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Brogna On Baseball: MLB Needs To Take Cues From NFL

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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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By Rico Brogna
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There is a chain-of-command in the structure of the corporate business world. Companies may have a different method; a different means of showing what their chain looks like, but each business has some sort of order that almost always stretches vertically. The eventually landing in the owner’s chair … or as we say, “the boss’ boss.”

Baseball teams (big businesses) are not any different than businesses in the corporate world. In fact, due to the gigantic economic income streams (baseball is a BILLION dollar industry) within MLB, each team must rely on capable, strong leadership structure to make their company (team) not only extremely profitable, but a winning program as well.

The normal economic sports world profit comes from “the more you win, the more you make” principal. This is slightly true in MLB. There are however probably more “near the ballpark” business that profit at a higher percentage (not intake amount) due to the team’s on the field successes. Entities such as nearby restaurants, bars, clothing stores, museums, etc. make a huge rate of profit when a big league team is winning. Ok, Wrigleyville in Chicago does well even when the Cubbies are not in the pennant race. Chicago is a special and unique place, it is an AWESOME CITY, very loyal to their Cubbies and I love that!

Now back to the story: This equal distribution business method is due to what the MLB Basic Agreement calls revenue sharing. Television, Internet profits, merchandise, and other streams of MLB revenue, make for an umbrella profit that covers the entire landscape of MLB. In other words, think of MLB and their Central Office as one team and all of the MLB teams branches of that one business. Easy right?

Still, each team, despite being a large piece of the pie in the MLB corporate structure, has to have order. There must be organized structure within a business, or a chain-of-command, which allows that particular branch of a company (team) to flow. This chain-of-command flow has directions. Most often the direction is either up & down. There are some horizontal communication lines within most companies and businesses but mostly the lines of communication stretch vertically.

This leads to my main point and my main opinion on the matter: Leadership comes in many forms. We have all been to the Barnes & Nobles or our local public/school library section that has miles of “how to” books and literature written on the broad subject leadership. Everybody has an opinion on this theme. Some of them are good and some of them not so good, but there are oh so many opinions on how to do it. If each MLB team is one branch of a one large company (MLB), which it is, each branch must put into action a corporate business flow through an orderly business structure (i.e., the chain-of-command). I have experienced baseball’s chain-of-command on many different levels because I have been a major league player, a minor league player, a pro scout, a minor league field manager, and I’ve also been a front office baseball operations person (most recent). Having been in these unique positions to see baseball’s structure and top-down leadership from all of these different angles, it’s given me clear perspective on things should operate.

It’s crazy for me to say it’s all wrong because MLB makes more money that than anyone can possibly imagine, but generally speaking, yes, they chain-of-command within most of the branches (teams), if not all, is done incorrectly. Now please understand, MLB is set up the way it is to make money, big money. So from that perspective, baseball has it correct, no doubt! However, from a competitive angle looking from on the field view (which would eventually lend a hand in the overall wealth of the industry), baseball should take a committed look at the NFL or football in general and how they operate.

Football has their head coach run things. Just about every critical decision is made by or at least run by the head coach. The owner of a club gives the head coach the power to lead the entire organization because the head coach knows in his mind what he is after. The head coach should have a short-term and long-term vision/plan for the team and their franchise. Bill Belichick is the perfect example of how an organization should operate. Bill uses a foundation once established by the best ever, Paul Brown. Bill is a close second, believe you me. But if if was not for Mr. Brown, the current NFL structure in many capacities would not be what it is. By having one person leading the charge there is harmony throughout their community. Ahhhhh, what god leadership can produce. BB even writes out job descriptions for every person in his charge and he asks that all of their employees, players and coaches included, to just “DO THEIR JOB.” It’s an intelligent and efficient way to do things, believe me, it works!

In baseball, there are too many levels of leadership that always seems to lead to a breakdown at some point. People within an organization do not always know what their jobs are and therefore under perform or they step on other people’s toes because they try to do too much. Again, leadership is the key! If at the end of the day the team is struggling mightily and the vision is not taking hold after a period of time (often too well too short nowadays), the team’s owner may decide to make a change at the head coaching position. General managers, one’s that really do a dynamic and super job, understand that the head coach, or field manager in MLB, has the pulse of what needs to be done and how to execute the entire operation.

One may ask, how will an MLB team’s field manager know who to draft, when to draft him and all the like. There are many areas of operation outside of the manager’s arena that he cannot see every day. This again to me is very easy to answer, simple in fact. Allow the manager to lead, design, develop and ultimately execute his overall business plan. If the person being interviewed for a field managerial position does not have this type of overall plan and scheme to work this method, than don’t hire him. If a person is given a description of what the company (team) is looking for in a field manager and/or leader, they should most certainly come to the dance prepared. Or they don’t land the gig, right? C’mon man! Get some knowledge here!!

There are many ways to drive this blog’s theme. I intend on coming back to this here in the near future. It’s an intriguing topic, one that Yankees and Mets fans will most definitely identify with. I will dive in to some examples of MLB’s incorrect business structure. MLB makes plenty of coin and they understand at many levels how to operate on that end. Ok, I GET THAT. I am speaking from a competitive point of view. One that the baseball fan wants to hear about and read about. The angle here is from an eye on the field.

Rico Brogna

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