Baltimore Orioles: If everyone’s in charge, nobody’s in charge


If all Baltimore Orioles fans have a say in what goes on, then nobody is in charge

I want to expound a bit on what I wrote in this Baltimore Orioles column yesterday. The column (linked above) concerned teams taking public opinion into account when making personnel decisions. I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again today; that’s a dangerous slope.

However the counter-arguement is why shouldn’t fans have a say? They’re the “clientele,” right? So shouldn’t they have a say in what goes on? I’ll put it to you this way; there’s a reason that I probably have such a negative reaction to this type of thing, and it’s lodged in my own past.

When I was in college I ran the front desk of a hotel five days a week. Now I’m not going to lie – I wasn’t the perfect employee. Admittedly I wrote three term papers at that front desk, although I would submit that it never interfered with my ability to do the job. Nevertheless, after two years I was let go, and in breaking this news to me, the GM said that after talking to numerous guests he came to this decision. His words were, they said he’s a nice enough guy, but…just not cut out to be a front desk guy. 

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    As you can imagine, I deeply resented that. However what struck me is that according to what I was told the manager had consulted with his clientele about a personnel decision. How exactly can the “unwashed masses” know what it takes to run the front desk of a hotel? Thus you can understand how it came across to me – basically uneducated people (in that line of work, that is) had a say in my employment future there.

    This isn’t so much about me, as it is just an example. And when I say uneduated people, I throw myself into that fray as well. While I may be a sports writer, I’m not in the “sports industry.” So I’m not qualified to say whether a coach or player should stay or go. I’m entitled to my opinion just as everyone else is, however that’s not to say that the team should take it into account.

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    Again, the counter-argument is that fans pay to see the games, so there’s really no reason why they shouldn’t have a say. Well, hotel guests pay to stay in the rooms…and thus that same logic should apply, right? Am I saying, come talk to me when your employment status has been affected by the unfiltered and uneducated opinions of outside people? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    To further my point, I’ll stick with my time in the hospitality industry. A former manager for whom I actually didn’t care too much gave me a line about “being in charge,” which always stuck with me: if everyone’s in charge, nobody’s in charge. While I didn’t get along with that person, I always thought that was a very valid point. Nowadays society seems to not want “the powers that be” to exercize their authority, opting for a more “collaborative” methedology” to solving the day’s problems.

    While listening to the opinions of others (the “educated” opinions of others, that is) may not be the worst thing, if you’re the decision-maker that job ultimately falls to you. Even though you probably do owe it to yourself to listen to alternative potentialities, if you don’t ultimately make the decision you aren’t doing your job properly.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Should public opinion matter?

    So to circle back, if a baseball GM (or executive in any other sport) is listening to the opinions of fans when it comes to personnel decisions, he’s not doing his job. There’s a reason these guys are paid what they’re paid – they’re good at their jobs. But if you lean on and listen to the opinions of the fans too much, you’ll be destined to become one of them.