The now week-old expose of disarray in the front-office of the Seattle Mariners contains many great tidbits. From the discussions of nitpicking the fonts in a powerpoint deck, to the puffery about sabermetrics, it suggests that baseball teams’ front-offices look very much like the rest of corporate america. And here’s the anecdote to prove it:
“[Team manager Eric] Wedge described how, starting in 2011, [team President Chuck] Armstrong would visit his office and gravely say things like: ‘Howard [Lincoln, the Mariner’s CEO] sent me down here and … we’ve got to win.’
Wedge would shrug in agreement, telling him he wanted to win every night. But he’s like, ‘No, we’ve really got to win. We’ve got to go 5-2 on this trip. We’ve got to win tonight.’”
We’ve really got to win. Most of the time, it’s more or less optional! Needless to say, in a universe where success is determined by quarterly returns and flexible GAAP accounting, this is exactly the kind of direction that leads to cooking the books. Sadly for the Mariners, their success was harder to manufacture.