Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Blue Jays, the balanced schedule and why you ignore buffoons


This might be an appropriate time to vent some Jays angst that's been squeezed into a bitter little ball across the past few years.

Thankfully, we can do this without hitting any ignorami with a whiskey bottle. Joe Cowley got the reaming that should be coming to anyone who judges an entire city, let alone a quote-unquote "Third World country," by what's available on his hotel room TV. At least he provided a prod to finish off a post that has been in the hopper since about 2008 (and as The Ack noted, Cowley had little to say about Cleveland drawing about 5,000 less fans than the Jays did on both Friday and Saturday.)

Remember '08? The Toronto Blue Jays had the third-best run differential in the American League, but finished in fourth place in the AL East. Since most people make their judgment solely on won-loss records, this made their season a total fail to — appropriating the loose Cowleyian definition of most — most minds. You might recall that in '08, the Chicago White Sox, the team Joe Cowley covers and Ozzie Guillen manages, went to the playoffs after winning an AL Central tiebreaker over the Minnesota Twins. Those teams were a combined 1-13 against the Jays.

Going off on a rant at the time was ruled out — the whole whelp-of-a-beaten-cur thing. It did signal the Jays could no longer rate an emotional investment. It was, Call me when there's realignment or balanced schedule.

Call it a Captain Obvious statement, but it has hit the point where you need a schedule converter in baseball, similar to the "neutralize stats" function on Baseball-Reference. As a fan born in 1977 who follows a team which has not made the playoffs since 1993, it would be nice to know how a contemporary team would fare in that 1977-93 era of two divisions and a balanced schedule, and vice-versa. The current setup obscures a team's true worth, which is an intolerable cruelty to visit upon fans.

In the '77-93 era, an American League club played every other team 12 or 13 times. That's a far cry from today's unbalanced sked (18-19 games vs. division opponents, 6-10 vs. other league foes, plus 18 interleague games). Now, there is a general understanding the calibre of competition in MLB varies between leagues and divisions. People have known for years poor scheduling rigs the playoff races.

The popular understanding, though, seems to stop halfway. No one ever applies that 2010 knowledge retroactively, like the characters in Hot Tub Time Machine. It doesn't take Keith Olbermann — although it was gratifying he tweeted it — to know the Jays and Baltimore Orioles need a balanced schedule, or realignment, as Paul Beeston has lobbied for. Some AL East widowers would tack on, "And a salary cap," although that sidetracks the argument.

The reality between the Jays then and now is not so polarized. The difference between the winnin' times in the 1980s and early '90s and also-ran Aughties are less than some might think. It's provable.

To hear people who only pay casual attention to baseball tell it, from 1985 to '93 Toronto simply had awesometacular teams and brilliant management. It is just apologist to point out the scheduling inequities that exist now — what about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays? Never mind Rays owner Stu Sternberg also wants a balanced schedule.

Many are somewhat unaware of how the schedule is different than it was when Toronto had an annual contender, let alone its impact on a a team's record and its general perception. A 20-something sports consumer might be completely in the dark, like Clark Duke was about meeting women in 1986. Two divisions? Seattle and Boston each having to visit each other twice a year? That sounds ... exhausting.

However, examples abound that if the balanced schedule cleared a path for the Jays' success. Toronto's first playoff team in 1985 fared better vs. the AL West (55-29, .611 winning percentage) than it did vs. the East (44-33, .571). Manager Bobby Cox's boys took full advantage of having a near-equal opportunity to beat up on the bad clubs on each side, going 37-13 vs. the sixth- and seventh-place teams.

Or take 1989. The Jays won the division with a garden-variety 89-73 record. They went under .500 except when they got to beat on the two cellar dwellars, Detroit (11-2) and Chicago (11-1), graced by starting shortstop Ozzie Guillen on-basing a whole .270.

Perhaps lack of confidence stemming from not having the sabermetric chops to do it right, or worrying about not having the influence to make people listen inhibited writing about this in 2008. It kind of lay there dormant. Last week, though, Jonah Keri and Jeff Passan got into a little parry and thrust about the long-term outlook for those aforementioned Tampa Bay Rays.

Passan wrote a column about the Rays' pending loss of heart-and-soul leftfielder Carl Crawford that was pessimistic in outlook. Keri, who is writing a highly anticipated book about the inner workings of the Rays, was more pragmatic.

Keri touched on the realignment question, which one need not point out has been a hot topic since "floating realignment" was put forth as a trial balloon in a Sports Illustrated column.
"Why can't baseball get rid of its unbalanced schedule? Does it help MLB and its teams to have 18 games played between division rivals? Has anyone ever examined all the implications — on-field and off- — of this set-up? I’m not even necessarily advocating for it (we all love to see the Yankees and Red Sox spend 5 hours a night bludgeoning each other to death, 18 times a year, after all), I’m just asking."
It seemed like a fun exercise to try to retro-fit some the Jays' recent records into a balanced-schedule format, and guesstimate how some of their great teams would have fared with the unbalanced sked. Some problems creeped up, of course:
  • It's not so simple as sorting teams into their current or former divisions. For instance, in 1992, the Jays could have used 18 games against the Yankees. They went 11-2 against them. The Red Sox finished last.

    In '89, the Kansas City Royals had the second-best record in the league. That sort of shoots down the idea of floating realignment, or realignment based on revenue. No one can know who will be good in 10 or 15 years.

  • Won-loss records alone don't prove where a team ranks. Pythagorean W-L (run differential, essentially) is part of casual conversation. Next time you encounter a Jays fan, ask her/him which team had the best run differential in club history.

    Chances are, the answer would be one of the World Series teams, or the '85 club. It was actually the 1987 team which lost the pennant to the Detroit Tigers on the final day of the season. You could look it up.

  • Lack of math smarts. Someone much, much smarter would have to figure out how to control for how scheduling affects won-loss records and run differential, then rank teams. (In other words, don't read too much into the conclusions.)

  • No interleague data. There is no way of knowing how the late '80s and early '90s Jays teams would have handled interleague play. The fact the '92-93 teams each won the World Series in six games (small sample size! small sample size!) doesn't mean each would have gone 12-6 in interleague play.

    The Jays are an all-time 108-121 in interleague play. That .472 winning percentage works out to 8½ wins per 18 annual interleague games.
One half-assed way of going about it is to rank the Jays' opponents 1-13, making some adjustments based on run differential. For instance, in 1985, the Red Sox finished fifth in the East with an 81-81 record, but had the league's third-best run differential. (In hindsight, that makes their 1986 pennant seem lot less improbable that it was made out to be at the time.)

This is full-on admittedly simplistic, but the method is to take the 2008 team's record against each opponent and pro-rate each based on the earlier team's schedule. (For argument's sake, let's apply that 8½ interleague wins per season when modernizing an '85-93 team's record.)

Conversely, you can put the '85 or '92 Jays into the context of 2008, when Toronto played 63 games against the top four teams in the league, 11-15 more than they would have with a balanced schedule.

In '08, the AL was grouped thusly:
East: 2, 3, 4, 12;
Central: 5, 6, 7, 10, 11;
West: 1, 8, 9, 13
In 2008, the Jays won three of nine games against the league's top team, the L.A. Angels, and seven out of 18 against the second-best, Tampa Bay. In 1992, they placed 12 games apiece against the Nos. 1 and 2 teams, the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins. So the 2008 team gets half-ass pro-rated to four wins in 12 tries against the Angels, 4.666666 in 12 vs. Tampa Bay, and on down the line.

Conversely, that '92 team which went 5-8 against the Milwaukee Brewers would play them 18 times. It's all spread-sheeted, but here are a few of the results:
'08 Jays, with the '92 schedule: 91.09 wins (actual wins: 86)
'92 Jays, with the '08 schedule: 91.66 wins (actual wins: 96)

'08, with '89 schedule: 90.56 (actual: 86)
'89, with '08 schedule: 87.5 (actual: 89)

'85, with '08 schedule: 92.6 (actual: 99, in 161 games)
'08, with '85 schedule: 91.27 (actual: 86)

'08, with '91 schedule: 91.43 (actual: 86)
'91, with '08 schedule: 85.8 (actual: 91)
The 2008 team ends up with 90.1 wins when teams are simply put back into two divisions. (By the same method, the 2006 club had 87.6, not far off its actual total. They'd still have to bust ass to earn it, the way it should be.)

By no means is this a claim any recent Jays club was as good as the fondly remembered teams which went to the playoffs and World Series. The point is to show how much the unbalanced schedule has messed with our heads. The first-place 1991 Jays and fourth-place '08 Jays practically end up trading records.

With the old balanced schedule and no interleague play, the '08 club would have at least had a puncher's chance at winning 90 games, having one of the top four records in the league, and being in a playoff race.

In most seasons, the AL has four 90-win teams.

That shows why MLB should go back to two divisions in each league, with two wild-card teams. It would increase the chances of the four best in the league making the playoffs and prevent the deck from being stacked against teams due to geography.

What's so wrong with that idea? (Better yet, get rid of the divisions in each league and have the top four teams advance to the playoffs, the same way the top four finishers in the English Premier League play in the Champions League the following season.)

No one could say with certainty how this would affect the Jays off and on the field, but one can imagine there would not be this hard crust of cynicism like the one that has formed around the franchise.

Perhaps they would even have enough momentum at the corporate level to justify building a real ballpark, like the new one in Minnesota, or the ones in northern cities such as Milwaukee and Seattle, whose teams have never won one World Series, let alone two. At the very least, FAN 590 callers would be able to "unbind their panties" (Mike Wilner, FAN 590) when there is an early-season crowd of 10,000.

(About that: It was the first two nights of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Toronto Raptors had a must-win game the first night, Toronto FC had its home opener the second night, and have you noticed what happened to the global economy? The Jays aren't going the way of the Expos, since there is nowhere to go. Relocating the Oakland Athletics is more of a priority for MLB.)

Perhaps this is getting into Ken Dryden territory, where the golden age of sport is whatever it was like when you were 12 years old. However, following the Jays came about thanks to their proximity to Kingston, and their success in those days. Watching the franchise try to push the boulder up the mountain has taken that away.

Going back to the old schedule would not address revenue disparities. It would remain a related issue. Through all of this, there is an awareness baseball's excessive focus on big-market teams has not hurt its equity. It has gone from a $1-billion-per-year industry in the early 1990s to about $7 billion. Small wonder it can abide having about a third of its franchises busted down to being an outlet mall. You grimly walk in to Rogers Centre, get what you need (a baseball fix) and file out without being repaired emotionally or spiritually.

(As an aside, in all those then-and-now Blue Jays comparisons the media likes to make, no one seems to acknowledge how much the business of baseball has changed. The Jays' success coincided with a period when the Red Sox and Yankees each had ineffectual management, the former thanks to the wrangling over the Yawkey Trust and the latter due to George Steinbrenner was batshit insane.)

However, the Yankees and Red Sox could pass the division title and the first wild-card berth back and forth for the next 40 years for all I care, so long as it was possible to have three AL East teams make the playoffs.

Eliminating that unnecessary third division leaves a playoff berth that would still be there for the Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and yes, the Tampa Bay Rays. Beyond that, post-season baseball is a crapshoot. A short series in any sport offers a chance for a team make up for inequities in revenue or scheduling, à la the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers eliminating the No. 1 seed Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2006.

Until that happens, Toronto is deprived of having real baseball. Continuing to follow it makes me a total hypocrite.

Please do not judge. Resenting a professional sports league yet still obsessing over it is what a simple kind of man must do to trick people into thinking he's "so motherfucking complex it's ridiculous." (Assist to fellow redheaded Kingtonian Jay Pinkerton.) Plus following a ballclub day in, day out, helps frame in that little world one lives in when he's too scared to change.

Obviously, no one gets to stay in the same world they knew when they were younger. Hopefully this shows why it's hard to believe in the Jays until they get to rockin' the same schedule they had when leg warmers, cassette players, George Bell's Jheri curl and V-neck jersey were popular.

A trip back to 1986 scheduling-wise might restore hope, just like it did for the guys in Hot Tub Time Machine.

Please excuse the forced reference to a popular movie. It just seemed like the best way to let Joe Cowley to know that Canada finally got its first movie theatre.

26 comments:

Robert C. said...

Numbers, percentages, schedules. That made my head hurt. :)

Rogers owning them doesn't help these days with their strange decisions.

i.e. Rogers: "Roy is gone, we're not going to be a contender, how about raising ticket prices even for the cheap seats? That will help attendance, right?."

Not long until they have a game drop below 10,000. It's coming sooner than later.

Tim in London said...

Neate,

Your Ken Dryden reference was perfect. I want you to know that since I was born in 1967 I don't have time to read this post, let alone write one like it! Open invite to a Knights game next year still, well, open.

Superfun happy slide said...

This was the best, most impassioned, plea for redefining the American League East business plan I have read; a great column. I visited Rogers Center yesterday and although I love to soak in the atmosphere of ball parks--every one is different for a whole host of reasons--I was left with a distinctly Expos-death march taste in my mouth. I'll admit I'm a Yankee fan now but it wasn't too long ago that the Jays were the ones to make the league shudder; that feeling is so long gone that the youthful fan of today doesn't even get what winning felt like. People say that Fenway, prior to '04, had an angry undertone to its gatherings. I think I felt that vibe on Saturday.

Mike Radoslav said...

I hated math class with a passion, that took me back there for a second...that was a great write up, excellent work Naete!

I agree the schedule needs to be reworked and balanced, but I personally believe there needs to be more playoff teams as well. Balance the schedule and expand the playoffs. There's a reason why the Jays as of late, even when doing well, don't draw huge crowds - nobody expects them to make the playoffs anymore, ever!

Expand to at least 6 if not 8 teams, yeah you could say it dilutes the playoffs with too many teams but I've always felt there's too few teams made it through to the playoffs.

Whether it goes back to 2 divisions or stays as three that's my vote on improving baseball anyhow: balance schedule, expand playoffs. Watch the magic ensue!

sager said...

Spoken like a football fan, Mike. :^)

Eight teams is fine. One hundred fifty, 160 games is enough to know who deserves a shot at the World Serious.

I just get sick and tired of this false notion put forth in Toronto that's playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. Until the mid-1990s you could have a successful season without making the playoffs.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Good stuff, Neate. I like the idea of returning to a more balanced schedule. The current system doesn't work well from a competitive standpoint and I also find it less interesting as a fan; I'd rather see matchups against teams we don't see all the time.

Anonymous said...

Neate...while I appreciate your enthusiam for the grand old game and a host of other issues, I'm wondering why not a word has crossed this site about the arrival of the Ottawa Fat Cats of the Intercounty Baseball League. Surely the arrival of yet another incarnation of the Boys of Summer for the Coventry Road facility is worth a mention or two on OOLF.

sager said...

I believe I added "why you ignore buffoons."

sager said...

To address your question seriously, there's reason to be dubious of how well this team will be received, plus it doesn't have a single player signed. What's there to post about?

Rob Pettapiece said...

Joe Cowley still has a job. Huh. (Interviewing Alex Rios about how bad Toronto is, now that's stellar. Rios is such a wise, informed young man.)

The Jays were easily a playoff-type team in 2008; they might have been the best team in baseball behind Boston and the Bay Rays. If the goal of the playoffs is to bring the best eight teams together for a championship, then yes, let's fix this. (The Dodgers that year were, oh, maybe 16th-best. There were probably seven AL teams who deserved the playoffs more.)

About that: It was the first two nights of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Toronto Raptors had a must-win game the first night, Toronto FC had its home opener the second night, and have you noticed what happened to the global economy?

Saturday's game was more of the same (I was there too), and I suspect many games will see such poor attendance regardless of whether Toronto FC is playing. (Really? Toronto FC? They affect Blue Jays' attendance now?) This team is not good, full stop. 17,187 for Saturday is absolutely unbelievable. However, it's not Expos-bad just yet: the Expos' games near the end were empty. Like, nobody-sitting-between-the-foul-pole-and-straightaway-centre empty.

(Also: if you want to shift your math from half-assed to three-quarters-assed, e-mail me.)

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I guess I thought you were less of a snob than you appear to be.

Strangely, I thought the purpose of this blog was to address issues of interest and provide your readers with an opportunity to offer feedback. If you have reason to believe that the team will be dubiously received, perhaps that would make a worthwhile subject for a column. I'm certainly unaware of any commentary in Ottawa media dealing with this issue. What do you know that the rest of us don't?

sager said...

@7:32 & 9:23 ... At least we know the Fat Cats have one fan.

With regard to the Fat Cats, charging $850 for a fantasy camp? Is that what you want me to post on?

Anonymous said...

Screw inter league play.
Nobody really wants it, except maybe NY and Chicago.
Or Bud Selig, who took inter league play to
the nth extreme by having his Brewers switch leagues.
Most teams have no "natural" rivalries in the other league.
What it does is just louse up the league schedules for the NL and AL
Reduce the number of divisional games...familiarity breeds slumber.

Anonymous said...

"With regard to the Fat Cats, charging $850 for a fantasy camp? Is that what you want me to post on?"

If that's what turns your crank, then so be it...

LynxFan said...

Given their stumbles out of the gate (ed: Just how many times did Bob Monnette have to pull their a$$ out of the fire? How many extensions were granted by City Hall? Has Oshawa sued them yet for breaking a purchase agreement?), the less said about the Fat Cats the better.

Charging the highest ticket prices in the league and imposing a punitive pricing structure for parking ($6 if you have the temerity to come to a game by yourself) serves only to underscore a) just how much they've overvalued this level of baseball, b) how little they know about baseball fans in Ottawa, or c) that they think they can get away with gouging (see also the $850 fantasy camp).

None of which are good.

Anonymous said...

Lynxfan
There is no proof there was a purchase agreement.Oshawa did say there was a deal in place they did not say anything about a contract they did say there were emails.The league and owner said there was no such email or deal in place.As for the fat cats to be honest there doing things the right way free ticket for miltary free tickets to grand parents etc you aslo get a free bus ticket included.Aslo the logic that the less is said about the cats is better is false.If there is not a team in the stadium this summer it will be torn down aslo harms the landsdown live getting approved.

LynxFan said...

Well, I guess that Oshawa is just making all of this up then!

The bus ticket idea failed miserably for the Rapidz, most nights they were less than 1/4 full - it's not an incentive for most fans. Other teams have similar free ticket promotions, yet still only charge around $5 for their base adult ticket. That's the reality of Intercounty baseball - it's what the market will pay.

Since the City has gone out of its way to stress that the Stadium should be available for community use, I think it's a mistake to tie its future to the success or failure of this -cough- professional team.

Anonymous said...

LYnxfan
NO i don't think there making it up i think some media has been twisting things around a bit.Yes most teams have a base $5 very few give away free tickets to grand parents etc.As for the rapids you can't look at the can-am league and say wow it was only 1/4 full and assume that is awful.The fact is the rapids for the level of play did very well attendance wise teams at that level don't get massive crowds the best supported team in the can-am league was 3500 the rpaids avg 2600.Again you can't look at the size of the stadium and assume not matter the level of play they should sell out eveyr game that is not logical.

Leaker19 said...

This is the usual, woe is me bullshit the Jays and media have been spewing for years. There ain’t no scheduling gimmick that is gonna lead the Jays to the Promised Land. The truth is, the Jays have been mismanaged for the last 15 years. Toronto needs better players, better managers and better talent evaluators. Maybe this is happening now, maybe not, but until Toronto becomes organizationally stronger it doesn’t matter who they play, how often or where.

Two myths haunt this club. One is that TO is a small market. This is a lie that has been repeated so many times it becomes the truth. GTA has about 5.5 million people plus or minus? That’s twice as big as St. Louis, I never hear the Cardinals complain about being a small market team and Busch Stadium is full like a Hong Kong subway car. When Toronto did the double in ’92 and ’93, I never once heard any rejoicing that a small market club could push through and take it all. In fact, Toronto was top dog in MLB payrolls those two years. It’s time to drop the small market crutch. Toronto has failed because it hasn’t been good enough in 17 or 18 years.

The second myth is that Toronto cannot compete in the A.L. East. Tampa Bay killed this one in 2008 and is strangling it again this year, yet it persists. The Rays are doing this in spite of the fact it is a small market club. If you get the horses and the leadership, you can compete in any division or league.

sager said...

Leaker19,

Explain why the Rays owner has publicly stated he wants a balanced schedule. They've had this setup for about a decade, and in 8 of those seasons it was Boston or New York in the 1-2 slots.

At no point was this ever apologist for the Jays management. They haven't been great, just good, which is no good when the way the cards are dealt require you to be genius.

If anything, it pointed out how stacked the deck will be when they have a competitive team.

They had one in '08 and the most it could squeeze out was 86 wins, which would have been 90 or 91 in another context, and could have put them in the playoffs.

Thanks for leaving an actually on-topic comment (see above).

sager said...

@6:43, 10:54

This is not a post about your little league team. There is another spot on this site you can tell us how why, as one letter writer put it, "The price to watch the Ottawa Fat Cats games is, however, $12; for double headers, it's $18," when, "For the record, one can go to the Rogers Centre and sit in the 500 section to watch Major League Baseball, even against the vaunted Yankees or Red Sox, for $11."

And are you flying in Michael Richards to insult each camper's ethnic heritage at your $850 one-day fantasy camp?

Don't disappoint us. Did into your Sarah Palin how-to-handle-haters handbook and amaze us.

sager said...

@6:43 & 10:54: This is not a post about your little league team. There is another one on the site.

Lynxfan said...

By 1/4 full, I was referring to the buses, not the stands.

Leaker19 said...

Mr. Sternberg is probably afflicted with the same psychosis as the rest of the A.L. East dooms dayers. I don't blame the afflicted, when you get the message from every media source, print, satellite & terrestrial radio, network & cable television, blogs, you would have to be deluded or a fool not to know the TRUTH of Boston and New York invincibility. As I sit here I'm not sure if I'm a fool or deluded. A good mix of both I would wager, but I'm not taking it anymore. I have swallowed the red pill.

The only built in advantage the Yankees and Sox have is the competition's belief in their hegemony. But Leaker19, you're mad! What about all that money? It's true these two clubs have a poop-pot full of money to spend and money does make things easier, but it is no guarantor of championships, they don’t win every year. Really, once you get above a certain payroll, I'm sure the surplus just produces a diminishing return. Money just provides another built in excuse so the also rans may shrug their shoulders and say what can we do, they have all the money? MLB makes about 7 or 8 billion per year, I believe no matter what they say publicly most clubs are doing just fine and are quite happy with the status quo. They are glad to pull there pockets inside out and blame Boston and New York for their own failures.

I don’t believe you’re an apologist for Jay’s ownership and management. I only dropped in on Tao’s recommendation. I’m just a voice in the wilderness yelling the Emperors have no clothes.
Regarding attendance, the GTA has about 5.5 million or so plus another maybe million nearby in the Buffalo-Niagara region. I have always thought it odd that with that many people around 50 thousand or so wouldn’t want to see a ball game every night. People that are closer than me, what is it? From a distance, I blame the Skydump. Toronto built a one-off and the rest of the MLB cities said, you know, this space age stuff is nice, but we’re gonna go in a different direction. After Skydump, stadium design thankfully went in a different, better direction. Toronto was visionary in its news digs, but the vision failed to catch on, and who knows if Toronto will ever get another shot at getting it right.

sager said...

Your points are mostly valid, although Sternberg being afflicted with some psychosis is a bit much ... The Rays are not exactly an inert franchise; it's one of the smartest in the game and they probably have people telling Sternberg to push for realignment.

It's also important to realize not all revenue is spent on payroll ... there are bonus for international players, having more scouts, a few more number-crunchers and going over slot for a draft pick (read the story in Sports Illustrated on how the Atlanta Braves got Jason Heyward as the 14th overall pick in 2007).

On the stadium issue, I agree. The really really long-term view is that Toronto screwed up in the 1960s when it dithered about building a dome to try and land a MLB team. (Torontoist did a big write-up on this last year.)

Imagine if they had. By 1995 or so, they would have been ready to tear the sucker down and build us a bandbox -- or the cable box.

Rob Pettapiece said...

People that are closer than me, what is it? From a distance, I blame the Skydump. Toronto built a one-off and the rest of the MLB cities said, you know, this space age stuff is nice, but we’re gonna go in a different direction.

Nah. The stadium is an excuse, but isn't the issue; on nice days with the roof open, it's a great ballpark, and the turf doesn't suck nearly as much as it did last year. Roof closed, yeah, it's bad, but they're getting better about opening it even on less-than-perfect days.

The issue is the team. It kind of sucks, one reason being that they do not have very good players. And you have Classic Cito in the dugout, Norville Barnes in the GM's seat, and At Least I'm Not Paul Godfrey as president-slash-yesterday's man. Super management there, team.