TO: CHRISTOPHER ILITCH
FR: THE DESK OF HOLLY HORNING
Dear Chris Ilitch,
I have been a Tigers fan since I could walk. A fan through the good times as well as the bad. A fan who has always loved my team, sometimes a little too much.
If the problems in performance this year were primarily due to a lack of talent, I would understand. But they’re not – at least for the most part.
There is a disease running rampant through the entire Tigers’ organization and it’s called complacency. Its main symptoms are a lack of leadership, accountability, passion, pride and a sense of urgency. And complacency manifests itself with sloppy, disinterested and unfocused play. It is confirmed by observers who universally state that the team is “underperforming.”
The rate at which we see this has only increased with each new year. And each bad game is sure to generate a myriad of excuses by manager and players with quotes that only get more outrageous and unbelievable with each underwhelming game.
It will not matter one bit how much talent the Tigers have, what they receive in trades or how well their top draft choices do if the corporate culture of the team is not changed. And we’re not just talking about starting at the managerial level. It needs to start at the very top and trickle down through every level.
You see, complacency kills. It is an insidious disease that infects everyone it touches. And it is an epidemic running through the entire team. It hits some players faster than others but eventually most players succumb to it. A couple are immune. Ian Kinsler battles it daily while Cameron Maybin was allowed to escape. And JD Martinez is protected by a contract-year booster shot.
Justin Verlander got hit with the bug this season. Now he regularly exhibits the symptoms known as excusitis and conspiratoritis. James McCann has lost his fiery leadership from his rookie year and now wears the sad, quiet expression of most of his teammates.
Nick (and I mean Nick) Castellanos and Victor Martinez have taken to blaming the fans for what they see. And Miggy is a shell of his former self. Surely you see his sad, unsmiling face and disinterested look at the plate? You must have read the reports that had Al Avila counseling a “devastated” Miggy during the Tigers disaster of a West Coast trip.
Complacency is also the reason we see new players come in and exhibit a discernible higher level of energy, enthusiasm, hunger and play. It is also the same reason that we see them eventually slide downward into zombie territory like the veterans, manager and coaches on this team.
What truly scares me is that this disease will eventually infect Michael Fulmer. You must take immediate steps to prevent this from happening.
Mr. Ilitch, as a very successful businessman, you certainly understand the importance of having the right people who inject the right amount of leadership and energy into an organization. You also understand how a lack of productivity and failure to reach goals costs an organization a significant amount of money.
So you certainly must see how badly your player payroll is being wasted.
The good news is that a change in corporate culture and key personnel can significantly enhance the bottom line. It can be one of the best moves and one of the least expensive investments you can possibly make. And if you don’t believe me, please talk with Theo Epstein who took 2 perennial losers and turned them into World Series champions by changing their corporate cultures.
Unfortunately, my greatest fear about this team failing to achieve the ultimate goal is about to be realized. A team that had one of the greatest collections of pitchers and hitters ever assembled. Next on the list is a handful of great players who may not achieve the stats that are expected of them and may jeopardize their place in history. Two players with a remaining combined salary of over a quarter of a billion dollars.
Imagine how many new employees you can hire for a mere fraction of that.
So forget about the broom. All you need now is a bulldozer – or two.
A Tired, Tearful and Tormented Tigers Fan