Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The dreaded C-word?


Buster Olney's reporting that the MLBPA has opened an investigation into the reasons why certain players, most of whom still have more than adequate on-field baseball skills, remain jobless this season. Guys who have played significant careers, to say the least, who not only do not have any prospects of signing with any team, but haven't gotten so much as a sniff by GMs across the league.

Barry Bonds
Kenny Lofton
Mike Piazza
David Wells
Sammy Sosa

By my check, that short list contains the all-time HR king, a 600+ HR slugger, the greatest offensive catcher of all time, a rubber-armed hefty lefty and one of the better lead-off pests around.

I don't think it's collusion, which Wikipedia defines as: "an agreement, usually secretive, which occurs between two or more persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically involving fraud or gaining an unfair advantage and can involve wage fixing, kickbacks, or misrepresenting the independence of the relationship between the colluding parties." While I am sure Selig wants Bonds gone from the game, I honestly don't think he's so foolish (or arrogant) to recommend to all GMs that they intentionally avoid Bonds.

So what is it? Groupthink*. It's easier for a GM to simply pass on Bonds or Sosa, citing the baggage or so other reason. This way, the GM doesn't have to answer questions or risk angering a fanbase.

I'll tell ya, though, there are some offensively-challenged AL teams (I'm looking at you, Seattle) who could certainly use a DH and Bonds (or Sosa) would be a good fit.

As far as Wells and Piazza, well, maybe they are just done. I think Lofton could still play somewhere, though.

Collusion? Nah. Groupthink? Yeah.

* Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.

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