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Daniels on Banister: 'A man on top of his game'

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister had already given up on his trip to New York even before the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner was canceled because of the blizzard that hit the East Coast. Banister was scheduled to receive his American League Manager of the Year Award with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels there to present it to him.

Banister and Daniels were supposed to fly to New York late Saturday morning but were informed on Friday that their flight had been canceled. As it turned out, the dinner was canceled on Saturday, too.

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister had already given up on his trip to New York even before the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner was canceled because of the blizzard that hit the East Coast. Banister was scheduled to receive his American League Manager of the Year Award with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels there to present it to him.

Banister and Daniels were supposed to fly to New York late Saturday morning but were informed on Friday that their flight had been canceled. As it turned out, the dinner was canceled on Saturday, too.

"I am disappointed about not going to New York," Banister said. "Just to be recognized nationally as an organization and to have our organization on display."

Banister and Daniels could have flown to New York on Friday and possibly beaten the weather. But they wanted to be in Texas for the annual awards dinner on Friday and to hold a question and answer session with fans at FanFest early Saturday morning.

"One of the things I said was I wanted the opportunity to celebrate this recognition with our fans and our players," Banister said. "They are the most important to be able to do this with. I'm most glad to be able to celebrate with our fans."

Banister still enjoyed a special moment on Friday night when he was presented with his award by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Banister was Hurdle's bench coach for four years before becoming the Rangers manager in 2015.

"The whole night was emotional," Banister said. "To have one of my mentors and best friends say the words he said and what he means to me … yeah, I cherish the time we had in Pittsburgh and the relationship we were able to build."

Hurdle was the Rangers' hitting coach in 2010 before becoming the Pirates' manager in 2011. He gave Banister a strong recommendation to the Rangers when they were looking for a manager after the 2014 season -- and he flew in from his home in Florida to present the award.

"I was humbled to even be asked," Hurdle said. "It was one of the few times I didn't ask [his wife] Karla if it was OK. It's special in a lot of different ways. I'm proud of him, I'm happy for him and his family and the Rangers organization. To see Jeff post up like that was fun to watch."

Banister and Daniels met with fans Saturday morning for a Q&A session in the Rangers Hall of Fame Room at Globe Life Park. Banister was given a standing ovation when he was introduced by emcee Chuck Morgan as the AL Manager of the Year.

Banister was honored after taking a team that went 67-95 in 2014 and leading it to the sixth division title in club history. By going 46-28 after the All-Star break, it finished with a record of 88-74 before losing in five games to the Blue Jays in the AL Division Series.

"We had a lot of things going on, and he kind of pulled it all together," Daniels said. "He is a man on top of his game, and he is only getting better.

"People talk about what we did in the second half … I think he deserved the award for what he did in the first half, Spring Training and the off-season … setting the tone for what we're about and getting the players to buy into the message, including some veterans who are in the later part of their careers. That's why he won that award."

With less than four weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, Banister was able to relax and enjoy himself answering fans' questions on Saturday.

He was particularly amused by a fan disgruntled by the supposed lack of fundamentals in baseball and asked if the Rangers worked on them.

"Great question," Banister said with a straight face. "We don't ever work on them."

Actually, as Banister explained at length, the Rangers do work on fundamentals, but sometimes the opposing team has something to say about it. But he was also amused when a fan asked if he fined players for a lack of fundamental execution.

"When was the last time you got a speeding ticket?" Banister asked the fan.

"Three years ago," was the response.

"Have you stopped speeding?" Banister retorted.

Apparently not.

"If they sit down and don't play, that's a greater wake-up call than if you take their money," Banister said. "Our guys will continue to work on fundamentals. We need fundamentals to be the foundation of our success … we'll stay on top of it. If they don't understand it's not right, they'll keep doing it wrong."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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