It came about a month ago when the Chicago Cubs baseball team ditched their manager Rick Renteria after just one season so they could replace him with Joe Maddon.
Managers like Maddon don't come around very often. He had enjoyed great success with the Tampa Bay Rays, taking that team from pits of the major leagues to playing in the World Series.
But when he finished up with the Rays, the Cubs pounced. After all, the Cubs have gone 106 years without a World Series title of their own; theirs is the longest drought in US professional sports.
The Cubs were desperate, and their reason to dump Renteria for Maddon perfectly understandable. But what was remarkable was the candour with which they made the announcement.
Here is an extract from the official announcement:
Today we made the difficult decision to replace Rick Renteria as manager of the Chicago Cubs. On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organisation.
Rick's sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.
Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.
There you have it. Brutally honest. No spin, no fudging.
But here was the key point:
Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon - who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us - had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organisation. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organisation has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.
Sports fans generally aren’t mugs. They might act like it at times, but they are generally so invested in their teams, emotionally and financially they can see through the nonsense almost immediately.
Credit goes to the Cubs. Rather then be hammered through the voracious 24/7 sports news cycle, they played things entirely straight. Renteria was a good manager and a decent person, but Joe Maddon? How could the Cubs bypass the opportunity to secure one of the best managers in baseball?
They couldn't. But at least they spelled out their reason in plain English and without a word of spin.
There are contrasts here with the AFL. Remember the end of 2012 when Carlton sacked Brett Ratten and installed Mick Malthouse? The move had been speculated on for weeks, but Carlton announced Ratten's dismissal and then embarked on a 'process' that to the surprise of nobody, ended up with Malthouse.
Now, the Blues were mindful of Ratten's wonderful service to the club as a premiership player, captain and coach and wanted to keep some distance between his removal and Malthouse's appointment. But in the eyes of the club supporters and the wider football community, would they have been better forgetting about the charade and getting straight to the point, as did the Cubs? If Malthouse was an upgrade on Ratten, why not back themselves in and spell it out?
Last October the Gold Coast Suns didn't sack Guy McKenna in order to immediately replace him with Rodney Eade as coach. But in announcing McKenna's departure, Suns chairman John Witheriff staged one of the most farcical media conferences in recent memory in which he lavished all sorts of praise on McKenna, made him sound like the second coming of Norm Smith and failed to explain at all why the Suns were moving him on.
In doing that, Witheriff gave his supporters, and the rest of us, little credit.
We're now at the time of year where people make out their wish lists and start thinking about their resolutions for the year ahead.
Mine is that more in football follow the lead of the Chicago Cubs and spare us the spin. There are promising signs already; new AFL boss Gillon McLachlan didn't hide behind facts and figures when he explained the drop in crowds in Victoria last season. He flat out admitted the AFL stuffed up the fixture and promised to rectify things, and so far, at least on paper, he has.
Peter Gordon admitted that communication issues were at the heart of Brendan McCartney's departure as coach of the Western Bulldogs. It had been rumoured for weeks and the straight-talking Bulldogs president 'fessed up.
Even the media-shy Dane Swan came out on the front footthis week, with an honest account of what went wrong last season, with the declaration that his year had been 'putrid'. Rest assured there are clubs in the AFL, that had it been one of their players who made the same sorts of admission as Swan, would be pleading with the media to play down the quotes or to "bury the lead" as we say in the industry.
Next season has been designated as the year for the fan. The hope here is that it also becomes the year in which spin is saved for the backyard cricket pitch.