Shut Up Michael Kay
First, let me state that I enjoy listening to Michael Kay on the ride home every afternoon. Yup, I admit it — I’d rather listen to a Yankee homer than Fatcesspool and the Crapdog. Kay is fairly entertaining, usually gives the Mets ample attention on his show, and doesn’t ever discuss baseball teams from San Francisco.
However, yesterday he spoke about something that made him laugh — and it makes ME laugh.
“Last week the Mets changed hitting coaches. The funny part is they changed hitting coaches because they felt that their philosophy of taking pitches, working the count, wasn’t being instituted. And I kind of laughed at that … Rick Down is the guy who brought THAT philosophy to the Yankees … did Omar simply not like Rick Down?”
Um, Michael … puh-leeze tell me you weren’t serious. No, really. Do you think that Rick Down’s philosophy of working the count is some kind of new idea? Further, do you really, honestly believe that just because a guy’s philosophy is correct, and in line with the organization’s, is the penultimate reason to keep his job?
Take my hand, Michael, and allow me to introduce you to the rest of the world — the one outside of professional sports. For example, let’s examine a business that sells a product, or products — go ahead, pick any one you want. Now, let’s say that the company’s philosophy is to sell their goods based on exceptional customer service. Let’s also say that their regional sales manager lives and breathes exactly that philosophy. Let’s go even further, and say that manager’s team set company sales records the year before. Are you with me, Michael? OK.
Now let’s say that the company is looking at their sales numbers for this year, and they’re down — and that the numbers in the aforementioned manager’s region are particularly down. Now, that manager has the same sales team from the year before, and still holds the same philosophy, but the sales aren’t where they were a year ago. Who’s to blame?
In the real world, Michael, that sales manager might be given a chance to ignite his staff, or might be told to fire the members of his team, or he’ll be fired himself. It doesn’t matter if he understands the company’s philosophies and goals or not — the bottom line is, he has to be able to effectively communicate them. He has to implement the philosophy, and find a way to drive the team toward the goals. If he doesn’t, he’s gone.
Now, back to pro sports. The Mets’ goal is a World Championship. They have, effectively, the same personnel in place. Their hitting is not up to snuff — the offensive statistics are down, and the players are not adhering to the organizational philosophy of working counts. It doesn’t matter if Rick Down knows what the batters should be doing, it matters that he can’t get them to do it. The measure of a manager or a coach is that he can extract the full potential of his players — not simply that his theories and philosophies make sense. Rick Down can preach all he wants about what he thinks about deep counts, but if he can’t convince Damion Easley not to swing at the first pitch in the seventh inning of a one-run game, then he has failed in his role as hitting coach.
Yes, I know, part of the Rick Down firing was to shake things up. There had to be a scapegoat, as you can’t fire the players, so Down gets the boot. And yes, the players’ lackluster performance is much their own fault. However, to those who live and work in the real world, and have witnessed the removal of managers in the corporate setting, do not see Down’s firing as surprising, nor illogical. It’s the way life works — someone gets paid to lead others toward a goal, the goal is not met, the leader gets fired. Not uncommon, and part of the deal.
So, Michael, before you “laugh” at a decision made by the management of an organization, consider the reality of the world. And also, that sometimes a pro sports team does, in fact, expect results — just like a “real” business.