Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Lack or Loss of Maturity

One of the top ten all-time water-cooler discussions that I ever got into....occurred around 1998.  I was still in the Air Force and had some NCO visit from another base, and we were sitting in my office where he was explaining problem X, Y and Z with a particular airman that was in his office.

In roughly six months, this young airman (probably in the age range of 19 to 20) had arrived and gotten himself into twenty-odd issues.  This was a kid who'd been through basic training, done a minimum of five months in some technical training school, and spent a year at some base in the US, before arriving in Germany. 

Everything had to be debated.  The kid felt discipline or standards were intolerable.  The kid couldn't accept directions.  The kid felt the world was against him. A simple job required continual oversight.

The weight of this entire argument was that the maturity level you'd expect out of a nineteen-year-old guy, did not exist.  At best, this was a 12-year-old kid pretending to be an adult. I went over five or six of the points that this guest of mine had brought up, and each readily demonstrated 'kid-like' values.  This was all stuff that you would have left in the fifth-grade, and progressed onto the next three or four levels of life.  Since the kid wasn't improving, my suggestion was to dump him out of the Air Force as quickly as possible.

A couple of days passed by and my guest called and said that he didn't even have a chance to discuss my advice with the Commander....the Commander had already decided to move the kid to discharge-status.  It'd normally take a month or two to achieve this type of event.  The Commander had the paperwork finished by the end of the 4th duty day, and the kid was put on a plane back to the US by the fifth day of decision. 

I've often wondered what happened to the kid after that. He'd be approaching forty years old by this point.  He's probably stocking shelves at some grocery, or cutting grass for the local city parks department.

Over the past two or three years, I've approached the attitude that there are a heck of a lot of 12-year-old kids now pretending to be older teens, college-level kids, and even adults themselves.  I'd hate to assess the number but it's probably near ten-percent of the US population now that are immature and unable to act as adults.

They've lost respect.  They've lost dignity.  They've lost courtesy. 

Some are affected by legit drug usage.  Some are affected by just bad behavior.  Some want to impress you with their fifth-grade logic.  Some want to cite logic, while using illogic.  Some want to challenge your respect by denying you any respect.  And some are some great crusade for social justice....mostly heading in the opposite way, and away from actual social justice.

It's not a good society versus bad society thing.  It's just that theses kids never grew up and they've still got the fifth-grade view of life.  There are so many of them, that you have to interact with them at least a couple of times each week.  In fact, you might have been stupid enough at some point to actually marry one of them...waking up now to realize Wanda or Micky (your spouse) is obviously a fifth-grade mentality and it's just about impossible to exit this marriage without a mess.

At some point, in my mind....something has to change.  It's just the question of how you grow the 'kid' into an adult.

Baseball Chat

On rare occasions, I essay on sports, and the business-world that has developed.  So today, it's onto the topic of free-agents and baseball.

In the was forced into accepting the idea of free agency.  It meant you signed a guy for a period of time, and when the contract ended....the guy could leave.  It also meant that you could find several players, to build up a winning a particular cost.

Over the past twenty years in baseball...there's this odd trend that started to get noticed.  Players (and their agents) were pursuing deals where it was a multiple-year situation.  Not just three years, but onto five, or six, or even seven years.  What developed was this problem that after three years....the product level of the player sometimes became marginal....the guy developed an attitude problem...and the team was trying to give the guy away (thus having to pay another team to take him off your hands).  So you were paying a guy a hefty check, for marginal production, and then paying a second time to get another team to take the loser off your team. 

Anger and frustration occurred on various teams.  Part of the problem goes back to the agents, and the manipulation they used to convince teams to use longer contracts.

So in the past six months....teams across both leagues did this odd thing.  No one says it's a league policy, or that it's a secret philosophy from baseball....but they all started to shy away from free agents. 

If you had a listing as the 2017 season ended of all free agents (players with no contract)....fewer than 25-percent have been signed at this point. For some players, getting into early March, with no contract is now a frightening thing.  The agents are furious, if you follow public commentary.

The business now likely to occur?  By the end of March, I expect about half of the free agents to be signed....but mostly for a one-year or two-year type deal.  Pay escalations?  No....these are guys who will make the same amount as they did last year. 

The remainder? I think they are finished.  These are mostly marginal players over the age of thirty, or three-star-type players approaching their mid-thirties.    I think a number of minor-league players are going to be given a chance to move up and assume roles in the major leagues for 2018.

It's a bold new world.  The real losers here?  Well....the agents.  All of them are going to take pay-cuts for the future.