Man who gave Ian Desmond $70 million thinks he’s beyond criticism

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Baseball front offices are a lot more polished than they used to be when it comes to public relations. You don’t, like you once did, hear a lot of general managers or team owners taking shots at the press, at least not too sharply, and you don’t see the press taking as many shots at the front office as you used to back in the day.

Part of that is because baseball teams have come to realize that the press is not the enemy, they’re just doing their jobs. Part of that is also attributable to the fact that smart front offices know that, when necessary, they can leverage the press to help their cause and it’s way easier to do that if you don’t antagonize them. It’s also because today’s front office executives are simply smoother than their predecessors used to be and are far more adept at dodging controversy and massaging messages that, in the past, might’ve been more controversial.

As such, it’s been a good while since you’ve heard the general manager of a baseball team speak down to the press as if they are not worthy of questioning him. But the Rockies’ Jeff Bridich did recently. Check out this passage from a just-published book by Rockies play-by-play man Drew Goodman, excerpted at the Denver Post:

“I think I’m personally blessed with a capacity to not really care what is said about me all that much. I don’t really buy into the whole media evaluation.

“The reality is–and this is going to sound petty and bad—if you just objectively look at the people who are evaluating us every day, you know they’ve never come close to doing this job and all the work that goes into it. And most of them, probably 99 percent of them, they’ve never even led anything in their lives.

“They’ve worked for themselves. They’ve been self-interested beat writers who have worked for themselves and they have a job to do every day. I had the good fortune of seeing that for a long time before taking this job. So I knew not to put a whole lot of time and energy into what they think about me.

“It’d be like if I went to a hospital every day and wrote a blog about the job done by one of the surgeons and the things he screwed up. That’s crazy. I know nothing about brain surgery, nor have I ever even worked on the path to become a brain surgeon. That’s what goes on in this industry and other sports industries.”

There is no greater sign of arrogance than someone believing that they are beyond criticism because what they do is so complicated that no one else could possibly understand it. The bit about brain surgery at the end is particularly telling. He casts it as somewhat self-effacing — “I couldn’t do brain surgery” — but in the analogy HE is the brain surgeon and the beat writers who cover the Rockies are thus totally unable to comprehend what he does.

Jeff, you’re an executive for a baseball team. There are, believe it or not, people who get what you do and notice when you screw things up. Like, say, when you give Ian Desmond five-years and $70 million. Unless, of course, you’d like to attempt to dumb that move down to our level so we morons can better understand it.

 

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.