Saturday, August 02, 2008

Never Confuse Brains with a Bull Market?

On Wall Street, the saying goes, "never confuse brains with a bull market." Baseball doesn't have an equivalent, although maybe Charles Barkley approximated it, "I am not a role model."

Baseball players get paid to perform on the field, not to sign autographs, appease sports writers, or give good interviews. Realistically, "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar", so accommodating the media and fans does provide linkage between pay and performance. But many talented players haven't enjoyed much of a relationship with their environment, from Ty Cobb to Steve Carlton, to Barry Bonds.

"Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan." Maybe had the Sox been playing well, the whole tirade could have been dismissed, but the volatile mixture of underachievement and constant complaints produced the expected result, CHANGE.

"No progress occurs without change, but not all change is progress." - John Wooden
Apply the lessons of the Red Sox to your own workplace. If you had an extraordinarily talented coworker, would they be allowed to disrespect the boss, physically assault company members, and work at their pleasure? Probably not.

Fans celebrate effort, a blue-collar effort, and appreciate concurrent grace under pressure. When Julio Lugo went through his travails last season, Sox fans were upset, but less so than Lugo, who looked as though he was at the brink of despair. Yet he had earlier counseled Dustin Pedroia just to keep battling during the second basemen's slump. The fans see everything, recognizing the intensity that the vast majority of the team brings.

Yes, players get big heads, exaggerate their importance, and sometimes mistreat the 'little people'. So do politicians, doctors, lawyers, Registry employees, and sportswriters. Of course, nobody wants our autograph, or uniform, or even an approving glance. Such is the blessing and the curse of the professional athlete. So maybe it's "never confuse brains with celebrity."

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