Andrew Sullivan often mentions the fact that when he was a reporter at the New Republic his editor, Michael Kinsley, would say that he wished he had a single key on his computer that he could press before even reading an article that would delete all semicolons and replace them with a period and automatically capitalize the next word. Why? Because, Kinsley thought, semicolons were useless crutches which enabled bloated, aimless prose and served to prevent the writer from actually saying something useful, clear and succinct.
If I ever seriously mess up in life and find myself editing some Yankees columnist, I’d want a key that automatically deletes any variation of “If George Steinbrenner were alive” and replace it with the words “[columnist] is ill today. He will return next week.”
The latest abuser of this shopworn cliche of Yankees analysis: Bill Madden:
If George Steinbrenner were alive, you know there would be some kind of shakeup. Heads would roll somewhere. Changes — if nothing else for the sake of changes — would be in the offing.
That’s the difference between a regular columnist and a Spink Award-winning columnist like Madden. The Spink Award guy has the guts and job security to add the “heads would roll” cliche to the “if the Boss were still alive” cliche. He throws it all out there.
In other news, Steinbrenner is still dead. And even when he was alive, he had spent the last 15 years or so running a Yankees team with managerial and executive stability nearly unrivaled in all of baseball. Why? Because he changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore.
If only New York columnists could do that.
Earlier, Craig wrote about the latest in the Mets’ search for a new general manager. Their list has been pared down to three candidates: Chaim Bloom (Rays senior VP of baseball operations), Doug Melvin (Brewers senior advisor), and agent Brodie Van Wagenen (of Creative Artists Agency).
It’s a diverse list, for sure, which makes one wonder what process allowed them to arrive at these final three candidates. Bloom is new school, Melvin is older-school, and Van Wagenen is… just inexperienced. Van Wagenen in particular is an interesting candidate as he has spent years advocating on his clients’ behalf. As a GM, he would do the exact opposite: he would try to take advantage of his players whenever possible, like every other GM in baseball does (e.g. manipulating service time).
Per Mike Puma of the New York Post, agent Scott Boras thinks there would be a conflict of interest if an agent were to become a GM. Boras, in fact, says he has turned down opportunities to lead front offices. But there is no verbiage saying that an agent must divest himself of his business interests before taking a job in a front office. Dave Stewart and Jeff Moorad are two examples of agents who later went onto the ownership side of the business. Stewart, in fact, moved into the front office after retiring and held various roles in with various organizations until he started Sports Management Partners (renamed Stewart Management Partners). He transferred control of the agency to Dave Henderson before he joined the Diamondbacks’ front office near the end of the 2014 season.
Ownership and labor are in constant conflict, even when things seem peaceful. Ownership wants to extract as much labor as possible as cheaply as possible. Labor wants to be paid for their work as much as possible. Their goals contradict each other and yet they need each other. While not required, usually being deeply on one side or the other — as agents and GM’s are — speaks to one’s personal ethos about the eternal tug-of-war. That Van Wagenen is so eager to switch sides speaks, perhaps, to opportunism. I would be, at minimum, unsettled if I were a client of Wan Wagenen’s at CAA. How might he use the sensitive information he was privy to as an agent to his advantage as a GM?
We have seen the analytics wave take over front offices around baseball. As ownership looks for ever more ways to pocket more cash, Van Wagenen’s candidacy may signal an upcoming wave of agents transitioning into front office roles. Hopefully that doesn’t become the case. There may be no one better equipped to take advantage of labor than someone experienced on that side of the battlefield.