The Portland Mavericks: Are You Watching Rich Lapchick?

Maybe it’s because it’s the dog days of summer
Maybe it’s because my daughter works for Netflix (full disclosure)
Maybe it’s because my Tigers are still in first place
Or maybe it’s because I think Major League is the greatest movie of all time ….(What?)

But if you want to see a good film about employee selection, promoting diversity, experience marketing, disrupting the status quo and the passion of entrepreneurship checkout the Battered Bastards of Baseball on Netflix. To watch the trailer, click here.

It’s about the resurrection of independent baseball and Bing Russell, who stuck his finger in the eye of the MLB and brought a sport back to a city just for the love of the game. To give you a sense of the Portland Mavericks: (1) Their official colors were “Snow White, Dig Black and Streetwalker Red”; (2) Their biggest star was rumored to be an FBI informant and has been missing since 1984; And (3) They had a left-handed catcher. (There hasn’t been a major league left-handed player whose primary position was catcher since 1900.)

In their short five-year history, these ragtag Mavericks:

Hired the first female general manager in baseball
Had a batboy who was later nominated for eight Oscars
Invented Big League Chew
Compiled the best record in all of baseball in 1977
Resurrected Jim Bouton’s pitching career at age 38
Had a pitcher nominated for a Pulitzer Prize
Played Kurt Russell at Designated Hitter (his dad owned the team)
Set a minor league attendance record by drawing over 125,000 fans in just 33 home games.

When the Pacific Coast League decided before the 1978 season that they had made a mistake in leaving the city, Bing forced them to pay him more than $200,000 (rather than just $5000 under the rules) to return to Portland…. Not a bad exit price for his initial investment of $500 to start the team.

Needless to say, I liked this documentary. At the very least, Rich Lapchick should make this film required viewing for our sports management students. It’s a great reminder for analytic MBA-types, about why people come to games.

Okay so much for my career as a movie reviewer, time to go get ready to graduate some Knights on Saturday.

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Is it the Right Time to Pursue Your MBA?

Early last week we held an information session for people interested in learning more about our Evening MBA program. Fifty-four people signed up. Most showed up. They were full of questions… prospective MBA students are rarely shy.

The bulk of the night’s discussion focused on determining when it was the “right time” to pursue an MBA. Evening MBA programs eliminate the need to quit your day job and survive off of macaroni and cheese, but they make a crowded work week even more crowded. There are only 24 hours in a day and the program is going to demand more than a few of them. The general rule is two to three hours outside of class for each hour inside of class. This level of commitment will also impact your family life. So what you have got going on at home as well as at work matters.

So does what you want to do after you get the degree. Some people are looking to move up in their organizations, others to move out. A few even want to start their own business. The beauty of an MBA is that it provides general skills you can take with you almost anywhere. It is a very mobile degree. What you don’t want to do is earn it and stand still. Skills not used, fade quickly. And business changes rapidly. So you want to get the degree when you can put it to immediate use.

Then there is the question of whether you have enough professional experience to contribute to class discussion and take full advantage of what is being discussed. This is both an issue of the type and breath of your experiences before entering the program. We short-hand this qualification by requiring a minimum of two years professional work experience, but it is more complex than that. Let me explain.

The MBA is a practical degree. It is not advanced academic preparation that readies you to go on in pursuit of your doctorate. It is meant to develop practicing managers. So the classroom experience works best when a faculty member interacts with a group of emerging managers who can explore the practical consequences of theories through a range of real experiences. Dynamic classroom discussion ensues and the student gets the benefit of many perspectives. This is the high-value-added experience we are offering in our Evening MBA.

So in assessing your readiness for the program, it is not just what you can learn from us, but what you bring to the program that impacts our evaluation of your application. To judge your likely contribution, we are most interested in understanding whether you have direct reports and control over some budget. If you are responsible for some people and dollars, you are accountable for moving at least some segment of the enterprise forward. The practice of business isn’t a theoretical exercise for you. It has become a daily responsibility that motivates your search for solutions to the problems you have faced over the last couple of years. Thanks to the efforts of your professors and fellow classmates, what goes on in class will impact what you do on your job tomorrow. We expect that you will reciprocate by offering your experiences and insights in an effort to help others. Everyone wins and there are no free-riders.

If you think you are ready for that type of experience, you’ve got until the end of business on August 1 to start that application for our Evening MBA. Still got questions? Contact Dr. Robert Porter (rporter@bus.ucf.edu) or Judy Ryder (jryder@ucf.edu) and they will help you make a decision that is right for you.

The Other Side of the Road

Many years ago, I spent time as a Fulbright scholar in Australia, visiting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane doing some lecturing and research on comparative industrial relations systems. The opportunity also allowed me to take my oldest daughter Amanda with me. She spent her time experiencing the Australian school system as a fifth grader.

It was quite the adventure. One day she was asked to pack a matilda, torch, and jumper….(translation..sleeping bag, flashlight and sweater) they were going camping. Another day she brought home vocabulary words to learn. This was pre-google and we couldn’t find the meaning of these terms anywhere. It was one in the morning at the University of Melbourne library before we discovered the terms were different breeds of sheep! I scolded her for not paying attention to the sheep lecture in class. I was wrong. Turns out in Australia, students have homework that involves meeting national standards-material that is not always covered in class. It was a lesson learned. So was understanding that in Australia, when some one pokes you in the eye verbally, the proper response is to poke them back….a tough response for a southern belle from Louisiana brought up to be polite, gracious and civilized. Yet she slowly learned her way around. After returning home, she wrote a report on her experiences for school that ended: “I left for Australia believing that people there drove on the wrong side of the road and returned understanding that they just drove on the other side of the road.”

Yep. Experience is a great teacher. Since that time, I have been able to bring at least one of my children on trips with me as I have taught or started programs in China, England, France and Greece. Needless to say I am a big supporter of international student experiences and believe my time abroad has helped me diversify my thinking and develop my communication skills.

As you try to “get to the one” at UCF, by choosing a path full of experiences that will differentiate you come graduation, consider traveling the other side of the road by studying abroad. It will not only demonstrate to potential employers your willingness to get out of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences, it will teach you more about yourself and the place you call home than you can imagine. Seeing how other people live, work, and solve familiar problems in unfamiliar ways will give you greater perspective about human behavior and greater vision to devise solutions to get people where you want them to be. Employers love that skill set… It’s what they call leadership potential.

Want to learn more? Contact our Director of International Programs at suzanne.waldrop@ucf.edu, set up an appointment and engage her in a conversation about how you can spend some time with one of our international partners. It will change you and your world.