Published on: July 23, 2009Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this morning by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
It has been a tough season to be a New York Mets fan. Coming after two successive years in which the team collapsed in the final days of the season and did not make the playoffs, this spring and summer the team has been beset by numerous injuries to many of its starting players. It has gotten to the point where the team on the field is almost unrecognizable, and the players are the backups to the backups.
Perhaps even more annoying – or upsetting, depending on the day and the game and your point of view – has been the fact that Mets have not been playing good fundamental baseball. If you’re going to have a team made up of Triple A-level ball players, the only chance you have of winning is to execute the basics. Remember the line from “Bull Durham,” which, as you all know, is only the best sports movie ever made: “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” For the Mets this season, things haven't been so simple, and there haven't been nearly enough rainouts.
I could turn this into a column about how the fundamentals – whether in retailing or baseball – are critically important to success. But I want to draw another lesson from the Mets’ current travails.
Just this week, the Mets ownership apparently told general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel that it understood that this has been a tough season, and that their jobs are safe for next year.
Now, I was surprised by this. To begin with, the injuries may not be the fault of manager and general manager, but I find the lack of some basic baseball smarts and skills to be a little off-putting. Have these guys been badly chosen, or badly coached? I’m not sure, but assuring Minaya and Manuel their jobs for the 2010 baseball season seemed a little ridiculous, especially because we’re only halfway through this season. The message actually ought to be, “At the end of the season, we evaluate everything. You’ll come back if your performance, within the context of some tough breaks, merits it.” How can you guarantee their jobs without knowing how things will look at the end of the season? What if Bobby Cox or Lou Piniella happen to available?
Now, I asked my son – as ardent a Met fan as you will find – about whether this decision made sense, and he replied, “It doesn’t really matter. Last year they gave Willie Randolph a vote of confidence, and they forced him two weeks later.”
Which is true. And that’s the lesson I want to refer to here.
They really do. There’s no such thing as “just words.” Actions don't always speak louder than words. It is through our words that we signal our intentions, that we establish our goals, that we move people to believe and follow us. And when the words ring hollow, people lose faith, and leadership is doomed.
We’ve all sat in meetings where one of the top executives in the company gets up and delivers a speech that is so uninspiring, so lacking in credibility, that the first thing we do when we get back to desks is make sure our resumes are up to date and call a favorite executive search firm. (Trust me, I could tell you stories…)
I would argue that the Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, does not show good management or leadership by making a public declaration that there is a fifty-fifty shot they’ll probably have to contradict at some point.
Words matter. We all need to consider them carefully, and try to say what we mean and mean what we say.
For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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