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Knowing The Difference Between The Sizzle And The Steak

Let’s begin by agreeing on the proposition saying those who try to live on sizzle, not steak, end up losing weight, till, in the end, they’re dead. Sizzle in many contexts can be fun, sexy, interesting, even impressive, but never substantive. In sports, sizzle is often lookin’ spectacular while seldom winning. The strikeout pitcher who barely wins more than he loses. The .300 hitter, 40 homer, 100+ RBI guy who hits below the Mendoza line with men in scoring position, with most of his homers and RBI coming when his team is eight runs ahead or hopelessly behind.

Sizzle ain’t results.

As a baseball purist and a lifetime member of the OldSchool in real estate, I appreciate sizzle, but get pretty damn agitated at those given more or less equal standing with big time producers, based upon a buncha glitter and multi-colored smoke.

As Exhibit A I offer Nolan Ryan

He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. He threw the ball harder than Zeus threw lightning bolts. He struck out every third person on the planet earth. He threw eleventeen no-hitters. Then there were the stoopid number of 1-hitters. That’s what we purists call sizzle. I’ve done extensive research, and no-hitters still count as only one win. Strikeouts? Apparently they’re the same as all other outs. The winning team in any given game must get the other guys out 27 times in a nine inning game. The rules say an out’s an out. Go figure.

27 years in the major leagues, and he barely wins more games than he loses — 52.6%. He was the Dale Carnegie of pitchers, as he never met a hitter he didn’t walk. Try almost 5.25 every nine innings. If as a hitter you faced him more than five times, he walked you at least once.

His claim to fame from where I stand, is that his freak of nature body, combined with his superb work ethic and his luck with health and injuries, allowed him to pile up pretty much every stat but the one that mattered: Far more wins than losses.

Compare Ryan to Sandy Koufax. The man was cursed from Day 1. Drafted at 18, he was literally barred from the minors cuz he was paid too much of a bonus, so he never got to learn his craft the way his peers had. Most think he hurt his pitching elbow on the mound, when in fact, it was hurt while foolishly diving back head first on a pickoff attempt at second base. Doctors told him it was the catalyst for the arthritis that eventually felled him.

Let’s compare Ryan and Koufax during their best consecutive six year stretch. For Nolan is was 1972-77, while for Sandy is was 1961-66. Here’s where you can clearly see which one is the steak and which is the sizzle.

Wins: Koufax 129 Ryan 113 Win percentage: Koufax 7.33 Ryan .546 Losses: Koufax 47 Ryan 94. There was only a 12 game difference between the number of games each started. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. In their best six year stretches, Koufax’s winning percentage was almost 35% better than Ryan’s. Career vs career, Koufax’s winning percentage, including his completely fruitless years in Brooklyn, was a tick less than 25% better than Ryan’s.

You wanna win a game that makes the difference? Pick Koufax 10 times outa 10 vs Ryan. Ryan couldn’t carry Sandy’s jock, when all the sizzle is disregarded. Last time I checked, it was about winning. OK, I’ll stop pilin’ on.

For the record, I love Nolan Ryan. The guy’s the epitome of what a sports role model should be. As a man, he’s a giant. As a Hall of Fame Pitcher? Hell, most of the pitchers in the Hall were better than he was. That is if winning more while simultaneously losing less is a factor.

In real estate, you can’t bank sizzle, and there’s no Hall of Fame for those who showed the most properties, or took the most listings, or have the most prolific lead-producing website.

Unsold listings, property showings with no sales, 50 lead-a-day websites, and the best direct mail, social media, or what have you in the known universe, doesn’t impress your banker one iota. In fact it bores ‘em.

Banks are a no-sizzle zone — a fact of life of which most real estate agents appear happily ignorant.

I don’t buy the 60+ hours that most agents claim as their typical week. The difference between Nolan Ryan and top real estate agents, is that buyers and sellers insist on winning. We either sold their property or we didn’t. We found them the place they were lookin’ for or we didn’t. The closing of escrow is the only known win in the real estate universe. Anything else might as well be a rotting steak on the grill, givin’ off that great sounding sizzle. All sizzle and no steak is what failure is all about.

No win = no paycheck.

Success in baseball is ultimately measured in terms of wins. In real estate success is ultimately measured in terms of closed escrows — skinned cats if you will.

Pretty websites, hi-tech marketing, IDX magic? All are real estate’s version of strikeouts and no-hitters. If they didn’t eventually lead to more wins, you’ll still need to add about $1.95 for a Grande cuppa coffee at Starbucks.

Am I touchin’ a nerve?

5,714 is how many hitters Nolan Ryan struck out, more than anyone else who ever donned a major league uniform. Same with no-hitters. Yet with all that impressive sizzle, he still couldn’t figure out how to win even 53% of the games in which he pitched.

Think I’m being harsh? The Angels lost more games than they won in 2010. Yet, they had three starting pitchers with equal or better winning percentages than Nolan Ryan. None appear to be future candidates for the Hall.

Sandy Koufax pitched a buncha no-hitters too. He struck out WAY more than his share of hitters. But instead of barely winning more than he lost, he won nearly two of every three games in which he toed the rubber. In his six best years? He won almost three of every four. Ryan’s best six? Still couldn’t reach the 60% win level. Where’s the steak?

All this to ask you these million dollar questions.

Do buyers and sellers want sizzle, or do they want results? Would they want Koufax or Ryan to be their agent?

The Hall of Fame for producing agents is based on nothing more or less than closed escrows — cat skins on the wall. The voters are the folks who’ve benefited from the results you produced. Sizzle — it’s for those constantly in search of the mythical magic button. There’s more than enough sizzle to go around. You can have my share.

I prefer winning. Make my steak medium rare.

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