Lack of learning, looming losses lead to Lincoln layoff?
Superreader msb emailed us this morning and I’ve been pondering this all day:
If we go back to Thielâ€™s offseason piece, and pretend Lincoln is also on the hot seat (â€œ”The entire organization, and especially me, is on the hot seat,” he said in an interview at his stadium office. “I thought long and hard about continuing with Bill and Mike. I’m putting my neck out on the line because I believe in them. I’ve made it clear to the ownership group that, having made the decision, I’m fully responsible for it.”) who do we want to come in as CEO so that they can hire Chris Antonetti for us?
I don’t know. I’ve felt for a long time that Bavasi was the best GM Lincoln might hire (and I mean that in the nicest way to Bavasi possible), and that in a lot of ways, we’ve been lucky to get him, because the organization as a whole is a lot better off today than it was a couple years ago. But what about that question?
I’ll start with some overly broad generalizations. There are members of the M’s ownership group that are smart, tech-industry people we’d like to think would be more saavy ownership stewards, more open to a pitch for Antonetti, or Ng, or any of the half-dozen interesting GM candidates who aren’t retreads and might bring something really interesting to the team and help it build sustainable, competitive teams that are both profitable and win pennants.
There are also members of the M’s ownership group who are more retail-oriented, and we might think they’d look at the team on the field as product (we want to sell a high-quality product, so we need to have a high-quality team). Buuuut they might also do exactly what drives us, as the hardest of hard-core fans, insane: marketing over substance, a constant drive to identify, brand, and sell players to us, and the same kind of brand-over-results thinking that gets Bloomquist pointless extensions.
What about Nintendo, though? They’re the majority owners, and we can reasonably assume they’ll control any replacement for Lincoln if they finally sack him. Superreader Aditya Sood (two superreaders in one article) sent us this:
This James Surowiecki article from the New Yorker is an interesting analysis of Nintendo’s current mindset in the gaming world–and actually also speaks volumes about their philosophy to the baseball world as well.
The bottom line is what is good for the one (the Wii) is dreadful for the other (your 2004-2006 Seattle Mariners!)
What is interesting though, is that the Wii’s development and execution indicates a willingness to embrace out of the box thinking and a refreshing strategy for success which seems like it supports the Billy Beane/Moneyball model. So basically the Mariners are the GameCube in the Wii world. Or maybe it’s more like the Virtual Boy.
(Another, possibly unrelated side note. Nintendo didn’t embrace the Wii mindset until AFTER Howard Lincoln stepped down from the day to day oversight of the company–to focus on the Mariners.)
It’s a particularly interesting point. Nintendo’s Wii, at least this holiday season, beaten up on the higher-powered Xbox 360 and PS3 in both raw sales and to an even greater extent, media love, despite having far inferior technical specs. In the past, each generation of consoles has been a huge step forward in raw power, and here we see the Wii essentially opt out of it in favor of a cheaper, wackier system that attempts to appeal to an underserved demographic.
(Blantant suck-up: We would love to evaluate the relative merits of these systems here at USSM Labs. Please contact us.)
Would they, as Sood suggests, put that to work in choosing a Lincoln replacement? Someone willing to spend in strange directions that might help the team escape ever-escalating free agent competition? Or does being owned by a company whose fortunes are not directly tied to the team mean that they’re likely to act conservatively to protect the team’s profitability and value? That suggests that Lincoln would, if replaced at all, be succeeded by a different face of the same philosophy.