Confession time. I played little league baseball in Parkersburg, West Virginia for a team sponsored by a business called “Doug’s Family Hairstyling.” All of the other teams were sponsored by sporting goods stores or hardware stores or at least something that sounded cool and manly. Not us! We were probably the worst team in the league and we had a pansy name. Oh, and we had all the fat kids on our team. And what did these talentless, pansy-named fat kids wear? Green and gold, that’s what. It was a nightmare on top of a nightmare on top of a nightmare. And have I mentioned that gold does not flatter my flesh tones?
The point is this: I may have hated the A’s traditional green and gold uniforms before 1985, but I know I hated them afterward, and I still hate them to this very day. I simply can’t abide the combination at all no matter who’s wearing it. My failure to develop a man crush on the Billy Beane A’s like so many of my sabermetric friends has a lot to do with the green and gold. And don’t even get me started on the white shoes, which baseball teams should never ever, ever wear, but the A’s still do for some reason.
With all of that out of the way, you can probably tell which direction this is going.
The Best: The blue elephants were kind of different, but ultimately I’ll go with the simple blue A on white, which they wore for nearly their entire existence in Philadelphia. A couple of red A’s thrown in, and yes, those elephants for a couple of years, but when Connie Mack was in charge they kept that blue A, and I like it.
The Worst: This 1973 look is pretty much exactly what Doug’s Family Hairstyling looked like. Except we didn’t have handlebar mustaches. And we had jellyroll guts and looked perpetually over-matched. Really, though. any look from the 60s through 1986 is fairly heinous. The more recent vintage Athletics teams have toned it down a whole lot, but I still see it. Like it was burned into my retinas, forever distorting my sight.
Assessment: I once thought that if I was ever a professional baseball player and I got traded to the A’s, that I’d simply retire than wear that getup. I know now that such a stance was a bit immature. With age and wisdom, I know better now. I’d simply demand a trade.
Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.
[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.
He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.
Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.