Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some Odds & Ends

The Hawk Soars Into the Hall of Fame … FINALLY!

On his ninth time on the ballot, former Cubs right fielder (and 1987 NL Most Valuable Player) Andre Dawson finally garnered the necessary 75 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) to be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As you may know, players may appear on the ballot five years after retiring from the game and can stay on it for up to 15 years as long as they receive at least five percent of the vote. Dawson, who appeared on 77.9 percent of the ballots, made a huge jump from last year when he received 67 percent. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven came within an eyelash of also making it in, Alomar missing by eight votes and Blyleven missing by only five.

Former Chicago Sun Times a-hole Jay Mariotti went on record bragging about how he submitted a blank ballot. What a tool.

Cardinals Land Holliday

I must say, I didn’t see it happening. I, like almost everyone else, saw Holliday as a rental player for the Cardinals last year. Now he’s signed for 7 years and $119-120 million, mainly because of the lack of suitors willing to overpay for another Scott Boras “phenom”. That being said, can the Cardinals afford both Holliday AND Albert Pujols once his contract ends after 2011? The Cardinals do not seem like the kind of team to commit roughly half of their payroll to only two players. And if they do, what will the rest of the team look like? Will they be able to keep Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright? Can they hold onto Yadier Molina? These are three talented, and soon-to-be expensive players the Cardinals probably want to keep. Can they keep them all, or will the Holliday/Pujols package be too much? Or, even more intriguing, will the Cardinals be able to afford Pujols at all in two years? In any event, 2010 and 2011 look to be good years (barring injuries) for St. Louis, so expect the cloud of arrogance to hover over Missouri for a while. Then again, the Cubs were heavy favorites going into the 2009 season, so who knows. That’s why you play the games.

Cubs Looking at Sheets?

There have been some rumblings that the Cubs are looking at bringing in oft-injured former Brewers ace Ben Sheets. At last check, Sheets was looking at a payday of roughly $12 million for a one year deal. Now that it’s apparent no team is willing to go there for a guy who missed all of 2009 due to injury, perhaps the Cubs can swoop in with a high-incentive deal. I’d love to see a guy like Sheets pitching at Wrigley. It could be a low risk, high reward situation if he gets back to form. Let’s not get too carried away just yet, though. These are just rumors at this point.

Fantasy Baseball!!!

I will be hosting another private fantasy baseball league again this season. I will probably use this blog to post updates, but will also send out special invitations to people who may be interested. I will again be using the MLB.COM format, as I like their setup better than the others. More to come on that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Toys R Us Debacle

Yes, this is a non-baseball rant, and I apologize in advance. As you may know, my wife had an awful experience with the Toys R Us store here in Springfield, IL. Yes, this is the same store that had a Black Friday Midnight sale that almost resulted in the place being shut down by the police and fire department because their management allowed the store to exceed its capacity. In any event, right after my wife got home from the store and told me what happened, I immediately wrote a scathing letter to their corporate office. I have since been in contact with members of their office, and I thought I would share the entire story with anyone who might be interested in how this store treats their customers.



Name: Eric Woods

Wrote: My family and I will NO LONGER be shopping at Toys R Us. My wife came home practically in tears after trying to exchange a Christmas item received by my son. She did not have a receipt (since, you know, it was a CHRISTMAS gift) and received so much attitude BY THE MANAGER about an EXCHANGE (not a return), we will no longer EVER shop at this store. We will now be going online and to other stores in town when buying items for the kids.

Your store - especially the one in Springfield, IL, needs to learn how to hire competent people who don't talk down to, argue with, and try to embarass customers who have spent quite a bit of money at your store over the years. This was pathetic and unacceptable.

If you don't like people, get out of retail.

Customer (Customer Service at - 12/28/2009 03:58 AM
Dear Mr. Eric Woods,

Thank you for contacting

We appreciate your reaching out to us regarding your poor experience relating to the Springfield,IL Toys"R"Us store. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your email to the appropriate team for their prompt and much needed attention to this matter, and you should expect a response from a Guest Service Specialist within 3 to 5 business days. Please accept our deepest apologies for this inconvenience, we value you as a guest and I assure you this matter will be handled appropriately.

Thank you again for contacting We value your business and look forward to serving you in the future!

Cassidy Masters
Guest Service Team (1-800-ToysRUs / 1-800-869-7787)

Response (Benjamin Pratt) - 12/30/2009 10:08 PM
Dear Mr. Woods:

Thank you for contacting the "R" Us Family.

I appreciate you sharing your feedback with us. I am sorry you are dissatisfied. If could please provide us with the names of the associates or managers who were rude as well as exact statements they made, we will be happy to forward this to the appropriate department for review and any disciplinary actions necessary. Please be assured, your comments and suggestions are extremely important to us.

Thank you, once again, for contacting the "R" Us Family.

Benjamin Pratt
The "R" Us Team

Customer (Eric Woods) - 12/31/2009 11:15 AM
The incident happened on December 27th, early part of the afternoon. The name of the manager is not known, but she was caucasian with shoulder length red hair and of average height/weight. The item in question was purchased during the midnight sale on Thanksgiving/Black Friday by my sister-in-law (who has an "R" Us credit card). My wife gave the information (her sister's phone number) to the manager who claimed it wasn't in the system and bluntly stated, "If the person's name and phone number are not in the system, then they've never shopped at any of the "R" Us stores." My wife then called her sister who stated that her phone number was not requested during the purchase to which the manager fired back, "That's impossible, all of our employees are instructed to get that information." (Incidentally, my wife also did not have to give a phone number that night when she made her purchase.) At that point, she grabbed a nearby receipt and in a very condescending voice pointed at the bar code and said "Do you see this bar code? This is how we know if you really bought it here or not."

While she was very careful not to call my wife a liar, every comment she made (and the tone she used) implied it. After my wife made it clear she was not going to shop there again, the manager then said that if she did come back that she needed to keep her receipt. Again, her tone was very rude and condescending. Not to mention, this was all done in front of other customers, who all seemed to be unimpressed with how this manager was acting. I understand that retail outlets need to adhere to a return policy. But right after Christmas, there's a good chance that people will have returns without a receipt. We did not want money back on the item. Because it was a duplicate item, we just wanted to exchange it for something else, and would have probably spent even more, since my son wanted a PS2 game (which was much more expensive than the item being brought back). My sister-in-law lives in Jacksonville, so we were not going to have her come all the way in town with a receipt for something that seemed so minor at the time. Thank you for your time.

Eric Woods

Please note: while the "grammar nazi" in me wanted to come out, I did not edit this response.
Response (Benjamin Pratt) - 01/01/2010 03:12 PM
Dear Mr. Woods,

Thank you for updating this information with us about our store in Springfield
Illinois. We will be forwarding this on to their supervisors so the manager may
be approached regarding the manner in which she handled this situation. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we can not affect a return of exchange on any item without a the original receipt being present. If the store can pull up the original purchase by the credit card number used or the phone number registered, they may be able to affect a return. However, Toys R Us does return the right to refuse a refund or exchange, though in this case the manager appears to have been in need of reviewing our guest service expectations for the manner in which she approached this situation. We do appreciate your feedback and we will be placing that for review with the appropriate groups once our protocols and procedures are valuated and updated so they may see how our Returns and Exchanges policy can interfere with our ability to serve our guest. We do appreciate you taking the time to contact us and bringing this matter to our attention. Again, thank you, and we hope that we may one day re-establish your trust as our guest.

Benjamin Pratt
The "R" Us Team

Is it me, or has the retail industry taken a nosedive over the past 10 years? I worked in retail through high school and college. Behavior like this, especially from a manager, would have gotten you fired. Unfortunately this is becoming all too common, not just from this store, but from a number of others as well. Is it a generational thing? I mean, it usually isn't the Generation X and older group that gives off the attitude (this manager looked to be early-mid 20's).

While I don't espect this lady to get much more than a slap on the wrist (if it is even acknowledged), I am hoping people who are tired of the bad attitudes now associated with retail start fighting back a little more. Buy as much as you can online, and only patronize stores who truly act as if they want your business. This is not a shot at the big corporate businesses. In fact, I cannot remember a time when a Wal Mart employee was rude to me (I'm sure there are plenty of stories out there, just not any that I have experienced).

Thanks for reading my rant. Comments are welcomed.