Chuck Tanner said the best thing you can have as a manager is patience and the second thing you can have is patience. That's probably the third thing, too.
I was listening to the Dire Straits song Industrial Disease today. I mean really listening. And I thought about Ken Macha's quote. If there is such a thing as Industrial Disease, I think it's just that: impatience.
When the weather turns cold, people start wanting to chop down trees to add fuel to the fire. Free Daric Barton?
I think the idea is silly. The A's have been cold, but they're still tied for a playoff spot. The A's can still make the playoffs without him, and it's not clear that bringing him up will help those odds. He will need time to struggle and adjust; if those struggles and adjustments happen during crucial games in September, how is that helping? At this point, I think it's just as likely that Bobby Kielty or Nick Swisher will get hot and carry the team to the playoffs as it is that Daric Barton will.
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We're impatient. We don't trust our own processes to yield the right results in the long run, so we sacrifice long-term results for short-term ones. This often backfires on us; it doesn't produce the immediate results we expect; we end up paying a much higher price now than we would later, when our superior processes have had time to work their magic.
If you don't trust that democracy and free markets will win over dictatorships in the long run, you rush off to eliminate them in the short run, when the enemy isn't ripe for defeat.
If you don't trust that your current team can make the playoffs today, you rush a prospect who may not be ready to help you win a pennant. Then when he finally is ready, you find he's eligible for arbitration, and much more expensive.
I find myself in the same boat here at the Toaster. I sometimes find myself thinking: Don't let others beat you to the punch! Go add some more writers! Start adding those cool features to the web site!
But then I stop myself. Remember to trust the process, trust the plan; when the software is scalable, then we can proceed, and it will all work itself out. Don't rush it.
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Whitey Herzog said a manager should have a good sense of humor and a good bullpen.
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On that note, this test will measure your type of humor. (It won't tell you if you are, in fact, funny.) My result:
Humor style: CLEAN | COMPLEX | DARK
You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.
I haven't found an equivalent test for bullpen styles. Let me know if you find one.
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Do my test results mean I shouldn't go see The Aristocrats, a documentary about how different comics tell the same dirty joke? Until I took that test and found out I don't like 'gross-out' humor, I was dying to see that the film.
I love this description of the movie from Paul Provenza, the film's director:
"The setup is easy. The punch line is always the same. But the middle section...well, that's why THIS is the joke. It's a blank canvas. Anyone can do whatever they want with it and that's where it gets really interesting.
This filthy old joke is the comedy equivalent of jazz. It's raunchy; it's free of constraints, yet it has a simple 'melody' to hold onto. It's about where you take it, not where it's going."
I've been not blogging about the A's here for over five months now, and Provenza's description of the joke describes how I've come to feel about doing this blog. The melodies are all the same: you win, you lose, you're on a winning streak, you're on a losing streak, somebody's hot, somebody's cold, somebody's great, somebody sucks, the stats show this, the stats show that...we all know them by heart.
Those are the melodies of the baseball season; the setup lines and the punch lines are the structure of the stories we're telling. Playing those songs straight quickly becomes boring. Riffing off the melodies: that's more interesting to me.
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I haven't seen the Aristocrats, but I did go to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory today with my family. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to.
The people I talked to about it had all said it was very faithful to the book, but there are some significant changes to the story, and surprisingly, I actually think they make the story better.
Warning: Spoilers may follow:
One change I like is to make Mike Teevee not just a brain-dead TV zombie, but a computer-game technogeek. It makes the tension between Teevee and Wonka palpable. Teevee becomes a utilitarian skeptic, unable to see the point of Wonka's artistry. In return, Wonka can't, or won't, listen to anything Teevee says. Art can't be explained in the language of science; it makes no sense. "Stop mumbling!" Wonka says anytime Teevee opens his mouth.
(This is not unlike the statheads vs. Joe Morgan conversations: neither side makes any sense at all to the other.)
The biggest change, however, is that Willy Wonka gets a backstory. We learn why he is so eccentric, and why he came to be such a genius at making candy.
This has a couple of positive effects:
It allows for some interesting commentary on the nature of creativity. What is required for creative genius? Passion? Freedom? Love?
It makes the relationship between Charlie and Willy more reciprocal. In the book and the first movie based on the book, Willy gives Charlie something valuable, and Charlie is simply lucky and grateful to receive it.
In this film, Charlie ends up giving Willy something just as valuable as Willy gives Charlie. In this way, it's similar to Star Wars, where the child ends up redeeming the adult. It's a far more emotionally powerful and satisfying conclusion.
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The ending is different, but the moral is the same. Impatience is the disease of our high-tech age. All the kids who sought instant gratification in the chocolate factory ended up suffering the consequences. The one kid who held onto the old-fashioned values, who truly believed and trusted in them enough to wait for them to pay off, ended up owning the whole factory.