Black Friday took on a whole new meaning for 80 Phillies employees this year.
That was the day the world discovered that the $2 billion franchise and its billionaire ownership group eliminated 80 of its front-office positions — almost 20% of the workforce — to save about $8 million. With excruciatingly insensitive timing, and with the blessing of billionaire owner John Middleton, team president Andy MacPhail and executive vice president Dave Buck reportedly issued email announcements on Wednesday to all franchise employees.
Wednesday was, of course, Thanksgiving eve.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Mass job reductions. In a pandemic. During an unemployment spike. As unemployment benefits are set to run out for millions of Americans by year’s end.
What a bunch of turkeys.
A statement from the team confirmed the terminations and trumpeted the club’s relief that many of the eliminations came through buyouts, though the team declined to specify how many employees were given buyouts or what level of quality the buyouts reached.
That’s not the point. Not really. The COVID-19 pandemic and the 60-game 2020 season without fans led several teams to cut staff and issue pay cuts, such as the A’s, Giants, Red Sox, Cubs, and, of course, the Marlins.
But those teams are not the Phillies, a team that would keep punching itself in the face even if both arms were cut off. This was just the latest, but most tangibly tone deaf maneuver by a franchise that has consistently stubbed its toe in public since Middleton — a tobacco scion reportedly worth more than $3.4 billion — assumed control of the club in 2016. He’s given a whole new meaning to the phrase he coined: “Stupid money.”
Reports say the Phillies lost almost $150 million this season. That’s about 4.4% of $3.4 billion.
Assume the 80 employees each made a $100,000 salary. (They assuredly did not.) That’s $8 million. That is about 0.2% of $3.4 billion.
If $8 million of $3.4 billion still sounds like a lot, use this comparison: For an American household making $80,000, that’s $160. One hundred sixty bucks.
Or, about the price of two good Phillies tickets.
Times are tough all over. Even for billionaires.
Talk about small ball.
To borrow from Doug Pederson, this sort of ham-handed fiasco has become the Phillies’ “new norm.”