Sunday, May 22, 2011

MN-70 and 1,823 Words of Follow Up

When we clicked the link to watch a recording of Ted Leonsis' LIVE* Owner's Corner with Capitals fans last Thursday, nothing happened.  A still frame filled our screen, stayed static.  Then froze.  We figured viewer demand was high.  Turns out the opposite was true as, according to the man himself, "the bad news is that most people didn’t watch it."

And who could blame them?  When we finally got the link to the LIVE* recording to work late Friday, we found ourselves drowning in a sea of drone.  SEVENTY MINUTES of Caps employee Mike Vogel pitching supposedly re-phrased fan question softballs and Ted talking (at times seemingly endlessly) and spinning little more than sugar, air, and color.  You know: Cotton Candy.

At the end of the Mind-Numbing 70 (or MN-70 as we like to call it), we looked at our notes and found... nothing.  There were occasional eye brow-raising statements such as when Ted talked about how the Caps spend to the maximum on players and in-game entertainment and then said that Capitals fans "don't care."  (This just meant that Caps fans were unconcerned about fiscal detail and wanted, instead, to win.)  One could easily take a here-and-there line such as that from the MN-70 stew of words and find themselves stuck in out-of-context land.  But, we didn't ever come close to biting, unlike this, which led to this, then this and this, before spinning its way back here -- 1,823 Words From Ted in follow up to 70 Minutes of Ted.

In all of this Ted Talk, there was no substance, no news.  98% of ticket holders renewed.  90% of Ted's email after THIS YEAR'S Capitals playoff collapse was positive and constructive.  10% was mean and wanted a pound of flesh.  Ted wasn't going to act fast, wasn't going to do anything drastic.  Bruce's employment status was up to George.  On and on it went... and all of it we knew before the LIVE* event.  Had there been actual news, it would have become the focus of follow-up blogger posts and news reports.

Instead, Ted said nothing -- FOR SEVENTY MINUTES -- but a blogger took some shiny MN-70 bait, a Caps employee defended his boss on a supposed independent third-party blog, then another blogger followed up the fresh-spinning non-story story, and... finally, it all spun back to Ted for a Mind-Numbing 1,823 additional words, which Ted himself said was "like 1,000 tweets."  Spin, spin, spin.  Cotton Candy for the masses!!

Some might say "no harm, no foul"... we say all this tumbling and back-and-forth is the word-play equivalent of wrestling a fan down the concourse.  When we looked closely at Ted's 1,823 words, we we alarmed by the last sentence of this:

"Seventy minutes is a lot of time. One of the reasons to memorialize something like this is to have a record of what was asked and what was said. We also can have a record of what was watched; who watched on an anonymous basis; and for how long. It allows people to time shift and watch when they want and it also allows us to say 'I didn’t say that - go to this minute and second in the transcript.'"

And that, after 70 minutes of video and 1,823 words of blog, is the State of this Team, Caps fans... In the end, being successful pales in comparison to being right - down the "minute and second." 

Nobody knows nothing.  Be happy, you can do it!  Spin, spin, spin.

Tumble.  Bumble.  Stumble.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Listen Up!

According to the Capitals web site, the "founder, chairman, majority owner and chief executive officer of Monumental Sports Ted Leonsis" (is that sufficient identification for "The Man," or what?) will take your questions LIVE* this Thursday.  

* The one catch: Unlike with the team's regular phone call sessions with fans (during which players and team execs face questions LIVE -- without an asterisk), the man who believes in transparency and interactivity and who started the new year looking for new ways to interact is resorting to a rather old fashioned you-submit, I-pick, I-answer-and-spin approach to being The Most Accessible Owner in Sports.  

This is really nothing new.  We know, first hand, when we've sent positive messages to Ted's Take, they got posted; but when we sent criticism and suggestions, well, they never did. (So much for Ted's vaunted internet transparency.)  It's one of the reasons we started Ted's Fake.   Regardless, we'll be listening in Thursday.  And, we sincerely hope for candid, meaningful information -- and no spin.  Because nonsensical spin like this may not get a pass.  

The quote of interest from that link:  “I’d like to focus on building a good team,” the owner said. "I think that the most important thing for us is to be really, really serious about making the team very competitive and having the rebuild work. And I think changing the name, sometimes it’s almost like a grandstanding thing."

So changing colors is "significant" and perhaps even "iconic" while changing a name is, er, uh, "grandstanding"... ?  And somehow changing colors fits within the stated framework of being focused and "really, really serious" about building a good/very competitive team and changing a name does not?

Why not?  Because in Ted's world, if the "founder, chairman, majority owner and chief executive officer of Monumental Sports Ted Leonsis" blogs it or says it, it must be so!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rock the Ted

If a blog’s first post is a bit like an opening face off, we at Ted’s Fake had a good opening ten minutes.  A small birth announcement in The Washington Post, lots of great comments, a good group of followers, tons of tweets, and a question as to whether we’re about parody or bashing over at The Bumper Boards.

To be clear, we’re about neither parody nor bashing.  We’re about accountability.   We’re about holding Ted to actually doing what he says.  Mere hand waves from the Owner’s Box are not enough for us. 

Yesterday’s readers shared an array of thoughts.  This makes for great conversation, and, sometimes, humorous (even ridiculous) points.  We especially liked the encouragement we got to abandon our New York Yankees-like aspirations.  This got us thinking, and the first word that came to mind when we thought Yankees was (honestly) “champions” – which, alas, is not exactly the first word that comes to mind when we think Capitals.  

League Championships won:
New York Yankees, 27
Washington Capitals, 0. 

Being fair, the Yankees have played much, much longer than the Capitals; so, here’s a head-to-head comparison of the two teams since the day Ted bought the Caps:

League Championships won:
New York Yankees, 3
Ted’s Caps, 0

If our obsession with actually winning championships strikes some as unfair, they might be interested to recall who pledged himself as being on our side with our Yankees-like singular focus (note, especially, the last bullet item, please). 

Since making his pledges, Ted’s Caps have suffered epic playoff collapses to Montreal and Tampa; and no one can confuse either the 2009-2010 or 2010-2011 team of having much of a singular focus in pursuit of their goal in either playoff season. 

So this is what we at Ted’s Fake are about: accountability.  If you blog it, we wanna see it really happen.  If it doesn’t, we’ll speak up.  And if we have to crash the net (only with words), we will.

Friday, May 6, 2011

17 Seasons and Counting

In his 17 seasons of combined primary ownership of the Capitals, Mystics, and Wizards, Ted Leonsis has led his organizations to a total of two playoff series wins.  This is a .117% record.   Many Capitals fans argue he's the "best owner in sports"... we disagree.   We think a .117% record is actually pretty miserable.   In the business world, we'd even call it a failure

As a very long term season ticket holder of the Capitals (pre-dating Ted's ownership of the team), we've tried, numerous times over the years, to offer constructive criticism to "the most accessible owner in sports," sharing our views with Ted by responding in the comments section of his blog, Ted's Take.  Ted is on the record as being a strident advocate of "transparency," especially where the internet is concerned.  Let the people speak!  Or so, the spin goes.  Truth is: Ted's anything but transparent.  In fact, we say Ted's Fake.

He lives and operates in an "if I blog it, it is so" world and this style of leadership trickles down to such folks as the Capitals general manager, head coach, and superstar forward Alex Ovechkin -- playoff busts all, who live and skate in an "if I say it, it is so" world.  Anyone who begs to differ with Capitals officials and their star player is met with a resounding "nobody knows nothing," "if they knew anything about the game, they'd be in it," and (our favorite) a condescending "Be happy, you can do it!" chiding from the man himself.

Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post offers a great perspective on how Ted and his hockey team works.  Read it and reap!

Given yet another stunning playoff bust, followed by an even more stunning reaction from Capitals leadership, we decided to speak up.  We at Ted's Fake plan to hold the owner accountable. 

Starting today .... we Unleash the Fury!