Why the Cubs lost 197 games.

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Confession: I’m a Cubs fan.

I know… it’s not rational.

But we can rationalize just about anything with a little effort.


Over the course of the past 2 seasons the Cubbies have lost 197 games.

If that sounds like a record of some sort, it is.



It’s a club record.

A Cub record.


And when the franchise synonymous with losing sets a personal-best record for losing, well, it’s worth a second look.


It’s been said “success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.

Not when you’re the Cubbies.


When you lose 197 games, there’s plenty of things going wrong. But Dale Sveum, record-breaking manager of the hapless 2012-2013 teams, chose an interesting road to perdition.


Many of the Sveum’s best players were (and remain) Hispanic. Their preferred language was (is) Spanish. Sveum does not speak Spanish. While other teams hired bilingual coaches and translators to ensure effective communication, Sveum “felt confident he could communicate with all players.


Clear communication with your star talent is important.



So Sveum was fired.

Primary reason?


Poor communication.




Chicago reporter Laurence Holmes dug deep during Spring Training this year: When you start to look to the future for the Cubs you see: Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Javy Baez and Pedro Strop. Having someone who can communicate with them in their native tongue can have a tangible effect.”



To be clear… that tangible effect is having your best players understand what the hell you’re talking about.



Who replaced Sveum?

Rick Renteria, who just so happens to speak Spanish.


So far, Renteria has given his instructions first in English, then in Spanish. It’s been helpful for a bunch of the Spanish speaking players.

”It’s awesome. I can handle English pretty well, but there are some guys who cannot. Sometimes it’s not as easy translating to one of our teammates what the manager can’t say in Spanish,” Pedro Strop said. “We’ve been talking about it already. It’s fun. I’ve never had that before.”

“Yeah, that’s way better for us ‘cause he can talk to us in English and if you don’t understand something he can explain it in Spanish,” Baez said.



This idiocy drives me crazy.


Of course it’s way better!



We know effective communication is critical to organizational success.

We know talent is critical to organizational success.


Yet when it comes to effective communication with our talent, well, let’s just hope for the best. Let’s leave it to Dale Sveum to determine if his players know what he’s talking about.


General Manager Theo Epstein has been pleased with the turnover among his two carefully hand-picked managers: “Watching Ricky going back and forth between Spanish and English, you can’t help but see what that means to our Latin players,” Epstein says. “He’s not the manager because he can speak Spanish, though. He’s the manager because he can connect to players.”



Great work, Theo.



What about your team?

Do you have talent on your jobsite that prefers to speak another language?


You know effective communication is critical to organizational success.

You know talent is critical to organizational success.


If you believe you can have your team deliver organizational success without effective communication, you’re not being rational.

But you can rationalize just about anything with a little effort.




Wait til next year….




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.

He’s now working on a Baseball Spanish program….

Categories: Construction Spanish, Jobsite Leadership

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Cubbies will win a World Series this decade. Theo is building wisely.

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