Thursday, February 23, 2006

managing expectations

as this page has said before, the tribune has often in the past telegraphed its intentions with respect to the cubs by broadcasting them in one or more of their house organs. this was the case with sammy sosa in 2004, and again with korey patterson in 2005. this is known in management parlance as news management or managing expectations -- essentially, the manipulation of hearts and minds.

it isn't a foolproof tell, of course -- the management of expectations must occur in anticipation of the event, and sometimes only in the anticipation of projected likelihoods. with sosa's contract expiring in 2001, for example, with sosa being a 10-and-5 player with veto rights on any trade, the tribune began to manage expectations and opinions in 2000 as a contingency to being unable to come to terms with their most popular player by putting a megaphone to the contrived antagonism of dutiful manager don baylor. of course, they ultimately did come to terms -- and, once it became clear through sosa's agent adam katz that they would get cooperation in either a trade or a contract, the tone of the tribune's coverage changed character almost immediately, transferring the mantle of scapegoat from sosa to hapless general manager ed lynch, who took a nasty lesson in corporate politics.

but we examine this phenomena of media ownership today because one of the kept men of the tribune is today making the case for jim hendry's extension -- in all likelihood telegraphing the result of a decision already made within the tribune's corporate hierarchy and, by implication, confirming the retention of team president andy macfail.

the opinion of this page regarding the tenure of macfail and his general managers is well articulated -- but, despite a stunning ineptitude on the field, one is hard pressed to say that the cubs are not a wild success by another measure: income. and, seeing as the sole measure of success not only for macfail and hendry but any officer of the tribune company is wealth creation, it is hard to make the case -- using the tribune's own standards of success -- to see why these men would not be retained.

but the insightful observer should be made to understand -- the citation of tangible on-field "progress" or "improvement", such as might be hypothesized by the likes of phil rogers, has utterly nothing to do with that retention nor with virtually any important decision the tribune makes. the record demonstrates clearly that macfail's tenure -- indeed, the entire era of the tribune's ownership -- is little or no improvement on the previous periods. the reason for the decision is, always has been and always will be nothing other than money.

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