Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A diatribe about spin... and some baseball stuff

Well 24 hours later... and he is still gone!

Today the players weighed in on the subject - the thoughts of Schilling, Varitek and Ortiz can be found without much effort in various sites on the web. It really does raise an interesting point - why do people when asked a question feel that they absolutely have to have an opinion? Why couldn't the three guys just tell the truth - 'At a personal level, I am sorry that Theo is gone, but I have absolutely no idea what went down, I haven't been in touch with anyone at the club since the Chicago series...' unless they do know something... in which case.... let it all out... name names!

This move is going to provide a lot of talking points over the next few days, weeks and months, and I find myself very frustrated that I can't articulate the mixture of emotions that this move, but more particularly the response from fellow Red Sox fans, draws out - I guess the way for this Sox fan to go is just to pick one small theme each day, and see if I can get my bigger picture over that way...

Today's theme - LL is a lying *, who used the media to further his own goals and stab Theo in the back...

This is a very common theme today, borne out of the belief that Theo had agreed to come back, but that on reading this article, Theo changed his mind. This is part of the wider fan theme that the Sox ownership group is obsessed with spin and managing the PR game - any readers in the UK see a well worn theme here? Perhaps Tony Blair could resign, hand over to Gordon Brown, and come manage the Red Sox in his retirement? Is Blair a sabermetrics or a scouting guy? I need to know!

At some point people will realize that the Red Sox don't operate in a vacuum - if the Sox organization is obsessed by spin, it is simply reflecting the world around it - we are all obsessed by spin whether we want to admit it or not.

We have gotten lazy, we don't want to read complex arguments about complex problems and complex people, we want simple answers, simple solutions, in short, easy to read sentences... We don't want to read that Theo had complex reasons for resigning, we want to read... it was LL's fault... we don't want to read that Theo was just as adroit at using the media to further his cause as Larry (I mean c'mon, we aren't supposed to believe that Theo was leaking the lowball salary details to the media... what Larry was leaking that as well?)... we want to read it was LL's fault... and we want to read that the team would do anything to keep one of 'us' at the helm... we want to read... well we really just want to read that Theo is still GM...

(As an aside, this is the type of thing that the management consultant version of a Moneyball / Sabermetrics GM should be studying - the mass population response to change... bad...)

We have decided as a world that we don't like "bad" news, and that people (other people obviously, not me / you, I / we can handle the truth...) are incapable of dealing with bad news - so we try to manage the news so that nothing is bad news. We do it in our roles as sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, employees, employers, social groups, politicans, etc, etc, etc and yet this behavior is only bad in other people, or if we don't like the message that is being 'spun'.

That poses the question, when is a story spin, not simply someone's genuinely held opinion on how things really are?

Over the next few days we will see more of this spin - LL will undoubtedly use his 'friends' to get his message in play (spin), while Theo will use his 'friends' to get his message in play (not spin) - and the world will keep on spinning.

* enter as many advanced expletives as you wish, I want to give readers choices!

3 threw a strike:

At 5:32 am, Blogger Marc C. Santos said...

Hey guys, I really enjoy your blog. I made a few posts this summer, but have only been ghosting for awhile. I did want to check in and see your reactions to the recent news. I really like how you contextualize the situation; I agree that much of our attribution of motives in this scenario is displacement and repression--certainly Theo is a skilled rhetorician and politician or he wouldn't be in the position he is at his age. And scapegoating always risks reduction.

Nor can we ever transcend "spin" to a pure language. All language is a selection of reality inherently contextualized in a specific perspective. But enough Kenneth Burke, and enough about the impossibility of doctoring our spin.

Here's my spin (dipping in an oar): losing Theo is a terrible baseball move. While the word genius might be strong, his rediscovery of players like David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, and others is remarkable. It is remarkable because previous GM's in Boston would never have spent money on these "marginal" talents. His trade deadline moves were for the most part a success. True, Jeff Suppan didn't work out, but everyone thought it would. And who did we give up for that trade, Freddy Sanchez? We might question bringing in David Wells (age) or Wade Miller (injury), but these were calculated risks. Wells was fairly successful. Miller was not. If free agents were sure things, then we wouldn't need to play the games.

Beyond the Lacanian repression, beyond the scapegoating, beyond our need to form identifications that protect our understanding of reality and our subjective positions in it, Red Sox fans should be upset for baseball reasons. Perhaps scapegoating Lucchino is unfair, but the way Theo's deal was handled from the beginning--regardless of who leaked information--doesn't look right to me. And until I hear evidence that points otherwise, I blame Lucchino's ridiculously low contract offer.

At 3:27 am, Blogger Neil H said...

Hi Marc,

Thanks for your comments - glad you enjoy the blog!

It really is a strange situation, and today's press conference revealed so much more... so now we have 30 years or so to guess what Theo meant by his, when I look back in 30 years comment...

Neil H

At 5:17 am, Blogger Marc C. Santos said...

I feel sorry for the next person who takes this job--short of winning several series, they will never escape Theo's shadow.


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