Monday, November 01, 2010

It Would be an Understatement to say that the BCs were totally stunned by today's news that Julie Plank, the most successful coach in Mystics history, is now, like Angela Taylor -- the most successful GM in Mystics history -- no longer a part of the team. We have spent the afternoon and evening in utter disbelief. A mere two months after Sheila Johnson publicly praised Angela and Julie as the "geniuses" who were years ahead of her five-year plan for the Mystics' success, both are gone. And why?

Well, according to reports of the media teleconference that Ms. Johnson held this afternoon, this is what happened.

Plan A: Sheila asked Angela to work for less money. Angela declined. Goodbye Angela.

Plan B: Sheila immediately asked Julie, whose extensive basketball career has been spent entirely as a coach, to take on the significant (and different) responsibilities of being the GM as well as continuing to serve as Head Coach. Julie declined. Sheila spent a few weeks trying to get Julie to change her mind, but failed. Goodbye Julie.

Plan C: Sheila asked Trudi Lacey to take on both jobs, and Trudi accepted, thus becoming the 12th Mystics coach in 14 seasons. Hello Trudi.

According to Sheila, getting rid of the most successful GM and the most successful Head Coach in franchise history was just business:

"We had to make some cost changes. Even though we were successful on the floor, you have to understand, we weren't successful on the business side. We just have to make these changes in order to keep the franchise alive."

Of course, "success on the business side" was not part of Angela's job description, nor Julie's, except to the extent that they were responsible for putting the best possible product on the floor to be marketed to fans and sponsors. And as far as that was concerned, they were extraordinarily successful. And yet, they are both gone.

Reading the transcripts of Sheila's press call, she seems pretty oblivious to what it means to be a longtime fan of this team. A team that had been mired in mediocrity (or worse) for years and years, thanks in large measure to a constantly revolving door of coaches and GMs . . . and a consequent instability in management that precluded success on the court. She also seems oblivious to the emotional commitment that comes with being a longtime fan (along with the fan's financial investment).

And so we've concluded that she just doesn't "get" the disbelief that so many of us feel about what has happened in the past month to a team -- our team. A team that after more than a decade finally seemed to be on the right track . . . but now (again) has been derailed. (And we do not mean to imply any disrespect to Trudi Lacey, but there was no compelling reason at this point to change the GM or Head Coach.)

As you our readers know, we were incredibly upset over the news about Angela Taylor. Now, hearing about the loss of Julie, we are simply numb. Why should we continue to be emotionally invested in this franchise? We were told when Angela and Julie were hired that this time it would be different, but as with Charlie Brown, the ball still just keeps getting snatched away. Why should we continue to invest our money and emotions, only to be disappointed time and time again? Those are the questions we have been asking ourselves today. Frankly, right now, we just don't think we have it in ourselves any longer to care . . . certainly not to the extent we did. Congratulations, Mystics Front Office. Your business acumen has succeeded in driving a wedge between your product and your heretofore most loyal customers. A few months ago, we would've said such a thing was impossible. You proved us wrong.

To Julie Plank, we say thank you, thank you, thank you . . . for an incredible two years, for so much fun, and for so much hope. We wish you well in whatever life now brings your way. (And given what we've seen of your abilities at the Phone Booth, we know that any team -- professional or college -- would be so fortunate to have you on their bench.) You will be missed.

* * * * * * *

Tuesday morning update . . . Hall of Famer Mel Greenberg takes the gloves off in his must-read analysis of the Mystics' "business" move here, the Washington Post's Kathy Orton, who yesterday posted a transcript of Ms. Johnson's teleconference (linked above), has an article here, and Milton Kent's summary of what transpired is here.

20 Comments:

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been a big fan of Sheila Johnson, but I strongly suspect that she was boxed into a budget corner by her Monumental partners, who don't give a rat's ass about whether the Mystics win or not -- or even survive. If that's not the case, let Ted "transparency" Leonsis break his radio silence and tell us different.

 
At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheila is a smart business woman, so I feel compelled to give her the benefit of the doubt. However...there are some decisions that might make financial sense, but make ZERO ZERO ZERO sports sense...this is one of them. Gimme a break. What a crushing disappointment.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger wizfan06 said...

This decision made no sense from a business perspective besides cutting dollars. Monumental Sports should be doing pretty well with Alex Ovechkin selling out Verizon Center to rock the red, and John Wall giving hope for the Wizards, who have had a very large uptick in season ticket holders. Given that, why cut the budget for the Mystics if that was done at all? Aren't all three teams supposed to help each other out?

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sat in front of my computer speechless with mouth agape as I read the latest news about Coach Plank. Best wishes to both our former GM and Coach.

I was appalled at Dr. Johnson's explanation that there was no need to let the fans know every little detail about things as the days wore on. We did not need every little detail, but learning the news about Ms. Taylor from blogs and speculations was downright ridiculous. Her comments made me even angrier than I have been for a month now.

If the goal is to disband the team, then just do it and stop dragging your loyal fans through mud, confusion, anger, frustration and countless other nouns too numerous to name. Stick a fork in me...I am so done!

 
At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

continued from above...I thought Mr. Bibb was to handle the 'business' side of the Mystics.

 
At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much is this team worth? Any chance the community could organize and become cooperative owners?
I know there's some serious legal muscle behind this blog...

 
At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Stewart said...

For an organization that, in the past, I loved for its customer service, this is really disappointing. Sheila's comment about it not being "appropriate to sit up there and let our fans know every little move we're making. That is not good business," smacks of arrogance. Replacing the best GM/coach combo this team ever had isn't a "little move." If we as fans are going to invest our hard-earned dollars into your organization, I think we have a right to know why moves that appear to wipe out the last two years of rare on-court success took place.

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Laura said...

I nearly drove off the road when I heard this news this morning. I seriously thought it was a joke. Ironically I just upgraded my STs last week. What a huge mistake. The Mystics have made it very hard to create fan loyalty (and this is from a long-time Bills fan). Everyone with a job has faced serious financial pressures in the workplace. As a manager, I keep my top people--no matter what. The economy will turn around. Emotional connection doesn't come back. No more bringing my friends to the games and chatting up the team. I'm done. (Remember when our biggest worry was whether Katie Smith would return.) This is so depressing.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow....this reminds me of Sheila Johnson's surprising decision to publicly support a certain gubernatorial candidate from across her political aisle...that, too, was done for "business" reasons. But for all her intelligence, MS. Johnson seems to not be concerned about the future implications of her "business" decisions. She is a huge disappointment for many reasons...something I began to believe just 2 or 3 years ago...and she certainly is not the person she wanted us to believe she was when she came to the Mystics. She is, after all, just another soul blinded by dollar signs.

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the future implications of her "business" decision? The fan base will continue to dwindle. It's one thing to have a baseball team that is mired in mediocrity, but quite another to have a WNBA team that continues to struggle and disappoint season after season--baseball and football will always have their huge fan base no matter what. The Mystics finally got the attention they were denied for so long only when they had a hugely successful 2010 season. The future looked bright, for the team, for the fans, and yes, for the owners. But fans will not continue to shell out the dollars for this roller coaster ride with Sheila Johnson, no matter how much we love the girls and the game. What happens then? Will the business side of the team benefit from dwindling ticket sales and interest? I think not.

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a vote of confidence. According to Sheila Johnson, coaching is a "crap shoot." That shows how little you really care about coaching quality and your team. Julie Plank was the reason the Mystics had winning seasons. We hope she is picked up by a team that values her. (Thanks Julie!) Sheila is a sham.

 
At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if Sheila Johnson was correct that coaching is a crap shoot (that sentence alone speaks volumes about her commitment) then you'd think she'd stick with something that works. I suspect she doesn't want to hold onto the team; by alienating fans she's guaranteed a financially untenable situation. I'll be shocked if the Mystics have more than one season left. She sure isn't doing Lacey any favors, either.

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous NovaCath said...

Well I got fed up and asked to cancel my ticket for next season. Thank goodness I had the super cheap seats and only had paid $50 towards next season. I said that they could deduct the price of the ticket for one playoff game and asked for a refund of the balance as I believed that I have paid more than the cost of the playoff ticket. Well, I was told that I can cancel but there is NO refund since by renewing I signed a contract with them. It is not worth my time to argue over $20, but it seem pretty low given that the season is months away and they can resell that seat. This is not how the Capitals run their business but my rep said that the Mystics are completely separate and have different policies.

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't stop going to games everyone! At the end of the day, we need to support the players. I am so dissapointed in the organization but again, it's about the players. It's about women having a league to play in. I don't want to see the Mystics fold. I have been watching Marissa, Crystal, Lyndsay and Mo play for years now (college and now pro). They need a league to play in and I prefer that be here where I can see them play.

 
At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, now Ted has explained everything!

http://www.tedstake.com/2010/11/02/mystics-name-combo-coach-and-gm/

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about bringing back Vicky Bullett? Does anyone think Marianne Stanley will stay on?

 
At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Gotta be the dumbest move ever made in the WNBA. Let's see... Eastern Conference champs, best overall season record, back to back playoffs, coach of year candidate....All without their star player and shortened roster. Seriously? What else could Julie and Angela have done better? To take a team in two years and be this successful says volumes of these two individuals. Good luck Trudi, I wish you the best since you will not have the support of Sheila Johnson and the Washington Mystics. Hey Sheila, you've lost our family's support. We will never go to another Mystics game again.

 
At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on folks--you have to support these ladies living out their dream. The wnba is barely hanging on. No matter what Donna oleander says, this league is barely hanging on. It's about profit, always. I don't understand the whole Angela Taylor mess. Bad business move to get rid of your winning GM. Some nice crowds this year because they were winning. Again, horrible-stupid-bad business move. I am sure Angela wasnt making that much to begin with. Regardless though, we need to support the ladies playing basketball. I want this league to survive.

 
At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OVER DONE AND OUT! The players will land on their feet somewhere. most of them are playing overseas and making money. The only way to support them is by telling the MFO That we are not going to take it anymore. You have to hit them where it hurts, in their pocket book! I got my full refund and I am moving on.

 
At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Sue/Durham said...

I see no signs of an intelligent universe in planet named Sheila Johnson. Dumb, arrogant and bad business - the trifecta of death for a franchise.

 

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