Monday, June 16, 2008

Chatting With Sandy Alderson

Ducksnorts' Geoff Young sat down with Sandy Alderson recently, and Part I of the three-part interview is up now.

It's a wide-ranging interview (and likely will get wider through the next two installments) but in the meantime, this question and answer resonated with me:
Ducksnorts: Between your experience as a first lieutenant in the Marines and also having been an attorney, what were you able to gain from those experiences that you were able to then bring to baseball?

Alderson: As a lawyer, through law school, you’re trained to be analytical, unbiased, more objective. I think that was helpful. And having a legal background, too, you have an understanding of what the contractual issues are and so forth. I think it boils down to just being probably a little more analytical . . .

. . . The other way that the Marine Corps was helpful to me, early in my time in baseball, was for credibility — as odd as that sounds. Without having a background in baseball, people look at you — and you’re a lawyer — and they could have some skepticism about that, but as a former Marine, it’s like — it wasn’t as if I was a former player or someone that had direct association to the game, but it was still something that people respected.

That pretty much sums up my experience with being a lawyer in the world at large. The skill set is actually pretty useful, but you have basically no credibility with anyone outside of the legal profession. Negative credibility in some cases, given the reputation of lawyers, but you're mostly just met with the feeling that you're some oddity whose substantive knowledge about anything is shallow and fleeting. I'm certain that Alderson's legal background is ten times more useful to him as a baseball executive on a day to day basis than his Marine background, but it really doesn't matter. Marines are trustworthy and tough and hardworking, and that's the kind of thing that matters to people.

We lawyers have basically screwed ourselves over the past couple of centuries, using our access, money, power, and gatekeeping traits as our societal calling cards instead of our analytical ones. As a result, no matter how useful legal training and experience can be in any number of fields and pursuits, we're never going to amount to jack in most people's minds.

Nor should we, really, based on our track record.


Pete Toms said...

check the link

Craig Calcaterra said...

Thanks Pete. Fixed now.

Man, that's like 4 brain farts just this morning. I need to go back to bed, wake up again, and start over.

Osmodious said...

I find it sad that people who are analytical and intelligent are looked upon with suspicion. I'm not saying that they have to be fawned over or anything like that, but a little respect would be nice.

When you are paid to be an analyst, and you are an expert on a specific topic, it would be really nice to actually have people listen to you once in a while. It's very frustrating having to defend everything and argue points to 'prove' certain things when you were asked for your opinion in the first place.

Angelos said...

I find it sad that people who are analytical and intelligent are looked upon with suspicion.

I think it's the "lawyer" word more than anything else.