Thursday, August 24, 2017

Slant Pattern Mailbag

By Kevin Beane

It's time again for a Slant Pattern mailbag. As usual, I don't receive any actual reader mail, so I will instead poach ... wait, what's this now? I do have a letter? Well, let's get to it!

Johnny Esfeller, the Media Relations Manager of IMG Academy, took exception to me writing that IMG Academy is "run by agents" in my column about Daniel Faalele. He writes:

Saying that our Academy is run by agents is incorrect. If Kevin wanted to say, "...a high school owned by sports management company IMG.." that would be an accurate statement. But asserting "agents run" anything not only doesn't make sense, it's incorrect on myriad levels. And though I concede it sounds nicer, it is also not a 'non-profit.'

There are some other statements made in the story that are largely opinion, but I would be happy to provide additional context/background for Kevin, or yourself, to better inform those aspects of the story (i.e. 'plucking' kids from other countries is a misrepresentation). We're pretty accustomed to misunderstandings and misconceptions, but I am happy to get on a call and talk through it a bit. However, in the short term, that highlighted line needs to be corrected.

My editor duly changed the verbiage in that column to "sports management company" and took out "run by agents," but I don't think anyone reading the original thought it meant Drew Rosenhaus is the principal and Leigh Steinberg teaches history there (and before you write again, let me clarify: Drew Rosenhaus and Leigh Steinberg, while famous agents, are not employed by IMG to the best of my knowledge).

What I meant by "run by agents," and what I think is clear to any reader not employed to burnish IMG's image, is this: IMG is a talent agent company. They have agents that represent athletes (actors and whatnot too, I know). That's their primary raison d'etre.

In terms of branching out their business, IMG didn't start manufacturing peanut butter or repurposing truck tires. Instead, they opened up a "sports academy."

I'm pretty sure/hope IMG Academy is on the up-and-up and does everything they can above board. But it's probably not a coincidence that IMG opened up a sports high school instead of that peanut butter plant.

While I assume IMG Academy student-athletes are not compelled or hopefully even pressured to sign with IMG agents when they turn pro, you've opened up a bells-and-whistles boarding school for elite athletes which gives you a few years to make your case, however indirectly, to these kids. I doubt that's just a happy accident.

I further understand your objection to the word "plucked" and again, I'll emphasize that I don't think you are threatening or coercing anyone to attend IMG Academy. Once again, I don't think any reader would infer that.

You're right that my piece was largely opinion. This is an opinion column. I'm sure you have responses to this response, but I'm not interested in a protracted debate with you. Feel free to reprint this column on the IMG Academy website with a point-by-point takedown if you feel the need; you have far more resources than we do, I'm sure.

* * *

A Twitter user with the handle @Expression451 asks this of a Twins blogger at Twins Daily: Who should replace Molitor?

I normally make a point of not even looking at the "real" intended answerer's reply, but in this case I did, and he (Ted Schwerzler) agrees with the @Expressions451 that Molitor's departure is a foregone conclusion.

This, despite the fact that this team, widely predicted to be one of the worst teams in the AL, would be in the wild card game if the season ended as of this writing. Their run differential, -35, suggests they are lucky to be there, but this is an upper-half AL teams, wildly exceeding expectations.

When you're performing as far above your run differential as the Twins have, that usually suggests solid managing that knows how to eke out wins, although Schwerzler assures us that the Twins are winning in spite of Molitor. I guess with a good manager, they'd be up there with the Dodgers.

All this to say, sorry guys, but Molitor is definitely not getting axed in the offseason. But since that's not the question you asked and since you're fantasizing, my answer is: Joe Maddon, of course.

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