of the sport. Did he ever expect immediate success?
"Never in my wildest dreams," said Cashman, who graduated from Catholic University in 1989. "In my first year, I demanded a one-year contract because I was uncertain as to whether I was capable of doing this job."
Eight months later, he set his own standard -- when the Yankees won the World Series, he became the youngest to achieve that feat.
"It's nice for the bio, but in reality there are so many people that contribute to building a world championship-caliber team," Cashman said. "When you look at it from that perspective, it's neat, but it represents so many others who are obviously older than I am."
Cashman has been in the Yankee family long enough to appreciate his position. Even at such a young age, he has already spent more than 15 years in pinstripes -- he was Assistant General Manager for five seasons, and he also worked an internship and four years in Baseball Operations.
Even though he is still markedly younger than most of his peers, there was no fast track for Cashman. He's well aware of that fact, and credits a number of people in the organization for helping him along the way. Nobody, in any business, just shows up to work and dominates their competition. In most cases, it takes hours and hours of attention to detail, and years and years of waiting your turn. Cashman said that if he was giving advice to a young professional, he would stress the value of patience.
"Be 100 percent committed and speak your mind at appropriate times. Let your work speak for itself," he said. "After that, the people of importance within your company will take notice of it. At some point, you must rely on others to advance you based on your merits."
Cashman has followed that formula, and he has been recognized for his dedication. In 2000, he was named the Executive of the Year by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Do you have any idea how hard a New Yorker has to work before somebody from Boston will vote for them?
In any case, the professional acclaim brings on a personal claim to fame. In baseball-crazed New York, Cashman is a semi-celebrity. He said he gets recognized in public from time to time, and that he appreciates most of the interaction with the fans.
"Sometimes I'm recognized, most times I'm not," he said. "I'm comfortable at all times when you meet true fans of the game who just want to see my World Series ring or say hello. But I get uncomfortable or annoyed if my dinner becomes interrupted by someone whose intentions are to criticize."
Of course, that makes complete and total sense. As does the fact that Cashman doesn't move quite as well as he did a few years ago. A noted hoops enthusiast, Cashman said his age is starting to show in at least one facet of his life.
"Unfortunately, at 34, my right knee is beginning to show its' age from playing on concrete all summer," he said. "So I've shut it down for now, but my jump shot was never very good anyway. I've got a mean lay-up."
Spencer Fordin is the site manager of Yankees.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.