Why does Ted Leonsis continue to blog, and give frequent media interviews, even when the blogging vultures (like, uh, that guy over there … to my left … behind that column) pick apart his every pixel? He explained in a recent conversation with George Solomon at the University of Maryland’s Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.
“I want people to understand what we’re doing,” Leonsis said. “You might not like it. I know it’s feeding the monster. I know the monster will be fed. It’ll either be fed overtly or covertly. But there is a monster out there, and it needs feeding so it can generate pixels. That’s what the monster’s output is. So rather than hide from and be afraid from it, it’s like, well, let’s go feed some monsters today.”
This is how I feel every morning, actually.
Leonsis’s local peers, it goes without saying, conduct less-frequent monster feedings. That strategy has seemed to work out well for the baseball folks. It hasn’t seemed to work out quite as well for the football folks.
“And so when I bought the Wizards, I said we had a strategy and a plan,” Leonsis continued. “And we could keep it to ourselves, or we could tell everyone what are we going to do. And we had a track record of that with the Caps. We said we’re gonna blow the team up, we’re gonna rebuild the team around young players, we’re gonna be really really bad, you’re gonna hate me, you’re gonna write vile vicious things, you’re not even gonna know why you’re so emotional. But I can take it. I’m gonna have to build my own communications vehicles to counter the vile and vicious things that you’re saying, because I have to have an unfiltered way of communicating and telling my story. That’s just the facts.
“And here’s what we’re going to do, and we’ll see how we’re doing year by year,” Leonsis continued. “I can’t react play by play. I can’t even react game by game. That’s what you do, okay? I can’t, because you can’t change your team, change your strategy play by play. I literally was getting e-mails at games — change this line, change the goalie, fire the coach, fire the general manager — during the games. Some games that we’d end up winning 5-3, after we were down 3-0.
“When you run a big enterprise, you have to have a strategy, be consistent, communicate it, and then have metrics and ways that you communicate,” Leonsis continued. “So we are going into the fourth year [of Wizards ownership]. It has been four years. I’m still in my first term as a leader of an organization. And I thought we were ready to take the next step. And I believed we had made the investments necessary — in pain of the rebuild, in adhering to our strategy, in spending the money necessary, in building the infrastructure so that we could take that next step to make the playoffs.”
That’s all why, Leonsis implied, he had mentioned the playoffs in conjunction with the Wizards. But he repeated his recent mantra that “Playoffs or Bust” will not enter his vocabulary.
“Those words never crossed my mouth,” Leonsis told Solomon. “In fact, lately I’ve said I don’t even know what that means. You know, the cliché of playoffs or bust; we’re a sports team, we play every year, right? Bust to me would be we didn’t make the playoffs [so] we’re out of business, we’re gone. I think that’s what that means — we’re having a sale, we’re gonna sell out or bust. A going-out-of business sale or something.”