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A bond of trust
Has been abused
Something of value
May be lost

Standings as of May 26th, 2005

TEAM               W     L     PCT   GB   2WK		
St. Louis         30    16    .652   -   (10-4)
Milwaukee         23    23    .500   7    (7-7)
Chicago           21    23    .477   8    (7-5)
Pittsburgh        19    25    .432  10    (5-7)
Cincinnati        18    28    .391  12    (6-8)
Houston           16    30    .375  14    (4-10)
No movement at all in the standings over the past two weeks, as every team is in the same position they were in at the time of the last NL Central Report.

The Cardinals' 7-game lead over the second place team in their division is the largest in baseball, with the White Sox's 6-game lead over the Twins coming in second. The closest 1-2s in baseball are the NL West, where Arizona leads the Padres by only half a game, and the AL West, where the Angels and Rangers are tied for first.

Houston has the second-worst record in the National League, just ahead of the Rockies. They have the third-worst record in MLB, ahead of only the Rockies and Royals.

Sometimes the Customer is an Idiot

There's been a lot of discussion about Danny Graves being put on waivers, including a discussion on the Box. If you haven't been following the story, the AP article "Graves made obscene hand gesture toward fan" explains what happened:
    CINCINNATI -- Closer Danny Graves was let go by the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, a day after he made an obscene hand gesture at a fan taunting him over his latest poor performance.

    The club's career saves leader was shocked by the decision to designate him for assignment, a move that ended his eight-year career in Cincinnati. The Reds have 10 days to trade him or put him on waivers.

    "I always knew this day would come," Graves said. "I didn't think it would be so soon."

    Graves gave up five ninth-inning runs in Cleveland's 9-2 victory Sunday at Great American Ball Park, then was booed and taunted by fans as he left the field.

    He didn't react to the jeers as he walked off and got a drink in the dugout. When he moved to the end of the dugout by the bat rack, a man in one of the high-priced seats next nearby yelled at him. Graves yelled back and made an obscene hand gesture.

    Graves spoke by telephone on Monday with general manager Dan O'Brien, who was out of town preparing for the amateur draft, and with other Reds officials.

    "A lot of the off-field emotions had something to do with it, and last night when I flipped the man off had something to do with it," Graves said. "A fan cussed at me. I regret doing it. I planned on apologizing today."

So basically what happened is the fan said something obscene, Graves said something obscene back (both verbally and with a hand jesture) and now Graves is on waivers, because of this and because of his admittedly poor performance over 18 innings. There's a couple of issues here:

1. Putting a veteran on waivers after a poor couple of months. Danny Graves may not be a superstar, but the man did save 41 games last season for a pretty lousy team. This year he's been terrible so far, with 4 homeruns, 12 walks, and 8 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. I could understand installing Wagner in at closer and putting Graves in middle relief. I could understand putting Graves on the trading block (though I think that would be the ultimate case of selling low), but putting him on waivers? Does anyone really believe that Graves is going to continue to be under replacement level for the rest of the year? Why would you subject one of your more popular veteran players to that?

2. The incident with the fan. One of the most asinine ideas in business is expressed in the saying, "the customer is always right." I believe Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines has the right idea:

    While Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher gives customers a terrific deal on an airplane seat, he makes it clear that his employees come first -- even if it means dismissing customers. But aren't customers always right? "No, they are not," Kelleher snaps. "And I think that's one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don't carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, 'Fly somebody else. Don't abuse our people.'"
The response Danny Graves gave to the fan was inappropriate and he deserved to be reprimanded. At the same time, if I'm a member of the Reds front office, in a situation like this I'm going to back up my employees. At the end of the day, who is more valualble to me: One of my key relief pitchers, or a likely drunken fan who is shouting obscenities? To me it's a no brainer, but so many companies seem to choose the other option.

Question of the Day

What on earth is wrong with the Astros?
Sometimes the Customer is an Idiot | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Magpie - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#117759) #
Forgot to flip the HTML switch there, Pepper.

There's a bit of word swirling around that the paying customer's gibe at Graves had a racial content as well.

It's certainly true that his teammates are outraged. The feeling seems to be that Graves has been a good teammate for a long time, and that the team probably damaged his career by moving him into the rotation in 2003. (Not that I see any connection myself). But still, the feeling is that they should have been helping him work through his problems rather than dumping him like an old boot at the first convenient excuse.

Named For Hank - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#117762) #
At least the moron in Boston who hit Sheffield lost his season tickets (and in Boston that's a mighty harsh penalty). Any word on if they're doing anything to this guy?

In fifteen long years of retail, I experienced every kind of jackass imaginable, and they all tried to defend themselves with "hey, I'm the customer and I'm always right". Once I had a guy insist that he could smoke his cigar in my store because he was the customer and he was always right.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:10 PM EDT (#117763) #
Graves *wanted* to move into the rotation!

He's going to end up in the postseason this year, and the Reds (forthcoming: a formal retraction of my preseason projection) will be sitting home, so he'll be fine.

What's wrong with the Astros? Well, Jeff Kent is in LA, Bif Dick Hidalgo is hitting homers up the road in Arlington, Craig Biggio is 85 years old and Jeff Bagwell finally broke.


Named For Hank - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#117764) #
Don't forget Clemens' groin and Lidge's sudden less-goodness.
John Northey - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#117765) #
I wonder if the guy who swore at Graves has connections to the front office or ownership (friend, relative, etc.) That would explain the quick release. Doesn't make it right, but would explain it more than anything else.
AWeb - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#117768) #
Houston has the worst offence in the majors, despite some decent hitting from their pitchers. And Biggio has been great (he's turning into a power hitter instead of a on base machine). It's the outfields' fault, from what I can see.

Tavaras : 163 AB, 660 OPS, ( but has stolen 16/18 bases.)
Jason Lane : 151 AB, 671 OPS
Mike Lamb : 113 AB, 612 OPS
Berkman : 60 AB, 588 OPS
The best OF they have, so far this year, is Orlando Palmeiro, and he only plays a couple times a week. Plus, he's hitting .346, and isn't likely to keep that up. When Berkman starts hitting, it'll help, but no one else seems likely to get much better.


Mick Doherty - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:42 PM EDT (#117769) #
Lidge's sudden less-goodness.

You freakin' stat-heads and your techy-nickle terms!

Mick Doherty - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#117770) #
AWeb, Mike Lamb is not an outfielder (maybe he is trying it out this year and I don't know about it, but he never was in Arlington), though it's also true he doesn't exactly look like Jeff Bagwell over there at 1B. And though the move of Biggio to 2B does somewhat make up for the loss of Kent, it is also at least as harmful to the offensive potential of the outfield. As for "When Berkman starts hitting," you have to think the Astros people are having nasty flashbacks to Hidalgo's final days there.
AWeb - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:53 PM EDT (#117771) #
My take on the Graves situation is that the front office wanted to shake up the team. Usually they fire the manager, and say something like "you can't fire the players". Well, Dan O'Brien showed them, really thinking 'outside the box' on this one. Plus, it leaves him one more panic move for later in the year when he fires Miley (the manager). Assuming they don't turn it around.

Maybe Graves was holding them back, and was somehow responsible for :
Player IP ERA
Matt Belisle : 34.2 4.67
E. Ramirez : 15.0 4.80
Ramon Ortiz : 30.0 5.40
Eric Milton : 57.0 6.32
Paul Wilson : 46.1 7.77
Ben Weber : 12.1 8.03
Todd Coffey : 11.0 8.18
Joe Valentine : 11.1 9.53
Notably, Paul Wilson has the only ERA worse than Ted Lilly among qualifying pitchers. And 3 pitchers with significant innings have been worse than him.
Gerry - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#117773) #

My take on the Graves situation is that the front office wanted to shake up the team.

Actually they wanted to stop the team shaking. They just removed two vibrating chairs from the dressing room, owned by Griffey and Dunn, I believe. See Primer for details.

AWeb - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#117776) #
Mick, you're right about Lamb, he's split time in the OF and 1B. I think he played quite a bit in Berkman's spot before he returned, and now gets to play for Bagwell. Seems like the equivalent of Dave Berg last year. Can't hit, and not his fault they play him is places where hitters are required.

I would assume that the Astros figured it would be easier to find a good hitting (cheap) OF rather than a 2B. It looks like they were wrong at this point, but it sounded reasonable. And I still think Berkman will hit again. Hidalgo had one great year, Berkman has had 5.

As for the Reds, let's see...fire longstanding Red popular in clubhouse, annoy best hitter and future HOFer with petty tactics...classy. I'd make fun of the Reds to the world series prediction, but I looked at my season predictions in the contest the other day....so I'm keeping quiet.
Cristian - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#117778) #
Mike,

You should have continued with the song lyrics as they are eerily prescient:

A bond of trust
Has been abused
Something of value
May be lost
Give up your job
Squander your cash - be rash
Just hold on to your friends

There are more than enough
To fight and oppose
Why waste good time
Fighting the people you like
Who will fall defending your name
Oh, donít feel so ashamed
To have friends

Graves' situation to me is similar to Ligtenberg's situation. All the whining about proven past performance and sunk costs apply to Graves. The thing with Ligtenberg is that JP made a decision that Ligtenberg no longer had whatever made him effective in the past. Can't we give the Reds management the benefit of the doubt here? Maybe Graves just doesn't have it any more and no amount of past history will change this fact. The Reds may have more info on Graves than they are letting on.
Cristian - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#117779) #
By the way, whoever stated 'the customer is always right' definitely didn't work in the gambling industry. If the maxim were true, the industry wouldn't be profitable.
Jobu - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#117780) #
Once I had a guy insist that he could smoke his cigar in my store because he was the customer and he was always right.

Sorry about that.... I just wanted to celebrate Reed's big game.

Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#117783) #
Graves' situation to me is similar to Ligtenberg's situation. All the whining about proven past performance and sunk costs apply to Graves.

Graves is a sunk cost, which is true, but he hasn't pitched anywhere near as badly as L-berg, there's at least 3 guys on the team that have pitched worse than he has, there are sample size issues galore, and there's an excellent chance that whoever they get to replace him in the bullpen is going to perform worse than Graves would have.

Mike Green - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#117785) #
I'd call it poor management. Graves was pitching very poorly, and needed a move to a less pressured and less significant role. Instead, Miley just left him as a closer, and when the situation blew, the Reds essentially laid the blame for it entirely at Graves' door.

It does make one appreciate Gibby's handling of Speier earlier this season when he was struggling.
Craig B - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#117786) #
Incidentally, Dunn's retort, "So now we're going to start winning, it was the chair's fault" was priceless, as was his followup - "And we even won last night, imagine if we would have lost. I might not have a glove."

He's also hung Danny Graves's uniform in his locker. Anyone else think Miley's lost Dunn for good? Dunn, incidentally, is far and away the Reds' best hitter. Expect his performance to go right in the toilet, and the rest of the Reds' season with it.
Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#117787) #
If the Reds started to play poorly because of this, how would anyone be able to tell the difference?
gv27 - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#117788) #
There is nothing written in a standard professional contract that says the player agrees to be subjected to verbal abuse. Why do spectators feel it's their ticket-buying right to say whatever they wish?

I invite any of you to join me in beating the snot out of the first moron to slag Frank Catalanotto upon his return from the bereavement list.
Jonny German - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:32 PM EDT (#117790) #
Hmmm... so if Dunn is severely disgruntled and stops performing... does trading for him become an actual possibility?
Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:34 PM EDT (#117792) #
I think Miley will go before Dunn.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:45 PM EDT (#117793) #

Hmmm... so if Dunn is severely disgruntled and stops performing... does trading for him become an actual possibility?

Brain in motion, imperceptible smile forms at side of mouth.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#117794) #
I would have to think that Texas and Houston, one looking for a big bat and the other looking for ANY bat, would get into a bidding war for Dunn, the Texas boy. If the Rangers offer Cincinnati Adrian Gonzalez, Joaquin Arias and John Hudgins, that'd be tough for Toronto to top.

Jamie, you should make that offer on the air and tell anyone who wants to talk to Catalanotto to do so from the booth ... that might get'em thinking about what's appropriate and what's not.
Named For Hank - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 03:58 PM EDT (#117795) #
I invite any of you to join me in beating the snot out of the first moron to slag Frank Catalanotto upon his return from the bereavement list.

Almost did it preemptively last night to a moron in 236 who was talking about how Cat was obviously benched because he stunk so bad.

But I was with family, so instead I told him that Cat was on the bereavement list. And of course then I had to explain what the bereavement list was.

gv27 - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#117797) #
A fine suggestion, Mick. Half the time people don't realize they're sitting near family. Many years ago, I sat beside a guy who spent the entire night carving Glenallen Hill... with Hill's wife directly in front of him. I was never quite sure why she didn't turn around and say something.
Ryan C - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#117798) #
Lol, I saw this take on primer about the massage chair thing and it had me laughing so hard I just had to repost it:

Posted by Darren on May 25, 2005 at 10:09 PM
"I think in his position I'd simply buy another one [chair] and put it in the same place, then bill the team for the missing chair. If I were Griffey, I'd buy the same chair for everyone on the team. And when they took those away, I'd fill the room to the rafters with them. And when those were gone, I'd put them out in the field, at every position and I'd play CF sitting in one, and I'd have "massage chair day" and give out 20,000 of them."
Jordan - Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#117799) #
If the Rangers offer Cincinnati Adrian Gonzalez, Joaquin Arias and John Hudgins, that'd be tough for Toronto to top.

Hmmm..... Brandon League, Francisco Rosario and Gabe Gross? 'Cause I'd do that in a second.

Pistol - Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#117955) #
Apparently Gammons said on BBTN that Dunn was available.
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