Thursday, January 22, 2009


Jeff Kent called it a career today and no matter how much he ticked teammates and media off, it’s hard to not consider him for a bust in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

What are interesting though were comments found in Richard Justice’s SportsJustice blog for the Houston Chronicle:
“Kent can be a jerk sometimes,to say the least,but I'll take a roster full of Jeff Kents on my team any day for his work ethic alone.”

“I think we have all worked with a Jeff Kent. To each his own and the bottom line is-do your stinking job!!! That's what Kent did, and I'm happy he gets to retire. We should all be so lucky!!!”

Here’s the thing about that vein of thinking; from far away, it’s easy to believe that people can forgive someone’s irascible personality as long as (s)he brings sheer talent and credentials to the job. Yet, when that very person is actually in your office, there is a challenge of will, character, patience and morale.

This is not to say that Kent was a good or bad guy since all any of us could go by were a few soundbites, beat reporters’ articles and Barry Bonds’ wrist strength test back in 2002. Many accounts say that the former NL MVP was mix of old-school (curmudgeon), unique (wacko), opinionated (controversial), demanding (son of a …) and occasionally inviting (surly and racist). Yet, all that mattered was that he was a great hitter, right?

The second commenter suggests that it’s all about getting the job done and Kent certainly did that in his various stops. In reality, though, (s)he and the rest of us did not spend time in the clubhouse with him, travel with him on the road, try to get familiar with him during spring training or sit next to him in the dugout; all for 200+ days of the year.

In our places of work, school, play, worship, etc., we did all have that alpha male type who seemed to tick off neighbors as easy as breathing or the temperamental diva type who treated those around her like disposable diapers. That person might have been very good at the technical requirements of the job. Yet, whether some of us believe that the workplace is hypersensitive or if people are just sheer pansies, this irascible person becomes the soul-sucking, morale-sapping, life-draining force that can lead to a company-wide decrease in productivity. No one wants to be around “that guy” when you have to see him every workday and pray that you don’t have a run-in.

Sports is a unique world, without a doubt. The participants are one of the few, if only, people on Earth who use their complete being – mental and emotional to go with the physical – to make a living. The absolute best of the best can become at least productive professionals who can make a great living for their families while lining the pockets of others.

The principles of the sports workplace, however, are not completely different from what anyone else does. Respect your colleagues and clients, conduct business in a professional manner and represent the company in the best possible light. It’s believed that you don’t have to be buddy-buddy with your co-workers to survive and succeed. Yet, it’s hard to gain a great level of success when your colleagues hate your guts.

If it doesn’t always work well in sports, it’s hard to believe it would work in ‘the real world’.

Say What?!?!: It’s a damn shame that not only is the apparent inner turmoil in Valley Ranch is trumping the actual Super Bowl participants, but despite the sister relationship with ABC, ESPN decided to discuss this in the live SportsCenter… AGAINST OBAMA’S INAUGURATION! It’s not even about trying to bask and bathe (or loathe and look away) from the historical moments so much as it’s one of those really, really bad ideas. Not many people outside of the Dallas Cowboys fan base cares too much and likely their fans are tired of hearing about ‘the drama’ that the media are soaking up. However, if you want folks to actually care, it would have been a pretty good idea to wait until Obamamania has died down a bit. After all, Tony Romo’s leadership isn’t supposed to kick in for a while.


Stephon Johnson said...

reminds of the recent Bill Simmmons podcast, which was basically a conversation with Chuck Klosterman for an hour and a half (and it was really effin' good). Klosterman made a remark about Michael Jordan that might fit here with fans of Kent.

"Jordan is a unique figure in that no matter how much history proves that he was a jerk, it only makes people like him MORE"

That could be the case here.

Jason Clinkscales said...

I think this is a little different, though. While I wasn't trying to call out or praise Kent, he does invoke strong opinions because of the lack of PR savvy baseball and its participants have. His Airness might have been all of those things and more, but because the NBA and his endorsers knew how to deflect or at least attempt to bury anything that made him appear unsaintly, the overall public doesn't really think about him as an actual person. Of course, his actual play displayed for the world to see aided in that, as well.

As you can attest to, baseball players aren't allowed the same buffer and true cool-down period that other athletes are afforded. So, we are more apt to catch them at a random moment and pass judgment. Even if they aren't the greatest players to ever see a diamond, they go through greater scrutiny at every turn because of the history, money and length of season. You can call someone a good guy or a jerk based on far more evidence than the case of other athletes (at least in the United States).