Miami Marlins

Are Championships The **Only** Thing That Matter?

It’s easy to make fun of the Miami Marlins.  My husband did yesterday, and I’ve been known to dabble in it a few times myself.  After spending a shit ton of money on free agents that Jeffrey Loria later turned into Canadian currency, the Miami Marlins are bottom feeders.

But OHHHHHH! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT??!?!  THEY WON A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2003!!  THEY WON TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS OF EXISTENCE!!! BLAHHHHHH!

The Marlins have never won a division championship either.  They never built for the future and quickly dismantled those teams just for shits and giggles.

They won those championships by accident.

So the Mets have won two championships in a 50 year existence.  Guess what? So have the Phillies, in over 100 years of existence.  They also have over 10,000 losses in their history.

The Atlanta Braves also have existed since 1966 (but existed in many other forms for over 100 years too).  As the Atlanta Braves (I’m not looking at their entire existence, get over it), they won ONE championship in 1995.  Remember how dominant that team was in the ’90s?

And the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos? Not a one.

Out of the Phillies (a team that is well over 100 years old), the Mets (51 years young) and the Marlins, whoever wins the next championship will be the winningest National League Eastern Divisional team.

Funny how that puts things into perspective, right?

So when someone comes back at me with history, it’s a very limited history scope, and it’s a very revisionist one as well.

My question then is: are World Championships in baseball the be-all, end-all?

Look at the Houston Astros.  They’re a fucking train wreck and a half now.  They’ve never won a championship in their 51 year existence either (they’re the same age as the Mets).  Yet, they’ve had such greats as Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, hell even Roidger Clemens play for them.  Biggio and Bagwell were the “Franchise.”  They may not have any hardware, but their history certainly is not irrelevant.

Fans still love the Chicago Cubs.  They haven’t won in over 100 years, and they, too, only have two championships to their credit.   Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, they all played for the Cubs.  Know what else they have in common?  Never played in a World Series.

A team like the Mets has Tom Seaver in the Hall of Fame, who won a championship with the team.  Mike Piazza, who should be in the Hall, played in a World Series just once.

The Marlins have Jeff Conine.  They traded away a future Triple Crown winner and MVP in Miguel Cabrera.  They got rid of Josh Beckett who was instrumental in bringing a World Series to Boston in 2007…another team, mind you, that didn’t win in 86 friggin years at one point.  (Though they had exorcised that demon prior to Beckett going there).

The Mets happen to share a city with the team that has won the most championships throughout sports, the New York Yankees at 27.  The second winningest franchise?  The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11.  Third and fourth are the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants.  Funny this is that the Giants didn’t win a championship in San Francisco until 2010, after over 50 years of relocating to the Bay Area (till 2009, they were tied at 5 with the Cincinnati Reds).

I don’t think we’d be as hell bent as a fan base on winning, or measuring our pee-pees with other teams in the division, if we saw the larger picture.  That larger picture is that your existence isn’t solely based on winning it all.

Oh don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice.  I’ve been through two, and I really wanted my husband to experience for another one of his teams this year since none of his teams have won anything since 1986.

But I’d take the Mets, post-traumatic Mets disorder and all, and their quirky yet rich history any day over the Marlins luck of the draw in winning championships by accident any day.

Holier Than Thou

I’m a pretty fortunate chick that I can travel around to visit ballparks around the country. At current count, I’ve seen Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, CitiField, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Tropicana Field, Wrigley Field, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, Ballpark at Arlington, Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park, Petco Park, Angel Stadium and Rogers “I’m Calling it SkyDome” Centre. (I’ve also seen three stadiums no longer with us: Shea, the “first” Yankee and The Vet in Philly).

I’ve met some shitty fans (San Francisco was by far one of the worst fan bases I’ve ever come in contact with), fans who couldn’t care less and probably have a better reputation than they should (like Toronto), and some fanbases that get a bad rap that actually I didn’t get to see (like Dodger fans). I’ve seen what bad finances can do to a fan base (like mine), and I can see what happens when ownership gets in its own way (like Miami or Baltimore).  I’ve seen what happens when a team gets good and all of a sudden “lifelong fans” come out of the woodwork.

I’m all too familiar with that last part. I’ve seen it happen with my own fan base, especially in 2006. EVERYONE wanted to be in on the fun. Then again, I’ve always said that the best times to be a Mets fan would be during the down years anyway.

I digress.

The playoffs brings out the worst in every fan base, I believe. The worst of the bandwagoners.

But the whole “he who is without sin” and “casting the first stone” has come out in full force, probably more than ever, during these baseball playoff series.

And mostly, I find that Yankee fans in my feed are casting those stones.

This is not meant to be an attack on Yankee Nation or their fans. I have a great amount of people in my Twitter feed and in my real life whom I consider good friends who are Yankee fans. These are FANS not in quotation marks, but people who live and die by the team. I get that there is a lot of history and passion related to the topic. These aren’t the people I have a problem with. In fact, they’re the people who I feel are the most level-headed.

I find the whole topic of “fairweather fans” in the playoffs kind of funny.  I mean, Yankee fans should speak from experience.  I should know: I am a Mets fan who has rooted for the blue and orange, lived and died with them since I was seven years old.  Yet, over the years, with the peaks and valleys with how poor the team has been run, I’ve seen my share of people who show up only when they are good.

Yet there is a population of people who just stop going to games.  Why spend money on a product that is faulty?  I can certainly see the validity to that statement.  What I hated though was going from 2004, where the real fans were still showing up, drinking beer and talking about trades that would never happen, to 2006, when people said, “Oh I like this Mets team better than the Yankees, so I’m gonna root for them.”  No.  Seriously.  SOMEONE SAID THIS TO ME.  I don’t remember if I said anything back because, well, I just couldn’t believe someone would admit it to me.

I have family members who claim to be lifelong Yankee fans, but I can put an asterisk *since 1996 next to their fandom, since we sat in front of the TV and rooted for the Mets in the ’80s.  I wish I could have it that easy.  Just start rooting for another team without a conscience.

Like I said, this isn’t meant to be a rant against Yankee fans.  I just find it mildly ironic (okay – HELLA ironic) that their fans would call out Orioles fans for “just showing up” now.

Here are some things I’ve taken into consideration about this year’s playoffs.

One is, I go to probably more Orioles games than any others outside of my own team’s.  It’s mostly a geographic necessity.  I’m certainly not going to go to a game in Philadelphia for the hell of it.  Same for the Bronx.  I hate Boston, and DC and I don’t mix.  But I like Baltimore.  It’s a quick bus ride for me.  I can find cheap accommodations, and food is really really good there.  And if there is a game going on when I happen to be there, you better be certain I’m going to attend.  (There’s also this little obsession I have with a guy named Cal Ripken). I may be a little biased for their fans but that’s because I interact with many of them in a given time frame.

Two is, take into consideration economic factors.  Typically, if a region is hurting or there is less discretionary income going somewhere, chances are baseball games will get hit.  I have a family member who admitted he stopped going to games because it wasn’t economically feasible this year.  I can understand that. For what it’s worth too, the Mets have taken note of this phenomenon and at least have tried to make it more appealing for families to come to the ballpark.  My husband and I don’t have children.  We like baseball.  We make it a priority to attend.  Therefore, we make it a factor for us.  That and road trips.

But that’s just the thing.  I feel like the road trips I go on make me maybe a little conscious of what’s going on in outside markets.  True, New York is expensive, but so is the cost of living and generally prices and incomes are in line with that.  Take into consideration Los Angeles, when I went to a game when the Dodgers were actually good, and I could get a seat in the Loge level for TWELVE DOLLARS on Stubhub.  I could go to the Cell in Chicago’s South Side and spend less than $30 for two tickets for a team that gets a good draw in the upper deck in the secondary market (lots of fees went into that $30, I think it was like $13 per ticket).

Mostly, when I go to Baltimore and there is a game going on, I can walk up that day and buy tickets, get good seats, cheap.  Is it indicative of the fan base?  Maybe.  But I definitely think that local economic factors in “smaller markets” account for this too.

The third is, again the irony calling out the Baltimore Orioles fan base in general.  The AL East, save the Yankees and MAYBE the Red Sox, never sell out their games.  And even those two teams don’t come close to it most nights (maybe the Sox do because their stadium is so small, therefore fewer seats to fill).

I was in Toronto in May, and there were tons of fans dressed as empty seats.  In fact, Rogers Centre was a barn.  You could not fill it up, and they actually closed off some sections.  I believe though, that they might have raised prices on tickets there to account for the lack of seats that were there.  I don’t think they can do that…but I feel like my upper deck ticket was really high.

Look at the Tampa Bay Rays, who have actually been a good team for the past four years, couldn’t sell out a game to save their lives, then they became good.  THEY COULD NOT GET PEOPLE TO COME TO THEIR GAMES OR THE PLAYOFFS.

You know what I saw last night at Camden Yards?  I saw passion.  I saw excitement.  I saw people who now had a reason to go to the games.  Not complaining that Peter Angelos was running the team into the ground, and they’d never compete again.  I remember reading an article a few weeks ago about how the fans were not coming to the games, but viewership was at an all-time high for MASN (the local sports network in that region).  I don’t think that’s bandwagon-ism, it’s more of a “Hey, I can justify putting my discretionary income into these games now.”

The first game was a clusterfuck for sure.  I heard that Orioles fans were leaving when the game was still close.  In a close game, in the playoffs, that’s a total party foul.  I can’t say that I blame them though.  I’m not one to leave a game early unless I’m ill or something, but you know, it was cold Sunday night.  Some people had to work the next day.

What got me though is that Orioles fans are not the only folks to do such a thing.  I remember in 2010 fans leaving the Yankees/Rangers series at Yankee Stadium.  I talked to a coworker then who admitted he left early.  When I gave him “the look,” he said, “Look, judge me all you want, but I have kids.  I need to be in the office at 8 A.M.  It was close to midnight.  They were losing.  I had to pick up my car in Jersey City.  I wanted to go home.”  I guess, you know, he wasn’t banking on a comeback, but hey, he had a point.

What I’m saying is….these things happen.

In the past year and change, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great fans from other fan bases, something I can say would have never happened without the advent of social media.  And mostly, I find it intriguing to watch because I am a Mets fan and they sucked all year.  Then there’s my friends from the Washington Nationals fan base that I’m really happy for, because they’re so much fun to watch getting excited over their team.  Prior to this year, it was an easy ticket to get (do I need to bring up how the Nationals ticket people openly recruited Phillies fans to come to their games?).  Do I think these people are bandwagoners?  Absolutely not.

Last year, I went to a “meaningless” game in September at Camden Yards, and met the two fans pictured above.  The woman, “Stretch Lady,” made it a point to go to all 81 home games last year.  Let that one sink in.  The gentleman, who writes for 2131 and Beyond, follows the Orioles around like I follow the Mets around.  Are they exceptions to the rule?  Hardly.

I watched with glee as the Orioles took out the Red Sox in Game 162.  Nothing against the Red Sox.  I know a lot of their fans too.  But because my misconceptions about Orioles were cleared up, I found that this team had scrap.  And it carried over into this season, surprising many.

I could point out that Phillies fans had nothing to cheer for prior to 2008, and were merely distracted from their Eagles watching with a decent few years from the baseball team.  Now those fans are not showing up to games.   Then again, that’s a bad example because save maybe Flyers fans, Philadelphia sports fans are probably the most fickle in all of sports.

I make it a point to not actively root for teams during the playoffs.  Honestly, I don’t like the stress that goes along with it.   But I do like watching from an objective point of view.  And my objectivity makes it clear that those who are pointing the amount of bandwagon jumpers in these particular playoffs have no fucking room to make that judgment.

To prove my point, The 7 Line found this shirt today, made by Majestic. 

A shirt that is an official shirt maker for MLB.

His response was, “The bandwagon will love that.”

I got some defensive responses from some of the Yankee fan base the other night, when I commented about those who come out to roost during the playoffs.  “That’s not true!” they say.  “They’re just as passionate as other fan bases,” they say.  But…what about those people I see who never wear a stitch of Yankee clothing during the regular season, never make a comment about going to a game, watching a game, never make a peep about a good pitching performance from CC Sabathia, or make a comment about how they don’t like A-Rod (trust me: real Yankee fans DO NOT like A-Rod).

Guess when they show up and won’t shut the fuck up?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s a month that begins with “O.”

I’m not saying that none of these fans aren’t bandwagoners.  Clearly, every fan base has them.  I’ve seen plenty infiltrate my team.

But to say the experience is somehow “less than” or that your team’s fans are better because they’ve been to the playoffs 100 years in a row and can’t get rid of these lunatic fringe element that goes and starts shit, well congratulations.

You’re a Holier-than-Thou fan.

Miami, You’ve Got Style

During the baseball off season, the Miami Marlins were the toast of the town, or more aptly, Major League Baseball.

They weren’t afraid of spending money.  They exemplified the ideal of “winning at all costs.”  Literally.  They went out and overspent on the likes of (former Met) Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle.  Traded for Carlos Zambrano.  And brought colorful manager Ozzie Guillen to rope these guys in.

As flamboyant as the team seemed to be, they paled in comparison to the flamenco-inspired **new** Marlins Park.

They even seemed to behave differently.  Hanley Ramirez was rumored to not be happy about his BFF taking his job. But he got over it, and seemed happy with the idea of winning.

People anointed them winners of the NL East.

This was not your mama’s Marlins.  Nooooo, they were going to win at all costs.

Till they didn’t.

Now, as of today, THIS is the Marlins we know and potentially love.  The Marlins of the 16 fans, and low attendance.  No, seriously, Forbes reported that their new stadium is drawing the fewest fans at a first year ballpark.  From a Mets fan who is also a season ticket holder, I saw first hand how bad it was once the Mets started losing in 2009.  Hard to imagine justifying spending money there, as a season ticket holder.

The Marlins of the fire sale.  They have/had some good names but for some reason can’t get their act together as a team.  Besides Bell, Buehrle, Reyes, there was Ramirez, along with Josh Johnson (coveted “ace” who has had a number of injuries in recent years), Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante…Oh and by the way, only three of those four latter names are still Marlins today.

Sanchez and Infante were traded to the Detroit Tigers, a difference a week makes going from a team that is now eight games under .500 to a team in the thick of its division race.

Ramirez, who was a coveted prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization at one point and was involved on the prospect end of a fire sale between the then-Florida Marlins and Sox in the winter of 2005, begrudgingly (or so the media wanted you to think) moved to third base to accommodate Reyes…only to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With rumors that not only will Johnson be thrown on the auction block to see what interest there is for him (oh, and there will be, no question), the Marlins have made no bones that no one is safe…even Heath Bell, who has had a pretty lackluster year as the Miami closer.

Yes, folks.  This is the Marlins we all know and love.  This is the Marlins franchise that has…

Won two world championships? (not to mention, has had significant amount of no-hitters in their franchise history, which blows my mind).

I actually had someone make that argument with me today, when some of my friends and I on Twitter were joking around about the Marlins’ situation.

Yes, I do realize that in 50 years, the Mets have had only two championships.  I also realize that the Mets have their shortcomings as well this season.  This month hasn’t been a particularly easy one either.

But the Marlins are interesting.  They have like 16 fans, their new park was supposed to draw more people to the park…and it hasn’t worked.  So they go back to the plan that they know works.  Which really isn’t a plan.  It’s more like lack of one.

You know what though?  Their championships?  They were almost accidents!  They’ve never won a division title (something the Mets have actually done), only to get into the World Series through the back door.  Hey, more power to them.

But don’t cop to me like it was some sort of original “plan.”  Far from it.

At the beginning of the season, everyone and their brother had their predictions.  I was on a show where I was outnumbered.  I said the Phillies, until they give me a reason not to believe it, would win the division (I’m thinking they’re giving me a reason).  Most of the opinions on the show had the Marlins.  I said that the Marlins could either be a one-hit wonder this year, or be a cast of characters that doesn’t do much.

I guess that balanced it out for me.

So Miami, I’m so happy you’ve returned, truly.  You’ve been a beautiful audience.  And I’m glad you stopped pretending you were a legitimate baseball organization, and gone back to what works for you.

Miami, you’ve got style!

Sucks To Be Them

Well, hello, everyone.  I’m back.  I apologize a) for the brief hiatus and b) for not really leaving an explanation.  Truth is, I was moving, and had the attention span of a three year old.  Even if I wanted to write, if I could string a coherent sentence together, that would have been enough of a win for me.

But I’m ready now.  After my break, I plan to come back this Wednesday with my first podcast in about a month, and then broadcast regularly.  Also, something else interesting happened.

Baseball wasn’t doing it for me.

I was a little shellshocked from the New York Rangers season, to the extent that it took me awhile to get back to baseball.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t paying attention or enjoying it.  From R.A. Dickey’s spectacular start to Johan Santana’s no-hitter to other events in baseball, I have to say I was preoccupied.  But in a conversation I had last night with Tweeter @Gardenfaithfull, this is what I had to say.

And that was that. This was after all, right after David Wright hit a walk-off single to win the game and blown save of Jonathan Papelshmear, oops, Papelbon.  It was the first time that I shrieked watching baseball this year.  It was the first time I was afraid my neighbors thought I’d be murdered since watching hockey.

So I guess All-Star Break came at an opportune time, since I have a better feeling of how the Mets should be performing, but also with the other indicators in the NL East.

And what I can say about the Braves, the Phillies, the Marlins and the Nationals?  Sucks to be them.

Hear me out.

So there’s the Braves. The Braves are currently in third place in the division, but have an interesting thing going on.  Famed Met killer (not to mention Phillies killer) Larry Wayne Jones is going on his retirement tour.  So in essence, with Bobby Cox gone, and Chipper near done, it’s the end of an era.  But the Braves will always have young talent coming through their ranks to keep things interesting.

Sucks to be them.

Recently, they lost their young stud starter Brandon Beachy to a season-ending injury requiring surgery.  This led them to sign Ben Sheets, the oft-injured once-upon-a-time wunderkind starter himself.  I have kind of a thing for Sheets, I just always loved him, but I know his limitations as a pitcher.  So they replace an injured pitcher with a perpetual injury risk himself.   The Braves will always be somewhat of a threat to the Mets, but to be honest, I don’t see them being much of a threat this season.  Jonny Venters has not had a dominant season, coming back down to Earth as he was pretty much bullet proof in the ‘pen last year.

The Marlins.  Or the MarLOLins as you’re apt to see on Twitter.  Miami has proved that, once again, championships or divisions are not won by backpage headlines.  In fact, I’m sure with a cast of characters like Hanley Ramirez (not exactly known for playing nice with people), Jose Reyes (whom we all loved as Met), Carlos Zambrano (nuff said), Heath Bell (bwahhahahahahaha), Mark Buehrle (actually, I don’t have a problem with him, but he was on the FA list so there), and manager Ozzie Guillen, we all thought this could go one of two ways: Jeffrey Loria was trying to garner interest in his new park by spending money on top names, or the team would peak in year one, only to have the contracts take them down and have a fire sale in a few years.

Suffice to say, both were off for me.  While the park has lost some interest with dwindling attendance some nights, the team is certainly not peaking.  In fact, whoever had the over/under of team turmoil happening before the season started won with Guillen making some controversial comments on Fidel Castro, when his team plays right in the heart of Little Havana in Miami.  Oops.

But that’s not all.  Two days ago, Guillen ripped into the pitching staff of his team for giving up 13 runs to the Milwaukee Brewers, losing a game in extra innings via walk off when Heath Bell blew a save (something we hear about quite a bit, actually).  Bell is getting paid an average $9mm per year for three years to close in Miami, and he has five blown saves to record as of today.  That’s nuts, as my friend Sully says, don’t let his contract ruin the season.

Sucks for them.

For everyone who anointed this team as world beaters at the beginning of the season, I told my friends on a podcast of predictions that I didn’t think they were going to go anywhere.  I was in the minority.  I did, however, say the Phillies would win the division until they gave me good reason not to think they would.

I think they’ve given me reason.  Roy Halladay was hit with the injury bug in May, but he should be nearing his return soon.  That didn’t take away from the fact though, that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were both out, formidable threats in the lineup.  Utley returned, kicking off a six-game losing streak with him on the active roster.  Then there was the curious case of Clifton Phifer Lee, who couldn’t buy a win with his $24 mm (till, you know, the Mets gift wrapped his first win for him).  Then Howard shows up, well on a return from his Achilles tendon injury, looking like he could be the next spokesperson for the bacon sundae at Burger King.

Sucks for them.

I know it’s only July, I know better than anyone that ANYTHING can happen between All-Star break and the last regular season game in September.  But honey, let me tell you, Rome is burning and Nero is fiddling, but substitute “Philadelphia” for Rome, and a fiddling Nero for I don’t know, some cheesesteak eating Eagles fan who got tired of waiting around for them to win a Super Bowl.  Look, Cliff Lee can go on a tear and win every single start from here on out.  Halladay could be the rug that ties the room together, and Howard might start smacking the crap out of the ball in his return.  It will also account that they are WAY behind in the game, Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting any younger, Shane Victorino’s days are numbered in a Phillies uniform (good riddance to that prick-torino), and Jonathan Papelbon is signed for four years, $50mm…and it’s as good as an automatic blown save for the Mets (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point).  Oh and the beauty part?  Howard signed a gargantuan contract two years ago, that kicked in THIS YEAR: 5 years/$125mm.

Join me in a hearty BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the Nationals, though, it’s kind of curious.  I know, as it turns out, many good folks who are passionate about the Washington Nationals (follow @cnichols14 and @dugoutdiva for some good Nats tweets).  Though they are a division rival, I’m actually quite curious and kind of excited to see how they pan out this season.  I mean, I love Davey Johnson, that’s for sure.  As a Mets fan, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for him to do well no matter where he goes.  Then there’s the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades kids.  Of course, I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  But yeah.  Sucks to be them.

Of course, Harper is tearing shit apart and kicking ass, taking names, etc.  But then Strasburg thing is a curious case, as he’s infamously been given an innings limit of 160 innings, maybe a few innings more according to GM Mike Rizzo.  I guess when it was imposed (at the beginning of the season) or suggested, the Nationals making the playoffs might have been a pipe dream.  The reality is, no one is running away with the division now AND with the advent of not one but two wild cards, it warrants some serious consideration about Strasburg’s usage, coming off an injury to being used full-out to win a division, which could happen.

Sucks for them to be put in that situation.  Sacrificing the future, or going with the win-now? Oh and I almost forgot, the beauty part.  Remember when Jayson Werth bolted Philly and signed a ginormous contract with the Nats, for a guy who never had 100 RBIs ever in his career (99 was his peak)?  Well, he got hurt earlier this season, and has spent significant time nursing a broken wrist.  Yet, Ryan Zimmerman, with a 6yr/$100 mm extension last year (till 2019 with a 2020 club option), has not been having a great prove-my-contract-worth year with a whopping .241/.304/.374 and 7 HRs and 38 RBIs.  Ouch.

Well, what about the Mets, you may ask?  Well, they are not without their warts either.  In a conversation with Kerel Cooper from On The Black last night, I told him that I was happy to be dead wrong about the starting pitching this year.  (Video will be posted in a few days).  Doesn’t mean I won’t have my concerns about going into the second half.  Johan Santana may not have a Strasburg-like limitation, but he did come off a devastating injury last year.  R.A. Dickey has been the man, but according to the New York Post, Dickey is 1-1 with a 7.79 ERA against teams he’s faced previously this season.  That’s kind of an ouchie, considering we really need someone like Dickster to step up his game against NL East teams down the stretch.  Then there’s Jon Niese, whom you all know I love, but he often has conditioning issues (and a heart surgery coming up during All-Star Break…as minor/outpatienty it sounds…yeesh).  Chris Young and Dillon Gee have been holding down the fort, but with Young’s propensity for the long-ball, and Gee’s youth, they need to also step their second half up.  Oh and the bullpen.  It sucks.

Moving right along though, David Wright has been having an outstanding season and he’s not even playing for a contract!  But then, there’s someone like Ike Davis, whom most Mets fans are rooting for, but his bout with Valley Fever and an injury comeback has hampered his play significantly.  We have a dude named Duda in RF who clearly has no clue how to play the position, and my ass is on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page.  What’s worse?  Daniel Murphy has improved at his role as an infielder…but may be trade bait for the deadline.

Which leads me to….sucks for them all.

Each of these teams have to think about whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.  That will determine of course how much it sucks to be these teams.  Let’s recap, no one is running away with the division.  The Nationals are clear frontrunners, but anything can happen in the next half.  The Mets have been surprising, but can’t count our chickens as R.A. Dickey comes down to Earth and the bullpen with as many question marks as it has.  The Marlins…I doubt they will be buyers at the deadline, since they were already buyers in the offseason.  The Braves and Phillies look to be active in the trade market, but the Phillies are looking to be active sellers with names like Victorino being tossed around, or even Cole Hamels who is in a walk-year, and giving millions of reasons why he is worthy to be signed long term.

It sucks to be all of these teams.  Yet it sucks in a good way, because some of them can improve and it can easily become a two-horse race after the trade deadline.

On Paper

I’m not a person who blogs to “report” on shit.  Seems self-defeating right?  But not to me.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to write about something that you can get information on from like 500 different sites at the time it happens.  And they all tell you the same thing.

Plus, I’m an observer.  I like to think and mull things over before making an opinion or even an informed decision.  So when crazy contracts were being doled out back in December like free ice creams cone day at Ben & Jerry’s, I wasn’t going to weigh in right away.

But I can now.

Being a Mets fan, I’ve had my share of winning in the offseason versus the actual winning games on the field happen.  More often than I care to admit.  The Mets were also in the thick of things during the winter meetings and hot stove happenings, but mostly on the “wrong” side of them, simply by not dishing out a six-year contract to Jose Reyes.  My friend Sully from Sully Baseball even said that he didn’t think it was the end of the world for the Mets and I agreed with him.  I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge.

Besides, what are the odds that the Miami Marlins will actually hold onto Reyes for the duration of his contract?  Slim and none, and slim’s out of town, right?

There were many more moves besides Reyes.  There was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the I’m-Calling-Them-California Angels, Prince Fielder to Detroit Tigers and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to the Marlins as well.

Until this little nugget of turd came out from the Sporting News, and I really had to analyze where they were going.  Basically, the gist of it is, if your team signed overpriced and payroll-choking talent that has had its hey-day (as Sully put it, paying for John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever years when you might get at least one year of Pulp Fiction if you’re lucky), you got an A.

The rest of your teams, though.  You’re all fucked.

Seriously, how fucking hard is it to definitively identify where a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Let me throw out the Mets for a second.  I’m not expecting much here.  Yet, Sandy Alderson has to make do with what he has, which is basically a bucket of shit.  There’s no mention in this piece about the trades he had to make, like Angel Pagan and then signing bullpen help to short-term deals with little risk and very high rewards.  He has very little wiggle room.  Do I expect much from this team this year?  No, but at least there’s some flexibility now.  It’s like this piece didn’t even address what the Mets had to work with.

What I love most though is the emphasis on the free agent signings.  Marlins and Angels get A+++++++ because they dished out more money than a sailor on leave in Amsterdam’s red light district.  What it doesn’t tell me, though, is what these deals are going to do to these teams long term.  You know, like prohibit them from making other moves and then being underwater with these contracts in two-three years.  Because trust me, this is going to happen.

Then there’s the obligatory Yankee ballwashing.  They made a good trade though and if they can trade AJ Burnett for a breathing human, I’d say it was a coup.  Yet, here’s what gets me: the Yankees always make these under the radar moves (like Curtis Granderson a few years back) to make them loss-proof in the playoffs.  Has that happened yet?  No.

The next best teams in the offseason were Detroit and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox gets brownie points for getting a good manager.  Now, they neglect to address one very small item: their team hasn’t changed all that dramatically except for the managerial spot, which was the least of their problems last season.  Terry Francona essentially stepped down for trying to do a good job.  He walked away because of unrealistic expectations put on a team that WON ON PAPER last offseason.  Remember how that panned out?  Oh yeah, they lost Game 162 to a team with absolutely nothing to play for since like MAY of that year.

As for Detroit, I have no idea how Prince Fielder makes them a 162-0 team, but hey, more power to them I guess.

I could go on and on, but I’ll address one more team on this list: the Washington Nationals.  The Nats are an intriguing team to me for a few reasons, but they also added the tutelage of Davey Johnson (whom you all should know I love), but they added former Oakland A’s-fan fave Gio Gonzalez via trade.  Now here’s the thing: when this trade went down, there were two factions.  One which thought Billy Beane was fleecing the Nationals for the four prospects he obtained in the trade, the other which went crazy when Gio left the Bay Area.  Neither one of those sides I’ve mentioned seems to think to the extent that this deal might actually work out in the Nationals benefit.  Sure, they might actually finish over .500 this year.  And I agree that maybe the deal does give them a “B” offseason.  Is this the type of deal that might hinder them long-term?  Perhaps.  I mean, it’s not like they’re making a bunch of moves that’s going to put them on a sustained path to a championship.

In fact, that’s not something I’m reading about ANY of these deals.  I see these deals working out like most long-term/high-dollar deals or trading the future for maybe one-to-two good years of a talent before they themselves become a free agent, like, never.

So that brings me back to my position as a Mets fan.  Could the offseason been any better?  Oh, absolutely, it could have.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like the idea of not having Jose Reyes on our side, and feel that as a big market team they could have, under better circumstances, kept him around and it wouldn’t have been such a huge commitment, even six years.  The deal is what it is, and I’ve already let it go.

Then again, look at the deals that the team that did land him made.  Heath Bell: 3yr/$27mm.  Mark Buehrle: 4yr/$58mm.  The piece de resistance was the Carlos Zambrano trade.  I know from my fan base that Mets fans thought it might have been a good deal to swing, especially with the amount of money that the Chicago Cubs paid to essentially have him play for another team.  The Cubs didn’t make out too badly.  Theo Epstein, fresh off his revamping and rebranding the Boston Red Sox image over the past several years, got a once highly-touted prospect.  They might have eaten a lot of a bad contract but the idea is that this prospect could be a low-risk/high-reward type.

Yet, Zambrano is a known head-case.  I mean, this should go down as some must-see TV between Zambrano, new manager Ozzie Guillen and Marlins sandwich-short-of-a-picnic owner Jeffrey Loria.  Meanwhile, if someone like Alderson pulled off a deal like that, he would have been vilified by the fan base for trading away any prospect for Carlos Z with his known issues.  Damned is he does, etc etc.

This leads me to my conclusion.  As a Mets fan, I’m not unaware that their issues are more deeply rooted than not making the moves they should make to make the team better.  On the same point though I feel like they could be an exciting team to watch since I do believe that if we’re gonna lose, might as well do it with the young guys.

I suppose this rant is about my expectation level for a publication called “The Sporting News” to provide maybe a bit of detailed sporting analysis as to WHY these deals should work for these teams instead of just saying, “This team spent a lot of money this offseason, therefore they are going to rule.”  Maybe this year, but no one is addressing the pink elephant in the room, and how after year one, the majority of these deals simply won’t work in the team’s favor, just the players’.

Clearly, The Worst Team Money Could Buy was not required reading in their Sports Journalism 101 class.