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The Astros follow Bill Simmons’ advice

Jan 4, 2012, 9:07 AM EDT

Bill Simmons in 2006:

I’m becoming more and more convinced that every professional sports team needs to hire a Vice President of Common Sense, someone who cracks the inner circle of the decision-making process along with the GM, assistant GM, head scout, head coach, owner and whomever else. One catch: the VP of CS doesn’t attend meetings, scout prospects, watch any film or listen to any inside information or opinions; he lives the life of a common fan. They just bring him in when they’re ready to make a big decision, lay everything out and wait for his unbiased reaction.

The Houston Astros 2012:

The Astros boosted their commitment to a data-driven existence under new general manager Jeff Luhnow and CEO George Postolos with the hiring of Sig Mejdal as the club’s director of decision sciences … “Really someone to oversee the architecture and ongoing operation of all the systems that we’re going to utilize to make better baseball decisions,” Luhnow said.

People who work for the Astros who make bad decisions will now light themselves on fire.

  1. fredthefrogandbobthefish - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    People who make bad decisions for the Astros? Isn’t that everyone who works for them?

  2. Old Gator - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Common sense is ruining baseball. It certainly screwed up Congress.

    • CJ - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      look on the bright side OG, at least common sense won’t be ruining the BBWAA or HOF anytime soon.

    • rooney24 - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      What? How is there any common sense in Congress?

      • Old Gator - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        All those who think Old Gator was just being facetious, blow on your vulvazoolas.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        I don’t think I can do that legally in my state.

    • octopus9498 - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Sorry, but the problem with Congress is they have no common sense.

      • Old Gator - Jan 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        They certainly know on which side their bread is buttered. Ask any lobbyist.

  3. rifaco - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Just hire Keith Law. He could fill that role in his sleep.
    P.S. Did we ever find out if they offered him a job?

    • elmedico27 - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      I imagine the Director of Decision Sciences was hired specifically to prevent the Astros’ front office from doing exactly that.

  4. wlschneider09 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I think we’re looking at an opportunity here gentlemen. WE should be the voice of common sense. We could form a LLC consulting firm: Common Sense Baseball. If teams have a question, they send us a check for $1000 and the question, we discuss it and give them a common sense answer. We’ll also work on retainer.

    Tell me we as a collective unit couldn’t do better than the average front office, MLB offices included.

    • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      I agree, but there’s one problem. His name is “The Common Man”. He’s already got the original position nailed down. I wonder if he’d take us on? Then, together, we’d be “The Common Men”. We’ll have to charge 3rd base line tickets, though. I’m not doing it unless I get tickets.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        You’ve got a point. Let’s ask:

        Hey TCM, do you consider yourself a trademark? If so do you think we could add value to what would be a company based around providing common sense to MLB organizations?

        PS, I’ll have our lawyer (Craig, you busy?) add the clause about 3rd base line tickets to the standard contract. Except in Washington, where the 3rd base line gets baked badly on hot summer nights.

      • paperlions - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        He’s The Common Man, not the Common Sense Man…..common sense being rather rare, especially among the commons, it is presumptuous to think he is both common and has common sense.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        But, ‘lions, he is by nearly exact definition “A Common Fan”, y’see? The original job description was for a “Common Fan” who had, it was presumed, “common sense”. Just being a common man who likes his baseball and is therefore a fan, should be good enough to satisfy the “sense” requirement, if I interpret Mr. Bill Simmons correctly. Given his writings, his blog and his lack of patience for the BBWAA I think we can draw a pretty fair conclusion that TCM is, in fact, gifted with “common sense”.

        You’re not gonna change my mind on this one, by the way. 3rd baseline tickets are on the line (excepting Washington, where we’ll stipulate 1st baseline tickets: I don’t need my head baked any further). For baseball tickets I’d sell you into a life of servitude without a 2nd thought , ‘lions.

  5. stex52 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Here’s a fear I have. What constitutes a “Good” or “Bad” decision? If an exec decides to cut payroll to 50 MM$, aim to win 70 games, and turn a healthy profit for the team, would that be a good decision? If you follow the old Marlins model of building a one-year WS contender and then turning around and blowing it up, is that a good decision?

    It goes back to what I think OG is saying. Common sense is a loose term when you don’t know what the goals and parameters are. I would rather know what they have in mind so I have a better idea of what this guy is going to do.

  6. Kyle - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Well played, Craig.

  7. bozosforall - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Simmons is nothing more than a loudmouthed Boston idiot whose only fans are New England sycophants who have to root for the mercenaries that play for their professional teams because the region is the worst when it comes to producing their own homegrown athletes.

    • JBerardi - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      How do you justify rooting for the most mercenary team of all time? If home grown talent is really all that important, why aren’t you a Braves fan or something?

      • bozosforall - Jan 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        Most mercenary team? I’ve got news for you, idiot..they are ALL mercenary teams. Not a single one playing for free out there. The point that I was making flew right over your pointed head, moron.

  8. a125125125 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Mejdal has worked with Luhnow in the Cardinals front office for some time. Not really a revolutionary concept to raid others’ front office upon leaving.

    • Detroit Michael - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Sig Mejdal also was a featured character in the book Fantasyland. Before that, he had some injury prevention research published in one of the annual Bill James handbooks.

  9. Jonny 5 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Sig Mejdal is hardly a “common fan”.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      I was thinking the same thing…but didn’t want to poop in Craig’s Cheerios this morning. Now, if this were a hire 8 years ago…then yeah, I would probably consider him more of a “common fan”. But considering he has been working in MLB since 2006, nah he doesn’t fit the profile the Simmons laid out.

      • cur68 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        Now, see I read that as sarcasm. On the one hand a recipe for success is suggested (The Common Fan = a common man) right? Then the ‘Stros go out and find themselves a stat geek. An “uncommon man” probably not even a fan. I bet Craig really regrets that Sig’s mom didn’t name him “Stan”. Stan the Uncommon Fan…its just too easy.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        I’m not sure how to read the intent, but this guy should help the Astros cause because he’s really smart when it comes to baseball. Or at least I tend to think he is.

  10. mojosmagic - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Even common sense has become a specialty. Whatever happened to multi tasking?

  11. JBerardi - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Simmons is kind of an idiot.

    • bozosforall - Jan 4, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      He can’t help it…it’s in the water where he was raised. Tons of others in the vicinity were similarly affected and the condition continues to the present day. Delusions of grandeur and inferiority complexes abound. Bandwagonism is a related condition there as well.

      • cshearing - Jan 5, 2012 at 7:58 AM

        Any person that utters something that intimates everyone in a certain city or state is an idiot is the true idiot. Idiots are everywhere, even here.

  12. natstowngreg - Jan 4, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    So the Astros hired a guy who’s an expert in the theory and practice of making decisions. An interesting idea; having someone take a fresh look at player decisions. And I’ll assume he has all sorts of credentials to evaluate organizational decisionmaking.

    But implying that this guy is going to bring “common sense” into any organization is going too far. Not sure that decisionmaking theory has room for “common sense.” Besides, “common sense” is in the eye of the beholder; your “common sense” is what makes sense to you, even if it makes sense to no one else. And BTW, as others have noted, what is a good or bad decision? Most often, a decision’s quality is only revealed long after it was made.

  13. warhawk04 - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    I saw the headline and old school astros logo and thought for a moment they might be going back to that logo. Wouldn’t make total sense because they don’t play at the astro dome anymore but was still a cooler logo.

    • stex52 - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      With you there. But it’ll never happen.

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