Through the Looking Glassdoor

Much can be discovered thanks to the power of internet anonymity. (via J M)

Falsifying records. Claims of nepotism. No, this isn’t just another day in the White House. Welcome to the wacky world of baseball through the lens of Glassdoor.

Working for a major league baseball team is, it may not come as a surprise to hear, a lot like working for any other large business. As the employee of a hierarchical corporation under the umbrella of one of the nation’s largest entertainment industries, 95% of the time you’re likely dealing with the monotony of day-to-day work; navigating office politics and cliquey coworkers; feeling overworked and underpaid; and wondering what on earth your future looks like. These are sentiments many of us have likely experienced at one point or another during our careers, however long or short.

That other 5%, though, can go a little off the rails.

How do I know this, you might ask? I know this because, like any other business, each major league team has its own profile on Glassdoor, the website that allows employees to review the companies for which they work anonymously. Thinking these public forums might offer some nuggets of insight into the hidden gears of major league teams, I dug through all 1,515 reviews left by current and former team employees to see what I might be able to discover. And, reader, did I discover some stories. Here’s what I learned in my journey:

Overview

By and large, people seem to enjoy working for baseball teams. Reviewers are given the opportunity to rate their company on a scale of 1-5 stars and can submit the pros and cons of working there, plus any advice to management they might have to offer. Most reviews under each team followed a similar pattern that read something like:

Pros: It’s baseball! What’s not to love?
Cons: The hours are long and the pay is low.
Advice to management: Keep up the great work and try to listen more!

Seriously, this was what half of the reviews said almost verbatim. Which makes sense! Having never worked for a major league baseball team, this is likely how I would review an imagined experience. Work generally sucks, baseball generally doesn’t, and everything else falls somewhere in the middle.

As you can see from the chart below, most teams fell around the four-star mark — the overall average came in at exactly 4.0 stars on an average of 51 reviews per team.

All things considered, this seems pretty good! For the most part, both interns and career employees seemed willing to put up with a fair amount of internal politics in exchange for a decent enough office culture and a handful of free game tickets. And yet…

Working for the Marlins is about what you would expect

Bringing up the rear with a whopping 2.8 stars, people just do not seem to like working for the Miami Marlins! The issues people cited largely echoed the issues brought up in other organizations, just…somehow worse. In fact, it appears overall satisfaction among employees has dropped under Derek Jeter’s embattled tenure as CEO of the team.

One disgruntled reviewer, identifying himself as a “former sales representative,” summarized the experience thusly: “They’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” The employee notes the organization “specializes in excuses” and laments the fact that “Jeter brings in execs from all over then gives them Spanish lessons when there is already plenty of awesome local bilingual talent in our own backyard.” That’s a harsh but fair counter to the praise Jeter received when this plan was announced last year.

Another former employee was even blunter, calling their time with the organization a “demoralizing experience,” claiming racial discrimination from upper management and confirming “the Miami Marlins deserve to be the butt of all jokes and criticism.”

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

The Marlins’ organization is far from the only one to cultivate a toxic culture, though is it possible for a team to have the toxic-est?

Lessons in homogeneity

It takes a certain kind of person to succeed working for a baseball team — and that doesn’t always have to do with talent. Many reviews mentioned the difficulties for women to climb the corporate ladder working for major league organizations, while the low-paying nature of many of the entry-level positions creates a self-sorting bias in favor of people who can afford that sort of a stepping stone. Many people noted promotions often seemed based more on popularity than performance. Or, as one reviewer succinctly put it:

Yep, checks out.

 

The Diamondbacks: “greatest work culture in corporate America”

The Arizona Diamondbacks have 97 reviews on their page, the second-highest total, and their 4.6 rating makes them the third highest-rated team.

Interestingly, between October 29, 2012, and November 13, 2012, the Diamondbacks received 29 reviews — all but one of them five stars — that gush over the organization’s incredible corporate culture, with many calling the team a leader both inside the industry and out. The reviews use phrases like “dynamic leadership,” “a company with integrity,” and “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” making you wonder if you’re reading reviews of a company or the employee handbook sent around on your first day on the job.

Of course, it’s possible the Diamondbacks culture really is just that delightful. And, to be fair, even the reviews that didn’t come during this period also mention the company’s good culture, though they also mention the long hours and poor pay. Take away those 28 five-star reviews and the team’s rating drops to 4.3 — still a sterling mark, good for top 10 in the league.

Have the Red Sox fixed their bullpen toilets?

Due to the anonymity of these reviews, limited resources, and my overall general confusion, this next review from an employee of the Boston Red Sox lands as simply another fascinating glimpse into the organization, although I would easily read 1,000 words on the full story of just this anecdote if anyone wants to write an investigative piece.

Reading this only raises more questions, such as: In what inning did said incident occur? Were others around to witness this unfortunate turn of events? Were players similarly precluded from exercising their bodily needs? Was this written by a player? Or perhaps my biggest question, which is: You still rated them four stars after they forced you to poop your pants?

I can only hope this anonymous employee was the only one to be put in such a precarious situation, and this story doesn’t get out further, because if it did, it would certainly be quite the, uh, stain on the Red Sox reputation.

Speaking of players writing reviews…

Baseball players are workers, too

Lest you think it’s just interns and poorly equipped bullpen security guards writing these reviews, may I remind you players are employees under the thumb of their bosses as well, and they have thoughts and feelings about their workplace environment just like the rest of us. And yet, I was still a bit shocked to find dozens of (presumably) minor league players left reviews about their respective organizations.

Many of the players shared similar thoughts about playing for their various teams, with the consistent pro usually being they get to live out their dream playing baseball, and the cons usually coming down to the constant travel and the extremely low pay.

Quite a few players mentioned their frustrations at the politics of being in a baseball organization, lamenting the lack of merit-based promotions, and poor communication (baseball players: they’re just like us!). Most players, however, seemed quite happy with their teams despite qualms about pay or transparency from management, acknowledging they understood what they were signing up for. (Still: Pay minor leaguers more!)

Do you think minor league players update their LinkedIn pages when they get traded? And can this anonymous White Sox player help edit some cover letters for me?

Other players were much more succinct about their experiences.

Yeah, that is definitely what I would call a “con.”

At the end of the day, there are some trade-offs to be made

Still rated four stars. The allure of the game is strong. I suppose working in baseball, you win some, you lose some.

This piece has been updated with comment from the Arizona Diamondbacks.


Alex is based in New York and writes about music, baseball, and urban issues (though not necessarily at the same time). He co-hosts the baseball podcast Tipping Pitches, which can be found on iTunes or on Twitter @tipping_pitches.
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Eli Ben-Porat
Member
Member

Great stuff! As a data guy, would have loved a few charts showing the teams by each of the metrics glassdoor has. Also curious if there are any macro trends over time.

gvanlue
Member
gvanlue

I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the Mets rank in the top third overall and that even the guy who was released said it was a great experience…

ingailly
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ingailly

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