By:  Holly Horning

Studies done within the communications field show that most people believe they communicate well. But in reality, few actually do. And thus, it’s no surprise the Tigers have been involved in a series of snafus dating back months and triggering a whole avalanche of ill-timed events.

How did this all unravel so quickly? Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The trigger point was the absence of a contract extension for Dave Dombrowski. In his lame duck year, Dave had to know that a complete lack of contract negotiations did not favor his return to the Tigers next year.

So it comes as no surprise that multiple reports suggest Dave was using back-door channels to look for a new job while still employed by the Tigers. While we learned that Dave and Mr. I bumped heads over Brad Ausmus, now there is widespread speculation that Dave’s perceived lack of loyalty was the final straw for Mr. I and resulted in his release.

But could this messy in-season departure have been avoided if these two had discussions about performance and expectations months ago? Did one or both wish to avoid these discussions knowing what unwelcome news could be shared? How could the two of them not know what each other was thinking?

Dave Dombrowski maintained his usual professional public stance in the aftermath, but could the Tigers’ silence on his departure been an equally polite gesture to keep from revealing why they allowed Dave to leave? It could likely be – but unfortunately, the organization took the hit publicly on this one.

Fast forward to Friday when no less than three individuals vied for the “scoop” on the Tigers releasing Ausmus at the end of the year. And this is where it gets truly messy because of the way the info was revealed and how many people it consumed in its aftermath.

It’s not about the information released, or that Brad had to know he would be gone, it’s all about ignoring the channels of proper communication and blindsiding all parties involved. It’s about bypassing expected communication protocols for purposes of gaining notoriety and enhancing careers at the expense of others.

Let’s assume that there is someone within the Tigers organization who leaked the conversation. He or she admitted that they had no authority to give the information, yet did so anyway. From all accounts, this would not have happened under Dave’s watch. And it is typical that when power changes hands, there will always be those who will want to test the new guy.

Sadly, neither the tv reporter, the major newspaper or the independent blogger called either Ausmus or Al Avila before publishing their news. No phone call to give them a head’s up. No phone call to ask for confirmation. No phone call to ask for a rebuttal, clarification or comment. Apparently, for them one-way communication was an acceptable way of doing business.

No matter how one feels about Ausmus, he does not deserve this treatment. Neither does Al Avila or the rest of the Tiger organization. (Save for the leaker, who will hopefully receive his just desserts soon.)

And this is what happens when you have not just poor communication, but a complete lack of it. People are thrust into the uncomfortable limelight. Others are thrown into the wolves’ den with no time to prepare a response. All of them are made to look foolish and guilty when they really had little or nothing to do with the situation.

And ironically, we are seeing the rest of the media swarming all over the Tigers with accusations of unprofessional behavior. The same industry that created this firestorm. They should not be the ones casting this first stone. They should be looking inward.

As fans, we should be incensed that the drive for personal profit has taken priority over proper protocol. That a good man and his family have been embarrassed – and that this same man’s power as manager has essentially been rendered officially ineffective now.

We should also be angry that our team has taken an undeserved hit by the media for an attack by their own kind. An attack with the sole purpose of generating news by demeaning specific employees and an entire organization.

Unfortunately, Al Avila now has to turn his attention away from strengthening this team to issues in-house. Let’s hope he establishes clear patterns of communication as he defines his role.

But in the meantime, will there be anyone within the media who will hold their own accountable when they refuse to participate in acceptable and understood levels of communication?


  1. Could not agree more with you on the point of communication and professionalism. The day it was decided that Ausmus should be let go is the day that he should have been released. Anything other than that invites all this drama. subterfuge, and disloyal back stabbing. May not have been convenient to let both Dave and Ausmus go at the same time, but it was the stand up, professional and morally correct way to handle it.


  2. I have to differ with you on this one, Holly. It’s not the media’s job to worry about hurting people’s feelings or embarrassing anyone. Their role is to report the news. If the report is accurate, they’ve done their job well. If it isn’t accurate, then they’ve embarrassed themselves. We obviously won’t know these things until the season ends.


    • I agree with you. This is the big leagues. There’s common decency, yes, but there’s performance also. Ausmus cannot perform. I personally like Ausmus-but he’s obviously in way over his head. He’s better suited to an executive role than a managerial role.


    • There is a great chance that Brad is going to be fired and that has been said for a long time. Having this so called “informed knowledge” report of the same news come out now is a risk free statement.Too little time before season’s end and rumor becomes fact. No embarrassment, but is still a cheap shot.


  3. Moving on now. The season will play out. More bad and good will come around to draw our attention, I am sure. Personally, I want to focus on the hope of a new management staff and a new season next year. I hope that we return to being a winning ball club in a year or two. As a dedicated fan this is the new reality to me.


  4. What was the motivation of the leaker? Were they trying to send a message to potential applicants for the job, that Ausmus was definitely gone? Or was it just an impulsive act to boost their ego, feel more power, or stir up some mischievous, attention-getting chaos?


  5. I don’t know, Holly. It certainly is irresponsible journalism to run a story without verifying a source. On the other hand, whatever the media outlet, it’s a dog-eat-dog as far as who is going to break something first. That certainly isn’t a defense or excuse. That’s what the reality is.


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