Probably the last thing we expected coach Brian Green to say to us in our post-game huddle following Monday's come-from-behind win over the Anchorage Bucs was that the game he had just managed was his last as an Oiler.
Throughout the season coach Green always had the most energy on the field, and it seemed nothing would be able to tear him away from Kenai. But it turns out the inviting island of Hawaii was enough. Not to mention a salary triple his current one at the University of San Diego in order to be the new hitting coach for the Rainbow Warriors.
Most people outside the team wonder whether or not the team would feel betrayed by Green's midseason departure, and if his absence would effect our play on the field. The answer to both is a resounding "no," and I will explain why.
One has to understand that the Alaska Baseball League represents a steppingstone for players. While we are here we do everything we can to win, but in the big picture for us, Alaska is a place we come to give ourselves a chance to get to the next level.
This is true for coaches as well. Green mentioned that his job in Alaska was a major reason that he won the job at Hawaii. The move was one he had to make for his career and his family. We all understand that it took a lot for him to leave the Oilers, because he was completely dedicated to us.
The situation resembles that of pitcher Chris Reilly a few weeks ago. Reilly left us to go play professional baseball in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Like we were for Reilly, we are happy for Green, proud that he has the opportunity to climb the baseball ladder, and we wish him the best of luck.
Fans should not worry about the state of the Oilers without Green, because we are a close-knit group that understands how to win. More importantly, we are left in the hands of former assistant coach Damian Stambersky, whose philosophy is similar to Brian's. There will not be any transition period because we know Damian well, and respect him as a person and player.
Green's legacy in Kenai should be as a coach who was extremely dedicated to the organization. The first minute I met him at the airport in June, I could sense his electrifying excitement for the upcoming season.
And he was also a coach who understood a lot about the science of hitting. Green taught me valuable lessons in the mechanics of my swing, as well as in the bunting game. I am sure that his efforts will help me, as well as some of my teammates, become better hitters, which will translate into solid seasons at our respective schools.
That is all we can ask for, the ability to get better, and if we are lucky enough to have an opportunity to advance in the future, we will follow coach Green's lead and seize it.
This column is the opinion of Chris Graziano, who is working part time for the Clarion this summer. Comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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