NL East

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.

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.