Rick Hahn infamously referred to Adam Eaton as a "dirtbag" after acquiring him from the Arizona Diamondbacks in December. Hahn meant it as a rave, and listening to Eaton's interview on MLB Network Thursday, the Sox's newest outfielder received the message as intended.
Rick Hahn called me on the phone first, and he had a lot of good things -- the way he speaks, it kinda sends shockwaves through you, it really gets you excited. And he threw a few cuss words at me -- like, how they described me as a player, and that got me fired up.
I know everyone thinks it's derogatory, calling me a "dirtbag," and "scrappy kid" and whatever, but really, it's a very high compliment that I can receive, and he kinda got me fired up.
And [Robin] Ventura got on the phone and kinda calmed everything down again. He starts talking to me, like, "Yeah, it's going to be a good year, and we're excited to have you." And I'm like, "Yeah, thanks Robin." I kinda got both extremes, and I'm excited to play for both those guys. They seem like real wholesome Midwestern guys."
(I truncated the last sentence because the connection broke up the sentence. It sounds like "... that are on fire." That doesn't quite fit the context, although he could be an Alicia Keys fan.)
Often times when a scheduled guest is on a studio show, the screen will cut away to graphics or B-roll video to mix up the look. Not with "Hot Stove." The screen remains fixed on the hosts for most of the time, and that sometimes offers its own entertainment. A few weeks ago, when they talked to Paul Konerko, you could tell Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian weren't accustomed to the length of a typical Konerko answer.
In this case with Reynolds and Greg Amsinger, you don't need the audio to tell when "cuss words" caught their ears.
I had the same reaction. Based on what trickles down to us, it's uncharacteristic for Hahn to play the hype man. He's usually dealing out the pragmatic truths as though they're a repertory of answers. Whether talking about the budget (bigger draft and signing pools offset a drop in payroll), prospects (development is rarely linear), or anything else, he reiterates. He's a reiterator.
The Jose Abreu signing provides a good example of what we usually hear. Hahn praised Abreu's skill set, but tried to temper expectations. That lasted until Kenny Williams came in and blew up the room. I'm used to that arrangement, and so I can extrapolate off-the-record conversations accordingly. With Hahn, I can't quite imagine the tone, and more importantly, I can't quite gauge how filthy it gets, and it's important to know. Science can wait no longer.
Add in the talk of the Ohio upbringing, along with a recent conference call with fans, and the Eaton preamble continues to stick noticeably close to Nick Swisher's arrival, at least on his side of the equation. The hope is that the environment is different, and I'm not quite sure how this new, too-hot-for-TV information fits in the picture.
Of course, one key difference we can account for is Robin Ventura. Even in second-hand accounts of two-month-old phone calls, you can always count on him to bring the proceedings back to center.