I/O Psychology and the Blue Jays Clubhouse “Issues”

I was reading through the Toronto Sun at work this morning, when I came across Steve Buffery’s article entitled “What’s going on inside the Blue Jays clubhouse?” (link: http://www.torontosun.com/2016/09/29/whats-going-on-inside-the-blue-jays-clubhouse )

So since this was a rare opportunity for me to get to discuss two of my favorite things, I/O psychology and baseball, in one great blog article, I figured I’d jump at the chance and share my “hot take” on the matter.

The line in the article that really jumped out to me was “does a team with confidence bother with crap like that,” in regards to the Blue Jays’ players apparently having pictures of a pair of reporters on their clubhouse wall with a caption that says (something to the extent of) “do not grant them interviews” and turning the music up real loud when interviews are being conducted.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Buffery that the behavior is unprofessional of sorts.  I know I wouldn’t appreciate that sort of behavior, at least in regards to publicizing my co-worker’s enemy list, on a wall in plain sight at my workplace.  But I wasn’t there when whatever prompted the rift between these reporters and the Blue Jays happened, so I can’t necessarily say if this punishment and public shaming is absolutely warranted.  But if this is the sort of workplace culture the Blue Jays want, and it helps them perform on the field, then I don’t have an issue with it.  Then again, is this public shaming any different than a pizza place that puts the bounced checks of past customers on a “wall of shame” to embarrass them until they pay up?

It’s unfair for the media to overlook the human emotion aspect of baseball, and quickly jump to conclusions that perceived juvenile and unprofessional behavior implies a lack of confidence.  I’d like someone to explain to me how this behavior implies a lack of confidence, or even a lack of leadership.  Who’s to say that leadership in the clubhouse didn’t decide that it was best for the team to ignore the two media members moving forward? Who’s to say that those two media members don’t provide bulletin board motivation?

One line in the article said “the New York Yankees would never allow (this) in their clubhouse.”  Who cares? The Blue Jays aren’t the Yankees, and obviously their work environment isn’t going to be the same as the Yankees.  Not all work environments are cookie cutter, even in the non-sports world.  Just look at the way Google operates in their workplace culture.  Who’s to say that the Blue Jays can’t be the Google of baseball when it comes to work environment and clubhouse culture?

So in a nutshell, are the Jays acting a bit unprofessional when it comes to dealing with the media? Sure, maybe a little bit.  Do I wish the Jays would treat the media with some more respect? Sure, I enjoy reading player quotes as much as the next person.  But much like how professional athletes don’t owe fans anything, I don’t think they necessarily owe the media anything either.  Yes, it’s great to build your own personal brand and be accessible, but not at the expense of being disrespected in the process.  I’m a firm believer in treating others how they treat you, especially if you’re being disrespected, so if a player on the Blue Jays truly has been wronged by a media member, I have no issue with this “unprofessional” behavior.

The fact of the matter is that this is a tense time for the Blue Jays, and they would feel that tension regardless of their confidence level.  I think the author of the Toronto Sun article needs to realize that having confidence doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated fear and nerves, but rather you’ve learned how to allow those emotions and find a way for them to energize you.

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