This story is less interesting because of the baseball and bobblehead angle than it is for something else, but first the background:
The Twins are selling a set of bobblehead dolls commemorating the 1991 World Series championship team. And it has every player plus manager Tom Kelly! At least now it does. At first it was only going to have 24 players plus Kelly, leaving out one: reliever Terry Leach. They subsequently fixed that, and now Leach will be included, but why was he originally left off?
Here’s where it gets interesting to me. Here’s the story from the Star-Tribune:
At first, team spokesman Chris Iles said the collection was limited to 25 dolls, so the team bumped Leach to make room for Kelly … A few hours after the announcement, the Twins executive in charge of the promotion said Leach was omitted only because the team mistakenly sent to the factory in China a roster that included just those who played in the ALCS [which Leach did not].
While it may be more polite to Leach to suggest it was an oversight, does the second explanation make sense to you? If you’re commemorating the World Series champions, why would you look at the ALCS roster? At the same time, it does make some logical sense to me that a special order of some plastic knicknack from some Chinese (or wherever) factory would have to come in lots of 25, because that’s the kind of number that lots of things might come in. Part of me wonders if someone said “crap, if we go to lots of 26 the packaging is all messed up, we have to order custom and that’s gonna cost a lot. Who do you think we could leave off without someone noticing?”
To be clear, I have no idea what really went down and I am not for a moment suggesting that the Twins were doing anything sketchy. The part of me that wonders that sort of thing is the part of me that is cynical. And the part of me that gets a good chuckle at silly stuff, such as the prospect of people having meetings about bobblehead policy in which nefarious plots are hatched. That part of me thinks that the first explanation was the truthful one and that someone made the judgement that Leach was expendable, never thinking it would be a big deal.
But even more interesting to me in this the role of the public relations professional. I’ve had some dealings with these sorts of people in the past. Mostly corporate spokespersons, but some political too. It’s a tougher job than you think, because they’re so rarely given complete information. Sometimes by design — it’s not a lie if the person saying it doesn’t know better! — but usually it’s because stuff that needs PR attention happens fast, it’s hard to get full information from the people in charge and the PR person is forced to think on their feet. Often that leads to explanations of things that are plausible but aren’t exactly, well, truthful. They did their best with the information given, ya know? Like this, which is one possible thought process that went into that second explanation:
“Why is this my problem? How am I supposed to know why there’s no Terry Leach bobblehead? I’ve been working on this Justin Morneau rehab update all day. OK, think. Think. Hmm, maybe Leach wasn’t in the World Series. I was five-years-old when that went down, so let’s look that up. No, he was in it. Damn. ALCS? Hmm, he didn’t pitch in the ALCS. That might work. Heck, it’s not like anyone will notice this or make a big deal out of it. I mean, who has so pathetic a life that they they’re going to sit for 25 minutes and scrutinize a press release about a freakin’ Terry Leach bobblehead doll?”
Oh. Man. I hate it when I actually insult myself when writing other people’s imagined inner-monologues.
In other news, you can buy the bobblehead set — Terry Leach included — for $391 starting Monday at 9 a.m. at www.twinsbaseball.com/1991. Proceeds will go to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund.