Thursday, August 02, 2018

MLB baseball Washington Nationals' management problems parallel those of "real life" and even of the Trump administration, sadly

Barry Svrluga has a column in the Washington Post sports pages today, Thursday, August 2, 2018, about the Major League Baseball Washington Nationals problems this year (as I write this, they are one game over .500, 54-53, on a two-game win streak after a sandlot, kiddie-style 25-4 blowout of the Mets Tuesday night – I once lost a “backyard” game 31-4 as a kid.)

The online title of the story (like from “My Weekly Reader” in grade school in the 1950s) is “Mike Rizzo had to shore up the Nationals’ clubhouse because Dave Martinez couldn’t.” The printed version (as it does so often) has a better title, “Nats are protecting Martinez rather than being led by him.” 

Martinez was hired during the off-season to replace Dusty Baker, who had led the Nats to two divisional titles but not gotten past the first round of playoffs.  That didn’t make a lot of sense. Nor did the slowness of the front office to make acquisitions this past winter, to shore up the pitching rotation.

The next winter, they face the loss of Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and other free agents, and could go into a long cyclical period of rebuilding (and likely losing seasons) unless they can resign these players. Soto, however, could turn out to be “Harper’s replacement.”

But the point of the article is something I’ve seen in the workplace in my own career (I could have put this post on the IT Jobs blog).  Disrespect of management is a firable offense almost everywhere.
In this case, the club has gotten rid of two important relief pitchers (closers), one through a trade July 31 and the other through an unconditional release, after that second pitcher complained about his presence in a game where the Nats had a 24 run lead.  This is indeed bizarre – for my own background as a kid where we played “backyard baseball” and had to make up ground rules so that the scores would be reasonable (usually with softballs, whiffleballs, or even rolled-up stocking balls -- even with one-man teams as individual sport!). 

And these problems recall our days of making cardboard stadiums those summers in Ohio as board games, long before the days of computer games and Internet. Days we played outdoors and reinvented what we saw in miniature copies in our own world, but still physical and real.  Kids don’t do as much of that today.
The firing of relief pitcher Kelly also reminds me of our debate in these days of the Trump administration over trust and “loyalty”.  Indeed, the political troubles in Washington with Trump may be distracting the team.  They are grown men, well paid, and must stay focused.

Update: Aug. 3

The Washington Post's Rick Maese reports "Sports agents are diving through their clients' old tweets, trying to prevent the next black eye".  The recent flaps about Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers, who pitched in the All-Star Game in Washington) and Nationals' infielder Trea Turner about homophobic or racist tweets when teenagers have caused agents (aka "Jerry Maguire", the 1996 film with Tom Cruise) to do reputation checks on players, because combative, largely left-wing trolls are searching for tweets they can pin on stars.  My own reaction would be to ignore teen posts made out of immaturity. Listen to Dr. Phil.  

The social media behavior issue gets worse.  Look at this incident involving the Red Sox and Yankees. 

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