Wednesday Assorted Links

1. Mariner fans enjoy the fast start because this does not bode well.

2. My parents were well-to-do. When my dad unexpectedly died, my mom was lost in grief and overwhelmed with many new financial responsibilities. Some widows are providing others with much needed roadmaps.

3. When it comes to financial well-being, it’s sad how poorly elite Kenyan runners do.

4. Does massage therapy work?

5A. My last book. Highly recommended.

5B. Current read. Mind blowing. A mentally ill person creates a religion.


Sayonara Ichiro

On Monday afternoon Ichiro switched lockerrooms and traded his Mariners uni for pinstripes. Wins for losses. Unless you’re a Pacific Northwesterner or serious baseball fan, you probably don’t know that veteran Mariners don’t fade away, they just sign with the Damn Yankees.

I’ll never forget one of Ichiro’s first Mariner games when he threw a guy out at third from deep right. The “laser beam”. The best throw I’ve ever seen (at 3:52).

Despite having played 11.5 years in Seattle and being a future Hall of Famer, most Mariner fans have an “it’s about time, don’t let the door hit you on the way out” attitude towards the trade. When Griffey was traded to the Reds in 2000, M fans were crestfallen. Why the dramatic difference?

Here’s the alleged rap against Ichiro:

• he’s selfish as evidenced by his singleminded pursuit of a record number of hits at the expense of working counts, getting walked, and creating even more havoc on the bases

• he’s selfish as evidenced by his keeping to himself and providing zero clubhouse leadership despite being the team’s best player throughout most of his M career

• he was a diva—as his salary skyrocketed and his skills declined in recent years, coaches couldn’t move him in the batting order, rest him, or (until Monday) trade him because over the years, the team’s Japanese owners, his agent, and him yielded more power than the team’s shorter-tenure GM and coach

• he was duplicitous, speaking English in private while using a Japanese interpreter in public

To muddy the water even more, reporters that covered the team in the 90’s describe Griffey as difficult, surly, impersonal. Maybe the dramatic difference is the result of one, or a mix, of three possibilities.

Theory One. Griffey’s passionate style of play, his prodigious homeruns and willingness to run full speed into the centerfield wall to make a catch, more than compensated for his own interpersonal limitations. Also add into the mix the way he came up, starring immediately, with his dad in the lineup. The Kid.

Theory Two. Griffey was beloved in part because at least half the time his M’s won. The M’s lost for eleven of Ichiro’s twelve years. His popularity suffered as a result of management that wasn’t willing to spend enough to build a team that could compete. Just as Griffey benefited from positive winning vibes, Ichiro paid the price of mounting fan frustration.

Theory Three. Admittedly, far less flattering. Instead of seeing Ichiro as one, especially introverted person, many M fans didn’t understand or appreciate the cultural differences he had to deal with daily, and ultimately ended up resenting his foreignness. Given the stark contrast, I can’t help but wonder if the Grif-Ichi public sentiment chasm is at least partially explained by xenophobia.

Any of these resonate? Have another theory?



Pujols Trade Take-Away

Everyone wants to feel needed, appreciated, like a valuable member of the team. Even dudes who get nine figures for being good at baseball.

Jose Reyes is a very good baseball player who recently signed a six-year $106 million deal with the Florida Marlins. “The Marlins,” Reyes said, “showed me a lot of love.” Asked about the team that signed him when he was 16, he said, “The Mets didn’t make a real offer, so that means they don’t want me there. I need to move on.”

Albert Pujols is a decent player too. He just inked a ten-year $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Next to Disneyland Between Katella and Orangewood. Gregg Doyel’s disappointment, “Pujols could have had it all, but instead he chose $254 million,” makes perfect sense on the surface—Pujols would have always been beloved in St. Louis if had he settled for their $220 million.

One problem though. The handful of superstars at the top of each sport always want to be paid more than their peers. Their salaries are their measuring sticks, not fleeting fan appreciation. No coincidence he signed for $2m more than ARod’s old contract.

Unreal isn’t that even guys who make $100-200k per baseball game don’t feel appreciated by their teams when another dude somewhere else makes a little more? Even more than unappreciated, they feel “disrespected”.

As I wrote previously about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, everyone wants to feel needed, appreciated, like a valued member of the team. How can those of us who supervise, manage, or coach others create environments where each person feels like an integral part of the whole, like their contributions are important?

A friend of mine, a high school principal, interviewed a grad student of mine for a math position which she got. During the interview process he learned she had a thing for Diet Coke. He told me he got a small fridge, filled it with Diet Coke, and put it in her classroom for her.

An admittedly subtle example, but maybe small, but thoughtful gestures like that are what make the difference in the end. Even when there’s a pay scale in place, like in public school districts, people want to feel like others care that they’re at work, are aware of and appreciate their effort, and genuinely miss them when their gone. My principal friend gets that. What other examples are there of supes, managers, bosses, or coaches getting it?