Chris Woodward and Ryan Rowland-Smith were teammates in 2010 with the Seattle Mariners, which was Rowland-Smith’s last season with the organization (four years with Seattle). 2010 was Woodward’s second year with the Mariners, but his first split in half as Boston claimed Chris off waivers. Therefore, Woody spent half a season (or two months) with the Red Sox. Meanwhile, Grant Balfour was a twelve-year veteran among the Twins, Brewers, Rays, and Athletics organizations. He finished his career with eighty-four career saves and struck out 571 batters in 539.2 innings. Balfour also pitched in twenty postseason games, including the 2008 World Series with the Rays.
With a double Australian threat of Ryan Rowland-Smith and Grant Balfour, this was the podcast for me to listen to. In addition to adding the Texas Rangers manager, Chris Woodward, it’s a must-listen-to for Rangers’ fans. Also Ryan Rowland-Smith participated in the Seattle American Ninja Warrior qualifier in Seattle in 2019. Woodward also was the manager for New Zealand in 2017 for the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Australia.
🔥NEW EPISODE AVAILABLE🔥@texasrangers Manager Chris Woodward joins us @TopStepPodcast
Everything from the interview process, building a culture and how the #Rangers landed 2 of the biggest #MLB Free Agents Seager and Semien!
➡️ https://t.co/aA3AFmM9f0 pic.twitter.com/lrMbvxVhOm
— Ryan Rowland-Smith (@hyphen18) January 18, 2022
The first sentence from the Rangers skipper, “Good mate, how about you,” was much to Ryan and Grant’s delight. The first conversation was about the type of person Chris Woodward is. The acquired Aussie, Josh Gessner, in the Kyle Gibson/Spencer Howard deal, was immediately texted by Chris Woodward to welcome him to the team. “I played for a ton of different managers and coaches. The thing that stood out to me was the people that took the time to let me know that I mattered,” Woodward said.
An interesting take on the podcast was that while others viewed managing as a future for Chris Woodward, he didn’t see it. “Getting into managing wasn’t on the top of my list. I just wanted to make an impact. I wanted to help players,” Woodward said. After Woody retired, he took a coaching job with the Mariners (infield coordinator in 2012 and 2013). In 2014 he joined the Mariners’ big league roster and lasted two seasons. Woody talked about the Rangers’ state-of-the-art resources end-to-end that other organizations don’t offer.
He talked about gathering Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. When talking about acquiring Semien, my favorite quote from Woodward is, “We didn’t give a giant PowerPoint. We don’t impress you and wow you with technological wonder as far as a PowerPoint presentation.” Grant also reminded Woody that Chris, not Marcus, is the only Blue Jays middle infielder to hit three home runs in a game (Aug 7, 2002, vs. Seattle).
Woody also talked about the Rangers minor league system and his excitement for what transpires. Josh Jung (Woodward’s first draft pick as a manager) was one of the eye-openers. “This guy is obsessed with being good. He’s gotten so much better over the years.” Next, the conversation turned to what the culture of the Rangers is becoming. It’s about getting rid of entitlements and earning everything each day (some of you fans may recognize this).
A great example is Kole Calhoun. “[Kole] was one guy I highly respected, loved the way he played, hated coaching against him because he was just a pain in the ass to coach against. [He’s] diving for baseballs, playing his ass off, grinding at-bats. He’s a pit bull out there.” The conversation between Calhoun and Woodward was about Kole wanting to earn everything and have nothing handed to him (the Shin-Soo Choo aspect). It’s a great story tied to the Choo conversation Woodward talked about.
— Ryan Rowland-Smith (@hyphen18) January 18, 2022
Chris Woodward talked about the managerial process from when the Yankees contacted him. “I was on a second-grade field trip on a bus with screaming second graders. I almost answered, “Hello!” I just texted him back that I’ll call him back.” He discussed some of the types of questions asked and a Jon Daniels moment during the Rangers’ interview process. He talked about the comeback victory against the Angels (on the day after the one-hundredth loss) and the amount of proud he felt.
As for the podcast itself, I’ve always had a soft spot for Australian accents, and I hope Rowland-Smith gets a full-time job as a color commentator. His knowledge by itself is fascinating, but adding in the Australian slang and the accent, I would watch any broadcast he’s on. Grant Balfour is also a treat to listen to itself. I also learned on the podcast what a Smoko means (their Aussie word of the day). To some, it means a smoke break. Even Ryan wasn’t too sure. He recalled asking about it when he was younger, and the response was epic. “It’s a smoke break, you bloody idiot.” In all honesty, it’s an early lunch or rest from work. So from now on, at work, instead of taking meal breaks, I will say I’m taking a Smoko and watching everyone’s reaction.
Top Step is a podcast I would recommend. It’s informative, humorous, and gets in touch with your Aussie side. Hopefully I’ll see you round like a rissole, Rangers fans (if this lockout ends), but don’t worry, she’ll be apples .
You can listen to the entire podcast Here
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