Sometimes the Customer is an Idiot

Thursday, May 26 2005 @ 12:22 PM EDT

Contributed by: Pepper Moffatt

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?