Open Sports Thread: Is There No Field MBAs Can’t Spoil?

Literally spoilt fields, per SB Nation‘s David Roth, “Cubs operate like a fast-food franchise, and that’s a problem“:

On August 19, 15 members of the Wrigley Field grounds crew attempted to cover the infield with a tarp during a sudden rainstorm, in a game the Cubs were winning. They, ah, did not necessarily do that, and after four-and-a-half hours of tarp-related slapstick and over 100 bags of Diamond Dry, the umpires mercifully called the game. This is not the end of the story…

If the Cubs proved definitively that Tuesday night that 15 grounds- keepers was not a sufficient number of groundskeepers to put a tarp on a field, that Thursday brought the news that the Cubs had earlier sent 10 groundskeepers home early. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Gordon Wittenmyer writes that the team did this not because head groundskeeper Roger Baird requested it — and, perhaps, without even consulting him — but because the front office is dedicated to keeping seasonal employees like groundskeepers under 130 hours of work per month.

If those groundskeepers had worked more hours than that, the Cubs would be on the hook for their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s standards. If they didn’t — say, if those employees in question were at home and off the clock, watching 15 of their co-workers put a tarp on a baseball field as if trying to fit a child’s turtleneck onto an irritated rhinoceros — then they wouldn’t…

But let’s consider what else this was, which is one of the most profitable organizations in (the also very profitable) Major League Baseball running one of the sport’s iconic ballparks like a dang Dollar General. This raises the question of whether scrimping, shaving and saving on game day counts as an Efficiency worth the Gaining, and the sub-question of whether Efficiency without Effectiveness is anything more than a management-class word for cheaping out…

Much more at the link. Of course, I’m told SB Nation is a leftist DFH outlet, but still.

42 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    At least they’re doing something to deserve their century of shame.

  2. 2
    Shortstop says:

    I warned you people about the Rickettses.

  3. 3
    Mandalay says:

    Pretty much ignored and forgotten here now, but the British still worship crazy Bush.

  4. 4

    I know that it is fashionable to blame MBAs on Balloon Juice for everything that ails humanity. However most MBAs, at best, are like the overseers on the plantations. It is the plantation owners and those who give them intellectual cover, i.e. Business school profs, most from Econ but not all, are to blame here, not the middle management that carries out their odious policies.

  5. 5
    Gene108 says:


    Rickettses sounds like a disease.

    Also, not the first or last cheap skate owners in sports. MBA’s have nothing to do with this, if the boss is cheap you do not need a hired gun to tell you how to cut corners.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Time to start putting random MBAs to death.

    Just on general principle.

    OK, in deference to the previous two posters, we’ll have the owners put to death, at random.

    The MBA mentality, though, is a serious fucking problem.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    I blame the players union.

  8. 8
    jl says:

    I think if it was the MBAs doing, then they are incompetent MBAs. I read someplace that those particular ACA rules are not in force right now. So their cheap crummy attempts to chisel were pointless.

    Some one who knows for sure please correct me if I’m wrong.

  9. 9
    Baud says:


    The Rickettses virus may already be inside you.

  10. 10
    WaterGirl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I think that 30-hour thing is related to Obamacare. My sister is facing that right now at her job at a 2-year college. It’s book rush, and she normally works 45-50 hours for a week or two and the extra money really helps. But starting last year with the ACA rules, if she works 30 hours during any week, they have to pay her health care. That rule ended up being postponed, but it seems to be back in place again.

    And my brother-in-law is a manager of a retail store (part of a chain) and the managers can lose their jobs if any employee is scheduled for 30 hours, even inadvertently or because of a special situation.

    I know that was really intended to help people out, but it’s ended up that the colleges and corporations are screwing people because of it.

  11. 11
    Hunter Gathers says:

    They’re not assholes, they really care about winning, we were told.
    Ricketts met his wife at Wrigley, therefore he really cares, we were told.

    In reality, the Ricketts are just another group of billionaire cheapskates looking for their handout from the city of Chicago while fucking over their hourly employees, claiming that contracts signed by rooftop owners don’t matter if they can’t get their fucking jumbotron; bitching about how their lack of a revenue stream keeps them from being competitive, while giving Alfonso Soriano millions to not play for the Yankees this year and setting 52 million on fire when they signed Edwin Jackson.

    But Theo Epstein has Teh Sabermetrics, and has assembled the finest outfield of infielders playing out of position and guys who were fucking released. None of the guys called up this year have accomplished jack fucking shit (outside of a good couple of weeks for Kyle Hendricks) and their pitching depth is fucking atrocious. But they’re well on their way to competing in 2018, or 2019, or 2020 or never.

    Same shit, different fucking management.

  12. 12
    scav says:

    @jl: Aren’t there other things that kick in at certain hours other than the currently fashionable to blame ACA? I can remember hell-for-leather attempts to keep hours below a magic number earlier. Plus just general desire for unfettered and ultimate cheapness. Real Fans should have been out there, dragging tarp before bagging their own groceries and ringing up the sum-total at check-out.

  13. 13
    Bitter Scribe says:

    I have been a Cubs fan my whole life. I suffered through the epic chokes of 1969, 1984 and 2003. But I have never been more ashamed to be a Cubs fan than today.

    The Ricketts have officially given up any claim to be anything but a pack of incompetent assholes.

  14. 14
    Dexter's New Approach says:


    You are correct. The lawsuit is based on the President’s delay in implementing the employer requirement.

    The Cub’s plan to suck-on-purpose and stock young the team with prospects in working very well. They will be formidable in a year or two. It just so happened that aligned with not spending money.

    We’ll see if papa Ricketts has taken control of the team when it comes time to spend in line with revenue to win. There’s concern with fans that the elder will want to treat this team like a cash cow rather than a vanity toy.

  15. 15
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Mandalay: With entirely good reason.

  16. 16
    JDM says:

    The fines they were trying to avoid (losing a game because of it) aren’t in effect this year. That’s just how stupid the Cubs’ new management is.

  17. 17
    Dog On Porch says:

    Every golden goose sooner or later gets the ax. In fact, I’m t’s amazed that MLB is still in business

    I wrote the other night that while I wished no harm to ever befall the NFL’s Roger Goodell, I would definitely chip-in to see a taxi splash him by intentionally sideswiping a mud puddle. While he was wearing one of his many tuxedos, and smoking one of his many Cuban cigars.

    A two game suspension for a woman beater? Players busted for smoking grass are punished more severely.

    Has Colt owner Irsay been punished yet?

    I a long toothed, lifelong NFL fan, and predict that the league is headed for an fall in my lifetime. I won’t shed a tear if it happens, either.

  18. 18
    Kay says:


    The problem is all they’re doing is shifting costs, though. One of three people or entities will be picking up their health care costs; their employee, who will have to purchase something if it’s “affordable” on an exchange, Medicaid, or some other employer if the other employer covers spouses and dependants.

    They have to at least admit this. The cost doesn’t disappear if they shift it to someone else. They can’t just play musical chairs forever. How are we to grapple with their employee health care issue? Do they have a suggestion on how they might chip in, or is that just off the table and we’ll go back to pretending no one is paying when someone has to?

    I get that they’re attempting to game this and maybe Congress will fold and let them off the hook but we should at least admit we’ve decided that certain business interests will just not be contributing because they say they can’t. Others will, just low wage service won’t.

  19. 19
    Rex Everything says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: Yeah. She’s pretty awesome.

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    They have no style. Now this, from a Mets-Marlins game in the early ’90s, is classic tarp-wrangling.

  21. 21
    KS in MA says:


    OMG, that’s too funny.

  22. 22
    Kay says:


    It just becomes very inequitable btwn companies. My middle son works for a manufacturer who offers health insurance. They won’t pay a penalty under the law and under the old system offering health insurance gave them an advantage as far as hiring over Wal Mart or Burger King.
    With the health care law that advantage will be all but gone because Wal Mart and Burger King will be covering their employees thru Medicaid or a federal subsidy on the exchange while my son’s employer will still be paying for their company plan. The penalty evens that up, doesn’t allow the service company to get a free ride.

  23. 23
    Fred Fnord says:

    Mumble. Worked out nicely for them and quite poorly for the Giants, I can’t help but notice. Gee, maybe if they pay the groundskeepers less than minimum wage they’ll win more games.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @WaterGirl: Wish they could have written the law so that anyone above 15 hours got health insurance. Because the hassle of having so many employees to juggle so everyone stays under 15 hours a week might make it less attractive to do what they’re doing now. If 15 hours isn’t so hard for them, make it 5 hours. Any employee above 5 hours gets health insurance. At some point they’d have people coming and going so often it wouldn’t be workable. People would get health insurance.

  25. 25
    mkj says:

    The 30 hr requirement does not kick in till 2015.

  26. 26
    mkj says:

    The 30 hr requirement does not kick in till 2015.

  27. 27
    MobiusKlein says:

    Oddly, SB Nation was founded by folks associated with Kos. So they are DFA’s, at least to some degree.

    But keep many of the sites politics free.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:


    That gets tricky for places that have true per diem workers, though. We have a few people “on staff” at my office who are basically temp workers — we call them in every few months to work a few days here and there when we need some extra help. There isn’t enough work to hire them full-time, but it’s handy to be able to have trained people that we can call and have come in. So where do we draw the line?

    (Actually, the line should probably be drawn at “get rid of employer-based insurance,” but that’s probably at least a decade down the road.)

  29. 29
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Hunter Gathers: You’re giving up on Javier Baez after 86 plate appearances with a .488 slugging percentage? Edwin Jackson has pitched significantly better than his ERA would suggest and they’ve done really good work with Jake Arrieta. They have a couple of good candidates to be the next Arrieta, too, in Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada. And they have some monster bats close to being ready to call up: Kris Bryant; Jorge Soler; and Addison Russell. Don’t sleep on Kyle Schwarber or Billy McKinney, either.

    Kyle Hendricks, on the othe rhand, is mostly smoke and mirrors. But the Cubs are positioned to be really good in a couple of years.

  30. 30
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Dog On Porch:

    I a long toothed, lifelong NFL fan, and predict that the league is headed for an fall in my lifetime. I won’t shed a tear if it happens, either.

    I’ve said it here before and I’ll probably say oit again:

    The sport (not just the league) cannot last much longer. Brain injuries are an inherent part of the sport- even when it is played correctly. Increasing insurance costs can be handled at the professional and big time college levels, but at the developmental levels- high school and earlier- the costs will soon become prohibitive. The sport will die of starvation.

  31. 31
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    And they will trade away some of their young talent for players who go bust once they get to Wrigley, they’ll lose some of that young talent to freakish career-ending injuries, and they will never, EVER, have enough pitchers who can effectively throw the sinker. Thus always the Cubbies.

  32. 32
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: If it’s 15 hours a week and your company doesn’t want to provide them health insurance then they can train more “temp workers” to have in their pool. Maybe a provision that they have to work X hours per week for several consecutive weeks. Or X hours per month. That would cover most of those folks.

    Separating employment and health insurance is the long term goal for sure.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s not even 15 hours a week, at least not on a regular basis. It’s more like 15 hours every two months. Essentially, they’re contractors that we pay directly rather than having them send us an invoice. So that’s why it gets weird — if someone only gets a paycheck every couple of months, how do you withhold their insurance, which runs from $10 to $24 per paycheck? Do you only withhold for the three days they worked and they only have coverage for that week, or do you withhold two months’ worth of payments even though they only worked three days in those two months? Having a bigger pool to pull from doesn’t solve the problem.

  34. 34
    MvR says:

    And son Pete, who is running for governor of my state (Nebraska) promises to run it like his family runs the Cubs.

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: Right so if the rule is 15 hours per week and there have to be at least three our of four weeks per month where they work 15 hours/week then they would be excluded. It’s not that hard to craft a law to work around those situations.

  36. 36
    Gene108 says:


    The 30 hrs/wk rule was something insurance companies had in place for determining minimum service requirements, before an employee would be eligible for benefits.

    Before this, employers worked hard to keep people under 40 hrs/wk to avoid OT pay and/or to have them even have the possibility to qualify as full-time employees, with all the benefits that might entail.

    There are some kinks in the PPACA..

    With a functioning government we could amend the law to either make insurance mandatory irrespective of hours worked or to increase the hours worked requirement, so people can work more than 30 hrs/wk and still be excluded from being offered employer benefits.

  37. 37
    Gene108 says:


    I skimmed some recent IRS guidelines on what constituted an eligible employee and the short version is, if someone averaged 30 hours per week in a previous 12 month service period, they would be eligible for benefits.

    There really is no way to set a floor for hours worked to be exempt that would keep employers from trying to get around it.

    Either you have to make it mandatory or make the exemption for employers broad enough they can exclude the people, who used to work more than 30 hours per week.

    Option 1, of insuring everybody is probably not viable, both from a political standpoint and because healthcare is so damn expensive, it would be hard for employers to afford to cover everybody in so e businesses.

    Option 2 would require the government to probably pick up more of the tab for the uninsured via either Medicaid or subsidies on the exchange, but in a rational government should be doable.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    The problem is a mentality that says everything should be run like a business regardless of whether or not it is remotely like a business.

    Where the blame for that most rests, I can’t say.

  39. 39
    redoubt says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): They will be if they pan out–they still need an everyday third baseman–and if they’re willing to spend the money to keep them. (The more I look at the Ricketts the more I’m reminded of old PK Wrigley.)

  40. 40
    mellowjohn says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
    i’m 67 and the cubs have been positioned to be really good in a couple of years for as long as i can remember.
    of course, i’m a sox fan, so WTF do i know.

  41. 41
    Thunderbird says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    I quit watching football (both college and pro) prior to last season. Found myself cringing at hits, and actually getting sick to my stomach.

  42. 42
    Phantom 309 says:

    @mellowjohn: Welcome to the 20th year of our 5 year rebuilding program!

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