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Blog Entry

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:44 am
 
Nobody uses fax machines anymore, so the Astros fired Tal Smith by phone.

I suppose they could have sent him a text, or tried to direct-message him on Twitter.

Look, it's hard to blame new owner Jim Crane for wanting a fresh start. As one long-time Astros person said to me Sunday night, Crane needs to look forward rather than back, and needs to start building something new.

Hiring George Postolos to replace Smith as club president and hiring a new general manager to replace the fired Ed Wade (Rangers assistant Thad Levine was a hot name Sunday night) are defensible moves, even inevitable moves.

But why do these firings have to be so messy?

When I heard from a source that Smith had been fired by phone, it brought back memories of August 1992, when Mike Ilitch officially took over the Tigers from Tom Monaghan.

Monaghan's last act, reportedly ordered by Ilitch as part of the same, was to fire club president Bo Schembechler and longtime club executive Jim Campbell.

Campbell, if I remember it right, was fired by phone. Schembechler (I'm sure of this) was fired by fax.

Campbell was 68 years old, and he had been with the Tigers for 43 of those years. Schembechler had been with the Tigers just 2 1/2 years, but he was a legend in the state.

Smith is 78. He just finished his 35th year with the Astros. He doesn't need to be club president anymore. But you'd think a new owner and new president might want to sit down and talk to him about the challenges ahead (who knows more about baseball in Houston?).

You'd even think that they wouldn't mind having him around in some capacity as the Astros celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012.

Smith was there at the start, when they were the expansion Colt .45s. He was there when the Astrodome opened, and when the Astroturf went in, and he was there when Minute Maid Park opened.

He was there in 2005, when the Astros won the National League title for the only time in their history.

Now he's gone, and that's fine. Nobody deserves a job forever.

But anybody who did all that Tal Smith did deserves more than to be fired on a phone call.


Comments

Since: Oct 11, 2011
Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:26 am
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

@LarryDavid, good point. We don't know how the phone call went. Not all of them are like texts. However, i still think the owner must have had enough time to fly to Smith and tell him personally and should have done so.



Since: Apr 5, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:12 am
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

If he's in the same city and you fire him via telephone it's wrong.  But if he's in Florida or some other state I have no problem with it. 

I'd be pssed if I were out of town for Thanksgiving, or spent my winters in FL or AZ, and was told to get to Houston ASAP, only to get canned when I walked in.  I'd say "you know, you guys could have just told me this over the phone".



Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:24 am
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

I have a friend who calls this the "corporate shove". Too bad Crane brings this "talent" to baseball. It's a relatively pure and sacred microcosm and doesn't need that particular form of outside influence. Even if Smith had outlived his useful run, other front office people will honor his effort, I'm sure.



Since: Dec 21, 2009
Posted on: November 28, 2011 9:46 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Really, Buddy?  You're comparing this to the Paterno incident?  Joe Pa was lucky he got the time of day considering what he knew all these years.  You moron.



Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2011 6:42 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Terrible,no guts,They did the same to J Paterno too.It's a shame noone can look anyone in the face anymore or are they afraid to take a punch?.



Since: Oct 30, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2011 6:11 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

I'm sure Jim Crane et al have had repeated discussions with both Wade and Smith about this.  Crane probably just gave him a call to let him know it was official.
Even if that was true, they could make it official the right way. I am sure there is something else to this story, maybe some bad blood within the organization, but not many things can not be swallowed in order to let the guy go on decent terms.

I will have to second what many have said here before: business, ANY business became much more ruthless lately. Think about it, there are companies now that do your firing for you. Schlumberger laid of 20% of their personnel in Houston area TWICE and had third-party contractors do their firing. It's a different world nowadays. It is cool and hip to be heartless.



Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:03 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Yeah, that's true.  Companies are getting worse and worse about this sort of thing.  It honestly wouldn't be a huge surprise if they mishandled Smith's exit.



Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2011 4:56 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

My assumption is not based upon intimate knowledge of Jim Crane and his staff.  It's based upon regularities in the way that business is conducted in the professional world.
 

Fair enough.  I just think that there is such a wide variance in the way business is conducted in the professional world that nobody can make such assumptions. Just because one organization does things a certain way does not make it the norm. Some organizations talk things to death, while others are more secretive with their decision making process.  Some are honest and upfront, others are conniving and duplicitous. I have read and heard too many things about companies acting badly to believe that there is a regular way of conducting business.



Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 4:44 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

I'm just pointing out the LACK of information that everyone else is basing their assumptions on.  It might not be the case that they have had interpersonal discussions, so yeah, Crane might have been a jerk about it.

My assumption is not based upon intimate knowledge of Jim Crane and his staff.  It's based upon regularities in the way that business is conducted in the professional world.  Since negotiations have been ongoing, it doesn't make sense that Crane et al wouldn't have spoken frequently with prior managment to determine what their best options were.  If the public essentially knew that Ed Wade was going to get canned, how is it possible that Smith would have absolutely no idea?  He'd have to be an idiot.



Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2011 4:30 pm
 

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Y'all are overreacting about a useless little tidbit of news that lacks any coherent context whatsoever.



And your comment is based on assumptions you have made regarding Crane, Smith, Wade and what discussions they may or may not have had.  One thing seems clear---that after 35 years with the Astros Tal Smith was fired with a telephone call.  But that is okay with you because you are "sure" that it was just the final act to a series of conversations that Crane had with Smith.  Do you have inside information on this? How about giving us some of the context behind your assumptions?


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