Tribe's leaders draw up accountability 'contract'
CLEVELAND -- The leaders inside the Indians' clubhouse wanted to do more than talk about their goals or developing identity as a team. The core group wanted to put their beliefs down in writing and then have each member of the ballclub sign their name, attaching more accountability to what often comes off as cliches.
After players such as Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes put the final touches on a kind of contract for the entire team, Indians manager Terry Francona looked it over and passed it out on Saturday. There was one version in English and another in Spanish, and each member of the Tribe signed what is more than just a piece of paper in the eyes of the team's leaders.
"If you sign your name on the dotted line," Gomes said, "you're telling everybody else that you're in. If you fall off that track, it comes back down to, 'You gave your word.' We're going to hold everybody accountable for it."
The concept of the contract came up when Francona met with the team's core group -- the players signed to long-term pacts with Cleveland -- after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Following deals that shipped veterans Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss and David Murphy to other clubs, Francona made it clear to Kluber, Brantley, Kipnis and Gomes that the team believed in them as leaders.
Francona then floated the idea of the contract.
"In the midst of all of those conversations," Francona said, "I had asked Kluber, Brantley, maybe both, I was like, 'How would you feel if I passed out almost like a contract?' And they [liked the idea]. I said, 'It's got to come from you guys.' They did a great job, man. They worked at it."
While the Indians are in the midst of trying to chase down the American League's second Wild Card spot, Gomes said there was nothing to the timing of handing out the document. They only passed it around the locker room now, because the players took their time in getting the wording and ideas just right.
"It wasn't a matter of, 'Why now?'" Gomes said. "It's been something we've talked about throughout the year and we didn't want to just spitball some stuff, put it together and then, 'Hey, here's the thing,' and not all of us really meant what we were saying. I think we took big consideration into what we really want to believe in. It's just a matter of, we've got a lot of young guys and we really do believe that we have a good future in this organization and with our team, especially with the guys that were involved in putting this together.
"I think we're going to be here for a long time together. So, we figured, if we really put together something that us guys that will be here for a long time, something that we really believe in, and we truly live by it and we enforce it, then I think guys will come around and follow it. It was something we really wanted to put together."
When Francona saw the final draft, he loved what he read.
"It was very good," Francona said. "We kind of took some time and didn't rush through it. We did it in Spanish, we did it in English."
Francona then smirked.
"I told [Josh] Tomlin we did it in pictures for him," the manager joked. "When it was finally ready, we gave it out [Saturday]. I was really proud of them."
Gomes did not want to go into details on specific elements of the contract.
"It's just a matter of playing the game the right way," Gomes said. "We're building a culture and we're building a way that we believe in. That's pretty much all I can say."