Reviewing What Bob Nutting Said on Military Training

For some reason the discussion of military training and the Pittsburgh Pirates is still going on. Back in September, Bob Nutting addressed the media and commented on the topic, with the original comments seen here. A big focus was placed on this quotes:

“We should not be, will not be, are not a military organization.”

That’s led to a lot of people saying that Nutting ordered the military training to end. Because of this perception, every time Neal Huntington, Frank Coonelly, or anyone else discusses the military training, it is met with comments about insubordination. I feel like the only person who remembers this part of Nutting’s press conference.

“If we can find the appropriate balance, where we have the safety of our players utmost in mind, that we have the baseball development utmost in mind, we can supplement that baseball focus with additional drills, team building training, I think that we should be open to and find ways to do it within context and so forth.”

That’s a direct quote from Nutting. He didn’t say the military drills were coming to an end. He said they would be scaled back, and that they could continue if there was an appropriate balance and the safety of the players was in mind. It would be insubordination if the Pirates didn’t make the changes outlined above. But considering Nutting never ordered a full stop to the training, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the topic is still discussed by members of the Pirates management.

There are two different aspects here. The Navy SEAL training is about team building, and isn’t a big risk to players, as I outlined back when this stuff came out. The “Hoka Hey” stuff seemed to be where the “military organization” and some of the risks came in to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept the Navy SEAL training, which is more about team building and something that hundreds of teams participate in across several sports. And if they continue that, keep in mind that there was never a public order for the training to completely stop.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • beatembuccos21

    Its too bad there wasn’t a media member at his original meeting that you referenced above who had the guts to ask him directly if he ordered (or would order) an end to the military style training (SEAL, Hoka Hey, whatever you want to call it). Instead, they let him get away with what sounded like a strong message from which people inferred the training would stop. His words were hollow and lacked substance.

    Nutting’s investigation (though he claimed it wasn’t complete) is/was a sham intended to make the ticket buying public feel better about the direction of the club.

  • Justin

    I’m just so tired of every little thing they say or do being turned into a scandal by a lot of the local media and fans. nobody thinks about anything logically anymore. they just regurgitate what they read ie. pretty much reading from DK’s recent column for questions at the pirates Q and A.

    • Lee Young

      That’s their first mistake…they believe what DK is spouting.

      Ad hominem fits DK PERFECTLY!

      I just want to yell “Let it the frak go”!



    • pdad

      This is what happens when the current management team presides over 5 losing seasons with two historic end of season collapses. Add to that, the team hasn’t won in 20 years, probably heading for 21. There should be people who are scrutinizing every little thing.
      Winning would change things.

      • Justin

        Fair enough. i agree to an extent.

        Criticism is one thing. they absolutely deserve criticism from the team’s faithful.

        i just think this offseason has gotten a little ridiculous. The emotional responses that these stories have fostered from a lot of the fans is just crazy. impressive even. really shows how the media can mold opinions.

  • jlease717

    Oh dear, the dancing and parsing has begun. What happened to it when this came out? Too busy?

    I was surprised you thought it would be a bad move to let Karstens go for nothing Tim. Surely you’ll come around to Neil’s ‘thinking’ on that soon enough though.

    • Tim Williams

      I always love your comments. They amuse me.

      • Lee Young

        I’m with you on that Tim…

      • jlease717

        I don’t need to see your comments to be amused, I can get them straight from the Best Management Team in Baseball. Come around on Karstens yet?

        • Tim Williams

          There’s moves I like and moves I don’t like. I’ve never really seen you admit to liking a move. Always complaining. I don’t really care, but when you act like I’m the one with a bias it makes me laugh.

          • Lee Young

            Tim…he’s like that everywhere.

            Maybe he’s a DK spy troll?


          • jlease717

            Should I wax poetic on the moves I do like? I liked the Correia signing. I approved of the trade that brought Bill Madlock, and the trade of Sanguillen for Chuck Tanner. If you limit it to deals made during Neil H’s tenure, there aren’t a lot of them that are worthwhile. Kind of my entire point. Jason Bay trade=disaster. The trade of Marte and Nady for all of the Yankees=Home run.

  • Ian Rothermund

    Quite frankly, since the details of what actually occurs in the seal training broke, this has become a nothing, meaningless story. Kids at summer camp do more physically taxing activities. These are athletes that spend 7 and 8 months in a row playing baseball games, practicing, and working out. Then the remaining part of the year is spent training to produce for the duration of the previous 7 or 8 months. Why is walking through a kitty pool and laying down in a pile of sand more deserving of ridicule due to physical strain than sprints and weight lifting?

    • pdad

      The training would not been such a huge issue if it wasn’t for the Hoka Hey email from Stark. The email was so crazy that the training had to be also.

      • Lee Young

        No….it wouldn’t have been a huge issue if a certain Trib columnist in need of ‘page hits’ hadn’t made it such a huge story.

        Other than that email, none of his other ‘sources’ have been confirmed. His interpretation of the whole training was so over blown, it wasn’t even funny.

        Non issue from the beginning.

  • leadoff

    This is childish garbage by a member of the Pittsburgh media that is out to discredit the Pirate management people. I am from Pittsburgh and any wussy that wants to take the tough out of a Pitt team should take his keyboard and cover curling or something similiar.

    • Lee Young

      With you on that, leadoff. He’s what we used to call a ‘no good rabble rouser’….lol


  • Rebel

    I don’t think anyone is against team building. Waking up kids at 4:30 am for room inspections I’m not sure does anything to build anything besides anger and resentment from kids what? 17-23? Parading them out to a field at 5:00 am and spraying them with water and commanding them to jump in sand and kiddy pools I doubt would do much for team building either. Busing them to some beach to drag telephone poles I’m not sure built any team building either. Nobody is against team building but is this really the best we can come up with? How about bring Maz and any of our great pirates of the past in to work with minor leaguers instead of ML players in spring training. Those guys knew what it was to play as a team. We had great pirate teams. Use those guys rather than put them in uniform for major league spring training.
    But what would we be writing if Cole or Heredia or Bell got hurt while jumping into sand pits? We’d want someone accountable. That’s what this regime has been about. No accountability when in fact this is all they preach. Our team president drives drunk the wrong way on a highway… Doesn’t own up until months later. Extends a manager and GM and doesn’t announce it. Why? That’s a fiasco. Neil’s trades and free agents he signs end up a disaster. Stark and his military approach to training rather than training baseball players for baseball. What seems to be true is with this group it’s always something. And it’s always a spin from Coonley, Huntington or Stark. Not to mention the flip flop from Nutting. When will this regime start winning? Tired of the process and hearing about financial flexibility and years of control crap when obtaining players. We want to win. Shouldn’t the best front office in baseball be better than this??

    • Lee Young

      Did you have a bad day at work or sumthin’?


      • jlease717

        I guess when you can’t refute, you’re left with the company line garbage. Not seeing any defense on Neil not knowing the 30+ years of baseball experience for the guy who just won the minor league development award.

        Maybe you need to wait for Tim to tell you it’s OK?

        • Lee Young

          I Refute you in the name of Jesus!!

          Father Foo


    • Tim Williams

      A lot of the stuff (waking up early, sand and water) isn’t about team building. It’s about getting them uncomfortable, then getting them to accomplish tasks when they are uncomfortable. The theory is that if they’re used to handling tough situations while they’re uncomfortable, they’ll be used to uncomfortable situations. It will eventually make it more difficult for them to get uncomfortable, which is where it applies to big game situations.

      They do bring in the veterans during Spring Training, so obviously they can do both.

      As for the “what if” question on injuries, no one was “jumping into sand pits”. Players were just rolling around in sand. The descriptions of “running through water and jumping into sand” weren’t accurate.

    • michaelbro8

      OMG !! JUMPING INTO SANDPITS !!!!! How dare management ask their players to do that !! Come on; use your brain… how do you think jumping into a pit of sand compares to sliding into 2nd base on a bang-bang play; not to mention a collision at home plate with a 250 lb catcher in full gear ? This whole sand pit thing was blown WAY out of proportion by ONE ex-journalist blogger who’s one step away from losing his job again so feels the needs to stir the muck up. The sad thing is the many “followers” who read his crap and get led to the kool-aid without stopping to really think about the crap they’re reading.

      • Lee Young

        Mbro8…scary that people believe that stuff, even when the truth is presented to them.


  • Rebel

    I had a great day :)

    • Lee Young

      Glad to hear.

      :) :)

  • Rebel

    I’m not sure what blogger you’re talking about. The guy who keeps bringing up this stuff as a headline is this Tim guy who I think runs this web site.
    Believe he stated not sure why it’s still a topic in the original piece but then proceeded to keep writing about it after he wasn’t sure why it’s still a topic.
    If the Tim guy isn’t sure why it’s a topic why is he writing about again???

    • Tim Williams

      The Tim guy? Hah.

      • Lee Young

        I think he’s ‘pushing’ your leg a bit ‘Tim Guy’ :)

        • Tim Williams

          Obviously. He’s posted on here for a while. He knows who I am. Everything in this comment thread amuses me.

    • Lee Young

      Rebel…I took it that he meant DK?

      I thought he meant Bob Smizik, but even Bob is tired of this whole mess that Dejan started.

      Bob doesn’t have to worry about losing his job…he’s already retired…he’s just doing the blog as a nice ‘retirement job’.

      I’ve spoken with Bob many times…very nice and reasonable kind of guy. DK on the other hand…….

  • leadoff

    Any player that did not want to participate in the drills could have opted out, no one was forced to participate. I could have participated in these drills when I was 10 years old, this stuff was not a forced death march. Freddy Sanchez hurt himself getting out of his car.

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