Utility Players Can Knock It Out of the Park, Too

What’s wrong with this picture? Willie Bloomquist grinning and blinking in the glare of TV lights.

Royals third baseman Willie Bloomquist isn’t a star. He’s not flashy, and he doesn’t seek glory or publicity for himself. He’s not very exciting, so you don’t see a lot of fans wearing “Bloomquist” Royals shirts. Willie does a journeyman job in whatever position he’s assigned. He’s the ultimate team player, always there to help his fellows. But Willie isn’t a star.

So it was puzzling when yesterday, Ned Yost pulled the humble Willie out from behind the curtain and pushed him onstage to bat third in the rotation for the first time in his nine-year career. Willie batting third? Huh?

Yost’s unusual decision panned out big-time. When Willie came up to bat with one out in the 12th inning, he homered to left field on a 3-2 pitch from Alfredo Figaro. With that beautiful, soaring hit into the stands, Willie surprised everyone, including — or especially — himself. That homer gave the Royals a 4-3 victory in the last game of their three-game series with the Tigers. And by the way, the win snapped the Tigers’ five-game winning streak. Oh, snap!, indeed.

Willie made the front page of the KC Star Sports section today. The headline reads, “BOOM BOOM POW.” The cutline under the picture of Willie being mobbed by his teammates after the homer aptly describes him as “Unlikely hero Willie Bloomquist.”

Actually, Bloomquist didn’t surprise absolutely everyone. In fact, manager Ned Yost had “guaranteed” that with Willie batting third, he would get “a couple of hits” in the game. After Willie got one hit earlier in the game, Yost reminded him, “You still owe me one.” And Willie came through with that game-winning homer.

Is it possible that after all these years, Ned Yost has “discovered” Willie Bloomquist? Or that Willie has discovered himself?

In the post-game interview, Willie grinned goofily and looked a bit stunned. Until now, he’s been the kind of player commentator Frank White respects because he “doesn’t try to do too much.” Unaccustomed to media speaking as he is, Willie was characteristically humble in his comments:

“I don’t hit too many, but I assumed that one was gone,” … “I got pretty much all of it. That’s probably as far as I could probably hit one.” – Willie Bloomquist, after Royals’ 4-3 victory over Tigers.

He said it was “kind of cool” that he got to bat third. The man is a master of understatement.

So how come Willie Bloomquist was the star this time, and not just a supporting actor? Could it be because someone saw something in him that he didn’t even see in himself, and then gave him the confidence to use it?

If so, it goes to show you — even a utility player can knock it out of the park, if you believe in him and give him a chance.


Job-Seeking No-No: IWM

Any number of things may nix your chances of getting hired for a job that’s right up your alley. Here are seven of them. But of course, you wouldn’t be dumb enough to pull any of these stunts, would you? Hmm. Better read them.

But no matter how well you behave when interviewing, there’s one thing your qualifications and experience cannot trump: age.

Judging from the number of highly qualified “mature people” (i.e., people over age 35) I know who are seeking and not finding jobs, I think there’s a devilish something at play called “IWM,” or “Interviewing While Mature.” And unless you have a total body and face lift and start ending all your sentences with, like, a question mark?, IWM may be a factor.

During those years you were acquiring priceless knowledge, practicing what you’d learned, and racking up glowing reviews from co-workers, clients and bosses, the aging process was proceeding apace, indifferent to your desire to stop it at age 26. So ironically, as you became more qualified to be a “hit-the-ground-running” employee with a good work ethic, you became less desirable to employers who think it’s scary to hire mature workers. What is the fear?

Just guessing here, but they may have some weird ideas about “mature people,” like:

• They might be old dogs who can’t (or won’t) learn new tricks?

What, in your ignorance, do you hope to prove by this childish exercise?

• They probably want too much money?
• Their Depends might leak on the plush conference room chairs?
• They might not respect their twenty-something co-workers — or bosses?
• They might actually know something and make others look bad?
• They might raise the cost of group health insurance?
• They might not enjoy carousing with the gang after work and playing beer pong?
• They might enjoy carousing with the gang after work?
• They might start reminiscing about how cool it was seeing Abba in concert?

I oughta scrub yer mouth out with lye soap!

• They might purse their lips like a prissy school-marm and rebuke a “young person” for using coarse language? (Get real. Most “mature people” could win a cussin’ contest wrinkly hands down.)
• They might be grumpy? (You would be, too, if your Depends started leaking during an important team meeting!)

Sure, new graduates are having a hard time finding jobs, too, but they can live with their parents and work at Mickey D’s until things loosen up. A mature person usually can’t do that. Mom’s nursing home room is way too small, and sooner or later, the staff will notice you in the closet and ask you to leave.

If you are a mature job-seeker, you can’t do anything about your age. But you don’t have to blurt it right out, either. Potential employers (or HR people) are not, by law, allowed to ask you your age. But they have some sneaky ways of worming it out of you, so I recommend reading this article, “Five Ways to Avoid Disclosing Your Age in an Interview.”

Or, as I mentioned, there’s the total body and face lift option…

Quality Control Officer 896 on the case to bust bad grammar

QCO 896 on the case.

About a year ago, I posted a short fiction piece on Kansas World Wrangler, my former blog. It’s about Quality Control Officer 896 and his sidekick, Bug-Eye, and their constant efforts to root out improper grammar. It’s a big job. Especially when even the newscasters can’t get it right.

Go here to read “Case 555: ‘Busting the News.'”.

Jantzen 2-Piece Suit Ad – “How dare you.”

Art & Copy Club has a contest to beat Don Draper’s pathetic attempt at a new ad for Jantzen two-piece swim suits. Here’s mine: Jantzen2pieceLayout

In China, KISS means “Keep it short, stupid.”

Ever find yourself nodding as someone droned on and on without getting to the point — or the end of his or her remarks? Apparently, it’s a serious problem that’s cutting Chinese productivity.

Yadda yadda yadda...

Quote from an article in today’s KC Star:

“Chinese officials say they want to clean up a pollution scourge that is fouling the capital and government centers nationwide: bureaucratic gasbags.”

The Great Typo Hunt

Here’s an NPR story about a couple of guys who decided to stop fuming about typos on signs and DO something about it!

Just trying to make school more cool?

At the end, readers are invited to tell their most un-favorite typos. Mine is “it’s” in place of “its,” as in “blah blah at it’s best.”

What’s yours?

Companies won’t hire the unemployed

Just read an article on an HR website that said companies don’t want to hire the unemployed. That’s not exactly news; it’s been an unspoken rule for ages. The assumption is that if the person were any good, s/he would have a job, right? No. The world has changed. But HR people apparently haven’t.

At a networking event last night, I ran into three former co-workers, one of whom had just been laid off. Their company, which formerly had 11 employees, is now down to four. Employment status these days is no indicator of employability. Businesses have been shedding employees at a rapid rate the last 18 months just to try to keep the lights on, not because those employees weren’t competent.

Trashing resumes of people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own is not only wrong, it’s dumb. There is a rich supply of candidates who know their stuff and loved their former jobs. HR directors seeking to fill jobs ought to look at qualifications first and foremost. Looking at employment status and deciding without looking further that the candidate is incompetent or disqualified… how do they justify it? How do they sleep at night?

Why you don’t see want ads for a “copywriter” now

I’ve puzzled over this for quite some time and finally figured it out. The term, “copywriter” is obsolete at most companies. The new term is “content creator.”

Not sure I like it. Sounds like somebody who creates something you weigh by the pound, like chicken livers.

“So what am I, chopped liver???

No, these days, I am a “content creator.” I just finished creating some for my best client’s corporate website. Once the site goes live, I’ll let you know.

I imagine the term “content creator” was created by Web techs who only know there’s a hole in the Web design that needs to be filled. Copy? Oh, sure. Or a graphic, video clip or an affiliate ad. Whatever’s handy. Before someone chews my face off for putting down those marvelously smart beings who know their way around a motherboard and other things I don’t even know names for — I am not putting them down. They have their departments, and copy– I mean, “content creators” have theirs. They’re different departments, but when they mesh harmoniously, the results are very cool.

But copy is important. The information, the language, the connotations and denotations of the words, the way an idea is presented, and on the Web, especially, the brevity. Knowing how to use language effectively is the job of a copywriter, whatever new descriptor is in style at the moment.

Shoot, I’ve spent lots of time getting to the top of the Google rankings when you search “Kansas City freelance copywriter.” Now should I start at zero with “Kansas City freelance content creator?” Hmm. It doesn’t exactly sing, does it?

Brand characters are still alive and kicking. But ads?

In a recent post, I bemoaned the passing of brand characters — like Charlie the Tuna and so on. But it seems all that bemoaning was for naught. ‘Cause brand characters are still with us. Like the Brawny Man, whom I savaged in an earlier post.

Do the Sonic guys count as brand characters? They’re certainly characters who tout Sonic as a brand. But do they represent the qualities of Sonic, or the intended audience?

Anyhow, apparently, AdCracker thinks it’s worth thinking about creating a brand character for your next ad campaign. Ad campaign? What’s that? I thought everybody was doing social media instead. Warning: sidetrack ahead!

I was talking with my friend, a brilliant young Web guy, the other night, and we both had recently read articles that said traditional advertising was making a comeback. Seems a lot of companies have tried to “move the merch” (as we hip people say) with social media and found it didn’t work. I commented that most companies don’t know how to do social media effectively. Then my friend astonished me by saying, with a twinkle in his eye, “Aha! But do you know of any social media campaigns that ARE effective?”

This pierced young fellow knows every trick there is on the Web. So I was shocked to hear him say such a thing. It seemed almost sacrilegious. You mean… the emperor has no clothes? If so, that’s going to crush the dreams of all those people making lotsa loot teaching clients how to do social media marketing. And, of course, the clients’.

Okay, what do I know about social media? Only that blogging on your website frequently and relevantly will get you higher Google rankings (unless they’ve changed their criteria yet again). But social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that actually sold stuff? I don’t know. I’m eager to hear of some.

Lately, political candidates are jumping on social media like crazy. I can’t tell you how many “friend” invites I’ve gotten from Kansas candidates who either want my money or my vote in the general election. But will it work to get elected? I’m skeptical.

The way Roy Blunt won the primary in Missouri was by old-fashioned political wheeler-dealer tactics and some good ol’ finagling, flim-flamming and back-slapping. He talked several people out of running for certain offices and cleared the road for his own campaign bus to roll to victory.

Blunt on left, ironically.

‘Course, Blunt has influence and name recognition. Something most new candidates don’t. So Facebook is as good a place as any for a new candidate to start. Cheap, quick, what’s not to like? Maybe the time it takes to post news and updates several times a day, when you could be out meeting the voters?

Unfortunately for our political system, advertising placement in newspapers and magazines has gotten tres cher. So only the established candidates with rich donors can afford to advertise. It perpetuates the tenure of some electees (like Blunt) who ought to be heaved out on their extremist cans.

Oops, I digress. Even from my sidetrack. Sorry. Back to the original subject.

But since we are talking about brand characters here, and politics, what about Michael Steele? Is he the perfect brand character for the national GOP, or what? He doesn’t give a fig for rules or ethics. Whoop-de-doo! Michael is making hay while the sun shines! This guy has violated historic tacit understandings nobody in that job before him would have thought of violating. Like the one that the head of the party isn’t supposed to be running around the country grabbing gunny sacks full of money for public appearances. Let alone publishing a book without letting ANYBODY IN THE PARTY know about it beforehand! He’s sneaky, greedy, underhanded and glib and doesn’t have a clue what the he-double-toothpicks he’s talking about. The perfect GOP brand symbol.

It’s nice to know some outfit still knows how to create one.