17 December 2008

What'd Moorad Say?

CEO Jeff Moorad's online Q&A with fans Tuesday marked the club's first Live Chat sans Derrick Hall, since the halcyon era when people considered Eric Byrnes good. Indeed, in all of baseball history, only Brooks Robinson's sixteen straight Gold Gloves surpassed Hall's astonishing stranglehold on fourteen consecutive Live Chat segments.

Moorad's lawyerly debut Tuesday earned some harsh reviews from the peanut gallery, but overall I was impressed with his facility for making some questionable implications sound pretty reasonable, and by his precise, persuasive language. When asked about opening the books to satisfy skeptical fans, for example, he managed to paint the franchise as a relatively transparent non-profit, at least in spirit, without providing any specifics, or coming across as ridiculous. This, after the club's realized an operational profit every fiscal year reported since Kendrick took over, and while their franchise value is steadily climbing. Maybe it's true, owners havent "pocketed" money yet, in the sense one doesnt "pocket" a windfall asset until it's sold or reported as a capital gain, but I found such wordsmithing to be effectively deceptive.

He also embraced the potentially controversial stance that the club took on new hires soon after thirty one publicized dismissals, so deftly that no one else seemed to care. Indeed, he volunteered that forty "positions" were eliminated.

I'm not sure what people expected from a successful sports agent, but this is a seasoned negotiator, ready for a calculated fight, not some gushing customer service rep eager to feel our pain. My feeble attempts to trip him up were unsuccessful, and while he dodged his way around some tough questions, he also didnt appear to say anything untrue or patently foolish in the face of them either. It's not at all hard to picture Moorad in a previous life, making a terrific living finagling lucrative contracts for undeserving clients

The downside, I suppose, is that an influential decider adept at framing his agenda, who's two steps ahead of most everyone else, can also lead a larger organization into shortsighted and counterproductive decisions, because running a ballclub is a more complex, less easily controlled operation than being an agent - rarely manipulated productively by one person. Something akin to the difference between managing a successful school district and being a day trader.

Finally, props to Jeff for extending the 30 minute segment beyond forty minutes and for cheerfully tackling several confrontational questions. It's neat to have the CEO directly address a couple serious queries from one's steaming stockpile, and I genuinely appreciate his time, effort and skill. Is Moorad a grinning filter machine? Sure, but he's a different grinning filter than Derrick Hall, and that's useful in understanding "my" franchise - the way a self righteous, uneducated surveyor triangulates to arrive at the true measure of things.

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Song of the Day - What'd I Say (Ray Charles)

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