Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Black Tie Knife Fight



So JP's done and Cito isn't far behind him. Right? Right. The search for a new GM to accompany the new president is surely in full swing. The mold for baseball GM's broke long ago, thankfully and seamlessly moving from wizened former player to learned young wunderkind. JP was a little from column A and a little from column B to predictably (and contentiously) mixed results, so what direction is Rogers likely to go?

If we step back and think about it, the concept of former athlete turned front office honcho is bizarre approaching idiotic. One need only consider the recent downfall of one Wayne Gretzky or the hilarious travails of Isiah Thomas and, to an extent, Larry Bird to see that entrusting minimally educated athletes with multi-million dollar enterprises is about the worst business decision one can make. The rise of Daryl Morey and even BC as smart guys with experience beyond the insular walls of professional sports. Only the NHL, pathetically and predictable, fails to break up this old boys circle jerk and examine the games with a slightly more educated eye.

The next step, logical or otherwise, is an on-field manager with no practical baseball experience. Moneyball first introduced the concept of manager as player-coddling parrot of the front office, an idea that continues to gain ground in the book's seismic aftermath. That said, so much armchair managing is predicated upon the poor, misguided choices of a manager with friends in one corner of the clubhouse and enemies in the other.

I don't mean to suggest that leathered asses and sun crisped skin has no place on the game or in the dugout, nor do I mean to come off as some kind of anti-populist wannabe. But if you are heading up a massive corporation (like Rogers) and have an incredibly large amount of money invested in a not-so profitable arm of the business (like the Jays) wouldn't you want to hire the best people but also the people most likely to give you an edge? When was the last time you saw a company give one of the most important roles to the guy who started out mopping floors (so to speak) and worked his way up to a comfortable role? No way. Jobs like that go to high-pedigree whiz kids with drive, determination, and everything to gain.

Maybe that's a little extreme, a bit too much to ask. A big part of baseball is surviving the sturm und drang of the regular season. What about, rather than having a second wizened baseballman sitting beside the head wizened baseball man, bring in a game theory math whiz. Immerse the nerd in the game, but have him bring some crazy, off-the-wall thinking that the bunters would never see coming.

Would it work? Probably not. The chances of 25 baseball players giving a single ounce of credibility to pencil-pusher B Math are pretty much nil. But, for teams like the Jays, the status-quo isn't going to make get them where they want to go either. Why not do something ridiculous? They have less to lose than they think.

7 comments:

  1. Hey, I have a B Math... should I apply?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A Daryl Morey type would be kinda cool, as opposed to the usual reactionary, swash-buckling good ole boy type. I don't think you need to have played the game or grown up in it to sufficiently "know baseball". CEOs move from industry to industry all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Darryl Strawberry for GM!¡!¡

    ReplyDelete
  4. So how long have you been sitting on that as a title??

    ReplyDelete
  5. Only since yesterday! I got nostalgic and myspace did the rest. Drowningman is a fine bad, but highly forgettable.

    I want the Jays to sign Michael Essien.

    ReplyDelete
  6. He could sit behind second base and no opposing team would ever get the ball out of the infield.

    ReplyDelete

Send forth the witticisms from on high