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Posts Tagged ‘Failure’

The Story You Will Never Read: Redskins Owner Steps Down

December 30, 2013 1 comment
Snyder announces he is banishing himself to his $70 million yacht.

Snyder announces he is banishing himself to his $70 million yacht.

In a stunning display of maturity and personal awareness, despicable Washington Redskins owner, Daniel F. Snyder, today fired his head coach then himself.  “You pretty much have to fire a coach who finished with a 3-13 season,” said Snyder.  “But the real problem has been me all along,” he announced to a shocked gaggle of scribbling reporters.

“From day one, I have let my gigantic ego, some would call it Napoleonic in nature, interfere with every aspect of our operations,” admitted Snyder.  “I will confess that a strategy of bringing in tremendously overpriced free agents well past their prime may have backfired.  It is also possible that giving preferential treatment to certain star players may have been, er, misinterpreted and might have been demoralizing to other lesser players in the locker room.”

Snyder, however, refused to apologize for suing Redskins season-ticket holders for failure to make payments after losing their jobs during the recession, saying that the team’s dismal performance had otherwise provided him little joy besides crushing and annihilating the powerless.

Snyder also stood by his decision to have once banned all signs at FedEx field critical of him or the team.  “There’s a cost to free speech,” said Snyder.  “You can think all the bad thoughts you want about me and my horrendous track record as a conniving, profiteering schmuck, but you can do that in the privacy of your hovel and certainly not in my beautiful stadium.”

In his shocking announcement that he would sell the team, Snyder raised eyebrows even further, when he disclosed he was becoming principle owner of City Paper, a publication he once sued for libel.  “City Paper, I assure you, will spend the next ten years correcting the historical record to what it should be in my mind.”

Asked to enumerate the many reasons for his consistent failure as an owner in less than 3 hours or so, Snyder demurred, saying only that his biggest fault was loving the Redskins too, too much.

“My love for this team and for the Native American people of America has possibly blinded me.  The great passion I have felt for the team and all the oppressed Indian tribes they have always represented may have led me to take impetuous actions from time to time.  So blame me for caring too much,” he concluded as he wiped away a single, sad, yet symbolic tear.

Nationals: Making Sense of What Happened

October 16, 2012 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Jeff Roberson, AP)

A few days have passed now since Washington suffered its collective sucker punch and watched its beloved young team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  There are two keys to healing and getting over it.  One has to do with understanding the element of time.  The other has to do with recognizing not what happened- but how it happened.

It’s About the Long Haul

Baseball as a sport goes against all we currently value in terms of instant gratification.  It requires the longest vision of any sport; 162 games are played over six long months. But it is actually much longer than that and this is the key perspective to understand.  Especially for a young team like the Nationals, this is not about one season.  It is about many.  Look at it at more like a game that will be played over the span of a decade.

The Atlanta Braves in the 1990’s ran off a string of 11 consecutive NL division titles.  They captured exactly one World Series.  They only appeared in two in that span.  Washington Post columnist, Tom Boswell points out the Braves have lost 7 division series since 2000.  Even the Yankees have dropped 5 since 2002.

Baseball playoffs are a complete and total crap-shoot; especially with the new one-game wild-card format.  And the divisional best 3 of 5 format is too short to really tell the tale of a team’s depth and talent.  The regular season does tell that story.  And no one in their right mind would have ever thought that in 2012, the Washington Nationals would finish atop the NL Eastern division, much less with the sport’s best record.

That was one full year ahead of schedule.  Remember this is the task of a decade that lies before us.   That’s an extra year of playoff and playoff-style pressure the players now have experience with.  And you know the Nats may well be favored to win it all next year with Strasburg pitching a full season and with a whole winter ahead of Mike Rizzo with much more leverage than he’s ever had before in making deals to make the club even better.

This is a long-term proposition.  We’re not used to thinking this way.  But even in baseball terms, we have more hope for instant gratification than just about any other team in the sport.

How We Lost

I remember the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers played a season finale at Memorial Stadium in 1982 that would determine the winner of the American League East.  No wild card that year.   Someone was going to end up out of the playoffs having won 94 games.  It was possibly Earl Weaver’s last game as the Orioles skipper. It was Cal Ripken’s rookie season.  The stakes were enormous.

The Brewers crushed the Orioles 10-2.  As an Oriole fan at the time, I remember being disappointed but not hurt.  The Baltimore fans that day were generous in spirit.  They stayed long after the drubbing to offer their final cheers to Weaver.  In the young Cal Ripken they sensed a bright future.  The Birds would win it all the following season.

I think our collective psyches would have been much better preserved if the St. Louis Cardinals had beaten us 10-2 last Friday night.  Yes, we would have the same overall disappointment, but I bet the fans would have stuck around for awhile to thank the team and pretty much just hug each other for the incredible season they had all witnessed.

But, instead, on 5 different occasions, the Nats were a single strike away from victory.  To lose under those circumstances is cruel fortune, indeed.  But how do you suppose it felt when almost the same scenario played out for the poor Texas Rangers last year?  They were a strike away on at least three occasions- from winning the World Series.

Things are relative, my friends; in both time and occasion.

As for our decade of excellence that is to follow- an incredibly important brick was added to the foundation of this franchise in 2012.  The bitter taste that lives in us is especially acute in the players.  They will live with it through the winter, through their surgeries and workouts.  And the bitterness will mix with the optimism of spring.

It is my belief that the events that transpired on that fateful Friday night, hurtful and as frustrating as they were to so many, will be the very reason this young, talented bunch of ballplayers coalesces even more as a team.  What I think we will see, is a steely determination; first-class athletes and competitors motivated to the core by a failure, that to be fair, was only so immense because of how unexpected their rise to the top was last season, to begin with.

No- this pain will subside and give way, as human sentiment so often does, to hope.  Fortunately for fans of the young Washington Nationals, we have ten years ahead of us to savor, enjoy, and yes, occasionally suffer through.  After all, over that decade, each year, 29 teams will walk off the field of their last game with a loss.

But, should anytime over these ten years, we become the team that walks off the field of that last game with a victory- it is all the pain and sorrow and joy and ecstasy of the arduous path we took to get there that will help us truly understand the magnitude and the rarity of the greatest achievement in sport.

Welcome to disappointment, to pride, to love- to Baseball.

Congress: Where Failure is Always an Option

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Chart courtesy of the office of Senator Michael Bennet


Already less popular than Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez, BP during the oil spill, Nixon during Watergate, lawyers, the IRS and Paris Hilton, Congress seems intent on finding a new bottom in the hearts of the public. The so-called congressional Super Committee’s failure to find even modest savings and revenues to address the federal deficit is just one more example why people seem to really despise Congress.

There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides and this is not an opinion forged out of a need to sound non-partisan. The combination of cowardice and partisanship is very, very powerful and both Democrats and Republicans are proving that, in this Congress, playing politics trumps national interest every time.

Democrats have not been serious about addressing the cause of much of our deficit-spending- entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Why? Because the choices are painful and politically unpopular. Republicans, to their credit, finally gave in a tiny little bit and for the first time in recent memory, agreed to a modest rise in tax revenues but then sabotaged the whole thing by demanding that the Bush tax cuts not be allowed to expire at the end of the year- without identifying ways to pay for them.

With this failure, Congress has now opened the door to more failures over the next couple of months. Extended unemployment benefits may not happen. Keeping payroll tax cuts going into next year are, inexplicably, at risk.

Worst of all, Congress is expected to debate over the weeks ahead, whether to water down, delay or eliminate the triggered cuts that were supposed to take place if the Super Committee failed to do its job. The idea was that these cuts, many of them amounting to deep slashes in Pentagon spending, would surely pressure lawmakers into making a deficit deal. After all, who wants to be blamed for weakening America’s military?

If they try to weasel out of those triggered cuts, you can kiss even our AA+ S&P rating goodbye.

Clearly, no one cares up there on Capitol Hill. They don’t care if America is downgraded by credit agencies. They don’t care about endangering national defense. They don’t care about the unemployed. They don’t really care about reducing deficits. They give all the above considerable lip service- but the results tell the real story about the priorities of our politicians. They care about only two things; immediate political survival and getting on the gravy train when they leave Congress so they can continue to enrich themselves.

Representatives from both sides took to the Sunday talking-head shows to blame each other and finger point. No last-minute emergency negotiations. No burning the midnight oil. No college try. Nothing.

They are, however, working on the statement expected today- describing their failure to reach a deal. Maybe they won’t find a way to agree on that either.