Thursday, November 11, 2004

Manager of the Year and other stuff

They handed out the manager of the year awards yesterday to Buck Showalter and Bobby Cox. I don't have a lot to say about them because both are selections with at least some sort of rational thought behind them. The award is essentially an award for the manager whose team most exceeded expectations. And to be honest, I really don't care all that much. Sad but true.

Getting somewhat off topic (though relevant in a tangential way for this particular post) from the blog, here in Indy, there's a buzz about the latest Ron Artest dustup. The national media is actually more interested in the story than most locals. Ron Artest does a couple of stupid things every year. The team knows that. Management knows that. The fans know that. Artest knows that. He'll lose some games through suspension each year. He's still worth the hassle though, and the people who say they would trade him are the same idiots who say they would rather field a team of scrappy clubhouse veterans like Bo Hart and Super Joe McEwing than have a moody, high maintenance superstar like Manny Ramirez or Terrell Owens. Would it be nice if every player behaved themselves like Tim Duncan and Marvin Harrison? Absolutely. That isn't reality though. In reality, any good manager (in or out of sports) is a pragmatist, and will always weigh your job performance with how big a pain in the ass you are. Artest is a massive pain in the ass, but he's also a unique and irreplaceable player. The fact is, if you are easily replaceable AND a pain in the ass, they'll replace you pretty quickly. If you are highly valuable to the company and a pain in the ass, they'll have considerably more patience, and will try to slowly guide you towards being easier to handle.

For a year and a half in college, I worked at Radio Shack as a salesman. I was pretty good at it, probably the best at the small store I worked at. We had 2 cellular carriers that we sold. One was Sprint PCS, and one was a regional carrier that has since been bought up by a national conglomerate. The company, the store, and the salesperson made more money from the regional carrier, so my store manager always pushed us to sell the regional rather than the Sprint phones. However, I found the Sprints to be a much easier sale, a much better deal, and a much more productive use of my time. I'm kind of stubborn, so the manager grew a little annoyed with me in this regard. You could say that I came close to insubordination. At a certain point, he decided that the better management decision would be to compromise. He approached me with a deal. He set a particular sales goal for Sprint phones. If I stayed above that goal, I could continue with my particular style. However, if I dropped below that for a month, I would fall in line with the others. I never fell below the goal, and we lived quite happily until I graduated and moved on professionally. The store went from being one of the worst performing stores in the region to the top half. I was too valuable to dump entirely, to transfer, or to alienate. There was a reasonable solution and my manager, to his credit, found it.

The Pacers are being reasonable with Artest. When he does something stupid, they handle the situation pragmatically. Is asking for a couple days off to work on publicity for your rap album stupid? Damn right it is. Is it a deal breaker when you're the 11th man on a 12 man roster? Yes. Is it a deal breaker when you're a legitimate defensive player of the year candidate and an above average offensive player? Not even close. You certainly don't trade him for a one-dimensional shooter like Peja Stojakovic, which is the current speculation.

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