Monday, February 8, 2010

The Contrition Of Lumbergh

  • The Steve Phillips apology tour begins:

The Bill Lumbergh of the baseball world, Steve Phillips, went on the Today Show with Matt Lauer this morning and apologized for his sexual indiscretions that cost him the high-profile job as part of the three-man booth on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball telecast----EPSN Story and you can find the interview on the Today Show website. In the interview, Phillips was quoted as saying that he "wanted to take ownership" for what he did; that he was "responsible"; etc. He also pulled a Mark McGwire-type answer in that he wasn't going to talk about the past.

All of this is fine. With Phillips, it's hard to tell when he's being "candid Steve" or "corporate-spin Steve". Only Phillips can know whether he's really contrite; whether he's really changed; whether he's going to be able to rebuild his life and career and keep control of himself when he gets another job.

Phillips looked remarkably uncomfortable in the interview and I don't think it was an act nor was it an attempt to get people to feel sorry for him. But it's been a recurring part of Phillips's career as he nearly blew his job as the GM of the New York Mets when he was accused of sexual harassment for involvement with a Port St. Lucie Mets employee. The Mets let Phillips have a leave of absence and then return.

To be so self-destructive that a man who'd risen to the GM seat of a big league club would put that job in jeopardy for a fling is either an ingrained issue or unbelievable arrogance. There are only 30 of those high-profile jobs available, and while some teams hire people who are the products of a fairy tale (see DePodesta, Paul); or maintain them for reasons no one can comprehend (see Moore, Dayton), to jump off the cliff and essentially fire oneself from that job with off-the-field behaviors is indicative of a deeper problem than just horniness and opportunity.

To compound the mistake by doing it again is inexplicable by any logic. Phillips went into broadcasting after the Mets fired him and was great at it. He'd again risen to a position----like the GM job----that many aspire to, yet few have the ability to achieve. Sitting in the booth on Sunday Night's ESPN game of the week and taking Joe Morgan to school on a regular basis had Phillips on the verge of superstardom, and he blew it because he couldn't control himself when a woman----any woman----was in the general vicinity.

I can totally get someone following his heart and doing something that may seem bewildering to many to reach that higher feeling. There's no shame in falling in love with someone else. It happens. But for Phillips to blow it all for little more than an a meaningless fling and ruin his career? Again? This wasn't love; it was a man who couldn't control himself.

Now he's gone through the program to treat his issue and is back in the public eye trying to rehabilitate his image and career. Someone will hire Phillips as a broadcaster, presumably with an iron-clad, zero-tolerance policy in his contract; and I think he should get another job. It's neither my business nor my concern if a person is conducting himself in such a way away from his job as long as: A) he's not letting it affect his work; and B) isn't doing anything socially unacceptable or deviant.

The one question about Phillips isn't if he's going to get another job, but will he do this again? You'd think the answer is obviously no, but he's screwed up so many times, how can anyone believe that he's under control until after the fact?

  • Viewer Mail 2.8.2010:

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE arbitration:

I heard Sean Casey tell his arbitration story and according to the Mayor, it's a very brutal process. He came out very hurt. Of course, Casey was a good player, but not great (certainly not in the same league with Lincecum anyway) but still. He said they (the Reds) called him fat, slow, a base-clogger, etc and that it really hurt his feelings, but not as much as when they started ripping into his baseball acumen. That's what really hurt him.

Of course, that's Sean Casey. Again, not Timmeh.

And I gotta agree with you on the parity issue. I think baseball is just right having the same core of good teams, a strong mix of competitive teams and then your few scrapheap teams (Royals, Pirates) at the rear. The worst thing that could happen is that it becomes the NBA, where there are three good teams then 27 .500 and below teams. That would be awful.

I still think the MLB Network is a waste of time. Most of the personalities are there because of nepotism and a phony persona with behind the scenes hypocrisy and stupidity; or are former players. I think people get far better stuff from me. But that's just me.

With the arbitration hearings, I understand a guy being hurt by the proceedings, but these guys need to grow up a little. You have to realize that most big league players have been told how "special" they are; or are "different" from the time they're 12-years-old; and they get away with actions other, less prominent players wouldn't because of that perceived superiority. When they're faced with reality (and honestly, Casey was slow and a baseclogger; and his career arc is, um, dubious...) they can't take it.

It's the same thing when a player goes someplace for money and little else and stands in front of the media with the song-and-dance about how (blank) was where he wanted to be from the start. It's business. Perhaps the proceedings would be better if the player wasn't there to begin with. That's what agents are supposedly for----to protect the player from such things; but I'd like my players to be a little more mentally tough to take a little criticism and answer back on the field rather than cry about it.

With the parity, it's somehow sweeter when a team like the Yankees or Red Sox are bounced by a team like the Marlins. Things are fine the way they are; those calling for a salary cap are complaining because they're not smart enough to find ways to win as the Marlins and Twins do or have some Moneyball/stat-style agenda. Period.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE the salary cap:

Even with a salary cap, which would promote even more parity, there would still be organizations experiencing sustained success. Kind of like the Patriots, Colts, Eagles, etc, in the NFL. So not everyone would win between 75 and 85 games. There would still be teams that win more than 90 and lose more than 90 because they are terrible evaluators.

But I am all for some kind of cap to cut out the truly ridiculous spending.

I'm not in favor of the supposed National Pastime limiting spending. You don't hear the Marlins complaining about their circumstances; but the Red Sox regularly do even though they're in the same stratosphere as the Yankees when it comes to paying out salaries. The money issue can be circumvented by being smart.

You've never answered my question of why you care so much about how much money teams spend; in fact, nobody's answered it; and don't say that it's because they filter the raised prices down to the consumer because they'd charge the same prices for food, tickets and memorabilia regardless of the team payroll. Why do you care?


Gabriel said...

I have to disagree with you in the parity issue. Will it be really all terrible if the Royals somehow found their way to the Wild Card spot in a season with a salary cap? I find the NFL's goal of having every team play at least one Super Bowl an excellent milestone in order to have a top-quality league. Every team playing at least one World Series it's a goal that I find not only reasonably, but a must. NFL's goal is reachable by clauses on the contracts, a general code of conduct, a well-placed salary cap and educated players and coaches. It all works for the best of the league, and still allows for laughingstocks, like the Lions. And even them have the belief that someday, by working hard, they will reach the top. It'll make the MLB a better league, and baseball a better sport.

She-Fan said...

I don't hope Steve Phillips gets another job in broadcasting and it has nothing to do with his bad behavior. I just can't stand his "analysis." He should have gone to rehab for repeating himself in the booth.

Joe said...

Because I like there to be a level playing field in sports. I don't like chasing the Yankees financially, and MUCH MORE importantly, I don't think it is fair that small market teams have to chase us. There are small market teams that simply suck at building a winner. But the starting point is unfair to teams like the Royals and Pirates to begin with.