The recent New York Times editorial/open letter from a former Goldman Sachs employee appears to have opened the floodgates to those seeking to leave behind a no longer fulfilling employment. However, RSBS was still shocked when the following letter arrived in our inbox the other day signed simply, Bud S.
TODAY is my last day at MLB. After more than 40 years at the organization — first as a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves, then in bringing the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee and renaming them the Brewers, and now as commissioner — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
But this was not always the case. For instance, over more than a decade I made sure that steroids not only entered the game but also redefined it. By looking the other way while Sammy, Mark and Barry launched bomb after artificially powered bomb, I ensured that baseball once again excited the ordinary American that had been lured away by the corn syrup sweetness of NASCAR and the NFL.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look players in the eye and tell them they could continue to juice.
How did we get here? The organization changed the way it thought about owners. Ownership used to be about overcharging fans, merchandising everything from jock straps to girly colored hats and looking the other way while players shot ‘roids in the locker room. Today, if you treat the team as your personal piggy bank (and use its assets to pay off the divorce settlement with your crazy ex-wife) you will lose the team and the money from its lucrative TV rights.
There used to be three quick ways to become a leader among owners: a) Execute on the organization’s “axes,” which is MLB-speak for persuading your fans to buy tickets or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your fans — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to buy whatever will bring the biggest profit to MLB. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. I prefer to sell them at least three. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any washed-up, aging slugger for much more than he’s worth. Adam Dunn, anyone?
Today, though, many owners display an MLB culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend postseason merchandising and ticket sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help owners or hose fans. It’s purely about how we can make this a “September to Remember.” If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that an owners’ success or pocketbook was not part of the thought process at all.
When I was a minority owner I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out how to charge more for cheaper hotdogs, understanding the process of selling the same volume of beer at three different (and increasingly more expensive) prices, getting to know our players and what motivated them while making sure they had a safe place and a helping hand when injecting steroids in their asses.
My proudest moments in life — owning a Brewers team that posted one of the worst winning percentages over a ten-year period in the history of baseball, joining other owners in colluding and then helping pay the $280 million settlement, overseeing the worst All-Star game in the history of baseball — have all come through focusing on profits and passing the prices on to the fans. MLB today has become too much “the fan experience” and not enough about soaking the suckers. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.
I hope this can be a wake-up call to the owners. Make your fellow owners the focal point of your business again. Without fans you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. But fans are simple-minded sheep who will do whatever you want so don’t worry about them. Get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons: steroids and making money for the owners. People who care only about making fans happy will not sustain this organization — or the trust of the owners — for very much longer.
The US has a penchant for invention, especially when it comes to sports. Need something to fill up your leisure time? Let’s go throw a ball into a peach basket! In between wars but feeling the need to crush something? Let’s inflate a pigskin and then crash into each other! Upset that America doesn’t have a game quite as confusing as cricket? Let’s grab a bat and ball and then invent the infield fly rule! We enjoy the intersection of skill and chance that sporting endeavors provide but at the same time we’re oddly inwardly focused.
Take soccer for instance. Most of the world is absolutely insane over soccer but we prefer watching cars drive in circles for hours on end. We don’t dislike soccer for being soccer. We dislike soccer for not being ours. Nascar and Indy, though? That’s all us.
So it makes sense that as the Euro and world markets fall apart, we tend to focus on the issues that go no further than our shores. Even the problems of our neighbors, like Mexico’s burgeoning civil war, are seen as “their” problems. Not ours.
Unlike soccer, though, external financial problems do affect us. Americans don’t consume like they did through the 90’s and the early 2000’s so if manufacturers want to continue selling their goods and hiring employees to make those goods, they need a market. Europe is a big part of that market but, well, I’ll leave it to this guy to explain:
I’m not saying we’re all screwed. I’m not saying we’re all going to die. But I’m also not saying where I buried my gold.
If you read the newspaper or watch the evening news or leave your house every day, you might find the above statement to be true.
Ironically, it is true. Because whether we like it or not, we are all going to die; however, I personally like to think it won’t happen to me until I’m around 90 years old, gripping a cold one while I overexert myself with my 20-something year old gold-digger.
And I’m cool with that.
What I am not cool with is the tense and terse escalation of fear-mongering which has replaced logic and common sense among those who “inform” us on the world’s goings-on. Admittedly, some problems are bigger than others. I ain’t no fool. I get it. But since I am willing, able and sober (for now), allow me to mend some of these major issues with some easy fixins’…
THE PROBLEM: Mexico’s Exploding Drug Violence
THE SOLUTION: Carlos Lee
It’s easy. Hand El Caballo an AK-47. Give him immunity. Let him go to work.
I know, I know. Carlos is Panamanian, not Mexican. Doesn’t matter. He speaks the language, he’s scarier than Dick Cheney on a hunting trip and he plays for the Astros (meaning he’s expendable). Indeed, I had the pleasure of meeting El Caballo as he was getting on the Astros’ team bus after a game at Wrigley a couple of years ago and while the man is only 6’2, he has to be the most behemoth of a human being I have ever encountered in real life. He’s listed at 235 lbs., but that is a stone cold lie. He looks like he ate my entire family for lunch and I have a huge family. Anyone who can devour me and my six sisters has the inner wrath and tenacity it would take to bring down Mexican drug lords galore. ¡Venga, Carlito! ¡Ya basta! ¡Venga, venga!
THE PROBLEM: World Financial Crisis
THE SOLUTION: Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres
Assemble the wealthiest 1% of people in the world. Force them to put their money into global markets equally, thus spreading the love, injecting life, creating confidence. If they do not follow this direction, simply hand them ownership to the Pirates, Royals and Padres and watch them die a slow, meaningless death.
THE PROBLEM: Chicago’s Intra-City Turf War
THE SOLUTION: Shut Milton Bradley’s Trap
For a guy who has the meaty reputation of being an unadulterated ^sshole everywhere he goes playing for a team that hasn’t won a World Series in 101 years, Milton Bradley sure does a lot of incessant yapping. Uh, Milton, didn’t you get the memo from Ryan Dempster and Ronny Cedeno? Yeah, they’ve been there, done that. Their feet ended up in their mouths. Yours probably will too.
‘Cuz no matter how good the Cubs are on paper, Milton, no matter how good they should be this season, no matter how many knowledgeable baseball folks pick you guys to go all the way, at the end of the day, Milton, you play for a loser. A LOSER. In fact, they are the only professional baseball team nicknamed the “Lovable Losers”, Milton. Yes. That’s true.
You want to talk about Chicago winners, Milton? Since Jordan & Co. left town, the White Sox are it, buddy.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Though I cannot necessarily prove this theory in conventional form, as an honest human being with an affinity for disclosure, I assure you that I have good reason to believe both Republican juggernauts Ann “She-Devil” Coulter and Rush “Just Call Me Jabba” Limbaugh were hunched over their television sets last night vehemently rooting against Team USA, praying to their hypocritical conservative god that Team Puerto Rico would find a way to quell the dreams and aspirations of US Americans worldwide.
It didn’t work.
Jimmy Rollins and David Wright became the baseball versions of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — once bitter rivals who put aside their differences, bridged the gap and brought home a win when it mattered the most.
Get over it.
That goes for my colleague, Mr. Allen Krause as well. Because we all know that Mr. Krause would rather see Rollins and Wright duke out that “choke-fest” moniker on the field — the last man standing to be crowned the argument’s winner; but if we US Americans are really about anything, we are about coming together in times of need, when it matters most.
Unless you are a Republican, of course.
And though Obama has done a fine job of staying the course early on in his presidency, it appears he finally gave in and enlightened the snickering skeptics and delinquent ditto-heads by unintentionally posing as a Tusken Raider for the cameras:
This unfortunate photographic gaffe comes on the heels of an equally embarrassing egregious error regarding the double-talk surrounding those suspiciously infuriating AIG bonuses paid out to the very individuals responsible for schmucking the company’s total worth in the first place.
Are the Dems backpedaling on their original outcries?
Does this reflect poorly on the majority administration?
More harm than good, I would say.
Should we blindly follow the GOP sideshow leaders and trust that malcontent dissension is the social bonding agent of the future?
Rollins and Wright. Braun and Lilly. Jeter and Youk.
There is a time and place to battle it out, folks. But when enemy minds come through together in the clutch? That, my friends, is what makes the United States of America the greatest country on earth.
Ah… If only politics would mirror baseball.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
In an innocuously desperate attempt Thursday to prove to MLB owners, players and fans that he is indeed “cool”, Commissioner Bud Selig failed even the slightest of notice despite donning some super-slick tip-top-trendy chick-magnet Blublockers.
Ironically, he did turn heads by becoming the first person to ever replace himself as Captain Obvious when he cautioned MLB owners about the failing world economy. (*Selig originally became Captain Obvious when he warned the league that some players may in fact be using steroids and other PEDs. This, of course, came after ten years of simply ignoring said problem while MLB made mad money off now twice-said problem.)
After an emergency board meeting with RSBS interns, I conclude that the moniker “cool” will never be applicable to Bud Selig.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.