Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hagin Treatment...Shabby?

I've been amused the last few days with newspaper articles and broadcast utterings suggesting that the Cardinals' treatment of Wayne Hagin was...let's see, the terms I've heard are...shabby, classless, shoddy and sleazy. Well, let's examine this situation from both sides as best we can.

To be sure, noone would want to be put in Mr. Hagin's position of being told that he was secure in his job, and then being let go. There is no arguing that that's a distasteful and devastating sequence of events from his perspective. I'm sure the Cardinals/KTRS wish it could have been handled differently as well. Mark Lamping probably lost more than a few good hours of sleep with a churning stomach over knowing that he was going to have to let a good man go after allowing that man to believe he was secure.

But, don't you also think that Wayne could see a little bit beyond his superficial "security". He had to know that he didn't make any friends in the Cardinals' camp when he got himself embroiled in the Todd Helton steroids controversy earlier this year. He also had to know that the Cardinals are committed to Mike Shannon long term. And, that he was not on Shannon's good side. Don't you think he had more than one feeler out for possible employment elsewhere knowing all this? If not, he should have. I would expect his agent was keeping an eye on other potential employment. If not, he should have been. If Hagin and his agent were "blindsided" by the firing, they shouldn't have been.

It seems to me that those who are writing in the paper, and crowing on the airwaves, about Hagin's treatment as being unfair either have an agenda, or have gotten to know Wayne as a friend and colleague. It's easy to see it from the ostensibly-mistreated employee side when you have an agenda (such as a KTRS competitor, or regular panderer to the working class), or are press-box friends with the affected person. To me, the administration of Mr. Hagin's position is just another chapter in how things are handled in big-money, long-term-contract, hiring and firing situations. It's the business. And business decisions often hurt someone. And, let's face it, when you're talking about the kind of money top-notch broadcasters make, it's significant business. You're not talking about hiring a minimum-wage, beer vendor for the games here.

So, how do the Cardinals/KTRS, Lamping/Dorsey, best handle the situation?

Do you offer Hagin the chance to work for the final season of his contract and hire John Rooney anyway and bring him into the mix? No. Everyone knows that doesn't work. Hopefully I don't need to explain why.

Do you tell Hagin at the time of the announcement of the switch to KTRS that he's going to be replaced? No. Because you don't know for sure about Rooney at that time. And, you have to cover yourself, even though you might be looking at a change.

Do you just keep Hagin with Shannon (even though they don't get along and you have other issues with the quality of the broadcasts)and hope that Rooney, or someone of his caliber, is available after next season? No. Because Rooney is so good that he likely would be snatched up elsewhere. Why would he sit out a season? And as long as you're making changes, you might as well change the broadcast mix too.

Or, do you hire Rooney (who you truly believe will be a cornerstone broadcaster a la Caray, Buck and Shannon), offer to pay Hagin for the last year of his deal, get the Rooney "buzz" going for the first year on KTRS, appease Shannon with a new and likeable partner, and deal with the Hagin fallout that's sure to come? Of course, this is the option that the Cardinals and KTRS chose.

Just about everybody also feels that Wayne Hagin won't be unemployed for very long. Even if he doesn't get a job for next season that's to his liking, he has the option of taking the Cardinals' money and using next season to search for the "right fit". Not a bad fall-back position.

I'd like to hear somebody do a little more than try to disparage the Cardinals for their handling of a messier situation than meets the eye, and explain what they would have done to handle it in a less "shabby" way. I suppose doing nothing, authorizing uninspired broadcasts, and allowing the tense situation between the broadcasters to fester, was that option.

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