Replacement for Craney Kenney: Tom Ricketts doesn’t care if it’s a baseball guy and good for him

This comment yesterday from Tom Ricketts has become big news:

“I’ve never bought into the (idea) that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys,” Ricketts said. “Then what do you get? A baseball guy to watch the baseball guy who’s watching your baseball guys?

Baseball Guy

What the hell is a baseball guy? I mean, how do we even define baseball guy? I looked it up on Merriam Webster and this is what it told me:

The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.

  1. baseball cap

I didn’t click on baseball cap because I don’t think that’s what we want so it’s safe to say that “baseball guy” has no official definition. It’s left to us to define and when that’s the case, we end up with different definition. Joe might think of a baseball guy as one who was born into a baseball family. Tom may think it’s someone who works for a team regardless of his past experience. Think about it, he’s working for a team so he must be a baseball guy. Bob may think it’s a person who has 5 or more years experience in a front office position. Lou Piniella would not be a baseball guy by this definition, which seems kind of weird. He’s spent a thousand years in baseball. No baseball player would be a baseball guy. Not to mention, everybody is not a baseball guy until they are a baseball guy.

With no defintion, we’re left to define it ourselves and that’s always tricky. What does Andrew Friedman have that Crane Kenney doesn’t? Besides a couple more years of experience with an MLB team, which surely doesn’t make Friedman a baseball guy and Crane Kenney not.

Criticisms

Though it lacks a definition it doesn’t mean people aren’t going to criticize someone over it based on their definition. I’m not talking about the people who comment here or the ones on BCB or any other blog or message board. We’re fans. We’re not supposed to know everything that some people are. I’m not singling anybody out. I may have even claimed Kenney had to go because he wasn’t a baseball guy at one time or another though I have been firmly against that for over a couple years, but I’m not sure before that.

Melissa stated in the comments that Bruce Miles was on the radio and questioned Ricketts ability to run the team in part based on this comment. My apologies to Bruce if Melissa misinterpreted, but that’s not the point of this article. Crane Kenney is the Cubs team president so if this is big news then I can only assume that most team presidents are so-called baseball guys. If they aren’t, it’s not big news, right?

This is something that has occasionally come up and I’ve commented each time that it’s not a big deal. After all, one of the most influential GMs has been Sandy Alderson and he wasn’t a supposed baseball-guy. All he did was hire Eric Walker who helped teach advanced statistics in baseball to Billy Beane. All Beane has done is help change the game as teams went from focusing on out-dated metrics like batting average and RBI to better stats that reflect the individual’s talent.

It’s especially odd because one of the best GMs in the game right now is Andrew Friedman. Not a baseball guy. At all. All he’s done is take a small market team and made them competitive with the two teams in baseball that spend more than anyone else. He’s done so with a fraction of the money those teams have at their disposal.

The Best Teams

Anyway, I’ve looked at this in the past and wanted to do so again so we can hopefully put to rest this idea that you need a baseball guy running things. We are talking about the team president position that Kenney currently holds. Let’s look at the best franchises.

New York Yankees: Randy Levine, attorney. He was the principal associate deputy attorney general and principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan administration. In the mid 90s he helped MLB reach the CBA in 1996 and then left baseball before returning in 2000. Not a baseball guy.

Actually, is he a baseball guy now? He’s the Yankees attorney so I’d say no, but the point is that when does someone become a baseball guy? Why does it even matter if the team president for the best franchise in sports doesn’t even care enough to have a baseball guy in that position? Answer: it doesn’t.

Boston Red Sox: Larry Lucchino, attorney. Practiced law for several years and worked closely with the Orioles and Redskins. Later named team president of the Orioles. Then the Padres. And then the Red Sox. Certainly been a part of baseball for a long time, but was not the typical baseball guy type. Not a baseball guy.

So now we’re talking about the two best organizations in baseball and neither cares enough to hire someone knowledgeable about baseball.

Tampa Bay Rays: Matthew Silverman, investment banker. He was the youngest team president in MLB history. Hired a not a baseball guy Andrew Friedman to be GM and has loved every minute since. Not a baseball guy.

Of the top 3 franchises over the last few years, none have baseball guys running things. I don’t need to know who the other teams have as their team president. The simple fact is that you do not need a baseball guy in that position. These organizations have proven that. The Rays have proven you don’t even need a baseball guy as the general manager.

If Bruce Miles did criticize Ricketts for this, he did so without knowing something that I think he should have. He’s been covering baseball for a long time. I knew that all three of these team presidents were not baseball guys. I knew this a couple years ago. I’m a nobody who writes on a blog. I can understand the average fan not knowing, but there’s really no excuse for someone covering baseball as long as Miles has to not know this. There’s even less of an excuse to then use your own lack of information on the radio and criticize someone. There’s a dozen things we can criticize Tom Ricketts for. This isn’t one of them.

Crane Kenny

There are three things I’m confident in saying about Crane Kenney:

  • I don’t have the foggiest damn clue what he does other than what Ricketts told us he won’t be doing: baseball related decisions.
  • However retarded the holy water in the dugout thing was a few years ago, it tells us absolutely nothing about his job performance.
  • The fact that he is not a baseball guy in no way whatsoever negatively affects his ability to be the team president of an MLB franchise.

That’s all I can really say about Kenney. I can’t possibly comment on his performance since I have no clue what he does. How can I comment on his performance if I don’t even know what he’s performing? Can’t do it. No matter how hard I try. I can’t sit here and write about how Crane Kenney needs to be fired because I don’t even know what the guy fucking does. He could be doing his job briliantly for all I know and I’m sure for all you know. Unless you know what he does, that is most certainly true. Considering the quality of the Cubs beat writers, I doubt they even bother to tell us what Crane Kenney does.

Maybe he deserves to be fired. I don’t know. I don’t care if he is becuase is job descrption may read like this: put legos together. It’s entirely possible his job is putting legos together. I would be surprised, but knowing this organization not shocked. If someone can tell me what he does and how he’s performed poorly at it then maybe I’ll change my opinion here, but I’ve not read it yet.

By the way, when I think of baseball guy, Andy MacPhail immediately pops into my mind. I bet he wishes he wasn’t a baseball guy. Then maybe the Orioles wouldn’t suck. Maybe the Cubs wouldn’t have either.

So if Tom Ricketts doesn’t care about hiring a baseball guy, good for him. The 3 best teams in the sport haven’t cared either and they’re doing just fine without a baseball guy. Of all the dumbass things Ricketts has said and done since he bought this team in 2009, this is the one thing I actually like hearing. There’s no reason to be stuck on the idea you have to have a baseball guy in an era when it’s been proven it’s not true. Why limit yourself in such a way when it’s not necessary?

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